What Is a Search Term? Examples, Strategies, & Best Practices

Aaron Haynes
Nov 30, 2023
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Picture this: you’re on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, but instead of finding sweet success, you end up lost in a maze of unrelated websites or, even worse, terrible-tasting recipes.

That frustration? We’ve all been there, and so have many search engine users. It’s a challenge many online businesses face—getting their website to satisfy the exact search intent of their audience.

To save your target audience underserved headaches, let’s explore

  1. the answer to the question, “What is a search term,”
  2. the importance of search terms to your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts,
  3. and how to perfectly align your website content with your website visitors’ search intent.

What Is a Search Term?

Everything and anything you’ve ever punched into Google or Bing’s search bar is a search term—literally everything. Search terms, also known as search queries, can be a single word or name, like “Loganix,” phrases like “Google webmaster guidelines,” or questions like “What is SEO.” Think of it as a direct window into the searcher’s mind, offering invaluable insights into their search intent (a concept we’ll explore in one of the below sections).

Learn more: Interested in broadening your SEO knowledge even further? Check out our SEO glossary, where we’ve explained over 250+ terms.

Search Term vs. Keywords

Let’s quickly clear up a common mix-up: search terms and keywords.

Search Term

We’ve covered what a search term is. It’s raw and unfiltered words, phrases, and questions. A reflection of how a search engine user is thinking and feeling in the very moment they hit the “Enter” button.

Keyword

A keyword, on the other hand, is like the refined version of a search term. These are the terms that online businesses and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists identify and leverage to target an audience with web content. Keywords are more structured and are often used to guide content creation and optimization.

Bring It All Together

While search terms give you raw insight into user intent, keywords are what you strategically target in your SEO efforts. Together, they form a duo that powers the search engine world, each with its unique place in the content marketing ecosystem.

Why Are Search Terms Important?

Let’s identify why search terms are important to your digital marketing efforts.

Why Search Terms Are Important to Search Engine Optimization

Honing your skills in identifying and interpreting search terms from the perspective of your potential website visitors allows you to gain a deeper understanding of their underlying intent.

Whether they are in search of information, on the cusp of making a purchase, or in need of a particular service, your insight into their intent empowers you to craft content that not only resonates with them but also effectively addresses their queries or challenges.

An approach that elevates your content from simply informative to problem-solving, directly aligning with the needs and desires of your audience.

Why Search Terms Are Important to PPC Campaigns

When your ad copy and landing pages mirror the exact phrases your audience types into that search bar, you’re hitting a sweet spot.

The result? Your ads resonate, they connect, and they compel action. Higher click-through rates? Sure, but that’s just the start. The real win is in conversions—turning those clicks into customers.

Deciphering Search Intent Through Search Terms

Search intent is the “why” behind every search query. It’s the purpose driving someone to type those words into a search engine. Generally, search intent falls into a few categories:

  1. Informational intent: Here, the user is on a quest for information. Think of queries like the one that possibly brought you here: “What is a search term.” This search intent probably wasn’t about making a purchase. You were very likely looking to learn something new.
  2. Navigational intent: When someone tries to get to a specific website or page. For example, searching “Loganix blog” indicates a desire to find our blog directly.
  3. Transactional intent: The user is ready to buy or perform another specific online activity. Searches like “link-building services” or “Loganix pricing” fall into this category.
  4. Commercial investigation: These searchers are in decision-making mode, often comparing products or services. “Best SEO services 2023” is a classic example.

Identifying and Effectively Leveraging Search Terms

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of identifying search intent through search terms and aligning your content with them, but how do you actually go about this? Let’s take a look.

Strategies for Finding Valuable Search Terms

Use Keyword Research Tools

Tools like Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, SEMrush, or Ahrefs will help you find search terms—and keywords—related to your business. They provide data on search volume, competition, and even suggest related terms you might not have considered.

Analyze Competitors

Check out what terms your competitors are targeting. The SEO tools we just mentioned will show you the keywords for which your competitors rank, offering a window into potentially lucrative search terms.

Listen to Your Target Audience

As good as SEO tools are, there’s nothing more valuable to your content strategy than direct feedback from your target audience. Use social media, customer feedback, and forums like Reddit to hear your audience’s language and phrases. This real-world insight is invaluable.

Tools and Techniques for Search Term Research

Long-Tail Keyword Focus

Don’t just focus on broad terms. Long-tail keywords (longer, more specific phrases) often have less competition, purchasing intent, and a higher conversion rate.

Search Intent Analysis

Tools like AnswerThePublic or simply taking note of the questions found in Google’s People Also Ask SERP feature will help you understand the questions and prepositions associated with your primary keywords, giving deeper insight into search intent.

Incorporating Search Terms into SEO and PPC Strategies

Content Creation

Use identified search terms to guide your SEO content creation. If your audience is searching for a “beginner’s guide to SEO,” create content that matches this intent.

On-Page SEO

Incorporate search terms into your meta titles, descriptions, and throughout your content in a way that feels natural and provides value.

PPC Campaigns

Tailor your ad copy and landing pages to include the search terms your audience is using. This increases relevance and can lead to higher click-through and conversion rates.

Continuous Monitoring and Adaptation

SEO and PPC are not set-and-forget strategies. Regularly monitor the performance of your search terms and adapt as needed, refining your content, adjusting your PPC campaigns, or exploring new search terms as trends change.

Learn more: how to choose keywords for SEO.

Search Term FAQ

Q1: How Do Search Terms Differ Across Different Languages and Cultures?

Answer: Search terms vary across languages and cultures, reflecting unique linguistic differences and regional interests. Businesses should tailor their SEO strategies to these variations to effectively reach and engage diverse audiences.

Q2: Can the Same Search Term Yield Different Results Over Time?

Answer: Yes, the same search term can yield different results over time due to changes in search algorithms, trending topics, and evolving user behavior. Regular analysis and adaptation are essential to stay relevant in search engine results.

Q3: How Should Small Businesses Approach Search Term Analysis With Limited Resources?

Answer: Small businesses should focus on niche, long-tail keywords and leverage free tools like Google Keyword Planner for search term analysis—an approach that allows for targeted, cost-effective strategies to compete with larger companies.

Conclusion and Next Steps

While exploring search terms, we’ve seen their role in connecting with your audience effectively through SEO and PPC.

That’s where Loganix comes in.

Our SEO and PPC services are tailored to demystify and harness the power of search terms, elevating your online presence and driving tangible results.

🚀 Check out our SEO offerings and PPC management services to discover how our expertise will transform your digital strategy and unlock your website’s full potential. 🚀

Written by Aaron Haynes on November 30, 2023

CEO and partner at Loganix, I believe in taking what you do best and sharing it with the world in the most transparent and powerful way possible. If I am not running the business, I am neck deep in client SEO.