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What Is The Difference Between Search Queries And Keywords?

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What Is The Difference Between Search Queries And Keywords?

Marketers use the terms search query and keyword interchangeably with no ill intention, but how the two terms differ needs to be clarified.

Because not knowing the difference between a query and a keyword can lead to poor-performing search marketing strategies.

This article will examine the key aspects of both search queries and keywords, starting with the definition.

What Are Search Queries?

Search queries are what people search.

When you ask Siri something (a query) or type stuff (a query) in Google and hit “search” – that is known as a search query.

The term search query only refers to the literal text used to initiate a search.

What information a user is looking to retrieve is known as the search intent.

You can read about the different types of search intent in the Search Engine Journal article, How People Search: Understanding User Intent.

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What Are Keywords?

Keywords, on the other hand, are the foundation of search campaigns.

They are the words or phrases you build a paid search or organic marketing campaign on.

Keywords are the exact term or phrases that you want your website to show up on Google.

The Difference

The difference between keywords and search queries has to do with whether or not you’re talking about a user’s action or the action of a marketer.

Users don’t know about keywords and don’t care about keywords. They just want an answer to their query.

Marketers? Well, you and I care a lot about search queries.

Understanding what our audience is typing into Google and how that relates to the content and ads is essential to creating marketing campaigns that deliver.

This is where understanding user intent comes into play.

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Users search for the same content in multiple different ways.

The exact order of the words may differ, or the user may add a modifier to their query, but overall, Google will understand that the intended meaning of the keyword is the same.

Below is a diagram that helps to display the difference between keywords and search queries.

Image created by Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal, June 2022

This example shows how many different search queries can lead users to the same root keyword.

Now, you can continue using search queries and keywords interchangeably. But be aware that the difference between search queries and keywords has the power to change the way you think about marketing strategy.

How To Use Search Queries To Level Up Your Keyword Game

Ranking at the top of Google for the right keyword can mean big money for your business.

What if there was a way to leverage your audience’s actual search queries to inform your keyword research?

I will show you a three-step process that uses your audience’s search queries to level up your keyword game.

With free tools, you already have access to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Search.

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1. Discovering High-Value Pages

The first step is discovering which pages are best supporting business objectives.

Open your Google Analytics account. This example will use GA4.

Navigate to Reports > Life cycle > Acquisition > Traffic acquisition.

We will need to make a few edits to the default settings. At the top of the page, click “Add comparison.”

GA4 traffic report screenshot_add new comparison is highlightedScreenshot from GA4 by author, June 2022

Here we will be creating a condition to change the dimension from all users to only users from organic search.

Click Include > First user source / medium and then select the dimension value “google / organic.”

GA4 screenshot adding google organic as a dimension valueScreenshot from GA4 by author, June 2022

You can remove the “all users” dimension by clicking on the x to make the table easier to read.

Next, we will need to add a secondary dimension to see the landing pages. Within the table, click the blue plus sign + > Page / screen > Landing page.

GA4 screenshot_adding landing page as a secondary dimensionScreenshot from GA4 by author, June 2022

We can drill down to see just the pages that support our business object within this table. Scroll to the right and click on the row header “Conversions.”

Doing so will sort the organic landing pages in ascending order based on the number of conversions attributed to that page.

Depending on your site traffic and business objectives, you may want to focus on specific goal completion.

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For example, I want to increase chatbot conversions.

This is a specialty site with less traffic, so I will expand the date range to the last 90 days to get a good sample data set.

I’ll set conversions to “chatbot” only, and this will automatically sort my organic landing pages in ascending order.

GA4 organic landing pages by conversion screenshotScreenshot from GA4 by author, June 2022

This clues me into which webpages are most effective in meeting my business objective for chatbot conversions.

I can see a pattern around crypto advertising and audience insights, so I’ll jot down these landing pages.

You may download the file in the upper right-hand corner if you have a large list.

GA4 how to download a file screenshotScreenshot from GA4 by author, June 2022

Either way, as long as you have access to the exact URLs, we will use them in step two.

2. Mining For High-Value Search Queries

The most effective form of keyword research is discovering what queries users, who interact with your website in a meaningful way, are searching.

The way to do this is by researching queries instead of keywords.

Ready to roll up your sleeves and mine your high-value search queries?

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Let’s go!

Open Google Search Console. Select your property from the dropdown menu in the top left, then click “Performance.”

Default settings will automatically set the search type as web and the default date range to the last three months.

Depending on the volume and seasonality of your site, this may be fine. Adjust as needed.

Click the plus sign “New” and select “Page…” in the space for URLs containing enter one of the high-value page URLs and click APPLY.

Google Search Console_segment to view one web pageScreenshot from Search Console by author, June 2022

On the table, click “Countries” to select the Country for which you are analyzing. Then, click back to QUERIES.

This view will show you the top search queries your audience searched for over the past three months to discover your high-value page.

