At the beginning of this month, Google implemented the latest changes to their algorithm. And as a result, many websites have experienced a sudden and dramatic downturn in the number of visitors arriving via Google, because suddenly keyword order matters a lot more.

The latest development has caused a lot of discussion in SEO circles, and the conclusion seems to be that the change has had the biggest impact on what are known as “long tail keywords.” These are keyword phrases which consist of three or more keywords which users may type into search engines.

How it Worked Before

In the past, Google has pretty much guessed which pages were the most relevant to long tail searches. It has been an educated guess, based on the keywords on the page as well as other indicators, but in the end, it was a guess because there was no system powerful enough to actually index pages based on long tail keywords.

The number of possible permutations, and the volume of sites and content, made it effectively impossible to accurately index combinations of multiple words.

How It (Apparently) Works Now

Now however, it seems that Google has the computer power necessary to build indexes based on long tail keywords, and as a result, sites which were being offered up as results based on Google’s best guess have found themselves supplanted by sites which contain the keyword phrase, in the exact order in which it was searched for.

This is great news for searchers, as the chances of finding the information they’re looking for have just increased. For site owners whose traffic was coming from long tail “estimates” though, it’s not quite as promising a development.

A Good Thing

Despite the fact that some websites have lost as much as 90% of their traffic though, we’re inclined to view this as a good thing. Sure, some search engine optimisation strategies will need to be reconsidered. Some content will probably have to be rewritten with this in mind.

But on the whole, we’re in favour of anything that makes search engines more effective. Effective search engines may make our jobs harder in the short term, but in the long run, they do what we want. Deliver relevant, topical information on the subject of the users choice.

The Importance Of Keyword Research

The importance of keyword research has never been so prevalent. It’s no longer enough just to have the related keywords somewhere on your page. If you want to rank for “red widgets Johannesburg,” that means you’ll need to have those words, in that order, on your site.

Identifying the keywords that users search to find you has never been so important.

Read more about SEO keywords and SEO content tools.