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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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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:

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.

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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Yelp Details Removal Of Paid Review Groups & Lead Generators

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Yelp Details Removal Of Paid Review Groups & Lead Generators

Yelp published its 2022 Trust and Safety Report detailing actions it took against lead generators, fake review groups and businesses incentivizing reviews.

Yelp Cracks Down on Paid Review Groups

The report details the proactive approach to chasing down online review groups and breaking them up.

Among the tactics Yelp used is identifying IP addresses used for fake positive reviews, as well as connecting users to groups that are arranging paid reviews.

Yelp’s Trust and Safety report revealed that it fights online review exchanges by identifying the groups on social media and working together with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to break them up.

In a 2021 blog post about their recommendation software, Yelp wrote that they monitor online groups and even conduct sting operations to catch the fake review rings.

Yelps newly released Trust and Safety report explains:

“Yelp strictly prohibits offering incentives or other compensation in exchange for writing, changing or removing a review.

To combat this on and off our platform, our User Operations team did the following in 2022:

– Issued 415+ warnings to businesses for engaging in compensated or incentivized review behaviors.

– As part of our broader Consumer Alerts program, we placed 88 Compensated Activity Alerts on business pages after receiving evidence someone offered cash or other incentives in exchange for posting, updating or removing a review.

We also placed 405 Suspicious Review Activity Alerts after our systems detected a large number of positive reviews coming from a single IP address, or reviews from users who may be connected to a group that coordinates incentivized reviews.

Made 1,100+ reports to third-party sites, such as Twitter (150 reports were made by Yelp), Facebook (130 reports), Instagram (110 reports) and LinkedIn (70 reports), to warn them of content from more than 900 suspicious groups, posts or individuals we found on their sites participating in online review exchanges.

Third-party platforms took action on content at issue in approximately 77% of our reports.”

Yelp Closes Thousands of Fraudulent Accounts

The Trust and Safety report reports that Yelp closed over 77,000 user accounts for terms of service violations and suspected deceptive and abusive actions.

They also rejected over 32,800 potential new business pages for being associated with spammy activities that violated Yelp’s policies.

An interesting revelation is how they came down hard on lead generation businesses whose business model is to create fake business listings and then sell leads to local businesses.

Yelp writes:

“Nearly 2,000 business pages removed for being associated with lead generators, violating Yelp’s policies.

‘Lead generators’ create fake business pages then take the customer leads generated and auction them to other contractors.

This behavior tricks people into paying exorbitant costs for services, targeting vulnerable consumers who are often allowing service providers into their home (locksmiths, movers, home cleaning, etc.).”

Yelp User Operations Team Content Removals

The report notes that 2% of all Yelp contributions were removed by their user operations  team in 2022. That includes reviews, photos, review up-voting, and other forms of contributions.

Yelp Trust and Safety

The integrity of reviews is important to a recommender ecosystem like Yelp. Yelp uses a recommendation software as their first line of defense against deceptive behavior. The software itself is dynamic in that it keeps tabs on the users and businesses as they engage with the platform.

Yelp writes:

“The recommendation software is entirely automated and applies the same objective rules to every business. The reviews that are recommended for any business can change over time as Yelp’s software learns more about the reviewers and the business.”

It also employs human moderators in their User Operations team to follow up and manually review reports generated by users, businesses or their automated systems.

Read Yelp’s Trust and Safety Report for 2022

Featured image by Shutterstock/II.studio



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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

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7 Steps to Grow Your Traffic & Sales

Content marketing has become one of the best (and most cost-effective) ways to get traffic to a website. When done right, the traffic keeps coming long after you stop actively promoting it.

If you own an e-commerce website and want to learn how to utilize blogging to grow your brand and increase your sales, this is the guide for you.

I’ve personally grown blogs to over 250,000 monthly visitors, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients in the e-commerce space to help them do the same. Here’s an overview of my seven-step process to starting and growing an e-commerce blog. 

But first…

Why start a blog on your e-commerce site?

