The number of keywords people use to find information across the internet continues to change.
Fifty-one percent of searches in 2021, analyzed for a study published by Semrush, contained between one and two keywords, while 43.3% contained between three and five, according to data released Thursday.
The Semrush study -- The State of Search 2022 -- relies on the company’s database of 160 million keywords and rankings for U.S.-based websites.
The report breaks down changes across search-engine results pages, Google rankings, web vitals, and ecommerce to offer an in-depth look at the current search landscape as well as key lessons for marketers who are looking to make the most of their search efforts this year.
Some 60% of unique search terms are based on informational intent, in terms of answers to a specific question.
While queries that contained three to five words made up the group with the most unique keywords, they did not garner the most searches per keyword.
The queries with between one and 2 keywords garnered on average 923 average monthly searches, while queries with three to five words garnered 186 and those with six to nine keywords garnered on average 98 monthly searches. Queries with 10 or more keywords averaged 85 monthly searches.
In the data set, more than 94% of all searches contained between one and five words, demonstrating the quantitative power of what are traditionally known as “short-tail keywords.” However, this must be considered alongside the likelihood of such keywords generating conversions, according to the study. Longer-tail keywords, although less common, tend to be highly targeted and may be more likely to convert, the study finds.
The distribution of volume for keywords with search ads by words varied. Queries with between one and two words took 56.8% of Google ad volume, while queries between three and five keywords took 39.5%, queries with between six and nine keywords took 3.6%, and queries containing 10 or more keywords took 0.2% of Google ad volume.
The distribution of keywords with search ads by the number of words also differs. Queries with between one and two words took 10.7% of Google ad volume; queries between three and five keywords took 71.5%, queries with between six and nine keywords tool 17.4%, and queries containing 10 or more keywords took 0.5% of Google ad volume.
Another section in the study uses data from Semrush Sensor database. The data calculates the average volatility level for each category and compared 2021 to 2020. The section also calculated other stats, such as standard deviation, to show the year in which the data was more stable.
Two basic stats that are important for surveying the level of rank volatility include those that relate to how consistently the SERP undergoes a series of rank volatility, and those related to how extreme the levels of rank volatility are in each case. For example, rank volatility could happen more often but to different degrees on different occasions, according to the study.
To determine the frequency of rank volatility, Semrush broke down the frequency of rank volatility in 2021 vs 2020 looking at the number of days that displayed “high” or “very high” levels across desktop and mobile. On a scale of 1 to 10, high volatility is defined as a volatility level of 5 to 8, while very high volatility is defined as 9 to 10 on the Sensor index.
On desktop in 2021, the data shows a 68% increase in the number of days that presented high levels of rank volatility on desktop versus 2020, and a 67% increase in the number of days that presented either high or very high levels of rank volatility.
On mobile in 2021, the data shows a 84% increase in the number of days that presented high levels of rank volatility on mobile, and a 68% increase in the number of days that presented either high or very high levels of rank volatility.
The data shows rank volatility was a far more common in 2021 than it was in 2020. This was most notable on mobile, where the increase in days of high rank volatility digressed from the overall increase trend -- up about 84%.