• Business Tips

Keywords vs. Search Queries

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 4 min read
Keywords vs. Search Queries


Digital marketing is a field that is filled with countless specialized terms and it often feels like you need a glossary to keep track of all of them. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the more basic terms in the field as we go over the differences between keywords and search queries.

We’re going to start off by defining each of them individually before we dive into a deeper comparison of both terms. While there are some key similarities between keywords and search queries, they are not the same thing, which seems to be a bit of a common misconception.

What is a Keyword?

A keyword is a core tenet of your digital marketing and SEO strategy, as the name would suggest. These are going to be your targets and they should be related to what you have to offer. For example, if you sell furniture, it’s pretty likely that “sofa” and “couch” would be two of your most important keywords.

Keep in mind that keywords don’t have to be a single word, they can also be short keyphrases like “velvet couch” or “green sofa.” So how do you find keywords? You have to do keyword research using something like the Ranktracker Keyword Finder tool.

What is a Search Query?

Search queries can sometimes include keywords in them, but they’re not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination. A search query is a series of words that you type into the search engine that you’re using so that you can find the results that you’re looking for.

A search query can be phrased in many different ways and lead to the same results. For example, you can search for “buy sofa near me” whereas someone else can search “purchase sofa near me”. Keep in mind that search queries can also contain typos, which Google will typically correct automatically.

How Do They Differ?

Keywords and search queries differ in who they are typically used by. For example, digital marketers use keywords to ensure that they can get better organic search results. As we mentioned before, a keyword is a part of a digital marketing strategy, and it wouldn’t mean much to the average searcher.

This is because the average person just wants to see pertinent results when they type the search query into the search bar. Very rarely will they put any thought into the digital marketing strategy that has resulted in the page they’re on being at the top of the search results page and most are blissfully unaware of the inner works of SEO.

Search queries on the other hand, are typically used by people who aren’t involved in the marketing side of things, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not useful to digital marketers. In fact, understanding the most common search queries is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re doing accurate keyword research.

However, you don’t want your keywords to be overly specific, so you can’t just take search queries and make them your keywords unless they’re succinct and to the point. Let’s say you have the following search queries: “used velvet sofa,” “velvet sofa near me,” “how to clean velvet sofa”.

If you want to make a keyword to target these, you’re going to take the part that’s common to all of them, which is “velvet sofa.” This will likely become one of the pillars of your SEO campaign to ensure that you can improve your organic search results and drive more traffic to your furniture business.

Using Search Queries to Find Pertinent Keywords

Remember that there’s a difference between ranking well for your keywords and actually getting customers to start doing business with you. Plenty of sites may rank at the top of their respective search results pages but they may not be choosing the right keywords, meaning that they have a lower conversion rate.

To make sure that you get the best results out of your marketing strategy, you’ll need to take the right approach to figuring out the ideal keywords that you should be targeting. There are a few ways that you can do this, and the first is to figure out what search queries are leading to your site in the first place.

Using the Google Search Console, you can take a look at the most common queries that bring people to your site. You’ll ideally want to make keywords out of the top ones so that you can double down on the organic traffic that those search queries are bringing you already.

You can also take a look at how you’re ranking for each of these search queries. If you’re ranking well for a search query that isn’t a part of your digital marketing strategy, then you’ll probably want to incorporate that into your keywords so that you can make the most of it.

Another way to find better keywords is to take a keyword or a search query that is doing a good job of generating traffic to your site and then finding derivatives of it. You can use specialized tools for this, but if you’d rather not pay for those tools, you can also take advantage of Google Autosuggest.

Just start typing one of the queries into the search bar and Google will show you some related searches that you may want to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy. Be sure not to take too much of a scattershot approach with your keyword strategy to ensure that you get the best possible return from your marketing efforts.

It may be tempting to try and target a huge number of keywords, but not all of those keywords will result in a high conversion rate. In fact, if you notice that specific search queries don’t generate the results you want out of them, you can deem them negative keywords so that your marketing team knows to avoid them.

Once you know your audience, it becomes a lot easier to ensure that your keywords line up with their interests.

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