August 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

Most site search terms are short and simple, study finds

83% of the 34 million site searches studied by The Seybold Group and WebSideStory used one- or two-word search queries. Among e-commerce sites, 91% of site searches did.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

When looking for keyword search terms that will be successful at getting searchers to click, simple is the way to go. A recent study from WebSideStory and the Patricia Seybold Group found that most searchers looking for items on the web enter one- or two-word queries.


The study examined visitors’ site search behavior on the sites of 42 WebSideStory customers, including 15 e-commerce sites as well as 13 lead generation and 14 media sites. In all, more than 34 million site searches were reviewed. Of all of these queries, one- and two-word searched constituted the majority, 83%. On the e-commerce sites, that figure rose to 91%.


In addition, the study found that nearly 12% of all site searches lead to zero results – a lost opportunity for merchants. Among commerce sites, this figure was slightly less, 8.5%


Study report author Susan Aldrich, senior vice president and senior consultant at the Seybold Group, notes that the terms visitors use in site search are a key to the words they are using to search the web, and as such, provide insight on picking terms for search campaigns. As a first step in designing keyword campaigns, says Aldrich, site operators should review the site search terms being used by their visitors to look for any that could be added to their Internet campaigns.


“One of the benefits of site search reporting is that you see the roads used by people who make it to your site. You can see the items viewed by those people. In short, you can find all the additional words you should be advertising, based on real people’s behavior,” she says.




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