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In a unique look at the all-important field of retail site search, a new study from SLI Systems [download page] reveals that the majority of search queries are only 1 word in length – and that the percentage of single-word queries has gradually risen over the past 4+ years.

To arrive at its conclusions, SLI Systems analyzed a sample of 1.5 billion queries. In its own words: “The sample was generated by looking at searches from SLI Systems clients every second week spanning from January 2013 to March 19, 2017. We defined a ‘word’ as a group of letters and/or numbers in a search query separated from other letters/numbers by a space.”

The results of the analysis showed that 56% of searches in Q1 2017 were a single word in length, while 26% consisted of 2 words and another 11% of 3 words.

Let’s unpack that a couple of ways:

  • The majority of retail site searches were a single word in length;
  • More than 8 in 10 site searches were 2 words or less.

Also interesting is the trend analysis provided in the report, indicating that site searches are getting shorter over time. Specifically:

  • The 56% of searches consisting of a single word in Q1 2017 is up from 45% in 2013; while at the same time;
  • The share of searches that are 3 words or more has declined from 24% in 2013 to 18% in Q1.

Meanwhile, the report also surveyed more than 200 retail industry professionals from around the world who sell online (99%), in stores (59%) and across other channels. Survey results indicate that:

  • Some 71% consider Amazon to be as much (35%) or more (36%) of a threat to their online business this year than last, while only 40% feel that way about Alibaba and 28% about WalMart and Jet.com;
  • The vast majority (82%) expected an increase in Q1 site traffic compared to the same quarter last year, with many also expecting increases in online revenue/profit (80%) and site conversions (71%); and
  • The customer experience is the single most important initiative for online retail businesses.

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