Difference Between Search Quieries and Keywords

Search Query vs KeywordI’ve been asked a few times over the last couple of months the difference between search queries and keywords or keyword phrases.

A search query is the actual term that a user types into the search box on a search engine. And keywords or keyword phrases are what make up that query. Sometimes a search query and a keyword are one in the same. With Google, search query results are reported in two main areas, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Adwords. It can also be included in Google Analytics, when it is connected with Webmaster Tools.  Jamey Parks, in our PPC department, uses the search query section of Google Adwords a lot to find new keyword phrases he can then add to new or existing campaigns or ad groups.

As Google’s Webmaster Tools help section says:

The Search Queries page provides information about Google Web Search queries that have returned pages from your site. In addition, you can also see information about the pages on your site that were seen most often in search results (top pages).

The search query report in Google’s Webmaster Tools provides valuable information about the nature and characteristics of the searches people are conducting when looking for specific information. It is important to study the search query results to determine if our website pages are getting the right recognition, or ranking, we are wanting to achieve. This report shows:

  • Impressions (number of times pages from our site appear in search results);
  • Clicks (number of times a user clicked our site’s listing in the search results for a particular query);
  • CTR (clickthrough rate, the percentage of impression that resulted in a click to our site):
  • Average Position (the average position of our site on the search results page for a particular query)

Having a good and compelling meta description for a given web page, can help to improve the CTR for a given query. The meta description is what is displayed as a description of your page in the search results. Recently I tried an experiment with a meta description to determine if the click through rates would increase by putting a dynamically produced title snippet upfront in the description than in the middle of the description. Over time I saw improved click through rates because of those changes. More clicks mean increased traffic. Increased traffic mean increased sales.

So using the search query section of Google Webmaster Tools and Google Adwords is an important tool for improving traffic and exposure.

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