Creating a blog has a whole host of benefits for e-commerce websites:

  • It can help you move visitors along your marketing funnel so they eventually buy.
  • You’re able to rank highly for keywords on Google that your product pages could never rank for but that are still important for building brand awareness and finding customers.
  • It can help you grow your email list.
  • You’re able to continue to get traffic without constantly spending money on ads.
  • It provides many opportunities to link to your product and category pages to help them rank better on the SERPs.

If you don’t know what some of these things mean, don’t worry—I’ll explain them along the way. But for now, let’s take a look at some e-commerce blogs that are working well right now so you can see the end goal.

Examples of successful e-commerce blogs

Three of my favorite examples of e-commerce websites using blogging are:

  1. Solo Stove
  2. Flatspot
  3. v-dog

Solo Stove comes in at the top of my list due to its excellent use of videos, photos, and helpful information on the blog. It also does search engine optimization (SEO) really well, bringing in an estimated 329,000 monthly visits from Google (data from Ahrefs’ Site Explorer).

Overview of Solo Stove, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In fact, it’s grown its brand to such a level of popularity that it even created search demand for keywords that include its brand name in them, then created blog posts to rank for those keywords:

Ahrefs' keyword report for Solo Stove

But that’s not all it did. Its blog posts also rank for other keywords in its marketing funnel, such as how to have a mosquito-free backyard or how to change your fire pit’s colors.

E-commerce blogging keyword examples

Then on its blog posts, it uses pictures of its fire pit:

Solo Stove blog post example

Ranking for these keywords does two things:

  1. It introduces Solo Stove’s brand to people who may eventually purchase a fire pit from it.
  2. It gives the brand the opportunity to promote its products to an audience who may not have even known it existed, such as the “mosquito free backyard” keyword.

Moving on, skater brand Flatspot also does blogging well, with a cool ~80,000 monthly visitors to its blog just from search engines.

Overview of Flatspot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

One of its tactics is to piggie-back on the popularity of new shoe releases from major brands like Nike, then use that traffic to get readers to buy the shoes directly from it:

Flatspot promoting Nike SB shoes in blog post

Finally, let’s look at v-dog—a plant-powered kibble manufacturer that gets ~8,000 visits per month.

Overview of v-dog, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

My favorite post it’s done is its guide to making wet dog food at home, which ranks for the featured snippet for “how to make wet dog food”:

Google search results for "how to make wet dog food"

This guide directly promotes v-dog’s product to make wet dog food. So people who search the query will be introduced to its brand and potentially buy its product to make their own wet dog food at home.

And there you have it—three examples of blogging for e-commerce that’s working right now. With that, let’s talk about how you can start your own blog.

Seven steps to start and grow an e-commerce blog

In my 10+ years as a professional SEO and freelance writer, I’ve worked with over a dozen e-commerce stores to help them grow their website traffic. I’ve also run several of my own e-commerce websites.

In that time, I’ve distilled what works into an easy-to-follow seven-step process:

1. Do some keyword research

I never start a blog without first doing keyword research. Not only does this make coming up with blog topic ideas much easier, but it also ensures that every blog post you write has a chance to show up in Google search results and bring you free, recurring traffic.

While we wrote a complete guide to keyword research, here’s a quick and dirty strategy for finding keywords fast:

First, find a competitor who has a blog. Let’s say you’re selling dog food just like v-dog—if I search for “dog food” on Google, I can see some of my competition:

Google search results for "dog food"

At this point, I look for relevant competitors. For example, Chewy and American Kennel Club are good competitors for research. But I’ll skip sites like Amazon and Walmart, as they are just too broad to get relevant data from.

