A great article at Andy Beal's Marketing Pilgrim discusses the continuous growth of Google's Market share...and also points out that searchers are still becoming more sophisticated. To me, these 2 things go hand in hand. I think many people agree that Google provides the most relevant search results, especially for longer search terms. The only reason searchers are able to use longer keywords, is because of the impressive intelligence of the search engines. If it were the days of old, search results would be very poor for queries longer than 3 words. So it makes sense...more and more searchers are using longer search queries, so more and more searchers will use the most intelligent search engines will use their results. Check out these statistics from Hitwise:
Even over a one month span, multiple word keywords grew. Though, the change year over year is quite impressive. If you would have said last year that 8 or more word queries (and clicks) would increase by 20%, I would have certainly questioned that statistic. The data still shows that 1, 2, and 3 word queries consume 65% of the searches. How far will this grow? Just how sophisticated will searchers and engines become? How does the growing use of longer keyword searches effect SEO?
My opinions: The increase of longer search queries will continue to grow as long as the search engines continue to provide relevant results for the queries. Google market share will continue to grow...lets face it, there hasn't even been an engine that has threatened it in the slightest bit. But, as I said before, as searchers continue to use longer queries and demand relevant results, the engine that produces these results will also grow; they go hand in hand. I think it is great for SEO. It will demand the use of extremely targeted keywords. This is something I preach to clients on a daily basis. Yes, maybe you can get more hits for 1 or 2 word searches, but you will still convert on the highly targeted, longer tail key phrases. These terms catch the user later in their buying decision.
That is enough of my rant. Check out the article at the Marketing Pilgrim as well as the Search Engine Land article, 'Search Queries are Getting Longer: Hitwise Report'.