The table is automatically sorted by “Clicks,” meaning a user found your webpage in search results and clicked on it.

Some of these will be similar, and others may show different search intentions. Jot down the top two to five search queries with the greatest interest (clicks) and relevance to your business.

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At this point, we have a list of search queries that users have clicked on and then interacted with our website in a highly valuable way to business.

3. Expanding Horizon With Google Autocomplete

Continuing our crypto advertising example, my top search query is crypto advertising.

Now, it’s time to expand our horizons by learning what variants or related terms users may also be searching.

For this method to work, we need to adjust a few settings.

Log out of Google or open a private window to ensure your search history does not influence the results.

We want to see predictions for the location where our target audience lives. So, if the user base is in a different place than you, you’ll need to use a VPN. That’s it.

Now, open Google search and type in one of the keywords discovered in step two – but don’t press enter.

For example, if you type crypto advertising into the search bar, you will see something like this:

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Google Autocomplete exampleScreenshot from search for [crypto advertising], Google, June 2022

As you type, Google tries to predict what you are looking for based on the popularity of simple searches by users.

This is called Google Autocomplete.

Google Autocomplete provides a major advantage because it effectively uncovers long-tail keywords (or key phrases) most commonly searched across the web.

Long-tail keywords are usually at least three words long and communicate a clear customer need.

Let’s walk through an example of exactly how to use Autocomplete for one of our high-value keywords discovered in step two.

Enter one of the examples of high-value keywords discovered in step two and jot down any relevant queries to your audience or business.

Try going through the alphabet at the end of your high-value keyword.

For example, adding an “a” at the end to see how that changes the predictions, then “b,” etc.

Keyword research using Google Autocomplete example_using the alphabetScreenshot from search for [crypto advertising e], Google, June 2022

Try adding an underscore at the keyword’s beginning, middle, and or end.

Keyword research using Google Autocomplete_underscore exampleScreenshot from search for [_crypto advertising], Google, June 2022

If any keyword modifiers make sense, like how to, when to, where to, why, or specifying a demographic, niche, etc.

Keyword research autocomplete example using keyword modifierScreenshot from search for [crypto advertising adver], Google, June 2022

Visit the different search engine result pages, paying special attention to the number of ads and what rich results are displayed.

Click through to the different webpages in the search results; this will help you find high-value long-tail keywords and provide hints for the user’s intent.

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Takeaways

Understanding the difference between search queries and keywords is the key to creating search strategies that work.

Search queries refer to the text your audience is searching, while keywords are the terms you’re investing in.

Once you understand the relationship between these two terms, you can think of keyword research in a new way.

And tap into the potential sitting right under your nose.

Using your best customer’s search queries to discover which keywords to invest in – now that’s smart marketing.


Featured Image: Tapati Rinchumrus/Shutterstock

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

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Top 6 Free Survey Maker Tools For Marketers

The number of online surveys has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

From short social media polls to lengthy feedback forms, it’s never been easier to survey your target audience and find out what exactly they’re thinking.

When it comes to free survey makers, you have plenty of options to choose from.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is you have to wade through your options to figure out the best survey tool for you.

In this article, I’ve done that dirty work for you.

Below I outline the top six free survey makers, with a simple bulleted list of their pros and cons, so you can quickly select the best one for your needs.

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But first up, the caveats.

What You’re Missing With Free Survey Makers

When something’s free, there’s usually a catch. The same goes for free survey makers.

Free survey tools, or the free plan offered by a paid survey tool, often come with the following limitations:

  • Limited export options. You may not be able to export your survey data for review in Excel or Google Sheets. There may be a PDF-only export option or no export ability at all.
  • Limited analytics. Free survey tools often skimp on the analytics. You may be left to your own pivot tables and Excel expertise if you want to create anything fancy from your survey data.
  • Limited survey functionality. This runs the gamut, from a limit on how many respondents or questions you can have per survey, to only allowing so many question types (e.g., multiple-choice, long-form, etc.).
  • Limited extra perks. By perks, I mean those other features that make software from good to great. With survey makers, that might mean easy-to-access support, the ability to embed surveys in email or webpages, multiple user accounts, or integration with other email marketing or CRM software.
  • No branding. Free survey makers give you their tools for free. In return, you provide them with free brand awareness. Don’t expect to be able to swap out their logo for your own. You’ll probably be stuck with their branding, along with a prominent link to their site throughout the survey or on the thank you page (or both).

If any of the above is a dealbreaker for you, you should plan to drop a little dough on a paid survey tool. That’s why I’ve also included the starting price for all six of the tools featured below.

In case you end up having to upgrade later, it’s easier to do so from a tool you’re already familiar with.

Top 6 Free Survey Tools

Without further ado, I present the best free survey makers you’ll find today. These are listed in no particular order.

1. Google Forms

Screenshot by author, June 2022

Do you live and die by your Google Drive?

