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Keywords, Key phrases, Keyword phrases: Is there a difference?

SEMrush Blog
Keywords, Key phrases, Keyword phrases: Is there a difference?

When you look for something in a search engine, you describe it in words and type them into search field. The search engine matches those words with the words on various websites that are included in its index. And then it gives you the most relevant results (websites that best match the words you typed). In search marketing, these words are called keywords and they are the most important ingredient of the successful promotion of any project.

Adding relevant keywords to your website content will help search engines associate your project with search queries and improve your rankings. Therefore, it is crucial to find the right keywords for your project.

Keywords, key phrases, keyword phrases. You can find these terms in almost every SEO article and often they are used as synonyms. So what do they mean and what is the difference between them?

What are Keywords?

Strictly speaking, a keyword means one single word. When the first search engines were launched, they had relatively simple algorithms and many users used single words for their searches. But search engines are constantly evolving and now they support large key phrases with 2 or more keywords. It is also much more convenient for users because now they can express their need more precisely and search engines provide them with more relevant results.

What are Key Phrases?

So a key phrase means a set of separate words that build a phrase (so it’s a multi-word search term). If it is really necessary to distinguish between a single word and a phrase, these terms are used in their initial strict meaning. Otherwise, many search marketers often use both terms as synonyms and prefer the term “keywords” since it is shorter. For a successful on-site optimization, you should carefully choose your relevant keywords build key phrases and incorporate them into your website content.

What are the Key Differences?

Keywords have usually considerably higher search volumes comparing to key phrases. But on the other side of the equation, key phrases often drive more targeted and specific traffic to the website. The more keywords your key phrase has, the more chances you have to receive exactly what you’ve been looking for and get it quickly. For instance, it is very hard for any search engine to understand what you mean by typing the keyword “Internet,” and chances are high that you’ll get irrelevant results. At the same time, if you type “Internet marketing companies,” the system will recognize at once that you are looking information about companies dealing with Internet marketing and will provide you with relevant results containing additional information on this topic.

So, should you focus more on keywords or key phrases or both when optimizing your project? Actually, it depends. And mainly it depends upon your business niche. Let’s say you sell amber or provide information resources about amber. In this case, you would likely be most interested in getting good rankings for the keyword “amber.” And in this case, it makes sense. But what if you are an Internet marketing agency? What is the point of trying to get higher rankings for the keywords “Internet” or “marketing” separately? So it’s all about common sense.

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