What Is a Search Query?

A search query or search term is the word or string of words that a search engine user types into the search box/search bar (e.g., Google Search).

Difference Between Keywords and Search Queries

keyword is a word or group of words that are usually associated with particular content or topic. 

Search Query refers to the real-life combination of words that people enter in search engines to find a website or information.

As digital marketers, what we target are keywords.

  • SEO (organic search) we optimize on-page content (using the exact keywords in URLs, title tags, body copy, image file names, meta descriptions, etc.) by building inbound links with keywords in the anchor text.
  • PPC (paid search) we target keywords by bidding on them in Google Ads/Adwords/Bing Ads and using them in our advertisements and landing pages.

Types of Search Queries

People perform searches with different types of search queries. These intentions can be categorized into three different types: informational, navigational, and transactional.

1. Informational Search Queries

Informational search queries refer to when a searcher is looking to find information.

People who perform informational searches are usually looking for answers to their questions or guides on doing something.

Question-like queries dominate the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) with this type of search.

Tip: Create high-quality content that answers fundamental questions for people. Build articles you would use, and add FAQ & How-TO Schema to those pages to hopefully win a featured snippet on the results page.

Examples

  • Write a how-to blog post full of tips that would be useful for your prospective customers.
  • Create a how-to video relevant to your business.
  • Write a detailed, step-by-step guide that elucidates a process relevant to your business.
  • Design an infographic and add it to your website.

2. Navigational Search Queries

People who perform navigational searches want to find a web page related to a specific brand or product.

This could be a social media account or website related to that particular brand or product.

Tip: Your brand name should be unique to ensure you are the first result.

3. Transactional Search Queries

Transactional search queries refer to searches where users are looking to perform a transaction, usually to purchase.

Transactional intent often includes keywords like “order,” “buy,” or “purchase.” 

Sometimes, they will also include the specific brands or products they want to buy. 

Due to the commercial nature of these searches, they are heavily targeted by e-commerce websites. 

Tip: For best, results learn Search Engine Optimization for Ecommerce websites to learn how the Google Algorithm fulfills the searcher’s intent.

Where do I find Search Queries?

You can find search queries metrics in Google Analytics (GA) or Google Search Console (GSC):

Google Search Console (GSC)

In GSC, you can discover Queries under Search results.

GSC

Google Analytics (GA)

In GA, you can find Queries using the internal search or under Acquisition >> Search Console >> Queries.

GA

How do I analyze my search results?

Actual search can be arduous to gauge accurately. Every search is personalized, and you might get varied results on what device or location you search from. Also, if you continually search for the same query, Google will show you only search results you tend to click on, which provides you with a false sense of confirmation bias. 

You can use an advanced search operator (e.g., site:example.com)to see how your pages rank within your domain. If needed, you can use boolean operators like ANDOR, and NOT to filter results.

The Takeaway

There are so many things to consider when analyzing your search queries. Thankfully, we’ve covered the basics in this post, and you should be able to get started on your own with these tips. If you want help getting more detailed insights into what makes a good or bad SEO strategy, let me know! I’m ready and waiting for any questions about using search queries in digital marketing strategies. What types of searches have you found most effective? Which do you find least helpful? What other questions would like answered by my blog posts? Please let me know in the comments section below.

About the author
Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is SEO Freelancer in Ottawa, where he helps clients plan marketing goals that are keyword-optimized and measurable.

He has worked at Microsoft, The institute of chartered accountants in Australia, Auto Trader, Le Cordon Bleu, and Algonquin College in various Digital Marketing Roles.

Isaac is qualified as a Full-stack developer, Server Administrator, and cyber security expert, adding additional experience to his Search Engine Optimization knowledge.

His Inuit heritage brought him to the Arctic to hunt and fish for most summers, which grew his passion for 4-wheelers and dirtbikes.