anand84 - 2:30 pm on May 23, 2010 (gmt 0)
I conducted a minor study for my website. What I did was go through Google SERPS for several of my page keywords. My website caters to several different topics and so a particular keyword is only relevant to a particular page. I checked this for several pages right from something I had posted yesterday to those written back in Nov '09..So if the title of my page was 'Number of Red widgets in USA', I would search for 'red widgets', 'red widgets in united states', 'red widgets number',etc. and see where my articles ranked. Here are some observations I made.
1) I could not find a pattern..I was able to rank on top for 'red widgets' itself for some pages and sometimes ranked only if I searched the entire title - no problem here since I guess it is based on the competitiveness of the keywords alone.
2) I tried to see if the rankings are affected either for recent or old articles. Pages written since February are ranking very well. And while pages before that have been ranking too, there were a lot more times when my page didnt rank. Interestingly, all articles written on Feb 1 and 2 were ranking well. Jan 28,29,20 did not rank at all - while I must say I still could not find a pattern, it is interesting that there was a clear demarcation at this point.
3) Connecting words (eg: in, at, on, among) seem to be having a lot more relevance now. There were quite a few instances when I could not find my page for 'red widgets usa' but ranked within the first two pages for 'red widgets in usa'.
4) I could not confirm this point, but here is an observation : Google recognizes that "USA" is the same as "United States" (since searching for "united states" also boldens USA). But if your page does not contain "United States" explicitly, your page is not displayed when searching for 'red widgets united states'..
I have lost close to 50% of traffic and the numbers are marginally falling every week. Despite this, the pages have ranked moderately well. So, what I presume is that Google is now giving a lot of emphasis to keywords in titles or URL. I can only guess that my website used to rank for keywords not inside title/url and possibly this has fallen now. Otherwise, I cannot understand why my site should have dropped 50% of traffic now.
Has anybody else find a drop in non-title keywords? Also, have you observed changes that I noted in point 3?