Longer Search Queries Hurting PPC Clicks?

    May 18, 2009
    Chris Crum

Advertisers using paid search may find that they have to adapt to the habits of searchers. And there have been indications that searchers are using longer queries to find what they are looking for these days.

comScore shares some rather interesting data showing that the number of paid clicks has grown 3 times slower than the total number of queries in the US since January 2007. Look at these graphs:

Query Volume

Paid Clicks

The percentage of SERPS (search engine results pages) that actually feature paid ads appears to be on the decline according to comScore.

"An analysis of comScore data shows that search queries are actually getting longer and that as searchers become more experienced they are using more words per search query," explains comScore’s Gian Fulgoni. "And this apparently reduces the likelihood that an advertiser has bid to have his/her ad included in the results page from these longer queries, due to paid search advertising strategies that limit ad coverage, such as Exact Match, Negative Match, and bid management software campaign optimization."

Words Per Search

The data makes me wonder if we might start to see a trend in longer query keywords being bid upon. This could make the game much more tricky, because obviously the longer the query, the more combinations of keywords. It would really require a lot analysis of search trends and thinking from inside the customer’s shoes.