What are keywords and search queries ? An explanation

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    Keywords are the words and phrases that searchers enter into a search engine search box to find an answer.

    Keywords are sometimes called queries or search queries.

    Are keywords any different from search queries ?

    Keywords and search queries basically mean the same thing.

    Marketers have adopted the phrase “keyword” to mean any word or combination of words entered into a search engine search box.

    The action performed by a searcher is a search query; they are querying the search engines for a result or answer. 

    I know it sounds petty but it’s important when you communicate seo services that your prospects and customers know what you are talking about when you mention these words.

    Why do people type search queries into search engines ?

    People use search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo to search :

    • For answers to questions that they have
    • Find people
    • Find information about products, services, movies, flights, hotels etc
    • Compare and review products and services and 
    • Enquire or buy such services and products.

    Why are search queries important ?

    Before the internet, we had telephone directories to find people, businesses and libraries to research or find answers to questions.

    Now search engines dominate our research and information gathering process.

    Search queries are important because they drive website traffic, communicate information and facilitate enquiries, sales and customer revenue to millions of businesses around the world.

    According to Internet Live Stats there are 3.5 billion search queries made every simple day.

    And the volume of searches are growing around 10% every year.

    What are people looking for?

    This is why search engine marketing agencies and experts exist in order to help companies target what people are searching for and serve them with useful content or advertising.

    Keyword research strategies will involve:

    • Choose a seed keyword and generate a keyword list
    • Filter these keyword ideas into relevant keywords or groups
    • Group the best keywords into problem, information, comparison and purchase intent groups
    • Note the keyword search volume, keyword click volume and keyword difficulty
    • Develop a content strategy based around each keyword group.

    We know from Ahrefs that the most popular searches in the USA are for Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Gmail, Google, weather, eBay, Yahoo, Walmart and Yahoo Mail.

    However, the easiest way to summarise 3.5 billion daily searches is to look at different types of search queries.

    Different types of keywords

    These different types of questions can be broken into different groups such as :


    These are questions about people, places, television shows, how to spell a word, what a word means and so on.


    These search queries most frequently start with “how” with the searcher looking for an answer to their problem.


    When people are unsure about or disappointed with the previous experience with a product, service or company to use they will typically search for an alternative.

    Reviews, comparisons and recommendations

    People will also review and compare different products, services and companies and 48% of shoppers surveyed said use Google to get helpful recommendations or suggestions on what to buy.

    Informational search queries

    The most popular bucket of search queries are informational search queries.

    These could be searches for a product name, service name, a video, a tutorial, a guide or an example.

    45% of shoppers surveyed said they use Google to find the best option for their needs.

    Buyer or Purchase Intent

    And the final type of search query can be classified as a purchase or buyer intent query.

    According to Search Engine Roundtable 46% of all searches in Google have local intent.

    That’s people searching to find a local service, business or provider.

    According to Google, 74% of in store shoppers searched online before going to a store to shop.

    However people will also include words such as bargains, discounts, offer, hire and price in their service query indicating their intent to buy.