Next, plug the competitor’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and click on the Organic keywords report to see the keywords its website ranks for on Google:

Organic keywords report for chewy.com

In this example, it has over 700,000 keywords. That’s way too many to sort through. Let’s add some filters to make things easier:

  • First, set the KD (Keyword Difficulty) score to a maximum of 30 to find easier-to-rank-for keywords.
  • Then we can exclude brand name keywords using the “Keywords” dropdown, set it to “Doesn’t contain,” and type in the brand name.
  • If the website has /blog/ in its blog post URLs, you can also set a filter in the “URL” dropdown to “Contains” and type “blog” in the text field. In Chewy’s case, it doesn’t do that, but it does use a subdomain for its blog, which we can search specifically.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Ahrefs keyword filters

In the case of chewy.com, this only shaved it down to 619,000 keywords. That’s still a lot—let’s filter it down further. We can apply the following:

  • Minimum monthly search volume of 100
  • Only keywords in positions #1–10
  • Only show keywords containing “dog,” since my example website only sells dog food, not all animal food

Here’s what it looks like with these new filters applied:

Filtering down Ahrefs' Organic keywords report

Now I can find some more related keywords like “what to feed a dog with diarrhea” or “can dogs eat cheese.”

Data for keyword "what to feed a dog with diarrhea"

In addition to picking interesting keywords, you can also get an idea of how to become a topical authority on the topic of dog food by searching “dog food” in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

Overview for "dog food," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This keyword is extremely difficult to rank on page #1 for. However, if we go to the Related terms report and set the KD to a max of 30, we can see keyword ideas that are still relevant but may be easier to rank high in the search results.

List of keywords related to dog food

Go through and click the gray + sign next to any keywords you may want to target to add them to your list of potential article ideas. 

2. Create templates for future blog posts

One of the first things I do when I create a new blog is to establish a repeatable template that I use for every post. Typically, it looks something like this:

Blog post template example

It has breadcrumb navigation to help with SEO and navigation, the article title and the date it was last updated, then a short intro with an image on the right to make the lines shorter (and easier to skim). Finally, I include a clickable table of contents to help with navigation, then get into the article.

Within the article itself, I will use headers (H2s) and subheaders (H3s) to make my content easier to skim and to help Google understand what each section is about.

You can make templates for every kind of post you plan on creating—such as list posts, ultimate guides, tutorials, etc.—and reuse them for every post you ever create. It’s a huge time-saver.

While you’re at it, you should also create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that you go through for every article. This could include writing guidelines, what to do with images, formatting, tone, etc.

3. Outline your article

I never dive into writing an article without outlining it first. An outline ensures the article is well structured and planned before you start writing, and it bakes SEO right into your writing process. It’s another big time-saver.

Typically, you want this outline to include:

  • Potential title or titles of the article
  • Target keyword
  • Brief description of the article angle
  • Links to competing articles on Google for research
  • Headers and subheaders, with brief descriptions of the section as needed

Here’s a look at part of an example outline I’ll either send to my writers or write myself:

Content outline example

I wrote a guide to outlining content, which you can follow here for the full step-by-step process.

4. Write, optimize, and publish your post

Next up, it’s time to write your article. As you write more articles, you’ll find what works for you—but you may find it easier to fill in the sections then go back and write the intro once the article is finished.

Here are a few writing tips to help you become a better writer:

  • Ditch the fluff – If a word isn’t needed to bring a point across, cut it.
  • Keep your paragraphs short – Two to three lines per paragraph is plenty, especially for mobile readers where the screen width is shorter.
  • Use active voice over passive voiceHere is a guide for that.
  • Make your content easy to skim – Include photos and videos and make use of headers and bulleted lists to share key points.

Once you’ve written your article, do some basic on-page SEO to help it rank higher in search results:

  • Ensure your article has one H1 tag – The title of the article.
  • Have an SEO-friendly URL – Include the keyword you’re targeting, but keep it short and easy to read.
  • Link to other pages on your site using proper anchor textHere’s a guide for that.
  • Ensure your images have alt text – This is the text Google uses to read what the image is about, as well as what is shown to readers if the image can’t render.

Finally, publish your post and give yourself a pat on the back.

5. Add product promotions, email opt-ins, and internal links

Before you promote your content, there are a few things you can do to squeeze more ROI from it—namely, you should add a way for people to either push them through the funnel toward purchasing a product or subscribe to your email list. I’ll give an example of each.

