Tablets – Did They Kill The Longtail?

This post is all about wanting to understand search behaviour on tablets in more detail – from comparing basic search metrics such as Click Through RateAverage Position and Bid Costs, we also wanted to see how users search on their tablets. The table below shows weighted total conversions by keyword length and is based on roughly 100 000 unique data points over a six month period. Conversions are weighted to account for the difference in magnitude between Computer and Tablet conversions – hence the decimal number for conversions on the vertical axis. What we see from this graph is fascinating.

Tablet Users Use Shorter Queries

Firstly it appears to confirm that tablet users use shorter search queries – this has been suggested by a number of bloggers before, but it’s great to see it reflected in South African data as well. You can see the conversion number for tablets peak approximately two character lengths to the left, implying that the majority of tablet users enter and convert on search queries that are between 10 and 20 characters long – with a peak at 13/14 characters.

More Tablet Users Convert On Shorter Queries

If we look at the magnitude of the bars, we can see that tablet conversion are actually above those for computers. This suggests that a larger percentage of conversions on tablets happens at keyword lengths of between 10-12 characters, i.e. 60% of all conversions fall within this bracket as opposed to only around 50% for computers. This again highlights the importance of shorter keywords for tablet optimized campaigns.

Longtail on Tablets – It Lives On

This for me was the most interesting insight! You will notice that both graphs extend quite far to the right. This part of the graph shows conversions from very long queries – i.e. upwards of 30 characters. Conventionally this is referred to as the long tail – low volume, highly specific search queries with a high probability of conversion. Whilst it is certainly not as pronounced as for computer based search, seeing any conversions at all from queries that are longer than 30 characters on tablets is quite unexpected. So it appears that – contrary to popular belief – the long tail is alive and well on tablets and search marketers shouldn’t shy away from targeting longer queries on these devices. Whatever the exact implications of the above, the quicker we understand tablet usage and adapt our clients campaigns to this device, the better we can drive ROI and results. It is clear that tablets are here to stay and at the rate cheaper tablets are entering the market (think Kindle Fire), we could experience a major shift in SEM from computers to tablets sooner rather than later!

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