Key Phrase – Key Words – Are They the Same?

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key phraseFrequently, I’m asked if there’s a difference between a few terms that are used loosely by many individuals. It seems that people are often confused and have questions concerning the differences between the terms Key Phrase, Key Words, Long Tail Keywords and Search Terms. Although many people believe these terms all mean the same thing and they use them interchangeably, there are some distinct differences among them for both on page seo and an individuals search experience. In order to help set things straight I’m going to provide a few examples that will better clarify the differences. Regardless of which term you use they are nothing more than the words that users key into the search box in a search engine to find information.



Key Words

Key WordsKey Word(s) usually refers to only one very specific word(s) which is used by search engines in order to retrieve relevant pages for a persons search request. A few years back search engines weren’t as evolved as they are today. Normally a person would enter in a single keyword in an attempted to retrieve relevant pages from the web. However, the search engines would often return results that had little to do with what the person actually wanted or needed. Also, by using only a single keyword the person would be presented with tons of pages (many of them irrelevant) to sift through. As my example illustrates, by entering only the keyword smoking into the search field on Google you are presented with about 36,700,000 results. Individuals could waste considerable time searching through the pages to find what they are truly looking for.


Key Phrase

key phraseA Key Phrase on the other hand can help reduce the number of search results returned and consists of more than a single keyword (a collection of words usually two or three) and is often referred to as a keyword phrase. Years ago I didn’t use a Key Phrase because it seemed to confuse the search engines and I’d be presented with tons of worthless results. But, as the search engines became smarter day by day, using a key phrase makes sense and can really help reduce the amount of search results returned. Plus the results are usually far more in line with what you’re looking for. In my second example you can see that instead of searching for the single key word smoking I changed my search to include the key phrase quit smoking and was returned approximately 34,000,000 fewer results and these results where more in line with the type of information I was looking for.


Long Tail Keywords

Long Tail KeywordsLong Tail Keywords is a term mainly used by individuals involved in SEO. Long Tail Keywords tend to be a longer and a more targeted key phrase. Long-tail keywords tend to consist of less popular keywords and since they are more targeted they normally have a smaller search volume but, there is also less competition for Long Tail’s and they tend to be easier to rank for. More importantly, for the person using these keywords in their searches, the results returned will be much more specific. My last example shows a perfect example of searching in Google using a Long Tail Keyword. I searched for best products to help quit smoking and was presented with around 400,000 results which was about 36,000,000 less than my first search where I only used the keyword smoking.


Search Terms

What it all boils down to is that Search Terms are nothing more than the collection of either words or phrases that you enter into a search box to return web pages. Based on my previous examples, Search Terms can be very simple and consist of only a single Key Word, a more targeted Key Phrase or a very specific Long Tail Keyword. Even though many people use all these terms interchangeably, I hope that I have shown you that there are distinct differences in the results you are presented by the search engines based on the choice you make. Also, I believe that as more people begin using smart phones and tablets to search the web and speaking their search terms rather than typing them out, Key Phrases and Long Tail Keywords will become the more popular search term of choice.

Of course, the way people choose to search for information on the web will have a direct impact on a website’s onsite seo and search engine rankings.

Just a few years back it was fairly easy to throw together a new website and rank for very competitive key words in very little time utilizing Black Hat SEO. However, in the past three or four years search engines have evolved to detect many Black Hat SEO methods and creating a new website that can rank for competitive key words is practically impossible.

Fortunately, new and existing Ecommerce, Authority or Niche website owners can benefit from the use of a key phrase or long tail key word to get their sites to page one on the search engines. Since many of the older, established sites focused on key word there is less competition for the longer keyword phrases, the problem is knowing exactly which long tail keywords users are entering into the search box. However, finding, analyzing and selecting the proper long tail keyword to use in your website design is something I will be covering in a future post. For now I just want you to know there are several tools available to help web builders make the right choice.

I have reviewed several keyword research tools and have narrowed the field down to just a few that I feel do an excellent job and  I will be writing a review on them soon. But, if you want to get a head start on longtail keyword research I recommend you check out LongTailPro. It is one that I will be reviewing and I feel most people will be extremely happy with, JUST CLICK HERE for more information on LongTailPro or to download a free trial.


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