Blue Nile Research: 27% of Searchers Use Question Formats, with Most Queries Beginning with “How”
Have you ever considered the different ways users phrase their search queries on search engines? Which query format or pattern do they use in order to come up with the desired results? Understanding how users formulate search queries is very relevant to marketers, as it allows them to develop dynamic strategies and produce content that connects with their target audience.
To help identify answers to the above questions, Blue Nile Research (@Nathan_Safran) conducted a study that looked into the ways online users formulate queries and yielded some interesting results.
Not surprisingly, the research revealed that search query patterns vary from user to user. For instance, 73% of respondents said they used statement queries, as opposed to the 27% who phrased their queries in the form of a question. [See Figure 1]
Of the 27% who formulated question-based queries, the majority used the prefix “How” (38%), followed by “Why” (24%), “Where” (15%), “Which” (12%), with “What” being the lowest (11%). Evidently, this finding confirms how much Internet users love searching for how-to articles and videos.
Furthermore, the research found an even split between users who used fragments when formulating search queries, and those who entered a full and more in-depth query. [See Figure 2]
Blue Nile concluded that users use two different approaches in an effort to find their desired results. Users who enter fragment queries (usually composed of 2 to 3 words) are more interested in the speed of finding answers, whereas those who search in full queries (usually composed of over 4 words) are focused on finding more comprehensive answers to their questions.
When asked about these approaches during a post-survey interview, one of the survey’s respondents stated:
Different people search in different ways. Some people are very short with their search and like to click around. Me, I like to figure out the best way to phrase my search and find my answer right away rather than click around.
The research also revealed that using two words is the most common way of phrasing queries, but there are still many who use more words in their searches. [See Figure 3] Marketers must take this into account as this can help them with planning their SEO strategy.
Blue Nile’s research also covered other significant areas for marketers, such as the use of keyword research tools, like Google’s Keyword Planner, in relation to users’ search behavior.
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