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The reason is google uses something called anchor text. Do a search on the forum.
For my part, I haven't noticed this. However, I have noticed that my site seems to be doing better for strange keyword combinations that appear in the body text. However, this may be due to a small increase in PR as a result of some newish backlinks. Or perhaps the weighting given to body text has been raised slightly and/or title text lowered.
There really isn't much point worrying about these things. To rank highly, consistently, you need a healthy balance of all the SEO tactics discussed in this forum, and you need backlinks. Unfortunately, not all backlinks are equal but that's life.
Is google ranking page-titles differently?
i.e. if the page titles contain your keywords,
it doesn't seem to make any difference anymore.
From many of the posts at WW one might get the idea that Google changes its criteria every day, sometimes even by the hour. We always have to keep in mind that it might not be a change at Google (or any other SE for that matter), that causes changes in the SERPs.
The web is ever changing; instead of chalking up every day-to-day or week-to-week differences in the SERPs to changes in the Google algorithm I find it's usually best to look at the simplest explanations first: Other webmasters made changes to their pages (for better or worse), or you made changes to your pages (for better or worse).
The first golden rule of marketing "Know your competition" always applies. We should be very familiar with the pages in let's say the first five slots, or at least the five pages above ours in the SERPs. And we should first look to see what changes have been made to these pages when there are major changes in the results; that's where the answers usually lie.
This is just a very, very long-winded way of saying that AthlonInside might be on the right track. We know that ancor text is a very important factor and at times trumps title text. Maybe some competitors picked up a few more solid links with good anchor text; or maybe they changed the site navigation; or maybe just about anything. These would be far more likely explanations than a major SE constantly making major changes to its algorithm.
However, I have noticed that my site seems to be doing better for strange keyword combinations that appear in the body text.
Funny thing, I spend a while this morning looking into just this effect, but for Yahoo referrals. A bunch of 3-5 keyword searches found us today - straight out of the body text. Never seen those before..
Can't check Google referrals for keywords at the moment, because my statistics server has been boycotting that data for a few weeks.
I had thought the odd results were due to Yahoo factors, but your post suggests Google may be behind this.
The reason I commented, at all, was because it seems more prevalent that usual across a wide variety of SERPs I watch and maybe, perhaps, might be some algo change that may need watching over the next couple months.