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I am new to this keywords thing.
As a manufacturer with a new unique product we want to drive traffic to our website (obviously)
On working on Google Adwords - everyone says target your keywords, but they really mean KeyPhrases, Don't They.
Our product is to do with coffee, (but its not coffee) its a coffee widget that no one has heard of.
So we cannot use Coffee as a keyword as that would never get found.
So we need top use keyword phrases, ie "Coffee widget great"
of "Coffee Widget does this"
I just think that Google and SEO people should use the term KeyPhrase, rather than keyword.
I mean nobody is going to search for "Cars"
I generally say "search terms" or "search targets" when I discuss initial word/phrase suggestions with clients, and I offer a little explanation that we're just talking about the words that people are likely to type into the search box, and there's nothing technical about what we call them.
I might be simplistic, but as far as I can tell search is based on words, and words are all we have. Combination of words is step two, ie. "widgets" and "red widgets" or even "flaming red widgets". There's a core word and an adjective (adverb) and the mystery is how the search engines deal with that combination. And, to honor the OP's original statement, anything more than a "word" is a "phrase". Most accurately stated.
That said, I see it as a word plus a word plus another word, each independent until "magically" assembled into a phrase that leads to a result...the desired result: MY WEB PAGE! (chuckles)