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Difference Between Keywords Vs Search Queries

Keywords vs Search Queries: The Basics Differences

A few days back, during a webinar on advanced SEO, one of my friends shared important insights on differences between search queries and keywords. Often used interchangeably in online marketing jargons, they are indeed two separate terms, with entirely different roles and meanings.

What are Keywords and Search Queries?

Keywords are a combination of words that SEO experts target with an aim to get desired visibility for the brand or product(s) they are promoting in the online space.

Examples can be innumerable, and a few of them can be, “heaters below 1000” or “smartphones below 10000” and so on.

On the other hand, search queries are a combination of words with which the users try to search for relevant information over the Internet.

Examples can be “where to buy the latest iPhone 12 smartphone” or “second hand Sony PlayStation sellers near me” or “herley Davidson service stations near my location.” The last example has a spelling mistake, “herley Davidson “which is natural in search queries.

How are Keywords and Search Queries different?

  • Who uses them: Well, marketers use keywords to promote a brand. Users enter search queries to look for relevant information over the Internet.
  • How they are utilized: Whereas marketers analyze search queries to determine keywords, users just type search queries with a hope to get required information. From a list of 5-10 different search queries that the users issue, marketers create 2-3 relevant keywords.

Users Search Queries Examples: smartphones below 10000, best android smartphones, smartphones with excellent camera, smartphones with 128 GB storage, samsung smartphone under 15000, best samsung smartphone, iphone smartphone below 40000, best apple iphone, iphone with best camera

Marketers Keywords Examples: best smartphones below 10000, best samsung smartphone below 15000, best iphone below 40000

  • Who is aware about them: Of course marketers! Users are unaware about the differences between keywords and search queries. They just type random combination of words to get the required information.

How SEO experts Use this Information

Now that you know the difference between keywords and search queries, let’s delve into the ways to use the two to come up with a feasible SEO or PPC strategy for the brand you are promoting.

Every SEO or PPC campaign starts with keywords at the helm. However, they are not real but engineered. Users don’t type keywords. They type queries. So, in reality these search queries drive traffic.

So, how do SEO experts utilize search queries and keywords? A few tools always come in handy.

Google Webmaster Tool

In GWT, first identify queries that bring users to your site.

Login in GWT->Navigate to Search Queries->Search Analytics. This is where you will find the queries that drive users to your site. Such a list itself will give enough insights into keywords that you can include in your strategy for paid ads or organic search strategy.

There may be a few search queries that are driving traffic on your site that you are not targeting; it’s time to bring them to the forefront as well. After all it’s your lottery. Use such queries in your content and double-up the chances to rank well among your competitors, online.


With tools like KeywordFX and Google Autosuggest, you can find more search queries to attract traffic on your site.

Just type the keyword in the search bar and you’ll see a list of alphabetically sorted queries to find your site.  One thing worth remembering is that not all queries are relevant in the list so filter only relevant ones.

Google Autosuggest (Autocomplete)

With Google Autosuggest as well, you can find new search queries.

Whenever you type a few words in the Google search bar, a drop-down with complete search queries pop-up as suggestions. Most of the times, they are what the users are looking for.

With this Autocomplete feature, users get what they want quickly. On the other hand, marketers get valuable insights into what users are looking for.

However, before using this Autocomplete feature, its best to log out from your Google account. This is because if you remain signed in, it’s likely that Google will show suggestions based on what you’ve searched previously for your business.

Alternatively, you can turn off the Web & App Activity in the App Controls Page of your Google Account.

Finally, going forward, incorporate all these findings in your future PPC and SEO strategies.

Incorporate keywords you haven’t targeted till now. Also, specifically for PPC strategies, if you find unrelated queries you need to put them as negative keywords.”

For example, you target android smartphones. The user comes looking for POKO android smartphones on your site. If you target Poko smartphones as well, its fine else put the keyword Poko android smartphones in negative keywords list.

Keywords vs Search Queries: Conclusion

Basic building blocks of an efficient keyword strategy are to deploy relevant keywords in the forefront. To do so, it’s essential to understand even the most subtle of differences between “search queries” and “keywords.” This brief discourse tries to highlight these very differences in detail.