Search Terms

In 2006 there was an unfortunate incident in AOL when they spilled the results of 20m search queries on to the Net – by mistake naturally. Its showed the search queries of AOL clients during March 2006. The searches are an insight into the minds, individually and collectively, of searchers.

The data is still available online and you can query the 20m terms at www.aolstalker.com. Key in a search term and you will be given the id numbers of the people who broad searched that term. Click on their ID and you will be given his/her full search history that included that term. It is a fantastic tool if you are into search as it traces the search pattern of individuals as they go through the search process. It shows that a search may begin on a very broad basis, looking for a product category, as the searcher becomes au fait with the broader product features, they begin to introduce brands and then specific brand products into the search queries.

They would go from “mobile phone” to (after several searches and possibly days) to “Nokia N51 wireless features”. The exercise has developed from a search process to a search and educational process. If you are in a product based business make sure that your site takes into account this search process – going from the brand to the product specific search terms. The other ‘big news’ form the data was the the click through rate for each position in a search result i.e. if you are number one, how much more do you get than number two or three:Search Ranking Position To explain the above: The site ranked first (#1) in a search result grabs 42% of all the click-through/traffic for the keyword(s) searched. The site in position two gets 12% of the traffic. Therefore, site #1 gets 3.5 times the traffic as #2.

Looking further; the site in position one, on page two, (#11) gets a paltry 0.66% of all the search traffic. Another fascinating point is that we would like to believe that if an individual sits down and begins a search of a particular item – that they will stick to that task in hand. No, very untrue – its seems that its very easy to distract searchers! One I came across recently that made me smile was a girl whose searches included ‘Irish Weddings’, ‘red headed men’ and “how to boil an egg” amongst many disjointed and fragmented searches. To give you an idea of the ‘process’, here is the search of a family member starting off his search with “Condos in Dublin Ireland”.

Now that in itself is a fascinating search term taking most in the Irish tourist business by surprise – take a look at the expression “condos” in Google.ie. Then as he learns more he begins to explore more, then he jumps to the UK, and in the process has learnt to define the search term as ‘apartment’!  Then back to Ireland and then to more specific Irish ‘car rental’ search terms. It looks like the destination is becoming more focussed and an schedule is formulating somewhere else off screen. All this, by the way, takes place over a month and a half (for illustration I took out the non travel searches).

Query
Query time Click URL Rank
condos in dublin ireland 04/03/2006 08:30 http://www.10k .. ionrentals.com 1
condos in dublin ireland 04/03/2006 08:30 http://www.innlog.com 7
cyberrentals 04/03/2006 08:36 http://www.cyberrentals.com 1
condo vacation rentals in dublin. ireland 04/03/2006 08:39 http://www.vacationrentals.com 4
condo vacation rentals in dublin. ireland 04/03/2006 08:39 http://www.greatrentals.com 1
orbitz 04/03/2006 10:16 http://www.orbitz.com 1
dublin hotels 04/03/2006 10:22 http://www.hotelclub.net 9
london hotels 09/03/2006 17:15 http://www.londonnights.com 1
vrbo 09/03/2006 17:35 http://www.vrbo.com 1
cyberrentals 09/03/2006 17:43 http://www.cyberrentals.com 1
cyberrentals 11/03/2006 09:04 http://www.cyberrentals.com 1
country inn london england 24/03/2006 23:05 http://www.hotelclub.net 2
hotels in ireland 24/03/2006 23:19 http://www.irelandhotels.com 2
british airway 25/03/2006 11:17 http://www.britishairways.com 1
british airway 25/03/2006 11:17 http://www.britishairways.com 1
riverbank plaza hotel. london 25/03/2006 12:04 http://www.parkplaza.com 1
riverbank plaza hotel. london 25/03/2006 12:04 http://www.lon .. ount-hotel.com 6
jurys inn in galway 25/03/2006 15:35 http://www.jurysdoyle.com 1
vacation rentals in london 25/03/2006 15:38 http://www.lfca.co.uk 1
apartment hotels in london 25/03/2006 19:51 http://www.cen .. apartments.com 5
apartment hotels in london 25/03/2006 19:51 http://www.dis .. s-london.co.uk 6
apartment hotels in london 25/03/2006 19:51 http://www.apa .. ent-hotels.com 10
apartment hotels in london 25/03/2006 20:17 http://www.somewheretogo.co.uk 15
apartment hotels in london 25/03/2006 20:17 http://www.hotelclub.net 19
apartment hotels in london 25/03/2006 20:17 http://www.the-ascott.com 21
regency apartments london 26/03/2006 10:35 http://www.regencyvillas.com 2
regency apartments london 26/03/2006 10:35 http://www.servicedlets.com 5
regency apartments london 26/03/2006 10:35 http://www.dee .. apartments.com 8
london suites or condo hotels 26/03/2006 11:09 http://new-lon .. y.biz-stay.com 6
london suites or condo hotels 26/03/2006 11:09 http://travel.yahoo.com 8
ireland’s airlines 28/03/2006 06:38 http://www.niceone.com 3
ryan air 28/03/2006 06:40 http://www.ryanair.com 1
rental cars in ireland 30/03/2006 20:27 http://www.carhire.ie 1
rental cars in ireland 30/03/2006 20:27 http://www.budget.ie 2
rental cars in ireland 30/03/2006 20:27 http://www.carhire.ie 1
rental cars in ireland 30/03/2006 20:27 http://www.enterprise.com 5
rental cars in ireland 30/03/2006 20:27 http://www.alamo.com 6
rental cars in ireland 30/03/2006 20:27 http://www.irishabroad.com 9
dublin ireland airport hotels 31/03/2006 06:34 http://www.hol .. cityeurope.com 1
car rental in ireland 01/04/2006 08:42 http://www.carhire.ie 5
rental cars in ireland 01/04/2006 10:50 http://www.carhire.ie 1
rental cars in ireland 01/04/2006 10:50 http://www.budget.ie 2
rental cars in ireland 01/04/2006 10:50 http://www.alamo.com 5
rental cars in ireland 02/04/2006 10:24 http://www.enterprise.com 4
rental cars in ireland 02/04/2006 10:32 http://www.dollar.com 12
rental cars in ireland 02/04/2006 10:32 http://www.autoeurope.com 14
dan dooley car rental in ireland 02/04/2006 19:15 http://www.dan-dooley.ie 1
dan dooley car rental in ireland 02/04/2006 19:15 http://www.dandooley.com 2
alamo car rental in ireland 08/04/2006 08:36 http://www.alamo.com 1
alamo car rental in ireland 08/04/2006 08:36 http://www.alamo.com 1
hilton garden hotel in ithaca 17/04/2006 17:02 http://hiltong .. inn.hilton.com 1
hilton garden inn in ithaca new york 17/04/2006 17:05 http://hotel-rates.com 3
hilton garden inn in ithaca new york 17/04/2006 17:05 http://hiltong .. inn.hilton.com 1
hilton garden inn in ithaca new york 17/04/2006 17:05 http://hiltong .. inn.hilton.com 2
hampton inn in ithaca new york 17/04/2006 17:07 http://hamptoninn.hilton.com 1
alamo car rental in ireland 17/04/2006 17:11 http://www.alamo.com 1
alamo car rental in ireland 17/04/2006 17:11 http://www.bnm.com 8

Check our the site its fascinating but two words of warning for the faint hearted – some of the searches become either morose and sometimes a little depressing showing the state of mind of the searcher perhaps, secondly its full, I mean full, of stuff for ‘over 18’s’ – so be warned.