What Is a Query?

A query—also referred to as a search query or search term—can be composed of a keyword or combination of keywords that a user types in the search field of a search engine to gain knowledge or confirm information. 

Difference Between a Query and a Keyword

Compared to keywords, which are exact words and phrases associated with a topic or particular content, queries are words that people key into the search box. They may have misspellings or other words tacked onto them ("how to make dalgona coffee"). The set of words may also be out of order ("TVs current prices 4K HDR"). 

Types of Queries

Queries can be divided into three categories, based on users' intentions for going online:

  • Informational query 

Most queries seek information on a range of topics—from the weather and definition of a term to products and procedures. Queries of this type don't usually end up in a sale or deal.

  • Navigational query 

Some people type a word or search term to find or reach a website, social media account, blog, or a particular webpage like "housing trends Zillow."

  • Transactional query

Queries are transactional when there's an intent to buy ("order Dell XPS 15”) or achieve an action ("Download Duolingo" or "The Box lyrics”) instead of finding more information.

These queries include:

  • Generic queries

The search terms aren't brand or model-specific like "buy ankle support" or "book flight tickets."

  • Vertical

These queries cover a specific industry such as "hair studios in Boca Raton."

  • Brand-focused

The specific name of a business and product are typed on the search bar. "Popeye's chicken sandwich" is an example.

Some search engine optimization (SEO) specialists and digital marketers consider queries comparing products and services ("best weighted blanket" or "Chatfuel vs. MobileMonkey") or reviews about them as a separate category. They refer to them as commercial queries. 

How User Intent Helps Website Owners

By knowing what type of queries direct users to your website, you can improve your content to meet your audience’s needs. SEO makes your site and webpages easily found by ranking you higher in the search engine results page. Thus, targeting the right keywords supports your marketing funnel

Your keyword research will have to start with identifying your target audience and knowing what keywords they use. Keyword discovery and volume tracking tools are available online. Branding agencies can also help you nail user intent for effective content marketing.

How to Optimize for Each Query Type

  • Informational queries

As they're the most common type and don't usually lead to sales, these queries are hard to monetize. But you can produce the following various high-quality SEO content to increase your chances of seeing your site land on the first search engine results page. The strategy is to include long-tail keywords (such as what is, how to) plus your industry term (say, indoor plants).

  • Post a comprehensive step-by-step guide or a blog with tips about a relevant or pressing industry-related topic. 
  • Make a tutorial video.
  • Create an infographic about relevant trends within an industry.

These content types offer a great chance to introduce and sell your products. But this aim should be secondary and toned down. Your priority is to build yourself as a trustworthy and authoritative source in your field. 

  • Navigational queries

These queries can be difficult to target because they're brand-specific. But sometimes people type a brand or company in the search bar to know the latest news about it. For instance, you can include the keywords such as Alexa, Siri, and Echo in your content if you own a blog or site that discusses trends about smart speakers or offers voice search services. 

Meanwhile, make it hard for competitors to steal your conversions by buying keywords to own your brand's navigational query (branded keywords). Moreover, place your brand, product, or service name in strategic spots of your site's landing and home pages. They should also appear in page titles, subheadings, and meta descriptions.

  • Transactional queries 

One of the surest ways to show up in transactional searches is to go for pay-per-click ads. These sponsored ads put your brand on top of navigational queries, with visitors likely to purchase if your product matches their needs.

At the same time, you can also optimize your product listings and service pages by using relevant keywords in your content, title tag, description tags, and more. Add helpful details such as product dimensions or a service's cost and features. Moreover, writing enticing calls to action can also enhance your marketing efforts. 

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.