Has LSI Killed Long-Tail Keyword Effectiveness?

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  • SEO
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Hello, everyone,

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doing my best to fast-track myself through the SEO learning process, but it is incredibly hard with all of the bad, outdated advice that still lingers around.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.
#effectiveness #keyword #keywords #killed #longtail #lsi #ranking #semantic #seo
  • Profile picture of the author ButchTool
    I'm a bit disappointed that I haven't gotten a response yet. Is there a particular time of day these forums are busy? Should I move my topic to a different section? Please let me know. Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim3
    You have posted in the correct section Butch Tool, it's just that the question is a bit long-winded and requires too much brain power to contemplate as most of us have businesses to run and such a debate could go on for weeks.

    In my view there is no point in trying to second-guess Big G, they'll do whatever they have to do to crush any competition and make even more money than they do already.
    I would be more worried about the SERP's being even more 'sanitized'.

    The best bet is not to rely on SE's totally for your business, eggs/baskets etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author ButchTool
      Originally Posted by Tim3 View Post

      In my view there is no point in trying to second-guess Big G, they'll do whatever they have to do to crush any competition and make even more money than they do already.
      I would be more worried about the SERP's being even more 'sanitized'.

      The best bet is not to rely on SE's totally for your business, eggs/baskets etc.
      Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. I suppose you are quite right. While I like to try to plan for the future, I guess you should always diversify in case a huge change comes along.

      Part of my pondering involves where the balance will be found with allowing semantics vs exact match because some of my searches have become really tough these days when it comes to finding a precise answer.

      I end up having to quote several different parts with several different phrasings to actually find relevant answers. It can be really annoying.

      So, although Google may want to expand their LSI database, I feel like there has to be a limit because the search relevancy will really go downhill if they go too far.
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      • Profile picture of the author Tim3
        Originally Posted by ButchTool View Post

        Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. I suppose you are quite right. While I like to try to plan for the future, I guess you should always diversify in case a huge change comes along.

        Part of my pondering involves where the balance will be found with allowing semantics vs exact match because some of my searches have become really tough these days when it comes to finding a precise answer.

        I end up having to quote several different parts with several different phrasings to actually find relevant answers. It can be really annoying.

        So, although Google may want to expand their LSI database, I feel like there has to be a limit because the search relevancy will really go downhill if they go too far.
        You're welcome,
        I have a few minutes to kill

        I don't want to offend you but, can I take it you know how to use Google search operators i.e. +/- etc to include/exclude results, thus filtering the results by keyword(s) amongst other things?

        Also putting whole questions in quotes, I find can sometimes turn up results for difficult queries, when the results are not what's required re-phrase the question.
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        • Profile picture of the author ButchTool
          Originally Posted by Tim3 View Post

          You're welcome,
          I have a few minutes to kill

          I don't want to offend you but, can I take it you know how to use Google search operators i.e. +/- etc to include/exclude results, thus filtering the results by keyword(s) amongst other things?

          Also putting whole questions in quotes, I find can sometimes turn up results for difficult queries, when the results are not what's required re-phrase the question.

          Thanks for mentioning this. I know how to use the - to exclude a particular word. Are you saying that + before a word allows it to be an exact match similar to putting it in quotes? That is a bit simpler and I didn't know that had the same function. That will make it a little easier to type in.

          Unfortunately, it is often a specific way of phrasing that I seek because I've learned that certain topics will have more expert results stated in particular ways. So, I tend to use quotes to seek out the more professional sounding results, which requires quoting more than just individual words.

          I still feel like searching now compared to several years back gives me way less accurate results, in general. Although, I imagine I am now getting a wider number of results that MAY end up containing what I need. I guess it is all about the trade-off.
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          • Profile picture of the author Tim3
            Originally Posted by ButchTool View Post

            Thanks for mentioning this. I know how to use the - to exclude a particular word. Are you saying that + before a word allows it to be an exact match similar to putting it in quotes? That is a bit simpler and I didn't know that had the same function. That will make it a little easier to type in.
            No, adding + will ensure that word is included in the results.
            for example: Wordpress themes +premium +business -free

            Here's a link that may help you a bit further...
            Google Search Operators - Google Guide
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  • Profile picture of the author TopHats
    There is very little difference between targeting anchor text at long tails or LSI anyway so I feel that this is a needless concern. In fact this is a good thing. It makes keyword stuffing easier again.
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    • Profile picture of the author ButchTool
      Originally Posted by TopHats View Post

      There is very little difference between targeting anchor text at long tails or LSI anyway so I feel that this is a needless concern. In fact this is a good thing. It makes keyword stuffing easier again.
      Perhaps I didn't make it clear enough in my original ramblings, but I was referencing the ability to judge competition in a given niche and build a site around it that will rank well.

      While your point is important, that is more about making sure to not over-optimize links since Google is penalizing that these days. I'm thinking more about the whole researching and creating around a longtail niche aspect.
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      • Profile picture of the author TopHats
        Originally Posted by ButchTool View Post

        Perhaps I didn't make it clear enough in my original ramblings, but I was referencing the ability to judge competition in a given niche and build a site around it that will rank well.

        While your point is important, that is more about making sure to not over-optimize links since Google is penalizing that these days. I'm thinking more about the whole researching and creating around a longtail niche aspect.
        You can still spy on paid Adwords campaigns for this. Stealing keywords is over rated IMO anyway, its more about dominating a niche. The keywords will come if you discuss all the LSI topics.
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        • Profile picture of the author ButchTool
          Thanks for the discussion everyone. I guess there isn't too much point in worrying how Google may change semantic rankings in the future when it comes to researching low competition keywords and niches. I think writing naturally in a way that includes a lot of related keywords and terminology will probably work well for the long haul.

          Sorry it took a while for me to get back. I got busy with some of my writing projects. I really appreciate everyone's input, though.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim3
    ... and just to add,

    Big G seems to return a lot less results than they used to, my memory is not so good but I'm sure they used to returns 1000+ results for anything, for many searches I do theses days the results are around 250 - 300 entries.
    Perhaps that's because of the all spam they got rid of, or they were running out of storage space.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I started posting earlier & got busy on the phone, must have closed the browser tab. Doh!

    Your talking about two different things (LSI vs longtail).
    • LSI has been around since the 1970's so it's hardly new. LSI is all about patterns, example If I say I have a charger, you'll probably assume it's for charging electrical gadgets (ex: cell phone, mp3 player, etc...). If I say I have a charger & I mention that on a Mopar forum, you'll assume I have a car (Dodge Charger). Google does the same with LSI keywords, pattern recognition. LSI puts the keyword in context, example, appliance charger vs. Dodge Charger.
    • Longtail is lots of keywords each focused on driving small amounts of traffic that combined equals a large number of traffic, as opposed to targeting a single keyword that generates a large number of traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author jessicalad
    LSI named as latent semantic indexing is basically algorithm on which google works.WIth the help of this semantic search, keywords are being sorted and indexed in google.It doesnot have any effect on long tail keyword effectiveness..
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