Google accounted for 65.38% of all U.S. searches in the four weeks ending Oct. 29, 2011, according to Experian Hitwise. The research firm said Bing-powered search, which includes Yahoo, rose 2% sequentially to 28.62% for the month.
One-word search queries rose 3% sequentially in October, contributing to 27.23% of all queries. Shorter search queries -- one to four words -- were flat in October 2011 compared with September. Longer search queries -- those averaging five to eight words or more -- declined 2%. The data does not include mobile.
The decline in the number of words per query would make more sense if the searches included those on mobile devices. The decline could suggest that queries are getting better with fewer words, but I'm not ready to suggest that -- are you? Some searches still require four to five keywords and multiple queries to get relevant information.
Hitwise this week also said Google+ visits rose 5% to more than 6.8 million total U.S. visits the week ending Nov. 12, 2011, recording its third-largest week. This data does not include mobile traffic or traffic from the Google Notification Bar.
And while the growth that Hitwise suggests represents a 25% increase in September compared with the prior month, some people question the accuracy of the 50,000 Google+ user number floating around.
Hitwise attributes the growth to several announcements. The top two weeks for overall visits to Google+ took place when the service opened its doors to all users the week ending Sept. 24, 2011 and the following week. Google+ traffic jumped 3%, and the average visit time on the site rose 15% sequentially in October.
The social site also benefits from referral traffic from other Google properties. Among the top ten referral sources, eight Google properties accounted for 73% of all traffic last week, up from 65% during the week of Sept. 24, 2011.
There are signs that users continue to frequent the site more often. Results for the first two weeks of November versus the same time in October reveal that the share of returning visitors to the Google+ site rose 18% on average. Last week, 74% of the traffic to Google+ was from returning visitors, suggesting that Google+ users return to interact with their networks of circles.