Google Mines Mobile Queries, Finds Longer Strings, More Searches, And More Clicks

Gary Price at ResourceShelf points us to an intriguing article appearing in the IEEE Computer Society’s Computer Magazine about mobile search at Google. In the piece, two researchers at Google dissect and mine mobile query logs from WAP-based searches coming through a single (unnamed) U.S. carrier. One million “page view requests” from one month earlier in 2007 were analyzed. In the study, Google looked at queries from traditional cell phones, as well as smartphones.

The headline is that users are typing in longer query strings and clicking on more results than two years ago when Google performed a similar analysis. The data appear to contradict some other studies about mobile user interests and behavior already in the market from iCrossing, AOL, and Ingenio. These findings should be considered in the larger context and totality of all the available information.

Here are the top-level takeaways: –The average mobile query was 2.56 words and 16.8 characters. Smartphone query strings were 2.64 words. (By contrast, PC search strings are roughly 2.5 words.)

–In 2005, users followed less than 10 percent of queries with at least one click on a search result. In 2007, that percentage rose to well over 50 percent. Additionally, the percentage of queries followed by a request for “more search results” increased from 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent.

–The number of queries per session has increased more than 25 percent from 2005.

Here are some tables from the article:



The one about local content doesn’t ring entirely accurate to me. The categories in the Google table are undefined so it’s hard to know what sites are behind these categories, much less the user intent motivating the searches. Previously, iCrossing’s study showed that local content was the highest in demand among mobile users:


Source: iCrossing (4/07)

One caveat about the above chart is that it’s self-reported information vs. the Google data, which is based on actual queries. Yet the Google data are imperfect as well. But regardless, the information is interesting and helpful in assessing the outlook for mobile search and mobile advertising. As the article’s subhead says, “understanding the needs of mobile search will help improve the user experience and increase the service’s usage.”

Postscript: I’ve discovered from iCrossing that “adult content” was not offered as an option in asking users to rank the content areas reflected in the chart above. So it’s safe to say that beyond adult content, local is highest in demand for mobile users.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile | Search Marketing: Mobile | Stats: Search Behavior


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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