SEO Glossary / Search Term

Search Term

What is a Search Term?

A search term (or search query) refers to a word or set of words that a person enters on a search engine like Google to generate specific results.

According to Internet Live Stats, over 100,000 searches occur on Google every second, amounting to roughly 8.6 billion searches per day. Google may be the most popular search engine, but it's not the only one.

Interestingly, 15% of all queries entered into Google are unique, meaning they have never been seen by Google before.

Now, it's crucial to differentiate between search terms and keywords. A search term is the exact word or phrase that a user types into the search box. In contrast, a keyword is a term or set of terms that marketers and advertisers target in their paid and organic search campaigns.

Why Are Search Terms Important for SEO?

"Speak the same language as your target audience" is a common mantra in marketing. As a content marketer, SEO professional, or PPC specialist, understanding what people are searching for and the exact words they use is essential. This understanding helps you target the right keywords and create content that aligns with their expectations.

Doing so signals to Google that your webpage matches the user's intent based on their search query, thereby improving your search engine rankings.

How to Choose the Best Keywords (With Search Terms in Mind)?

Here are a few essential tips to help you pick the best keywords that align with actual search terms.

1. Always Consider the Search Intent

Search intent, or the "why" behind a search, is critical. There are four main types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation.

Consider the search intent behind the user's query and target keywords that match it. This alignment increases your chances of ranking higher in search results.

You can learn more about search intent in our detailed guide.

In addition to search intent, consider the business potential of the keyword and prioritize those likely to generate revenue.

2. Examine Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are less popular but more specific phrases related to a general topic. Although they have lower search volumes, they tend to be less competitive and more relevant.

These keywords often align closely with actual search terms, resulting in a stronger connection. Use long-tail keywords in sub-sections or sub-headings of main topics rather than as separate topics.

3. Monitor the Search Terms Report in Google Ads

If you run PPC ads on Google, closely monitor the "Search terms" report. This report shows the exact queries for which your ad appeared.

You might find that the search terms differ from the keywords you targeted, even in "exact match" mode. This insight allows you to focus on the right keywords and eliminate unwanted ones, saving money.


What’s the difference between search terms and keywords?

Search terms are the queries that users type into search engines to find information. Keywords, on the other hand, are terms targeted by SEO specialists and advertisers to match users' search queries and improve ranking.

Where do keyword tools get data about search terms?

Different keyword tools have different sources. Most keyword tools pull data directly from Google Ads Keyword Planner. More advanced tools combine this data with clickstream data and other sources to refine their statistics.