First, Solo Stove wrote an article titled “Ambiance Is A Girl’s Best Friend,” where it promotes its tiny Solo Stove Mesa as a way of improving a space’s ambiance: 

How to promote your products in a blog post

Beyond directly promoting your products in the articles, you can also add email opt-ins that give people a percentage off their orders. You may lose a little money on the initial order. But once you get someone’s email address, you can promote to them again and get multiple orders from them.

For example, Primary sells kids’ clothing and uses this email pop-up to promote money off its products after you spend a certain amount of time on its website:

Email opt-in pop-up offering a discount on first order

Just make sure your discount code only works once per unique IP address. You can learn more about how to do that here if you use Shopify.

Finally, when you publish an article, you should make it a point to add internal links to your new article from older articles. 

This won’t be as important for your first few because you won’t have a ton of articles. But as your blog grows, it’s an important part of the process to ensure your readers (and Google) can still find your articles and that they aren’t buried deep on your site.

Refer to our guide to internal linking to learn more about this step.

6. Promote your content

At this point, your content is live and optimized for both conversions and search engines. Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on it.

We have an entire guide to content promotion you should read, but here are some highlights:

  • Share the article on all of your social media channels
  • Send the article to your email list if you have one
  • Share your content in relevant communities (such as relevant Reddit forums)
  • Consider running paid ads to your article

There’s a lot more you can do to promote a piece, including reaching out to other blog owners. But I won’t cover all of that here.

The other important piece of promoting your content is getting other website owners to link to your new articles. This is called link building, and it’s a crucial part of SEO.

There are many ways to build links. Some of the most popular include:

Link building is an entire subject on its own. If you’re serious about blogging and getting search traffic, it’s a crucial skill to learn.

7. Scale your efforts

The final step in blogging for e-commerce is scaling up your efforts by creating repeatable processes for each step and hiring people to do the tasks you yourself don’t need to be doing.

You can hire freelance writers, outreach specialists, editors, and more. You can put together a full SEO team for your business.

If you’re not in a place to start hiring, there are still things you can do to squeeze more output from your time, such as creating the SOPs I mentioned earlier.

Final thoughts

Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your e-commerce store’s traffic and sales. It costs less than traditional paid advertising and can continue to provide a return long after a post has been published.

This guide will hopefully help you start your e-commerce blog and publish your first post. But remember that success with blogging doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes three to six months on average to see any results from your SEO efforts. Keep learning and be patient.

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

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The 5-Step Formula To Forecasting Your SEO Campaign Results

Looking to launch a successful digital marketing campaign for your business?

How do you select the best SEO keywords to expand your brand’s reach?

What can you do to determine the most effective ways to allocate your marketing budget?

Facing these tough decisions can put you on your heels if you’re not equipped with the right information.

Luckily, there’s a new way to leverage your company’s data to estimate your ROI and take the guesswork out of your next campaign.

With a simple mathematical formula, you can predict the amount of traffic and revenue you’ll generate before even setting your strategy in motion – and you can do it all in just five steps.

Want to learn how?

Join our next webinar with Sabrina Hipps, VP of Partner Development, and Jeremy Rivera, Director of Content Analysis at CopyPress, to find out how to analyze specific keywords and forecast your SEO results.

Not too fond of math? Don’t worry – we’ll provide access to free tools and a downloadable calculator to help automate this process and save you time.

Key Takeaways From This Webinar: 

  • Learn how forecasting your SEO can help you build better campaigns and choose the right keywords.
  • Get step-by-step instructions to predict revenue and website traffic for your next SEO campaign.
  • Access a free handout, resources, and online tools that will save you time and supercharge your content strategy.

In this session, we’ll share real-life examples and provide guidance for the decision-makers within your organization to start getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

By better understanding the market potential of your product or service, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions and effectively maximize your ROI.

Sign up for this webinar and discover how you can secure a sufficient marketing budget and use SEO keywords to forecast the results of your future content campaigns.



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