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  • Writer's pictureNikki Garrison

The Difference Between Queries and Keywords in SEO

Everyone’s heard the term keywords when talking about SEO. But do you know what queries are and why they’re equally as important? Do you know the difference between keywords and queries? Read on to learn everything you need to know about the two and what their differences are.

What is a keyword in SEO?

As a refresher, or in case you’re not an SEO nerd (yet), a keyword is a word or phrase that’s entered somewhere on your website that relates to the topic you want searchers to use to find that particular web page.

Where do I put keywords on my website?

Keywords can be included in your headers, page titles, URLs, metadata, alt text, anchor links, or sprinkled naturally throughout your copy.

what is a keyword in SEO?

Here are a few examples:

Keywords in a URL

The keyword here is “SEO training classes”

Keywords in the Headers

“What are the four best ways to relieve migraine headache pain?”

The keywords here are “relief migraine headache pain”

Keywords in Alt Text

“Woman in green shirt receives cognitive behavioral therapy in Scottsdale”

The keywords here are “cognitive behavioral therapy in Scottsdale”

What is a Query in SEO?

A query is a term or phrase that searchers entered into a search engine, like Google, to find a web page.

what is a query in SEO?

For example, if I want to find someone to train me on how to do SEO in Phoenix, I’m going to go straight to Garrison Agency’s website to send a message so I can get on the calendar ASAP. Because they’re the best SEO Coaches in the world. Haha ok, but seriously, my first stop would be to Google something like “SEO training”. If I wanted it from a local business, I’d add “Phoenix”. That’s a query.

Here’s the difference -

Searchers (potential customers) enter queries into search engines. So, whatever they think of to look for, that’s what they’re going to type. I know my mom thinks of some fun ones. Bless her heart.

Website owners enter keywords into websites. So, you decide what keywords go on your website to help match the searcher’s query with your web page.

Why is the difference important?

Queries inform website owners of which keywords they should be using on their websites. Queries inform us of the searcher’s intent.

Without queries, we wouldn’t know which keywords to use on our websites. But what about keyword research? I’m glad you asked.

Queries are part of keyword research!

Read that again. You can’t finish keyword research without knowing what your potential customer’s search intent is. And you can’t know their search intent without getting in their heads a little. Queries literally tell us what searchers are thinking and Google gives us this information for free!

What is Search Intent?

This one topic has countless other articles written on it. Google has entire ranking systems dedicated to it. But for the sake of brevity, the basic definition, for now, is just that search intent is the reason a person searches for something online.

There are four types of search intent according to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines.

⁃ Do - searcher is trying to accomplish a goal

⁃ Know - searcher is looking to learn

⁃ Website - searcher is looking for a specific site or page

⁃ Visit-in-person - searcher is looking to visit a local business, organization

That’s the tip of the iceberg on search intent. I like SearchEngineJournal’s article on “How People Search” if you want some fun nighttime reading.

Where to Find Queries

Now that you understand the importance of queries informing search intent, so that you know which keywords to enter on your website…first pat yourself on the back for understanding that super nerdy SEO sentence. See, I told you SEO is fun! Now, let’s make sure you’re set up with Google Search Console.

Another topic that could be multiple other blogs, GSC is a must-have tool for performing SEO on your website. It’s also where you can view and download your queries report. The dashboard allows you to do all sorts of fun stuff, too. You can compare month-over-month, 90 days at a time, 6 months, etc. You can search for a specific query and see how many impressions and clicks you got for it. The possibilities really do go on and on.

You’ll need a Google account and depending on your website platform, connecting it can be either super simple or mildly technical. WordPress is a bit on the technical side, while platforms like Wix or SquareSpace are more plug-and-play. Either way, you’ve got this! We’re always here if you need help and a quick walk-through.

How It All Works Together

Once you have your query report, you’ll know what your potential audience is searching to find your website. Combine that information with your keyword research and enter these words on your website. Do this at least monthly. That’s optimizing for keywords. That’s SEO. Congrats! You’re doing it!

Over time the words should start to sync up. Some words on the query report will be more prevalent each month, usually changing slightly each month. The words people are searching more are great indicators of what you should focus on for content creation. Use these for blog topics, social posts, etc.

If you start to see random words on your queries report that are unrelated to the services or products you provide, this could mean that there’s something on your website leading searchers to believe that you help with that word or phrase. Check the corresponding page tab on your queries report and then check that page on your website to see what could be directing searchers toward your site for that random query. Make adjustments accordingly. This is why it’s important to check your Google Search Console often.

how to check google search console.

We’re Here If You Need Us

Google Search Console has a lot more data than just the queries report. There is also a bit more to SEO than just queries and keywords. If you have any questions, we do offer those SEO training classes we mentioned above. These are one-on-one, hands-on classes via Zoom. We’d love to dig in and teach you more. In the meantime, follow us on social for more SEO tips and tricks.


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