Search queries keep getting longer. Over the past year, queries of 8 words and over experienced the higher the jump in usage.

A Hitwise study finds searches
of 5 or move words in length increased 10 percent from January 2008 to January of this year.  Over the same period of time shorter queries of 1 to 4 words in length decreased 2
percent.

The longer the queries, the longer the long tail becomes. As searchers becomes more sophisticated in honing their terms, SEO gets correspondingly more complex, but also more potentially rewarding.

Subject

Jan-08

Dec-08

Jan-09

Year-over-year percent change

1 word

20.96%

20.70%

20.29%

-3%

2 words

24.91%

24.13%

23.65%

-5%

3 words

22.03%

21.94%

21.92%

0%

4 words

14.54%

14.67%

14.89%

2%

5 words

8.20%

8.37%

8.68%

6%

6 words

4.32%

4.47%

4.65%

8%

7 words

2.23%

2.40%

2.49%

12%

8+ words

2.81%

3.31%

3.43%

22%