If you are handling your own SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) campaign, you are doing a great thing and you are sure to learn a myriad of online marketing techniques along the way! Of course, you are bound to encounter a bit of SEO jargon too. You will undoubtedly read about “keywords” and “search queries” and a number of other things that form integral parts of search engine optimisation campaigns. Most people use the terms “keywords” and “search queries” interchangeably, but they are not really the same thing. Or are they? Let’s find out.
Is there a difference between search queries and keywords? Yes, there is. Keywords and search queries have entirely different meanings and roles in a digital marketing strategy. Keywords are product-based phrases & terms that marketers focus campaigns around. Search queries are unique phrases that users type into Google searches when looking for information.
To create and manage an effective online campaign, it is important to know the difference between keywords and search queries and how to use them. Read on to learn more about keywords vs queries and the role each of them plays in an effective SEO strategy.
What Are Keywords?
Generally, online consumers do not spend their time thinking about keywords. Keywords are strategic words and phrases that marketing campaigns are focused on. These words or phrases are based specifically on your products and services. The keywords are used so that Google (and other search engines) will know what your content is about, who it pertains to and how to rank your website (or page) in a search engine result. If you are keywords are highly targeted, your content will appear in a search engine result when a consumer searches for a phrase or term that relates to your specific keywords.
For instance, a business that sells colourful gloves and socks will create campaigns that are focused on keywords such as “winter socks”, “green socks”, “novelty socks”, or “knee-length socks” and similar.
Keyword Research is Key
To come up with the right keywords for a campaign, you will need to do some keyword research. Keywords should be based tightly on your products and content should be based on the keywords that you want to rank for.
For assistance finding highly-targeted keywords for your Google AdWords and for content and articles on your website, you can use Google’s keyword research tool.
Tips on how to research and compile a list of targeted keywords:
Identify your target audience and think like a customer. What keywords would be most appealing to them? Think about what your customers are most likely to search for.
Pay attention to the keywords your competitors are ranking for and see how you can fill gaps they might be missing out on.
Incorporate long tail keywords – these are keyword phrases of at least 3 words.
Make a list of the search queries carried out on your website and select keywords from these queries.
What Are Search Queries? What exactly is a Search Term?
Search queries and terms are types of Google searches. They are the phrases that browsers type into Google to find information that they are looking for. All consumers are different and therefore search for products, services and advice differently. Because of this, 5 people could search for the exact same product using 5 completely different variations of search terms. Search queries also include search terms with spelling errors – sometimes online users make mistakes when inputting search queries. If you request a search query report from your analytics account, you might see some of the terms are misspelled or include completely different brand and product names. With search queries, the queries that are input may be a string of words that make sense, or they could just words tacked in the very same way that the consumer was thinking when searching for the information. For instance, a consumer looking for bright pink winter socks for girls aged 10 might search: “best place to buy kids fuzzy pink socks for cheap” or “pink socks kids age 10 fluffy buy South Africa”. As you can probably tell, there is an unlimited number of search query variables that consumers can use to search for this very same product.
The Main Difference: Keywords vs Queries
So, what is the difference between a query and a keyword? The answer is quite simple. The main difference between the two is the who. The difference is who they are helpful to and who essentially uses them. Who uses keywords? Digital marketers and SEO experts do. Who uses search queries? Online consumers do.
To illustrate the difference between keywords and search queries more effectively, let’s compare the search queries mentioned above with the keywords that marketers would use instead to create content for these queries.
Search query: best place to buy kids fuzzy pink socks for cheap
Keywords: kids socks, children’s socks, buy kids socks, cheap kids socks
Digital marketers and SEO experts focus their attention on creating content and paid adverts based on targeted keywords, while on the other hand, consumers type search queries into Google that relate to keywords.
Most consumers do not give a second thought to keywords or search queries. Most internet users are not even aware of the fact that digital marketers and website owners spend so much time agonising over compiling lists of keywords that will get their products and brands featuring in search results that appear after they input their search query. Consumers are fairly blasé when it comes to searching and typically just type in a search term that comes to mind. Very little thought is given to the process. Most consumers will only spend more time altering their search terms if they are unable to find what they are looking for. And if they are unable to find what they are looking for when searching directly on your website, you could lose the customer.
How Digital Marketers Use Search Queries
In the past, digital marketers and SEO experts would spend all their time thinking about keywords and trying to almost guess at what keywords someone might search for. Now things have changed and marketers can use the search queries that consumers are already searching, to create content that is compelling and targeted. How do they do this? They use search query analysis to glean the information they need for their SEO campaign.
By scrutinising the search query report, you can see what queries have been entered into your website search boxes. Digital marketers who do this can have a better understanding of which keywords need to be targeted and what content needs to be created to better cater to the target audience. Not only does this make marketing efforts more successful, but also ensures that online consumers get the information that they are looking for quickly – thus improving the customer experience exponentially…and as you might have guessed, Google smiles on websites that do this for consumers.
How to Use Onsite Search Queries to Complement Your Keyword Compilation Efforts
If you are handling your own SEO campaign, you need to pay attention to the search queries that customers are already typing into your website’s search feature. While you cannot use their search terms verbatim in most instance, you can see which keywords within their search terms are being used and create content and pages on your website that provide sufficient information and valuable content based on those keywords. In this way, you are using search queries to help compile a list of keywords to base your content on.
You will need to make sure that your Google analytics account is activated and is recording the search queries that are being used on your website. How do you do this? Follow these quick steps below.
How to activate Site Search Tracking for your website
Log in to your Google Analytics account here and then select “Admin”. You can find this option at the bottom of the left-hand side bar.
On the next screen you will see 3 columns. In the last column, select “View Settings” and then activate “Site Search Tracking” at the bottom of the page.
Once you have activated this feature, Google Analytics will make a note of every search query that consumers search on your website. Imagine knowing what your customers are searching for and what content they would like to see. You do not have to imagine it. Modern SEO techniques and advances analytics software, coupled with strategic keyword research make it absolutely possible.
While keywords and search queries go hand in hand when it comes to planning a strategic search engine optimisation campaign, they are completely different things (by definition) and play different roles in the marketing process. If you understand this difference between search vs queries, you should be able to fine tune your keyword list to create highly targeted content that does not only appeal to your target audience, but to Google and other search engines too.