Not too long ago encyclopedias were one of the only available resources for people interested in researching a particular topic. Long hours in the library searching through shelves of information to find an answer could certainly be expected. As technology has evolved, our resources for research, as well as habits, have changed as well.

Most information on any topic of interest is now available online, just a click away. Web search has allowed internet users to access information with an unprecedented level of ease and speed and search engines are now dealing with billions of queries daily.

Chitika Insights has previously conducted a study to take an in depth look at the search habits we see on our extensive network and how they differentiate between search engines. Our new study is a follow-up to see if there have been any changes over the last months as it relates to habits across search engines. The goal of the study was to find the average number of words in a search query across the five most popular search engines in the US: Google, Bing Yahoo, Ask, and AOL. The study covered a sample of hundreds of millions of impressions, taken between January 9th and January 12th. In order to determine the number of words per query we looked at the number of spaces in each search and then added one to simulate an actual query. The graph below shows the average number of words per query by search engine.

As you can see above, has the most verbose user base with 4.81 words per query on average, mimicking the same trend in our previous study. As we mentioned before, the main reason for the longer queries of Ask users might be explained with the original designation of the search engine. The main purpose of the engine was to provide answers for queries in “natural language”. Most likely, Ask users still tend to write their queries in their longer, natural form.

On the other hand, the most concise users in the search industry can be found on, again following the same trend from our previous study. One reason for the succinct queries seen by AOL users may be related with the instant internal and external searching feature. AOL Search provides internal and external results at the same time to its subscribers, which covers most of its traffic. Users might become less verbose and more specific as their intent leans toward internal searches, which in turn could be the reason for their shorter queries. If this is the case, a possible decrease is expected for Google’s average number of words per query as users start using “Search plus Your World” feature, making queries more targeted.

Stay tuned to Chitika Insights for future reports on changes in the search behaviors as new features such as “Search Plus Your World,” continue to emerge, promoting a more targeted and relevant search experience.

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