According to comScore data, there is conclusive evidence that American search queries are getting longer. And as searchers use more words in order create more accurate search results, the net ad coverage over search results – defined as the percentage of search engine results pages for which there are paid ads – is actually shrinking significantly.
This is happening despite the fact that, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the percentage of search-based advertising continues to climb and now makes up more than half of all advertising dollars.
The number of words per query has risen from about 2.8 words to about 3.03 words since January 2007. Meanwhile, the number of paid clicks are up about eighteen percent even as search engine coverage has declined by twenty percent. It’s very possible that the decline in coverage is a side-effect of search engine marketers’ use of [exact match], “phrase match” and -negative keywords in an attempt to maximize the value of each click. The very things that increase performance on individual campaigns may be actually shrinking the amount of actual search-based real estate.
It’s always a good idea for search marketers to include a Web site’s organic search queries in a periodic keyword discovery exercise. This data confirms that in some cases, using this data as a factor in deciding whether to revert to broad match for specific campaigns may also be wise.