Query: A query is the "search string" or specific words used within a search. This word or set of words is entered into a search engine or other database in order to produce results related to the query's keyword or keyphrase. This process is sometimes known as a web search query.

There are three main reasons that a person might use a web search query to find content on the internet:

  • Some use informational queries, which may cover a broad topic. Someone searching for "cats" on Google will encounter millions of results, so the user may change the keyphrase to "cats for adoption" to receive more relevant content.
  • A user trying to find information on a single website will use a navigational query in order to find specific information on a single site. This can include searching for a profile on Facebook or seeking out necessary information on a site, such as the faculty for an academic department on a university's webpage.
  • Finally, transactional queries are searches performed to help a user perform an action, such as purchasing an item on Amazon.

A fourth method, not used as frequently, may be a connectivity query, which helps users index information in the format of a chart or a graph. For example, a user looking to plan a PPC campaign might track the search volume of a particular keyword and view the results in a line graph.

A related concept is query refinement, in which search engines help users find related content by displaying similar results.