Search Query Explained

Curious about queries? A search query is what’s entered into a search engine in order to find specific information. It can be just one word, a few words, or an entire question. Regardless of what makes up a search query, the goal is almost always to find something using a search engine. 

Search queries are a huge part of online marketing and SEO, or search engine optimization.  SEO is the process of editing content so that it will show up in search results in a way that attracts users. This often involves trying to obtain the first or one of the first positions in a series of results listed after a Google search. Understanding what a search query is can help you improve your SEO marketing. Once you understand how users are phrasing their queries, you can better optimize your content for their searches. In this article, we’ll explore the definition of a search query, how keywords affect searches, and more. Then, we’ll review how these terms impact SEO for your business. 

Query Definition

To fully define a “search query,” we need also to define its parts. The “search” in “search query” simply refers to the search engine being used. The word “query” is defined as a question, often posed to something official, like an organization. Combined, these words refer to the keywords and phrases entered into a search engine in order to find something. These can be any length. Some are as short as one word, while others may be a fully formed question. 

what is a search query

Types of Search Queries

There are three main types of search queries. The types vary depending on a user’s intention with their search. 


The first type is the informational search query. This term refers to searches where a user is clearly looking for a piece of information. Examples include questions like “What is today’s date,” “Who is the president,” and more. Even “query definition” is itself an informational search query. Any query that can lead users to a specific answer would fall under this category. Most informational search queries are fully formed questions. 


Navigational search queries are the second type. These searches are looking for specific websites or pages. It includes common searches like “Facebook,” “Google,” or “Amazon.” When users search for these phrases, they’re usually hoping to be provided with a link to the website. While searching for these words may bring up information about these companies, most users are trying to get to the website itself.


The third category of a search query is transactional. Transactional search queries are done when users are looking to buy something. They may be vague, like “cheap wedding dresses.” Other times, they may include specific products like “buy new iPhone.” Most searches that include words like “buy” or “order” fall into this category. Understanding the different categories of search queries can help you better understand a user’s intentions with each of their searches. Knowing the difference between these categories can help you improve your own SEO by optimizing your content accordingly.

Regardless of the type, search queries provide important information to users’ searches. Search queries are the phrases entered into search engines, but they often highlight important keywords. Keywords are important words that users search for to find something. When a user searches for something, whatever they enter into the search bar is a search query. The subject of this search is usually the keyword. If a search query is like a question, a keyword is often the point of the question. It is the answer users are looking for. 

keywords vs search query

Keywords Meaning

Like search queries, keywords are similarly important to SEO. Keywords are words or phrases that are used within searches. They’re essentially the things people are looking for when they search for something. There are two types of keywords in digital marketing: head and long-tail. Head keywords are short, popular keywords that are searched for often. Long-tail keywords are a little more specific and usually longer. Keywords are immensely important for marketing, as they offer insight into the specific phrases used in searches. When you know what users are looking for, you can tailor your content to use those same keywords. This can, in turn, increase your chances of showing up in organic searches. Organic searches are searches that only provide results based on relevance. This excludes paid advertisements that you might otherwise see at the top of a results page. 

Keyword Trends

Keeping up with keyword trends can help you keep your website up to date with users’ interests. Many websites like Google Analytics allow you to track the popularity of certain words and phrases.  When you know what specific wording is used when searching for something, you can make sure your website has the same wording. Search engines try to match users with websites that most closely resemble their search. The closer your content is to that search query, the more likely it is to show up on a search engine results page or SERP. 

Searchers aren’t very likely to scroll past the first few results in a SERP. This results in a lot of SEO marketing that involves trying to receive a high position in a SERP; the higher, the better. The more relevant your keywords are, the more likely you are to receive a high position on a results page. Keeping up with keywords and search queries can bring your website more traffic and, ultimately, more business. It can be difficult to compete for high SERP positions with popular keywords like “clothes.” For smaller businesses, it may be easier to be the first result for specific keywords. The less common the keyword, the fewer businesses there might be competing for that first position. More specific searches like “chic, Bohemian clothes near me” may be easier to take over. It’s also important to use keywords sparingly in some cases.

keyword meaning

Keyword vs. Search Query

Despite their similarities, keywords and search queries are not the same. Search queries are the entire phrases entered into search engines in order to find something. Contrastingly, keywords are smaller words or phrases that can be found within those search queries. Keywords are the things people are searching for, while search queries are the phrases typed into search engines to find those things. Search queries are most often phrases or questions that highlight specific keywords. 

For example, if someone wants to find a florist nearby, they might look up “flower shops near me.” This whole phrase is the search query since it’s being entered into a search engine like Google. In this case, “flower shops” would be the keyword, as it is the specific thing someone is looking for. In some instances, a search query may be made up entirely of only one keyword. These kinds of search queries may be things like “florist,” iPhone,” “animal shelter,” etc. 

Search Queries and SEO

To review, search queries are the phrases entered into websites like Google when a user wants to find something. These phrases can be any length. They may be full questions or just one or two words. 

There are three different types. Informational search queries are questions entered into a search engine with the goal of receiving information. This usually involves entering a question into a search engine with the hopes of receiving a specific answer. Navigational search queries are searches for websites. When a user performs a navigational search query, they’re usually just hoping to be guided to the website they’re looking for. Lastly, transactional search queries involve purchasing something. 

Keywords are a similar concept in SEO. They are the individual words or phrases in search queries. Keywords are usually the specific things users are looking for, while search queries may be the whole question. Search queries are often the questions used to find specific concepts, also known as keywords. Both of these concepts are very important in digital marketing. Knowing what users are searching for can allow you to tailor your website so that it aligns with popular keywords and search queries. The more closely your website resembles a user’s search, the more likely it is to show up in their search. Keeping up with keywords can allow you to use these keywords across your website in various forms. 

search query meaning

Optimize Your Website

Once you know what keywords and queries are relevant to your website, there are many different ways to optimize your website using this information. One way is to produce content using specific keywords. Blog posts, articles, and social media posts can all use keywords. On some websites like YouTube, you can specifically tag keywords that are relevant to your video. You can also be sure to include descriptions that align with what you’ve researched. Once you do this, your website is more likely to be in a high SERP position. While being the first result is desirable, it’s also difficult. That’s why it’s important to keep updating your website in order to be up to date on keyword trends. Competing for high SERP positions can be very challenging, but it’s not impossible, especially equipped with the knowledge we’ve shared here. 


  • What is an example of a search query?
  • What are the three main types of search queries?
  • How are keywords and search queries different?
  • What do search queries have to do with SEO?
  • What is a keyword in marketing?

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