Keyword Order Matters

With the latest updates to Google’s insanely complicated (and effective) algorithm, it’s no longer enough to just make sure that you have all your keywords on the page. Now, it’s turning out that keyword order has started to matter a lot more too, and that means keyword research has never been so important.

Google Update Causes Consternation

Ever since the recent Google update in the 2nd quarter of 2010, now apparently known as Mayday, webmasters have been noticing a drastic reduction of the number of visitors they’re been receiving by way of Google searches.

According to discussion in the search engine optimisation community, some websites have seen a traffic reduction of as much as 90%, and it appears that most of the losses have been in the area of so-called “long tail” keywords, which are usually considered to be phrases of between three and five keywords. (Find out more about why long tail keywords are better.)

The consensus is that this isn’t a matter of penalties. Old, long established sites with plenty of links and a high page rank have been affected, so it’s not a matter of Google punishing spammers.

What Happened To The Algorithm?

Obviously Google’s algorithm, and the changes they make to it, are a closely guarded secret. However, it appears that, for the first time ever, Google has harnessed the computing power it needs to index pages based on long tail keywords.

In the past, it’s been generally assumed that Google simply made a “best guess” about the appropriate keyword phrase, based on keywords and other signals on the page. Now however, it seems that it is indexing long tail keywords directly, and building an index based on each variation thereof.

Changing Your Site?

If you’re one of the website owners who has experienced a significant decline in traffic, you might want to think about changing your content to ensure that the long tail keywords you’re targeting appear in the right order and combination.

If you currently use variations of a long tail keyword phrase, but in the past you still received hits from those phrases, you probably won’t anymore. You’ll probably be indexed for the variation that you use, but you’ll no longer get hits for the versions which include those keywords, but in a different order.

What Does It Mean

It means that keyword research just got that much more important. Peppering your page with random, related keywords just isn’t enough now, (if it ever was). Your SEO content needs to be focused and targeted for the words and phrases which bring clients to your site.

Keep an eye on what’s bringing traffic to your site, and if you notice a drop in numbers, consider reworking your content and structure to make sure it’s Google algorithm friendly.