Only 20% of Google queries are unique

Tue 22 December 2009 11:00, Barry Adams

Last Friday Google almost carelessly mentioned in a blog post that "20% of Google search queries are ones we haven't seen in the past 90 days". This is an interesting statistic and can be interpreted in a number of ways.

Only 20% of Google queries are unique

Keeping in mind that Google handles billions of search queries every day, this 20% figure seems to indicate that the long tail of search perhaps isn't so long after all. Effectively it means that 8 out of 10 searches are repeated at least once over a 3 month period. Or, in web analytics terms, of all searches by volume only the bottom fifth has 1 hit.

I don't know about you, but when I look at the web analytics for any large site over a 90-day period, the list of keywords generating only 1 hit is much more than just 20% of the total - it seems to average between 60% and 75%.

It's not wise to draw too many conclusions from this one tidbit of data without any further context, but it does beg some questions. One conclusion could be that many Google users look beyond the first page of the SERPs and visit many different websites, thus generating individual hits for websites deep down in the rankings. It also seems likely many users repeat a query at least once.

None of this is particularly surprising, but these statistics remind us that what we see in ranking reports and web analytics spreadsheets only tell part of the story.

What are your thoughts on the '20%' statistic?

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