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Long tail in a short table

I finally found some stats on the fraction of porn queries out there to answer my question...plus, it was in a table classifying user searches into overall categories. This data was obtained by some researchers who manually classified a full week's worth of AOL search data:

Other 15.69%    News&Society 5.85%
Entertainment 12.60%    Computing 5.38%
Shopping 10.21%    Orgs&Inst 4.46%
Porn 7.19%    Home&Garden 3.82%
URL 6.78%    Autos 3.46%
Research 6.77%    Sports 3.30%
Misspellings 6.53%    Travel 3.09%
Places 6.13%    Games 2.38%
Business 6.07%    Personal Fin 1.63%
Health 5.99%    Holidays 1.63%

There are always methodology questions with data like this, but I've looked at the AOL data and am comfortable assuming that the categories are at least approximately realistic.

It's interesting to see the smooth spread across so many different categories. It's also easy to see why only focusing on a category or two may not be an effective product strategy. Shopping is the most lucrative of the verticals, and a healthy chunk at 10% of all searches. But if you focus only on shopping, that means users have to go elsewhere for the other 90% of their searches.

Comments (1)

Hello Rick I don't think we ever meet at AOL. As an author of that paper you might be interested in this paper looking at the hourly, daily and monthly trends.


If you have any questions about the work, send me a note.


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