Understanding the differences between keywords and search queries for SEO.
The words ‘query’ and ‘keyword’ are often used interchangeably in conversation but they aren’t exactly the same thing.
While the difference between these two terms may not seem like a big deal, it’s still important for SEO professionals to know the difference, particularly when communicating with team members and clients. Over and above the communication aspect, knowing the difference will help you become better at your job.
Keywords: A keyword is a specific word or term that you want to target in an organic or paid search campaign. Keywords are more important to marketers than they are to users.
Search Queries: A search query refers to a string of words that an online user types into Google or any other search engine or website. Basically, search queries put keywords into action. A good example of search queries is Google’s suggestions as you search for something.
Let’s look at a quick practical example. As a marketer, you may want to target the keyword “house paint”, but as a user, you may type “best house paint for lounge area” into Google – this is the search query.
The two are absolutely interlinked but they do serve slightly different purposes.
So, how should marketers use search queries and keywords to alter their SEO strategies? Here are a few suggestions.
Marketers should still spend time researching keywords to use in their marketing campaigns but in order to translate keywords into real-life scenarios and make them more relevant to users, it’s important to broaden your keywords into search queries.
For example, if you determine that ‘business plan’ is a keyword you want to target, look for search queries that you can use that would include that keyword. What would a user type into Google that included your targeted keyword and is linked to what you have to offer – this can be content or products and services.
Examples of search queries that could include the keyword ‘business plan’ are:
Use Google’s keyword planner to look at the search volume and competition for each of the search queries you come up with as well as the keyword itself.
Next, you will want to use Webmaster Tools to look at the search queries that are bringing users to your site. Webmaster Tools can tell you which queries are driving traffic to your site and what pages users are landing on. This will allow you to determine whether your site is ranking for the correct search terms and keywords and if you need to revise your website copy and SEO strategy as a whole.
A second benefit of pulling reports on search queries that are driving traffic to your site is that it will allow you to brainstorm new search queries based on what your website visitors are already interested in.
For example, if you know that the query ‘best self-help books’ is driving traffic to your site, you could look into search queries such as:
Google’s autocomplete feature is the ideal way to get new search query ideas. Simply type a keyword into Google and wait for recommendations. Google’s autocomplete feature is an excellent way to find out what your customers are searching for and it will give you new content ideas that you can incorporate into your marketing strategy.
Knowing the difference between keywords and search queries is a basic concept but it can help you to improve your SEO strategies going forward.