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Search marketing firm Oneupweb released data showing that four-keyword queries were correlated with the highest conversion rates, compared with shorter and longer strings.

Over a roughly six-month period, average conversion rates for paid search ads appearing in response to those four-word queries were 36%. So what do we make of all this?

On the one hand you've got DoubleClick and Overture putting out research conducted with comScore that argues the vast majority of searches are at the one- and two-word category ("generic") level. The not-so-subtle implication here is: buy short phrases and don't neglect generic keywords.

However, in those studies, company names and trademark terms coverted better, but there's much less volume at those specific keyword levels. The Oneupweb data supports the latter idea.

In the same way that company names and trademarked terms may be a proxy for consumer buying intent, keyword query length seems to be as well (up to a point). So the Oneupweb research implication is: buy (SEM or SEO) those longer phrases.

Bottom line: buy short, buy long…buy everything.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. A key element in the discussion is the definition of "conversion". A click on a paid search ad results in a payment by the ad sponsor to the host search engine, even if the searcher instantaneously uses the back button to return to the search results. In such a scenario, the ad sponsor has paid for a "pay for performance" that did not perform.

  2. Agree. Clicks can be inherently problemmatic, especially if, as comScore has shown, most of the search traffic is happening at earlier stages in the buying cycle on "generic" keywords.

    So search marketers may be paying to educate a consumer who ultimately buys somewhere else.

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