beginners guide to keyphrases Are you confused by what keywords or keyphrases are, and how to do keyword research for your blog post or for an article on your niche site?  Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I am covering keywords (or keyphrases; same thing 😉 ) that will be super beneficial for you to read, learn, and apply when you cover certain topics on your blog.  We will start with the basics and ramp our way up. Let’s rewind a bit and start with the basics.

What is a Keyword?

A keyword is any word that a user types into a search engine, like Google or Microsoft Edge, to get whatever information they are seeking. If your friend or family member typed “how do I train my cat” into Google’s search engine, that is a keyword or rather, a keyphrase.  [Note: I will be using keyword and keyphrase interchangeably, as they have the same meaning, except keyword refers to a single word being used and keyphrase refers to more than one word being used to conduct a search].

Now that we have learned what a keyword/keyphrase is, let’s delve into a couple of things. Let’s say you have a site about succulents and you want to write about which succulents are easy to grow indoors.

What keyphrases will people use to look up information that you are writing about?  Once you can gather keyphrases that your content is about, then you can use search engine optimization (SEO) on your article and give it a better chance at ranking your pages in the search engines, which will result in more people visiting your site. Well, let’s go into Google and have a look-see. When I started typing in “easiest succulents to grow”, I started seeing other suggestions that Google shows in its auto suggestion bar. For more ideas, I started typing in, “what are succ…”, and before I finished typing out the whole word (succulents), I started seeing tons of other keyword ideas that Google is giving me at my fingertips, for free!


google autosuggestion example

These are keyphrases that people are typing into Google’s search bar. If I had continued typing out succulents, you’d see a whole list of keyphrases that start with “what are succulents…”. When I type in “how do I grow succulents”, here is what Google shows me:

Another awesome thing that Google does is display other questions that people ask that are related to any searches/keywords you have put into it in the “People Also Ask” section.  If you scroll down after you conduct a search in Google, you will find the People also ask section where Google shows you other questions related to your main search or keyphrase. How cool is that?! Check this out:

Now, if you are starting out, this is a free option to use for doing keyword research.  Go ahead and type in anything you want. Here’s another example.

Different Types of Keyphrases: Short Tail vs Long Tail

Funny terms, right?  A short tail and a long tail… reminds me of cat tails 😉 Once you start playing around with keyphrases, you will hear about both short tail and long tail.

What is a Short Tail Keyphrase?

When it comes to keyphrases, short tail refers to “broader intent or shorter keyphrases”.  There is no set standard, but generally a keyphrase that contains 1-3 words in it will be considered a short tail keyphrase and is considered a broad term. For example: “succulent care” is a broader keyphrase in the sense that it implies that someone wants to learn about caring for succulents and nothing more.  Ahrefs (a paid tool) shows this search input receives 10,000 searches per month.

Also, it’s only two words, so it’s a short-tail keyphrase.  We can also assume that it’s “higher competition”, meaning it is much harder to achieve top rankings for a keyword like this on a new website. If you are starting a new site about succulents, aiming to rank your page for that keyphrase in the top of Google will be hard, considering all the sites that are ahead of you, including the older ones with more authority and power.  But now let’s discover…

What is a Long Tail Keyphrase?

A long tail keyphrase is one that has more than 3 words in it.  They are usually considered “less competitive” than short tail keyphrases, and can be a lot easier to achieve rankings for a new site when it’s still a phoenix hatchling 😉 After I finished looking up “succulent care”, I saw Ahrefs listed out quite a few long tail keyphrases that pertained to succulent care but had more “specific intent”. These search terms may not receive thousands of searches, but they do receive 350-400 searches per month:

  • bear paw succulent care
  • donkey’s tail succulent care
  • jade succulent care
  • succulent care in winter

All of these are longtail keyphrases and have more specific intent/meaning, versus the short tail keyphrase “succulent care”. You could write in-depth articles about how to take care of particular types of succulents like the keyphrases above. For you to target short keyphrases that receive crazy high searches per month, you need to have a “powerful site” (or blog) for it to rank well.  By powerful, I mean that your site needs to be a few years old in its space, should have accumulated some backlinks from other sites, and show “authority” to Google.

If you are starting off with a new site, or a site that isn’t an authority in Google’s eyes (or other search engines), that’s quite alright! Target long tail keyphrases.

If you write about a detailed article around “bear paw succulent care” and go in-depth about it, cover all the topics, get creative with it and be helpful and show it using some pictures/images, create a video… … create that masterpiece that goes above and beyond your competitors, there is no doubt in my mind that your page could rank in Google. You could also cover other keyphrases like questions that aren’t already covered on other pages of your site. Ahrefs shows me hundreds of questions being showed around the word “succulents” (I switched to “Questions” to use this feature). Here’s a small sample of what the tool showed me:

We can drill down and target keyphrases that are lesser in search numbers, but remember: new sites have a higher chance of ranking since more than likely, most sites/pages aren’t optimizing for them:

The Main Lesson

We all want our websites and blogs to rank in google and other search engines so we can bring in traffic, and some of that traffic can earn us affiliate or ad income.

However, be smart about what keyphrases you target on your site. Aiming for more specific keyphrases, ones that not many other sites are optimizing for, is a great way to go. By focusing on non-competitive keyphrases, you will have an easier and better rate of success to rank your website and bring in organic traffic that is hungry to get answers from your site. Become familiar with keyphrases, how to research them, and what you should target on your site.