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What’s the Difference Between Keywords and Queries?

Using Woopra - July 28th, 2009 by .

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Have you been confused about the difference between a keyword and query in web analytics? In some cases, they are synonymous, representing the words people enter into their web searches via search engines or search forms, but not always.

In the SEO world, a keyword has come to signify the words people will search for, leading SEO experts to instruct people to write with search terms and keywords. A query is the act of searching, using keywords in the process.

In Woopra, and most web analytics, a query is the combination of words used in a search. For example, if you are looking for “Woopra web analytics” that would be your query.

Keywords are the individual words used in a search. Each word is counted. If your top searches are “Woopra web analytics,” “Woopra help,” and “Woopra tips,” the most popular keyword among those search term queries would be “Woopra.” If quote marks are used around the search term, such as “woopra tips” then the two words can become a keyword combination, but few use the quotes option, so single words are tracked under the keywords, showing the most popular single words.

In Study on the Structure of Search Queries – SEO by the Sea, Bill Slawski reports on a study of queries from Yahoo’s search engine in 2006 that found combinations of proper nouns (names) and general nouns made up over 70 percent of all searches. As people have become more search savvy, I’m sure that number has gone up even more.

Most people don’t search for “I’d like to know how to make a quilt.” They search for quilting, quilting techniques, or quilting tips. The query is the same, but most people use the keywords, the specific descriptive names, when they search.

By tracking queries, you are monitoring the phrases that people use to search and arrive on your site through search engines. Tracking keywords, you are only paying attention to the specific words, not the phrases, which gives you a different set of information to compare.

If most of the people are search on your site for “woopra tips” but “woopra” is not in the top 25 keywords, what is? What does that tell you about the content you provide and how people search your site and arrive from search engines? It could be that “video” is your top keywords, but not your top query as people use video in a variety of word phrases such as video tips, video help, video advice, or video how to, which would dilute the query but not the keyword statistic.

How Does Woopra Track Queries and Keywords

Woopra showcases your queries and keywords in a variety of ways.

Woopra Dashboard - My SearchesDashboard > My Searches: On the Dashboard panel, My Searches is a list of the most recent live search arrivals on your site. The listing includes the search query and the search referral site.

Woopra Dashboard - My keywordsDashboard > My Keywords: On the Dashboard Panel, My Keywords are the most frequently searched for terms, single words, on your site, updated live. When a word “glows” or “shines” with a halo effect, it is currently used in a search on your site.

Woopra deep searching on the Search PanelSearch: The search panel is where you can enter in search criteria for a custom search report. Click on Filters for the various options, such as country, IP address, visitor ID and name, and other searchable options, including referrer or keywords. You can save the search for future references, too.

Woopra Search filter panel

Reports > Analytics > Search: There are two subtabs on this panel, for Queries and Keywords. The Queries are the phrases and words used in each search request. The Keywords are the individual words used in search requests.

Woopra Analytics Panel - searches and keywordsWoopra Analytics Panel - search queries

Do you track both? Do you use them interchangeably? What do you learn from tracking keywords and queries?

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