How Google is Restructuring English

“It is a wet, dreary day.”

I believe that most native English speakers would agree that the above sentence is perfectly natural. Especially if the speaker lives in the United States’ Pacific Northwest, and this phrase must be utilized very often this time of year. Now, think back to your high-school or college “English” or “Writing” classes, and let’s look at the sentence structure very briefly.

We have a pronoun, “It”, the verb “is”, two adjectives (describing the noun) “wet” and “dreary”, and finally, the noun, “day”. If you can’t remember breaking sentences apart back in school – just take my word for it.

It’s always amused me that we English speakers rarely get to the point until the end of what we’re saying. We don’t learn what “It” is referring to until the last word of the sentence, “day”. All along, we’re really talking about the day – describing the day, complaining about the day, wishing the day was sunny. But we don’t really mention the day until the sentence is over.

But that’s English, and that’s valuable to know when you’re targeting keywords for SEO.

That being said, I think I see Google starting to change things for us. When I speak normally, I find myself following the same patterns I described above, but when I type a search query into Google, I’m not as consistent. I’ll sometimes find myself typing a noun phrase with one or two adjectives or a modifying phrase afterwards – like “Ferrari Dealership Portland”. We can all understand that phrase – but most English speakers would naturally just talk about the “Portland Ferrari Dealership” (with “Portland” describing the type or location of the “Ferrari” instead of the phrase’s subject coming first).

The Google Analytics Data I have access to seems to back up my findings – even when it doesn’t make grammatical sense a significant percentage of searchers are placing the noun first (like “insurance car” or “recipe potato soup”).

When you’re targeting SEO keywords or Adwords keywords, it’s important to understand the native language structure. It’s also important to understand the exceptions to the rules – and see that Google Grammar isn’t necessarily English Grammar. Test out different orders of your phrase’s keywords before you commit to targeting any one keyphrase for your SEO campaign – you may be surprised at how little (pure) English is actually spoken online.

Let me know what you think in the comments section! Have you noticed this too? How widespread is Google’s grammatical influence in your life?

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Eric Wagner

Eric is a CEO with a background in marketing and search engine optimization specialist (SEO). In his free time, Eric enjoys exercise, gardening, technology, a good book, and spending time with family and friends.

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