What’s the difference between keywords and keyphrases?

Any business owner who has done even a preliminary bit of research on SEO will have come across the term keyword research. If you’ve read a little more, you’ll understand how important it is to do correctly if you want to rank well in Google, Bing, and company.

If you’ve read and learned about keyword research then you will have probably come across two terms: keywords and keyphrases. At this point, you might have a couple of questions. What is the difference between the two? Should keywords only be one word? Which should you focus on? What’s the best way to guarantee traffic from Google?

In this post, we’ll look at the difference between keywords and keyphrases, and how you can use both to make sure your keyword research is good enough to rank with.

What is a keyword?

Let’s start with keywords. A keyword is the one word that best describes what your web page or blog post is about. This is the core search therm that you would ideally want to rank for. In truth, it will probably be too competitive to get on the first page for, but that doesn’t matter at this stage.

Let’s look at an example. If you had an auto store, the keyword for your tires page would simply be “tires”.


What is a keyphrase?

A keyphrase is a bit more detailed than a keyword and contains several words, rather than a single word. This will be the phrase that you would want your page to rank for in an ideal world. So when people search for this phrase, your page should appear in Google.

If we use the same example as above, the keyphrase for your tires page might be “tires for sale in Scottsdale”. As you can see, this phrase is longer and there is a much higher chance that your website will be able to rank for it.


So what’s the difference then?

The difference is really as simple as it seems. Keywords are single words, keyphrases contain multiple words. Keyphrases will also be much easier to rank for than keywords as they tend to be more specific.


How do keyphrases differ to long tail keywords?

If you’ve really done your research on keyword research, you’ll have probably come across another term: long tail keywords. By now, you’re probably wondering what the difference is between long tail keywords and keyphrases.

Let us explain. The answer lies in their specificity. Long tail keywords will almost always contain more than one word, but they may not. What they will always be is very specific. So “Michelin tires for sale in Scottsdale” is a long tail keyword, for example.

It is also a keyphrase as it has more than one word. But keyphrases don’t have to be so specific. Motorbike tires is a keyphrase but because it is still a very broad term, it does not count as a long tail keyword.


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