"aspdesigner, I'd love to see some specifics on this somehow or verification from several sources."
Well mantucket, unfortunately we're not allowed to post specific searches here...
(QUICK NOTE TO ROBERT: Responding to your post shortly, but wanted to clarify, that was NOT
an example search in my prior post! :()
...but I will provide what I can. Let's see...
First, there is the test I described in detail in my first post in this thread - Is History Repeating Itself at Google?
We were kicked-down to the fourth page on an exact match. Examining the sites above us revealed that out of the Top 30 sites, only 2
of them even had all 3 keywords anywhere in the title!
And by De-Optimizing the match (via changing words in the search) so that we were no longer an exact match, jumped our page up to #2 out of the Top-10!
I then started looking at various SERPs for other clients (whose prior results I was already familiar with), and then doing "test" searches, trying to see exactly what the "payday" update was doing.
I discovered that competitive SERPs, that had previously been dominated by full match titles, now had the majority with partial match, 1-word match, and sometimes no match in the title at all! These were all competitive Top-10 listings.
In searches where Google decided to use a not-quite-synonym, the Top-30 listings (that's as far back as I checked for each) were dominated by sites with the synonym in the title, rather than the actual search term I entered.
Some SERPs had more full matches than others. But often the keywords were broken-apart or mixed-up. Or they were an exact match, but often were spammy sites, with URLs like -
There are still some decent sites with an exact match still showing-up at the top (we have a few). But they are now in the distinct minority. And I'm not the only one reporting this.
See also, for example, scottsonline's posts on Page 5 of this thread. Others here have also reported seeing this.
This same thing was also reported by numerous people in Florida.
" I just did an experiment which disproves the title-exact match theory..."
mantucket, if you take a look at my previous post, you will note that I was careful to indicate that this applies to a FULL
title match (vs. partial match), NOT
an exact match.
You tested something else.
But if you want to try an experiment - see if you can find a search which is a full match for which you used to come-up Top-10, where some of the results now include a synonym for one of the keywords you entered. Now, try doing variations of that search, but replacing that keyword with the synonym Google used instead, and see if you can get your site to come-up!
That is how we managed to get our client's site to go from fourth page, to #2!
You can also try adding an extra word to the search, which is present in the body text, but not the title.
Once you know what works, you will have a clue as to how you can modify your site! ;)