Google Analytics Part 2: The difference between queries and keywords

by | May 17, 2017

This blog follows on from my blog Google Analytics Part 1: 3 terms that confused me and what they mean. Once I’d written that blog I realised I needed to understand queries and keywords better. So, I went looking for more information and this is what I found.

Organic traffic

One of the most important questions you probably have about your website is; ‘How do people find us?’. I know that from our Google Analytics reports that since the start of 2015 over 79% of our new sessions (you can find out all about sessions in my last blog) come from organic traffic. Organic traffic is what it sounds like, according to Google it is ‘Visitors referred by an unpaid search engine listing, e.g. a search’. So, the next question is ‘What were these people searching for when they came across our site?’. If I know that certain topics were more popular than others I can organise more content which will be more appealing to our audience.

Keyword vs query

Two terms which come up when you look into the question of what people were searching for when they found your site are ‘query’ and ‘keyword’. This blog gives a very good simple definition of the difference. A search query is what a person actually typed into a search engine that gave your site as a search result. Keywords are an abstraction of those search queries which can be used to create future content.

Data vault search queries and keywords

Source: OptimalBI

As you can see eight different search queries can be reduced to two keywords. These keywords can then be used to build content which will attract views because it will be based on what people are searching for.
This blog explains the difference between queries and keywords as:

  • Marketers use keywords.
  • Users use queries.

So, the next question is ‘How do I find my queries and keywords?’

How to find queries in Google Analytics

In Google Analytics go to Aquisition -> Search Console -> Queries. This gives you a report with the queries returned your website URLs as a search result and the number of clicks on that URL. Data is available for the last three months. From this, you can extract the keywords that are gaining impressions and clicks by using filters to segment the data.
I’m aware that there is an issue with the Search Query report stating that queries are (not set) and the Key Word report stating that many keywords are (not provided). However, that is a topic for another blog.
Success is preparation meets opportunity – Jack
Jack blogs about community, social media and how all this data stuff impacts the rest of us
Want to read more? Try …Google Analytics Part 1: 3 terms that confused me and what they mean or more from Jack
We run regular business intelligence courses in both Wellington and Auckland.

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