Last update: 02/01/19
Keywords and Search Queries are Two Different Things
The often interchangeable terms, ‘keyword’ and ‘search query’, do not mean the same thing. There is a difference between the two. A keyword is an abstract word or set of words that are derived from several multiple search queries. A search query is the word or words that a user types into the search engine. It includes those words that are in the wrong order, are the actual keyword, or are misspelled.
SEO and Keywords
Search engine optimization is a system of marketing based on keywords. SEO specialists use keywords in links, image file names, URL’s, title tags, meta descriptions, and more. The keywords are inserted in the anchor text as well. Pay Per Click, PPC, uses targeted keywords in landing pages, ads, ad words, and they must be won by highest bid for the privilege of using them.
Search Queries v.s. Keywords
Search queries are the terms used by the general public that take them to where they want to go on the internet. So, marketers use keywords and users use search queries. The biggest difference then might be in who uses them and how they are used.
If you are putting an ad campaign together using PPC in AdWords you would use a search report to find the queries that most visitors used to find your ad. Let’s say, for example, you wanted to find keywords to use for computer desks. You might find that users typed in all sorts of variations of your keyword or phrase. They may have used the terms computer center, student computer desk, desk for computer, and even misspelled words like 'coputer' or 'computor' desk.
Find the Different Search Patterns
You will be looking for a definite pattern here in the words used by those searching for computer desks. If the more common search ended up being ‘desk for computer’ you would absolutely want to add that phrase into your keyword set. Your subsequent ads would then include those words and phrases that you found to be a good representation of the way a majority of users look for your product.
As an illustration of how the keyword differs from the search query, note the different way in which the two are used in this example. Many of the search queries will show a very clear repeating pattern, which is where you derive your keywords from. This is how the difference in the two plays out when used in real time situations.