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Difference Between Search Quries And Keywords

Most of the time people use the terms “keyword” and “query” mean roughly the same thing. But when someone is saying “query” where it should be the word “keyword.” But Query and Keyword both are different.

What Are Keywords?

A keyword is the exact term that you are targeting in a paid search or organic search campaign. If you want to win a PPC bid for the term “house paint”, then “house paint” is your keyword.
Keywords are what marketers, SEOs, and search professionals come up with. They define the strategy. Users don’t know about them, don’t care about them, and don’t have anything to do with them.

What Are Queries?

Queries are what the user types in.

They are searching for something online, and they type stuff in Google, speak something to Siri, or otherwise perform a search. It’s called a query.
Queries often include misspellings. Many times, these misspellings are corrected by Google, but sometimes they are retained in the search.

What’s The Difference?

The major difference between keywords and queries has to do with who is using them.
  • Marketers use keywords.
  • Users use queries.
Users don’t know what keywords are. That’s not because users are dumb; it’s because they don’t know what companies are targeting which keywords. The user is simply typing stuff in, hoping to find information or products that will meet her needs. How can she expect to know that your business is targeting a keyword that she will type in?
We as marketers are sitting in front of our computers strategizing over this marketing entity known as a “keyword.” We research keywords and hope that our keywords will match what users are searching for. Marketers have keywords, but real users type in queries. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with the marketer’s use of keywords. That’s how you begin a successful SEO campaign — with keywords. But the real source of power and information comes from learning the queries — the words which actual users are tying in.

  • Keyword: What you’re targeting.
  • Query: What users actually type?
Here’s a helpful diagram that clearly displays the difference between queries and keywords:

How to Use This Information
Now that you know the difference between a keyword and a query, what should you do with your profound intelligence? Correct your coworkers? Share this information in comment threads?
Every successful SEO campaign starts with keywords. You have a set of words or phrases that you want to win ranking for. You want potential customers to find your website when they type in that specific keyword. But remember, keywords are not reality. Keywords only represent what you want, not what real-life users are actually doing. What kind of traffic do you really want?
The best sources of traffic will come from the conventional queries that users are inputting. Your Google Webmaster Tools account shows you some of the search queries that drive traffic. Access GWT, and navigate to “Search Traffic” and “Search Queries” to see this information.

Keep in mind that the information from GWT will be limited, because it only identifies actually queries that brought users to your site. You may want to target queries that do not yet bring any visitors to your site.
Another method of gaining search query ideas is to use Google autocomplete. The autocomplete feature is built into Google’s search functionality. When you begin to type any query into the search box from the standard desktop search screen, you’ll see prompts for various searches.
Where do these auto completes come from? How does Google decide what to provide as their auto complete fulfillment? The algorithm primarily depends on popular search trends to inform it. For example, if you type in “popular vacation sp” then Google may provide this autocomplete:
Auto complete predictions are automatically generated by an algorithm without any human involvement, based on a number of objective factors, including how often past users have searched for a term.
Google provides:
Our algorithm automatically detects and excludes a small set of search terms. But it’s designed to reflect the diversity of our users’ searches and content on the web. So just like the web, the search terms shown may seem strange or surprising.
Once you understand what is popular and/or expected in a Google query, you can narrow down the queries that you want to target.

How Does This Work?

Here’s how this works. For example, let’s say you’re targeting the keyword “personal branding.” You do some research on and around this term.
Eventually, you discover that your target keywords are surrounded by a variety of different queries.
  • personal branding steps
  • steps to personal branding
  • personal branding success
  • personal branding statements
  • personal branding examples
  • personal branding blog
  • personal branding statement examples
  • personal branding blog twitter
  • personal branding blog templates
  • 10 steps to personal branding
  • 5 steps to personal branding
  • build a personal brand
  • build personal brand strategy
  • build personal brand online
  • build personal brand with social media
Now you have a few powerful queries that people are actually using. These are important to know, track, and target in your SEO strategy.
From this seed query, you also discover other relevant queries:
  • how to be popular online
  • build your personal brand social media
  • tips for online popularity
  • online popularity guide
  • online popularity score
  • become well-known online
  • become well-known online YouTube


The difference between “keyword” and “query” is subtle and nuanced. But it is important. Knowing how to distinguish between an ideal keyword and the reality of queries will help you to refine your strategy and success as an online marketer.

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