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Study: Two and Three-Word Searches Bring Most Traffic

Study: Two and Three-Word Searches Bring Most Traffic

Using data collected via expo-MAX analytics, we’ve calculated a breakdown of the search term lengths that bring in the most traffic. The findings? Using a sample size of about 1.4 million visits, our study shows that 56.98 percent of all search traffic comes from two-word searches. Runners up were three-word queries at 18.2 percent followed by four-word queries at 10.6 percent. Unsurprisingly, one-word queries only garnered about 6.89 percent of the traffic.
The takeaway for search engine optimization professionals and web publishers from these stats has mostly to do with confirmation. SEOs have long targeted niche phrases with a certain balance of specificity and broadness. The two to four-word search engine query length seems to comport with most assumptions over how users search. For instance, a website devoted to JDM Honda motors might have a shot at capturing a larger slice of pie if it optimized for “motors,” but it would also bring in a great deal of unqualified traffic. That is, people who might be looking for Ford or Chevy motors. Plus, a site competing for the search term "motors" faces far more competition. Traffic gets more targeted if the site is optimized for “Honda motors” or “JDM motors" and the competition decreases.
Of course, up to a certain point, web developers start attracting less traffic simply because the search volume for more complex search queries is much lower. This is important to note, because although three-word search queries only amounted to about 18.2 percent of all incoming traffic to the expo-MAX network, this traffic was likely more qualified, meaning visitors from this subset probably has a better conversion rate and a lower bounce rate. Getting the best search engine traffic is a delicate balancing act between specificity and tapping into heavily searched terms.
Traffic by word count
Web developers can put these principles into action and many of them already are. But while these rules of thumb hold true in most situations, it is always best to pay attention to your own traffic and crunch the numbers according to your individualized analytics reports. Optimize for a handful of two- to four- word search queries, but watch out for valuable trends. For example, you might notice that you get higher conversions for targeting long search queries because you are capturing a niche audience.
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