Study Reveals How Users Search Online

search engine online searches

SEO and search marketing professionals realize that it is important to be aware of HOW people are searching online. If you can understand how people are searching, chances are that you will be able to address their needs accordingly. This is why it might be interesting to find that the latest research done by Blue Nile Research found that 27 percent of the time, people who are searching for information online use question formats in their query. The difference between long form (4 words or more) and short form (less than 4 words) search was negligible according to the study – 50/50.

Searching in the form of a question

According to the research, upwards of 27 percent of everyone who search online formulated their search query as a question. Instead of using a statement query, users relied on which, what, where, why, and how. Clearly there were many people who were still actually ‘asking’ Google questions.

The breakdown of question format was rather interesting as well. It was as follows:

  • What – 11 percent
  • Which – 12 percent
  • Where –15 percent
  • Why – 24 percent
  • How – 38 percent

As previously mentioned, the study also looked at the length of the search phases. This was broken down into ‘fragment queries’. Do users search in full queries (four words or more) or did they only search in two or three word queries. It turns out that there is relatively little difference between these two types of search.

An interesting question to raise

Even though it is interesting to see this type of study, it does lead to a number of questions. Do technological savviness and voice search play an important role here? It might be interesting to see how many people are actually treating their search engine as an actual person (e.g. asking a question) if they were talking rather than typing.

Conversely, could it be that people of an older generation (who are generally less technologically savvy) are the ones driving the longer search phases? Do they feel more compelled to type out the longer queries whereas the younger generation understands the keyword component to using search much better? At the same time, it might be very interesting to see a different breakdown in device – do people search differently if they are using a mobile or if they are on desktop? People on a mobile device may be searching far more abbreviated, especially because it just seems more intuitive.

What does this mean for marketing professionals?

Because marketing professionals often focus on parts of statement or phrases rather than questions, this is an important study to be aware of. Remember that 27 percent of a search demographic is a number that people are not going to be able to ignore. This means that you are going to have to pay attention to the people who prefer to search in this manner as well.