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Commonly used search phrases

Commonly used search phrases (CUSP) – are phrases that people tend to use when searching for something and, more importantly, narrowing down the search results returned. There are normally two parts to a CUSP, a “stem phrase” and a “qualifying phrase.”

For example, a stem for Brad might be “business cards” and a qualifier “full color.” Additional qualifiers might be “cheap,” “luxury,” “do it yourself,” and a whole host of other terms.

Sometimes qualifiers are strung together, in terms such as “cheap Caribbean cruises.” And often people will use different synonyms or otherwise semantically similar words to describe the same qualifying phrase.

For example, “discounted” and “inexpensive” are synonyms of “cheap.” However, searchers have learnt that phrases like “last minute” and “special offer” might return similar results. As such, searchers are just as likely to search for “last minute cruises” or “special offer cruises” as “cheap cruises.” I use the acronym SEP (semantically equivalent phrase) to describe both simple synonyms and more intuitive variants, and Google is capable of recognizing both. When undertaking keyword research, I tend to group CUSPs into SEPs and then group SEPs under the stem to which they relate.

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