Great news: Google also offers free survey software via Google Forms.

Alright, I know I just said these were presented in no particular order, but I’ll openly admit Google Forms is my personal favorite. Just look at all of the features they include in their free plan!

All you need is a free Google account to get started.

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Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Export to Google Sheets.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Ability to embed images and YouTube videos.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website and share to social media.
  • Survey analytics, updated in real-time.
  • Integration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides.
  • Unlimited collaborators.
  • Customizable survey templates.
  • Free branding.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Enhanced security and collaboration options.
  • Integration with your existing Google Workplace account.

Price: Completely free. Google Workplace pricing starts at $6 per user per month.

Best for: Anyone and everyone, for business or casual use.

2. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkeyScreenshot by author, June 2022

SurveyMonkey is the online survey tool. Established in 1999, it’s still the most well-known online survey software.

Despite the limitations of its free plans, SurveyMonkey continues to be popular thanks to its intuitive interface and brand recognition. Notable clients include Allbirds, Tweezerman, and Adobe.

One nice perk is that you can test out any of the paid features with your free plan. (You just won’t be able to actually use it in your live survey until you pay up.)

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions.
  • 15 question types.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Over 250 customizable survey templates.
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Mobile app.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions, question types, and responses.
  • Data exports – this is a biggie!
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Advanced security (single sign-on, HIPAA compliance).
  • A/B testing.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $16 per month for individuals, $25 for teams.

Best for: Those who want a tried-and-true survey maker with all the features you could ask for.

3. Typeform

typeformScreenshot by author, June 2022

Many online survey tools are designed for the general public.

Readers of Search Engine Journal will be happy to hear that there’s a survey tool created just for us. Typeform was built specifically with marketers, UX researchers, and business owners like us in mind.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

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  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 10 responses per month.
  • Basic question types.
  • Basic reporting and analytics
  • Ability to embed the survey on your website.
  • Integrations with MailChimp, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, Zapier, and more.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Custom thank you screen.
  • Custom branding.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Team collaboration.
  • Ability to accept payment.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Integration with Facebook pixel and Google Tag Manager.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users, UX researchers, and marketers hoping to track customer behavior.

4. Zoho Survey

zoho surveyScreenshot by author, June 2022

Zoho Survey is part of the same Zoho suite of apps that caters to sales, HR, IT, finance, and virtually any kind of business user you can think of.

Given their tenure creating SaaS software for business, their survey tool is just as robust as you might expect. Customers include big names like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, and Change.org.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • 10 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website, or share to social media.
  • Export to PDF.
  • 250 survey templates.
  • Password protection and HTTPS encryption.
  • One user.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Ability to export to XLS or CSV.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Team collaboration.
  • Real-time responses.
  • Multilingual surveys.
  • Integration with Google Sheets, Tableau, Shopify, Zendesk, Eventbrite, and others.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Best for: Zoho users, or anyone who needs an extra level of security for their surveys.

5. Alchemer

alchemer survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

Alchemer is an advanced survey maker developed for the enterprise client.

Paid features include custom coding so you can customize every single element of your survey, from the survey URL to the form logic.

They stand out among free survey makers for being one of the few (besides Google Forms) to offer unlimited questions and Excel exports in their free plan. Clients include Disney, Salesforce, Verizon, and The Home Depot.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Three surveys at a time.
  • Unlimited questions.
  • 100 responses.
  • 10 question types.
  • Export to Excel.
  • Customizable templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited responses.
  • Unlimited question types.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • Ability to embed surveys in websites.
  • Export to PDF, PowerPoint, or Word.
  • Ability for survey respondents to upload files.
  • Survey analytics and reporting.
  • Ability to accept payment.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $49 per month.

Best for: Enterprise users needing to create long surveys with advanced logic and question types.

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6. Jotform

jotform survey makerScreenshot by author, June 2022

With over 10,000 templates, Jotform takes the cake as the survey maker with the most form templates on our list.

Jotform also stands out for letting you accept payments with the free plan (although you’re limited to 10).

This popular survey maker includes clients as wide-ranging as AMC and Nickelodeon to Redfin and the American Medical Association.

Here’s what’s included in the free plan:

  • Five surveys.
  • 100 questions per survey.
  • 100 responses per survey.
  • Ability to embed surveys in email or website.
  • Export to PDF or Excel.
  • 10,000 survey templates.

What’s missing from the free plan:

  • Unlimited surveys.
  • Unlimited questions and responses.
  • Survey logic (ability to skip or trigger questions).
  • Custom branding.
  • HIPAA compliance.

Price: Freemium. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Best for: Users who want a template for every kind of survey possible.

Which Survey Tool Will You Use?

There truly is a survey maker for everybody.

The above options are all solid choices. Which one works for you may depend on your organization’s needs and your personal preferences.

Take advantage of the free trials and see which one you like best.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock



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