I previously wrote about this exact topic in a hubpages forum (and made a hub seeking input about it myself), but I would like to get some input from those who are actually on top of the SEO game.
I have been doing my best to fast-track myself through the SEO learning process, but it is incredibly hard with all of the bad, outdated advice that still lingers around. Overall, it seems very important for ranking to not over-optimize, which means ignoring a lot of the advice that still pops up when searching for search optimization advice.
However, one of the most intriguing factors of modern search I have come across seems to be Latent Semantic Indexing whereby semantic variants of keywords are considered as alternative options to exact match phrases.
Now, personally, when I search with Google, I often find this super annoying as it messes with my search relevance. If I am searching a detailed topic, I need a close answer and Google tends to wreck that.
However, it seems that Google may be devoting energy into expanding the LSI database so that more and more longtails will result in shorter variations (not to mention the mobile searching emphasis which suggests options that may funnel people away from your perfectly researched and selected longtail niche).
Do you believe this will cause longtail search engine optimization for a given niche category to be less useful in the future?
Certainly, in the past and even now, you can design a site around a specific long-tail keyword or two in the hopes of ranking quickly while hoping to rank for more competitive terms over time.
However, what happens if Google suddenly decides to allow search engine results from competitors with similar (but not exact match) terminology? It seems that your competition could suddenly triple or worse depending on how far the LSI stretches the related keywords that it allows to show up on the SERPs.
Is this a concern for any of you? Are you preparing for it in any way in case such changes occur in the future? What percent do you focus on long tails vs. semantically related key phrases within a keyword theme group?
I would love to hear some input from some SEO experts. If you took the time to read this, and especially if you responded with your thoughts after, I thank you.