a query about horses is posted online, does that make it an e-questrian? 🐴🖥

As a general definition, a query is a question. In online marketing, a query is anything typed into a search engine text box.

Queries are massively varied and unpredictable – if a cat walks across the keyboard, types a nonsensical string of letters into a search engine text box, and manages to hit ‘enter,’ that is now a query. Search terms that are entire questions, misspelled, hyper-specific, and everything in between count as queries.

What’s the difference between a query and a keyword?

Keywords are exact and specific. They’re designed to be associated with a particular topic or interest, and often do not contain many extra words. Keywords are used by marketing teams. Users use queries.

For example, say you have a company that sells pet accessories. They’ve written a blog about cat toys someone can make with materials they have around the house. After some keyword research, they’ve decided that their target keyword for the blog post is ‘homemade cat toys.’

Once the blog post is written, optimized, published, and gaining traction, the site owner checks Google Search Console to see what queries are directing people to the site. They see ‘homemade cat toys,’ which is what they wanted, but they might also find ‘cat toys you can make with recycled items,’ ‘diy cat toys,’ ‘make your own cattoys,’ and ‘what do you need to make a cat teaser easily and cheeply?’

Using these results, they could work some excellent terms into the article as part of a striking distance optimization. Still, there are also very long phrases, plus ones with typos or misspellings. These are queries, and while the blog post does technically rank well enough to be seen near the top of results for this page, they’re not anything the internal team should try to work into the blog itself.

As another example from our own experience: our client Screenmobile, often gets traffic from queries like ‘screan,’ ‘scren,’ ‘scree,’ ‘sreen,’ and every other possible typo and misspelling of ‘screen’ you can picture. They don’t use these in their copy, but Google assumes the meaning of these queries and acts appropriately so that someone who searches for ‘screens’ can still find something valuable.

What are the different types of queries?

here are three main types of queries that digital marketers look at: 

  • Navigational – these terms are meant to help the user find a specific website. They want to log in to an online portal, shop, contact customer service, or otherwise interact with one brand in particular with searches like ‘Facebook login,’ or ‘Netflix customer service.’  
  • Transactional (also called ‘commercial’)- the consumer wants to buy something or complete a specific action. They might search for ‘used cars for sale’ or ‘download Microsoft Office.’
  • Informational – a question about a specific subject. This makes up for the bulk of search queries, and is what many blog and online content authors aim for. Informational queries are incredibly varied – for example, ‘How to tie a tie,’ or ‘What is a combustion engine.’ Frequently, they may not be in the form of a question, but it is understood that the user wants to learn more. ‘Yorkshire terriers,’ ‘wedding hairstyles,’ ‘the Great Wall of China.’

Some queries may also combine two types – most commonly informational and transactional or transactional and navigational. It’s not unusual that someone wants to learn more about something before buying it, or trying to find a specific item on a site. 

In rare cases, you might find a query that combines all three. These will usually include a brand name, product type or action, and a request for information about that item. ‘Best cleaning playlists Spotify’ – they want to learn about what other users deem the best playlists to jam to while they clean up the house, but want to get it on Spotify’s platform in particular.

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    Keywords –>

    Long-tail keyword –>

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