Mapping a Query Space

Posted on by
Missing Attachment

A Query Space as a Network Graph

What is a query space? There is no easy definition, though the best introduction to the concept I have found is in SEO Theory’s glossary by Michael Martinez. Simply, a Query Space is a collection of terms and results related to a set of search queries. For example, a dataset of queries containing the the word ‘coffee’ could also contain additional terms like ‘takeaway’, ‘cup’, ‘illy’, as well as synonyms and other related words, depending on context.

Missing Attachment

Impure Workspace is a fairly new web based tool for data visualisation and analysis. There is a learning curve, but as with Minecraft, it is worth getting through. provides a range of controls, operators, visualisation and other tools within its online interface. There is also a range of examples to learn from.

Using’s network tools with data from search queries containing ‘coffee’ and impressions, required:

…a table with two lists and a NumberList that somehow express the proximity between the pairs of the list you can build a Network with weighted relations.

Weighty Relationships

Missing Attachment

Network graph with weighted edges

Relationships between words in queries are determined by matched pairs. The thickness of the line in the above graph is generated using the impression data from the table. The pairs are created by listing each word from a query with another until every combination is listed. For example the search query ‘long black coffee’ would become:

long black
long coffee
black coffee

Once impression data from the original term is listed next to each combination, the table would have three lists and start to look like this:

long black 1234
long coffee 1234
black coffee 1234

Matching impression data to pairs indicates which pair is more significant in the context of search. Pair count data would not be as appropriate, especially if the objective was to identify lucrative terms within a given query space.

Exploring the Network

Missing Attachment

Local Network Visualiser

There is one more tool for working with network data that needs to be mentioned: the Local Network Visualiser. This visualisation tool lets the user explore related nodes to a set number of levels. In the example above, the selected term is ‘take’, with both ‘away’ and ‘coffee’ one level removed.

The word ‘away’ is not connected with any other terms in this data while ‘coffee’ is strongly connected, and accounts for the majority of the next level of terms. As the data set was created around the term ‘coffee’, this is to be expected.

Final Analysis of the Analysis

Any analysis is only as good as the data available. The examples here are all based on Google Webmaster query information.

This information has a few limitations. It only provides information on queries that the site appears for and the impression data relating to the queries is heavily influenced by the position of the site in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

As limited as the data is, analysis of a query space can show changes over time. When compared to paid search and keyword tool data, the differences between the terms for which the site is visible and the actual query space as seen from another source of data can reveal opportunities for optimisation or the presence of competition.

2 responses to “Mapping a Query Space”

  1. […] Contoleon has published in his blog a post talking about how to use Impure to explore terms related to a set of search […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *