Search Term

In online marketing, “search term” refers to the word or words that users enter in a search engine such as Google to find content related to that term. Search terms play a central role in online marketing because the keywords that are crucial for optimizing a website are derived from them. For example, SEO measures aim to improve the ranking of a website for a specific search term or keyword. Search terms are also very important for other areas of online marketing.

Given the huge flood of information on the Internet, it is a challenge for users to find the right content. Although numerous pages with similar information compete for attention, the user still has to find it first – and search engines such as Google help them to do so.

The user enters the term on the website for which he is looking for content – the search term – and the search engine then provides him with a selection of suitable pages. This is convenient and simple for the user, but the ranking procedure for websites for a particular search term is extremely complex. Accordingly, Google & Co. have developed multi-layered algorithms that deliver good results in the vast majority of cases – regardless of whether the user has kept his query very concise with “buy car” or formulated it more strongly with “buy used car Ford Fiesta”.

The way the algorithms that Google and the other search engines have developed work is, of course, extremely interesting for other site operators, because it allows them to adapt their content and improve their position in the ranking for a particular search term. But it is not only the algorithms that are of interest, the search terms themselves are also indispensable in online marketing. They serve as keywords that are used to optimize a website for a specific search term. In addition, the search terms have other meanings in online marketing.

On the one hand, the search volume can be used to estimate how costly SEO measures will be to improve the ranking of a page for this keyword – on which, of course, the costs also depend. On the other hand, the search volume also reflects the preferences of the users: popular search terms attract more visitors, who are also potential customers.

In addition, search terms or keywords are divided into different categories, each of which is subdivided according to different criteria.

The categorization of search terms

In order to realistically assess the importance of a search term for a website, it is necessary to take a close look at the term. Categorization, which is carried out in online marketing, helps with this.

For example, the search term can be categorized with regard to the user’s intention. There are the following types of search queries:

  • navigation-oriented search queries
  • information-oriented search queries
  • transaction-oriented search queries

In the case of navigation-oriented search queries, the user only wants to get to a specific page as quickly as possible, for example, the Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft or YouTube page. Instead of entering the address – which they usually know – in the browser, they use the search function of Google or another search engine purely for convenience.

With information-oriented search queries, on the other hand, the user is looking for information, such as an answer to the question “How do I repot roses properly?” Since the reference to a specific company or provider is missing here, a search term from this area can be very interesting for website operators – especially if they rely on content marketing and want to convince visitors with high-quality content such as guides.

Transaction-oriented search queries are about a specific action or transaction. This often means a purchase or the use of a service, but other actions are also conceivable. This type of search query is, of course, particularly interesting for the commercial side, as users are usually looking for a specific product or service in such search terms.

In addition to the type of search query, the length of the keyword or search term also plays a role in online marketing. A distinction is made here between long-tail and short-tail keywords, although it is difficult to make a very clear distinction.

As the name suggests, a short-tail keyword is short, so it usually consists of only one or two words, such as “buy a car”, “Viking” or “Michael Jackson”. A long-tail keyword, on the other hand, can be much longer and more complex in structure, such as “brown Prada bag deerskin season 2018”. From an online marketing perspective, it is particularly interesting how the length of the keyword or search term affects the ranking on Google & Co.

With a short-tail keyword, more traffic can be directed to the page than with a long-tail keyword, provided the appropriate SEO measures are taken. The problem is, however, that the very broad search term leads to greater scattering losses.

For example, if the page were optimized for the search term “Michael Jackson”, people would come looking for information about the King of Pop, as well as those who want to buy an album or a song. However, the page will probably not be able to deliver both, so that either one or the other visitor will move on disappointed.

The bounce rate is therefore comparatively high. In addition, with a broad search term, there are also more pages competing with your own website, making it more difficult to move up in the rankings. With a long-tail keyword, on the other hand, it’s the other way around – the search volume and competition are lower, but more users who come to your own site are actually interested in the content.

To be able to do online marketing effectively, it must of course be clear which search terms the page should be targeted at and which visitors you want to attract.

The importance of search volume

The search volume is absolutely decisive in online marketing if you want to evaluate a search term – and that in several respects. The search volume determines how interesting a search term is for the site – since you want to attract as much (qualified) traffic as possible to your site, search terms with a high search volume make sense for all SEO measures. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer short-tail or long-tail keywords, because in both cases terms with higher search volume are more useful, as they generate more traffic.

At the same time, search volume is an indicator of how competitive a search term is, because the vast majority of operators will optimize their website in a topic area for the search terms with the highest search volume. Last but not least, search volume is also a decisive factor when it comes to costs. After all, the ranking for a search term with high volume is particularly fiercely contested, as all website operators want to land as far ahead as possible here. Accordingly, they all put a lot of work into the SEO measures, a kind of “arms race” breaks out and it becomes increasingly costly to improve the ranking for this search term. And of course, more effort means more costs in online marketing.

The Search Term is an absolutely fundamental element in online marketing, on which a large part of all measures are based. The keywords that are so important for search engine optimization are derived from the Search Terms, and in their entirety they also provide information about the preferences of Internet users. Accordingly, search terms are used by marketing agencies as an important parameter for estimating and evaluating the effort, costs and effect of a measure.


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