Roughly 93% of all web traffic comes through search engines, and search queries are the text strings people type into them.
Understanding the different types of search queries, and how to properly structure your content strategy around them, is exactly what we do to get 2x,3x,5x and even 10x traffic growth in short periods of time for our client websites – understand & master these and your website traffic will skyrocket.
Let's start out by defining search query. A search query is a string of text that someone types into a search engine, using various combinations of keywords, in order to receive a list of results (called a SERP) with various information that is intended to help provide them answers.
Search clearly refers to "search engine", and "query" refers to "question" – consumers have questions, search engines provide answers to those questions.
Not all searches are created equal. People will search different things depending on where they are in their particular buying journey.
The main types of search queries are:
The buyer's journey refers to the series of stages a consumer goes through from the beginning of the research phase to the time when they make a purchase.
In the beginning, you will typically start with identifying a problem that you have – for example, let's say you are a dentist and you need more patients. You have identified a problem – more patients.
You may start searching things like "how do I grow my dental practice", and in doing so you stumble across this cool concept called "digital marketing". This would be a search very early in your buyers' journey. You are not ready to buy, you are simply researching. This is referred to as "top of the funnel", funnel referring to the series of steps you go through in your journey.
So, now that you understand your problem and have awareness of a potential solution, you will want to research this solution further. So, you then search something like "digital marketing ideas for dentists".
You find a cool article about it and are now interested in learning more about how to do it yourself, or you realize that you want to hire a dental marketing company.
If you want to begin to consider which company to hire, you may search something like "top dental marketing companies".
As you can probably see from this short example, each of these is a search query – but they all have a different intention behind them for the searcher (aka search intent).
As a website owner, if you can match your content strategy with the correct level of buyer search intent you will be well on your way to growing your business from web traffic.
Now let's talk about Google search queries – because Google rules the search game.
Up to this point we have discussed basic types of search queries, but what about the advanced stuff?
Enter Google Advanced Search Operators.
We have an entire article dedicated to these, but for now let's give you the quick version on them.
Google advanced search engine operators are ways to type search queries into Google using "extra stuff". Extra stuff like + signs, search query modifiers, etc.
For example – let's say you wanted to see how competitive it would be to rank for "the best digital marketing agency", so you Google it:
Wow... 541 MILLION results. Do you really want to compete against that? No, you don't.
But, since you have spent some time to learn SEO at SERP University you know that if you have a page on your website dedicated to this term with the exact seed keyword in the page title, you have a way better chance to rank for it.
So you want to know "how many of these pages who rank for that search actually have the exact keyword in their page title?" – you would need to use the allintitle advanced search operator.
No, your search query looks like this: allintitle the best digital marketing agency
This particular search query is only going to show you results who have this combination of words somewhere in their page title. In this case, that is 4,140 results – much better to try and compete with that than 541,000,000 – wouldn't you say?
However, this is just going to find all the results with those words SOMEWHERE in the page title, not necessarily in that order.
Now can even go one step further because we are advanced SEOs here. We know that by putting the keyword string exactly in our page title is actually going to be better, so let's use a variation of that advanced search operator to find all of the results that have this longtail keyword in the exact order in their page title – we need to use the allintitle advanced search engine operator WITH quotations.
Check it out, only 2,030 results! That's more like it.
By understanding advanced Google search engine operators, we can be much more granular and scientific about how we approach which terms we want to rent for my truly understanding more details on the competitiveness of those terms.
It is not enough to simply write articles around keywords and hope that people will find your website and receive the type of content that they need.
You absolutely have to be matching your content strategy to the search intent of keywords in order to provide the best possible resources for individuals that will rank in search and help guide them down their buyers' journey to ultimately making a decision to purchase something with your company.