Search Query Types And Audience Targeting

Search Query
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It’s hard to imagine that we survived the dark phase, or that we were not so bored to tears before people were able to turn to their electronic devices and instantly Google any question — urgent and crucial or random and nonessential — that pops into their minds.

Users tend to turn to search engines like Google and Bing when they need help navigating the world wide web and finding the websites, information, products, or services they are looking for.

To perform a search, the user will input a search query into the box provided, and the search engine will then use the query entered to look for the most relevant links and information, based on the search engine’s algorithms and methodology.

I guess you probably have gotten an idea of what a search query is (well yeah, you use them every day). But let’s review just in case, and then walk into the second, less-obvious phase about how a search query is processed.

In this article, we will explore how keywords affect searches, and we will review how these terms impact SEO for your business.

What is a Search Query?

Curious and queries must be cousins? A search query is what’s entered into a search engine box to find specific information.

It can be just one word, a few words, or a whole question. Regardless of what makes up a search query, the goal is almost always to discover or find something using a search engine.

Search queries are a huge component of online marketing and SEO.  SEO is the process of editing content so that it will show up in search results in a way that attracts users.

Understanding what a search query is can help you boost your SEO marketing. Once you understand how internet users are phrasing their queries, you can better optimize your content to hook their searches.

Search Query
Image credit: Pixabay

Types of Search Query

#1. Navigational search queries

This is when the person has a certain website (the landing page) in mind and intends to go there. Maybe they know the URL but are too lazy to type it in their browser.

Maybe they are surfing their social media feed and come across a conversation about the benefits of brushing their dog’s fur, so they query the details of a local pet supply store.

They may not know the exact URL or spelling of the brand name, and they figure it’s just simpler to query for it.

If that is not clear enough, then let me throw in a simpler explanation. A navigational query is a search query entered with the intent of finding a specific website.

For instance, a user might enter `YouTube into Google’s search bar to find the YouTube website rather than entering the URL into a browser’s navigation bar or utilizing a bookmark. In fact, “youtube” and “Facebook” are the top two searches on Google, and these are both navigational queries.

#2. Informational search queries

As the name implies, the user is seeking general guidance, facts, or figures — for example, the steps for how to do something like bake a batch of red velvet cupcakes or cut a basic tailoring pattern.

An informational search query might be phrased as a question, such as “How do I recycle an air conditioner?” or “How much alcohol is in a bottle of beer?”, but could also be as simple as one word, such as “coffee” or “parrot.”

#3. Transactional search queries

Yup, in this case, the user wants to buy something, either on an e-commerce website like Amazon or in a brick-and-mortar store.

They possess what is known as “transactional intent.” Leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) to target keywords is appropriate mostly for this type of query since the right words used in digital marketing will rank your business higher in users’ search results and potentially lead to higher ROI.

How a Search Query is Processed

What goes on within the “brain” of a search engine when a user enters a search query in a search bar?

Most search engines analyze the query and then forward it to the index server for processing.

Some search engines may `preprocess` the query, using spell checking or query suggestions (asking the searcher “Do you mean…?”.

It’s matched to web pages weighed relevant in the search engine’s index, and various rules and parameters are used.

The listing order on the search engine results page (SERP) is then resolved based on the best relevance.

Visualizing the mechanics helps to understand how a search engine prepares its information index to be searched.

For starters, an index is where the data is stored. Most search engines store their data in an index in a structured way known as an inverted list.

For spontaneous information retrieval, the engine reverses the logic and structures the index in an inverted flow. So rather than scanning a document looking for words, it matches words to locate documents.

As you may have observed, when you type an a, you get every word that begins with a (and every other alphabetical column is excluded) If you continue adding letters to your query (aa, to aar), each addition narrows down the search matches.

Keep in mind that because different search engines leverage individual proprietary algorithms, they all operate and rank relevant queries slightly differently.

Identifying Searcher Intent

For every search engine out there, the key is decoding the gist of what the searcher intends to find out. Are they trying to simply learn about Australia’s geography?

Do they want to find out about the Check engine light because their car overheated and they are stuck in the middle of a lonely road, or because they are just curious about what could go wrong if they forget to schedule a recommended tune-up? What is the user intent?

So the search engine is kind of like a psychic trying to read the user’s mind, only it’s more like a scientist going through a rigidly ordered checklist.

As the search engine is comparing  notes and records and figuring rank, it’s asking itself questions such as:

#1. Is there a typo in the query? If so, how many?

