Keywords and Search Terms in Paid Ads: What Is the Difference?

Keywords and Search Terms in Paid Ads: What Is the Difference?

We hear the term keywords used a lot when dealing with SEO and paid ads, but what exactly are they, and how do we incorporate them into our paid ads? 

Keywords are single words or a string of words we use to rank on Google. When creating a PPC campaign, keyword research is necessary so that you can choose the right keywords to bid on, which will drive the best results for clicks and conversions. In essence, they are the paid keywords you add to your Google Ads campaign.

Search terms are a little bit different. Search terms are the phrases that a customer will type into Google to find information. They often contain keywords, but the main difference is that when search terms are being used, they are being used by the customer. When ranking for certain keywords, marketers should take into account customers' search queries and pull keywords from them.  

To learn more about keywords and search items and how you can optimize them for your next marketing campaign, continue reading this blog.

What are the different types of keywords and search terms?

Search terms

1. Informational search query

When people need a specific answer to a question or are just generally searching for a piece of information, they are using what is called an informational search query.

2. Navigational search query

This is a search with the intent of landing somewhere specific on a website. It's an alternative to typing in a full URL address when you know exactly where you want to go.

3. Transactional search query

A transactional search query is when someone is searching for something to buy. The customer wants to make a purchase, but they’re unsure where to get it from. 




1. Short-tail keywords

These are search queries that are quite broad and made up of only one or two words; they often have high search volumes.

2. Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are search queries that consist of three to five words. They are usually more specific and are not as high in search volume as short tail keywords in search.

3. Geo-targeted keywords

These types of keywords are great for small business owners to utilize. They can help identify your business based on its location and the location of your target audience. 

4. Commercial keywords

We can think of these keywords as investigative keywords. In other words, they are used when customers may want to get more familiar with a product, compare two products, or look for promotions. 

Difference Between Keywords and Search Terms

Although the difference is small, it still exists between search terms and search keywords. These two terms are directly related and do go hand-in-hand. However, we should look at search terms as anything a user types into a search engine (i.e. Google).

As a business owner with a Google ads campaign, you can look at these search terms and decide what keywords you want to add to your campaign that are directly related to your business. Users are never going to be concerned with keywords and will simply just be searching for what they need to be searching for. 

Advertisers will be concerned with search terms even though they don’t directly use them. They use search terms as a guide to directly target their customers using the keywords the customers used in their search queries. This is all related back to the keyword research you should be implementing before bidding for certain keywords. 

How to Use Keywords and Search Terms in Paid Ads

Now that we have learned what keywords and paid search terms are and we have looked at the differences between both, we can start to look at how to use them when it comes to paid ads. When you are creating a Google ads campaign, your campaign will involve bidding for keywords. This means that you won’t have to pay for keywords until someone clicks on your ad. After you launch, you can access your campaign through Google ads, see what your target audience was putting in their search queries, and modify your keywords based on their searches. 

For example, if you are setting up a Google ads campaign and you want to bid for the keywords “flower shop” and “flower”, you would add those to your campaign, and then anytime someone searches for “flower shop near me”, “October birth flower”, or any search query with your keywords in it, your ad would show up depending on how much you bid for that keyword. You can then modify your keywords to better reach your target audience. 

Source: Shutterstock

Paving the Way Forward 

Hopefully, by now, you can differentiate between search terms and keywords and why they are important in paid ads. 

As we have discussed, both search terms and keywords are very similar but have a small significant difference that must not be overlooked. Keywords will be the words or string of words you use in your Google ads campaign to sit at a higher position on the search engine page results. 

Search terms are the phrases or queries your customers will put into the search engines when looking for a particular product or service. The two go hand, and it is best practice to use one to leverage the other. 

If you enjoyed this blog and have any more questions and Google Ads, paid search, or anything marketing related, you can call us at (416)-410-7090 or contact us here.


What are search terms? 

Search terms are words and phrases that a potential customer will enter into a search engine when looking for a product or service. 

What are keywords? 

Keywords are words that advertisers use in their ad campaigns and words that they choose to target with their ads.

How can keywords benefit paid ads? 

Using keywords in paid ads can be beneficial in many ways. Advertisers can use targeted advertising to target specific people searching for your products. They can also increase visibility, depending on what type of keyword match you choose to use. 

What are the main types of keywords? 

The 4 main types of keywords are long-tail, short-tail, geo-targeted, and commercial keywords.

What are the three different types of search terms?

The three different types of search terms/ queries are informational, transactional, and transactional. 

It's a competitive market. Contact us to learn how you can stand out from the crowd.

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