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Searchers are getting more specific it seems…

Google’s Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik recently discussed some interesting updates related to trends in Google’s user stats. Avinash said, “the average number of keywords per query has gone from 3 to 4 words per query on average for the first time ever!”

So, what does that mean for optimization and are you freaking out because you think we’re going to tell you next that your site needs a complete overhaul? Relax, this is a good thing and here’s why…

Let’s say you’re searching for a site that sells chocolate chip cookies. You type in the keyword term cookies and 9 of the top 10 sites are about internet cookies. What do you do? Most likely, you would type in a more specific keyword phrase until you find the results you’re looking for. Well, Avinash says that the length of these more specific phrases has gone up to 4 words on average. This behavior was explained in a study by iProspect of search engine user behavior over the last few years, when they said “In the case where an initial search is unsuccessful, 82% of search engine users will re-launch their search using the same search engine as they used for their initial search, but add more keywords to refine their subsequent search.

iProspect’s report goes on to say that “This finding also points to the need for marketers to not only target a few short, broad terms with their search engine marketing campaigns, but also an abundance of longer, more specific keyword phrases being queried when users are dissatisfied with the results of their initial searches. These often produce more qualified traffic and higher conversion rates. This multitude of ultra-specific keywords that generate little traffic and few conversions each, but significant numbers of both collectively, is often referred to as ‘the long tail.’ ”

Wait… more qualified traffic and higher conversion rates? I’d venture to guess that is the overall goal for your website. After all, who cares about ranking at the top of a search results page if the user is looking for something other than what your site is about? That’s where the impact of the recent stats and trends reports from Google really starts to become clear. Fine tuning your site to rank better for more specific terms can help you gain more qualified traffic.

And, another benefit of longer, more specific search phrases is the ability smaller sites have to get ranked in the first place. In most cases single word keywords are far more competitive than multiple word phrases. Using our cookies example again, if you search for “cookies” in Google, there are 570,000,000 results. Now, search for “chocolate chip cookies” and you see only 2,570,000 results. And then search for “chocolate chip cookies recipe” and there are only 206,000 results. If you think in terms of each of these listings as being your competition, what keywords would you rather compete for? In most cases, the more specific the keyword, the less competition and the easier it may be to gain a ranking.

So, how can you use this information? Target more specific terms to increase your online visibility and improve your overall conversion rates. It’s going to be easier to optimize (less voluminous content) for a keyword that has less competition, and once you start ranking for the more specific terms, your visitors will be more qualified. More qualified visitors means more people actually looking for what you have to offer, and more chances that they will contact you. And, after all, that’s what we both want for your website.

We have a lot more information on this subject, so if you need some help just ask the experts at Upright Communications. They can help you maximize that “long tail” and really step up the visitor conversions.