#2. What does the number of spelling errors have to do with rank? The lesser the typos, the better the displayed result.

If there are zero typos in the query, the page content ranks higher as a match than if there is a typo

Content generated for queries with one typo ranks above  that generated by a two-typo query

#3. What if the user is a thoughtless query enterer and there are three typos? Well, they would be out of luck and attract zero results because simple textual matching doesn’t correct spelling.

Does the search query match the first letter? Does it match the entire word or only partially?

In prefix search, the search engine compares the entire query with the beginning characters in the attributes of a record in the index.

Relevant results are generated as snippets showing how the query matches phrases that appear in the content.

The records are ranked as having stronger or weaker relevance, which dictates the order of the search results starting on the first page.

Query context also plays a significant role. To assess the context, the search engine asks itself questions such as:

#1. Does a word in the search query match a synonym?

If it does, the search engine will consider the record with the synonym as equal in the ranking process. For instance, if the available content contains tights but the searcher asked for pants, they will see search results for both.

#2. Does the search query match the title of a record or its description?

With searchable attributes, items whose titles match the query rank above items that match the description.

#3. Is one item more popular than the other?

If you have three records that all match suitably, then the search engine utilizes custom ranking to add business metrics such as prioritizing the one with the most sales, the one most searched for, or the most popular among searches. If two records match differently, then other criteria will be used to determine the ranking.

When an adequate search engine finishes wracking its index brain and methodically responding to all these types of queries, it comes up with its list of relevant search results.

The SERP does it work like a psychic scientist. More importantly, the search engine does the pivotal job of steering the searcher to a web destination, enriching them with the answer to their pressing concerns, or pointing them to where they can purchase a product to solve their pain points.

How search queries work

How Do You Rank In The Right Search Queries?

Now that you know more about the different kinds of search queries, let’s look at how you can get your business to stay on top of the page in relevant search results.

#1. Choose Relevant Keywords

Keywords play a critical role in search queries on Google. Search engine visitors use keywords to conduct their queries and find relevant answers. If you want to rank in a beneficial spot for your business, you must choose useful keywords.

So, how do you find relevant keywords for your business marketing?

Begin by conducting keyword research. Keyword research will help you discover relevant terms and phrases related to your niche, website, and page.

You will want to stick to keywords associated with your business and industry to ensure you are driving relevant traffic for your brand.

As you conduct keyword research, concentrate on long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords contain at least three words.

These keywords benefit your company highly because they drive more relevant traffic to your website.

An example of a long-tail keyword is “how to get a personal loan.” The search query intent is evident with this keyword.

You know that someone who searches this keyword wants information on how to get a personal loan.

On the other hand, someone who searches “loan” or “Personal loan” doesn’t have as clear of search intent as the other.

When searchers utilize this short-tail keyword, it’s hard to tell if they want to know what it is, how to get one, or where to get it.

Short-tail keywords can end up driving traffic to your website that bounces when they find your information isn’t relevant to their vague query.

By choosing the right keywords, you will help your business appear in relevant search queries and drive more quality traffic to your online store.

#2. To Appear In More Search Queries, Create Quality Content

If you want to appear on the device screens of interested leads, quality content creation will help them find you.

Without content, it’s impossible to rank in search engine results pages,  making content creation one of the most critical parts of any marketing strategy.

Content will help you drive website traffic to your page. You will provide your followers with the information they want while establishing the brand as a trustworthy and authoritative source.

To start creating great content, select topics based on keyword research.

#3. Optimize your website

If you want your site to appear in a search query on Google, it must be optimized. Users don’t want to visit your website and find an abundance of user experience issues here and there.

It will deter them from your page and make it difficult for you to rank high in search queries.


Search engines reward businesses that meet users in the middle of their quests to get answers to questions on their minds.

If you want to grow your online business, you need to appear in related search queries. And the sure way to achieve that is to first understand what a search query is; the types; the ability to identify search intent; choosing the right keywords.

Optimizing to appear in Google search queries will help you drive more quality traffic and leads for your business.

This article has taken you through all the inroads and now has set you on the path to successful digital marketing campaigns.

Terhemba Ucha

Terhemba Ucha

Terhemba has over 11 years of digital marketing and specifically focuses on paid advertising on social media and search engines. He loves tech and kin in learning and sharing his knowledge with others. He consults on digital marketing and growth hacking.

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