Recent research by Hitwise suggested that web users are increasingly using longer, more detailed searches, with the number of queries containing eight or more words rising by 20 per cent in the 12 months to February 2009.

However, according to one expert, marketers should be wary of taking this trend on face value as the true picture of search query length is more nuanced than it first appears.

Dr Siddharth Shah wrote on Search Engine Land that his analysis of internet marketing services found that while the length of queries in the retail sector has risen from 2.34 words in 2007 to 2.53 words last year, it has actually declined for business services campaigns, dropping from 2.2 words to 1.87 words.

Furthermore, queries of more than five words across both sectors accounted for less than one per cent of either impressions or revenue.

"Rather than going by broad query trends, you would be well advised to understand the search term trends for your own business," Dr Shah said.

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