Originally at http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/2941156

Posted by sam.nemzer

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

A quantitative analysis of the claim that topics are more important than keywords.

What’s more important: topics or keywords? This has been a major discussion point in SEO recently, nowhere more so than here on the Moz blog. Rand has given two Whiteboard Fridays in the last two months, and Moz’s new Related Topics feature in Moz Pro aims to help you to optimize your site for topics as well as keywords.

The idea under discussion is that, since the Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013, Google is getting really good at understanding natural language. So much so, in fact, that it’s now able to identify similar terms, making it less important to worry about minor changes in the wording of your content in order to target specific keyword phrases. People are arguing that it’s more important to think about the concepts that Google will interpret, regardless of word choice.

While I agree that this is the direction that we’re heading, I wanted to see how true this is now, in the present. So I designed an experiment.

The experiment

The question I wanted to answer was: “Do searches within the same topic (but with different keyword phrases) give the same result?” To this end, I put together 10 groups of 10 keywords each, with each group’s keywords signifying (as closely as possible) the same concept. These keywords were selected in order to represent a range of search volume, and across the spectrum of informational to transactional. For example, one group of keywords are all synonymous the phrase “cheapest flight times” (not-so-subtly lifted from Rand’s Whiteboard Friday):

cheapest flight times
cheapest time for flights
cheapest times to fly
cheap times for flights
cheap times to fly
fly at cheap times
time of cheapest flights
what time of day are flights cheapest
what time of day to fly cheaply
when are flights cheapest

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