The phrase on everyone’s lips these days is "swine flu," but apparently it’s in everyone’s search terms as well which may say a lot about the future of search engine optimization (SEO).

Writing for WebProNews, Bill Hartzer notes that many people have been searching for information about the H1N1 virus (better known as the swine flu) in the last week, but the fact that they’re searching for it isn’t the interesting thing, it’s how they’re searching.

Or more importantly how many words they’re using in their search.

Hartzer points out a particular blog post that he’s been watching which talked about the virus and notes that keyword phrases which brought people to the post were fairly long, with the top search phrase coming in at nine words long.

"[W]e are now in an age where our search phrases are a lot longer than before," Hartzer writes.

"[A]pparently we have now crossed into a time where I can officially say that we no longer need to target short keyword phrases with our search engine optimization efforts," he continues.

These long tail search terms appear to be the way the search engine optimization industry is headed.

Research in March from internet analyst Hitwise founds that as people are mastering the use of search engines, they are increasingly searching for longer terms. According to the report, between January 2008 and January 2009, search terms with four or more words increased 10 percent while searches of eight or more words increased 22 percent.