According to Hitwise, search queries on all the major search engines are starting to get longer and longer (PDF). While the average search query is still around two words long, queries that are longer than four words have become increasingly popular over the last twelve months.

Hitwise's latest data also confirms that Google's market share in the search business is continuing to grow at a steady clip (9% year-over-year). Year-over-year, all of Google's larger competitors lost ground, though at least between December and January, both Yahoo and Ask.com saw a very minor increase in their market share.

Longer Search Queries

Year-over-year, using one and two-word search engine queries became slightly less popular, while the number of three-word queries remained flat. Instead, a growing number of users are now opting to use longer queries. Overall, longer search queries have increased ten percent over the last year.

This is an interesting trend, and it could be interpreted in a variety of way. This could mean that a growing number of users is finding less value in the search results they get from relatively unspecific, short queries. It could also indicate that users are becoming more sophisticated in how they structure their queries when they are looking for very specific answers.

Do you have a theory why more users are turning to longer search queries? Feel free to let us know in the comments.