Posted February 25, 2009 8:38 am by with 30 comments

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, we might want to start scanning-in images of what we’re trying to find on the search engines. As new data from Hitwise suggests, we’re gradually starting to use more & more keywords when conducting our search engine queries.

Hitwise compared January 2009’s data with last year’s, but I want to take you back farther in time–5 years in fact! Not that my memory goes back that far, but I did remember covering this data for my old blog: Search Engine Lowdown.

Here are the numbers from this year, with Feb 2004’s numbers in parentheses:

1-word searches = 20.29% (19.02%)

2-word searches = 23.65% (32.58%)

3-word searches = 21.92% (25.61%)

4-word searches = 14.89% (12.83%)

5-word searches = 8.68% (5.64%)

6-word searches = 4.65% (2.32%)

7-word searches = 2.49% (0.98%)

8-word searches = 3.43% (no one did 8-word searches in 2004!)

As you can see, there’s been a significant drop in the number of people using 2- and 3-word searches, while those using 5-words and above are becoming more common–likely from those of us that cut-and-paste large quantities of text into Google.

One interesting observation: the number of people using 1-word searches has remained surprisingly similar–in fact, showing a small increase in the past 5 years. This either means that the search engines are getting better at delivering relevant search results, or more “brand” searches are being made, or some of us are just committed to being lazy with our searching. 😉