Keywords and keyword phrases can be a tricky subject. There is a bad habit in the search engine optimization and web development industry in general about using keyword and keyword phrases inappropriately.
To make a point clear: I myself have had a tendency to use “keyword” and “keyword phrase” phrase interchangeably. I try not to but it still happens. I will try to make it very clear when it is important to realize the difference between the two.
But for most part, your keyword list is really your keyword phrase list. For example, Vermont Design Works keywords, technically, are: design, development, vermont, seo, winooski, burlington, graphic, etc.
Keyword phrases are multi word phrases derived from a keyword list but target more appropriately the words that a searcher will actually type into a search engine. I don’t necessarily want my company website up on page 1 in Google for the keyword “vermont”. That is not my market. But the keyword phrase “vermont web design”, I very much want (and we are #1 for this keyword).
One might ask: “why wouldn’t you want to be on the first page for the keyword ‘design’?” Good question, I might respond…
While design as a single word keyword phrase is searched on quite a bit, the niche it defines is not narrow enough for me to want to expend energy to capture. It is too broad, too unfocused for me to allocate any resources towards getting ranked for it in Google.
In summary, I consider Keywords as individual keywords which will make up the individual words in your master list of keyword phrases.
A subtle but important distinction in terminology for what is considered the heart of search engine optimization (SEO). Make sure to start any SEO campaign, take the time to establish the targeted keyword phrase list that will generate high quality, good return on investment (ROI), website visitors (future customers).