Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Search Volumes Will Keep Growing, Big Time

Search volumes in the U.S. are still growing at roughly 30% per year. I expect chunky double-digit growth to continue, since in terms of widespread adoption, "search addiction" has only begun.

Here's what I mean: the average number of search queries per person in the U.S. is now about 3 per day; this is up from about 2 per day a few years ago. Heavier search users, representing the most active 20%, average about 12 searches per day. The other 80% average less than 1 per day.

I think that last statistic is remarkable: 80% of search users average less than one search per day. This suggests that the adoption curve of search usage is still very young. Better search tools and more relevant search results will drive incremental usage-- but a lot growth will come simply as users become more sophisticated.

How high could search intensity ultimately climb? I'm not sure. As a search-aholic myself (see my Google search history above), I don't find 12 searches a day to be "extreme" at all. As you can see, that's an "off day" for me, with many days above 20 or 40 searches; but, of course, I work on the internet.

In 5 years, if 40% of people (instead of 20%) are averaging 12 searches a day, search usage will have doubled. Since the whole distribution continues to shift up, I expect growth will be faster than that.

The search metrics I refer to above come via Larry Chase's interview with comScore's Search Evangelist, Eli Goodman.

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