Google Q&A and Query Length
Google launched a new feature called “Google Q&A” offering answers to factual questions such as: What is the world’s population? What is the capital of Ukraine? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Google is using a range of sources to answer such questions—and not all questions deliver answers. Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and Ask Jeeves have similar features.
Everything old is new again. Several years ago, Ask Jeeves was pushing questions as a method of query formulation (and is again now).
But what I’m really interested in about this is whether Google Q&A will have any impact on query length—average query length is approaching three words.
This may be a kind of a out-on-a-limb, long-shot cockamamy suggestion, but it’s possible that awareness and usage of this feature could impact search behavior and help generate longer queries.
If that were to happen—and there’s a trend generally toward longer queries—then there are implications for both Web search and local search. The more specific and longer the query (up to a point), the more targeted the results and the better the CTRs.
Even if it doesn’t turn out to have any impact on broader search behavior, it’s Google giving people another search feature to broaden its utility—perfect for students, researchers (like us) and those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.