Keywords and Queries: What’s the Difference?
When your business is starting a digital marketing campaign, one of the first things you’ll think about is a keyword that is competitive to your niche audience and can result in a search query. If you’re discussing strategies with your digital agency, the term query will be interchanged with keyword and you might have trouble understanding why.
Though meaning roughly the same thing, a keyword has a distinct difference from a query. Your clients are going to bring up the question, “What’s the difference between a keyword and a query?” If your account manager can’t answer that question, they’re not really living up to their expectations as a search professional.
A keyword is what your SEO company incorporates into your campaign, tracking its progress through implementation of on-page factors that include content creation, meta tags and descriptions, and heading tags. Similar, but vitally different, a query is what the user searches. A common searcher has no idea what keyword your company is targeting, and they don’t care. They’re looking to find the product or service they need in the least amount of time. Could that query be your exact keyword? Sure. If it’s not, though, that is the difference between keywords and queries.
When users type in a query with your keyword, how will they find your site?
A great landing page incorporates many factors. You can’t just stuff the keyword into your content and think you’ll begin to rank. It doesn’t work that way anymore. Positioning your content in an effective manner helps the search engines determine what your page is about, and how it will help a user.
Keywords are researched to understand what users and consumers are searching for when it comes to a particular niche. Search professionals strategize by implementing words and phrases into your website content that carry relevance to your business and value to your audience. A heavy search volume for a particular keyword can take some time to begin ranking, but as users type in the query and you’re working to build links internally and externally, you can see movement in the rankings.
It takes more than just a high ranking keyword to drive traffic and increase conversions for your business. You have to focus on usability factors, navigation and layout, and site speed. But let’s stay on point here. An added advantage in your campaign is if you strategize around queries.
Making your Keywords Sound More like Queries
To help try and close the gap between keyword strings and search queries, digital marketers are suggesting and incorporating long-tail keywords into their strategy. Long-tail keywords are aimed at finding consumers further along in the buying process. Instead of targeting the loose term “law firm,” the long-term focuses more on a niche and is less common than the general term. Your keyword can be “personal injury law firm Philadelphia.” There will be fewer searches, but users who are looking for that particular type of law firm will find what they’re looking for, and convert.
Research Queries in addition to Keywords
Instead of just looking at keywords when researching your campaign, there are tabs in Google Webmaster Tools that show you the queries that have resulted in visitors to your site. On the left sidebar of GWT, under the dropdown Search Traffic, click on Search Analytics and you can see the particular search queries that led users to land on your page. This won’t provide all the information you’re looking for, but will help you understand how a user came across your site.
Additionally, one of the easiest ways to see what users are searching is to test out the autocomplete feature of Google’s search box. As you begin to type your keyword into the query box, Google will try to finish your thought and prompt you to search a specific query. The autocomplete tool relies on trends, so the algorithm that is used to generate the suggested queries includes how often users have searched for a term. You can get some great ideas for your strategy through autocomplete.
Don’t Get Caught up in Keyword Rankings
Different queries will result in different placements of your keywords. Your keyword could be ranking on the third page of SERPs as an exact match query, but a slight alteration could result in a top three or five ranking. It’s all about Google and how they think your site will provide the best user experience for a particular query. The most important thing is that you’re seeing leads, traffic increases, and return on investment through your campaign.
When you begin to understand the difference between keyword selections for your business, and the way your users search, your campaign will see added success.