The way people are searching for information has changed.
Gone are the days of generic searches for “cars” or “sofas.” Instead, users are being more specific in their searches.
This started to reveal itself in long-tail searches such as “1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible” or “L-shaped sectional for small apartment”.
But as Google has adjusted its algorithms in an effort to deliver better results and as users have become more sophisticated in how to “Google”, optimizing for keyword strings like these no longer works.
Users are entering more conversational queries or questions with a specific search intent and Google is using search data, click data and heuristics in an attempt to serve better results.
Users are also looking for local results. According to SearchEngineWatch, “near me” searches have grown 34 times since 2011 and 80% of those searches are on mobile.
This change in how people search has even prompted Google to develop RankBrain, an artificial intelligence system designed to process and learn from search queries and extract the meaning behind complicated or ambiguous queries.
In order to develop content that will rank, you need to consider your readers and how they search and what they might search for. Test your phrases and queries by Googling them (use an incognito browser to avoid localized or personalized results) and examine how the results might vary and how the queries can convey different intent.