Online ad network, Chitika, conducted a study to find out the ideal number of words in a search query to drive the most traffic.
According to this study, 3-word queries are currently the most successful drivers of traffic from organic search results.
The study was conducted during the one-week period between 13 and 19 June 2010 across a sample of 41 million impressions of search traffic. They found that approximately 10 million or 26% of these impressions were for three-word queries.
The next most popular query length was with two words at 19% followed by four-word queries at 17% and one-word queries at 14%.
Queries with five words or more had a much lower percentage of traffic.
In the past, one-word queries accounted for a much higher percentage. In 2007, one-word search queries accounted for 24.5% and in 2009 they accounted for 20.4%. Two-word queries accounted for 23.6% in 2009.
The study also considered the effect of word count on ad click rate for paid search results. Quite contrary to the findings for organic search results, they found that the highest click rates were associated with queries of five, six and four words respectively, with five-word queries getting 1.4% of the click share. This means, unsurprisingly, that complex searches are more likely to convert into revenue, rather than searches with one, two or three words.