I have been cramming in all the SEO information I can find lately. I have found some great nuggets hidden amongst the wave of dudes just wanting to sell their E-books. However, I am wondering if some of the information I am finding is outdated now since semantic variation is being utilized so much by Google.
As I mentioned on a previous post, it seems like searches these days pull up results with considerably different wording (which means that whoever had that exact phrase on their site isn't the one that actually ends up ranking for it). This annoys me like crazy when I search, and I often wind up putting quotes around at least part of my searches to actually get some exact relevancy.
However, with regard to SEO, doesn't this mean that researching and implementing long-tail keywords isn't going to be effective anymore? I mean, if you implement the long-term keyword "super hot toaster oven" because you believe you can rank, but a search of that term will also pull up "awesome oven for toasting" (something that may be more competitive) then doesn't that mean that using long-tail is not going to be very effective?
I definitely am starting to feel like it is better to implement semantic variations into my content to help for ranking, but I am unsure how to truly judge and find competitive niches given that it doesn't seem like a single long-tail keyword will necessarily be easy judge this way (because in reality in a google search they will likely see other results, as well).
What are your thoughts?
One simple trick is to feed various versions of the phrase into a Google Search and see what Auto-suggest pops up. Order of words is very important. This may help to show how Google deals with synonyms.
A tool such as Jaaxy(dot)com can suggest various variants and how competitive they are.
Oops...changed to general post below instead of replying to myself.
I think you have to do both: It's still important to find good keyphrases, but semantic search is also important. But I think variations of keywords/keyphrases naturally comes out in the writing. I mean good writing is supposed to use synonyms instead of repeating the same words. I was taught that back in grade school. I'm not being condescending there, I'm just saying that it's a basic part of writing. I think synonyms should come out naturally in text. Google (Matt Cutts and others) are always talking about writing naturally. I think the effort is to get people away from being contrived and trying to game. I think the basics of finding good keyphrases is good enough. Of course, that can be intricate. You have to find which ones have high volume of searches, look at titles of articles that come up in SERPs, look at who the competition is. Probably more than that, but that's off the top of my head.
I think one of my biggest questions is whether semantic variations "count" when used in certain places. For example, could I use "business event" in the url, "company event" in the title, "corporate activity" in the meta tag, and "business affair" in the header and still have it work out well for rankings?
The main places I always feel like I am keyword stuffing are in the title, meta, header, and first paragraph because I have read that you must put your keywords here to rank well. Can you use semantic variations in these places or will it not work well for ranking? Should semantic variations only be used in the text body?
Oops. Responded to myself up there instead of adding it as a new post...
Hilariously, even though this post is super new, I just did a search for "semantic variant in title header" (WITHOUT QUOTES) in Google and this post shows as the #11 post (found it by chance while digging for more information). So, obviously, there aren't a lot of other people talking about using LSI terms and phrases in their headers and titles as opposed to using exact keywords. Also, clearly Google felt this page was relevant to that search even though I had the words "variants", "semantic", "title", and "header" in separate places in my text.
This makes me believe even more that trying to target for a certain long-tail phrase may not be the smart move anymore because Google is eager to pull out more and more semantically related, but not exact matches that will make it harder to rank. What do you guys think?
Edit: I should mention that I was only looking in posts for the last month using the search tools, though, to try to find information that wasn't years old. That probably helped a lot. Still surprising to me, though, that my post showed up so high, so fast.
Just came across the phrase "LSI semantic variant long-tail" (without quotes) where this post is ranked #1, although there were only 5 pages of results overall compared to the previous search which had more.
While this search seemed more directly related to the post, I still can't believe it rose to show as #1 for this term so fast and #11 for the other, even given that I am searching for posts within the last month.
These topics are super important for SEO right now; shouldn't people be talking about this a lot online? I almost feel like I am finding a lot of SEO gurus talking about long-tail keywords publicly now because they actually matter less, while behind the scenes they are focusing on semantic practices.
Edit: Unless I am somehow hallucinating, when I switch my search back to "Anytime" it seems like this post stays at #1 out of "About 699,000 results". Now if I can only make that happen with some content pages that will actually make me money, it would be nice.
That point shows that Long - Tails are alive and kicking for long very specific phrases using uncommon words! Making it work is a question of compromise regarding finding a phrase that you can compete with. Longtails are still valid - let Google do what it will, and now use some of the synonyms.
Do you think it is alright at this point to use broad matching synonyms in the title, meta, header, and first paragraph, or should these locations still include the primary keyword in an exact match?
You can read a lot about this topic on moz.com. Check out Rand's blog and the moz blog. If you've been doing a lot of reading, I'm sure you've already discovered this site. Cyrus Shepherd has excellent articles on this topic. http://moz.com/blog/7-advanced-seo-concepts
I have come across a lot of information there. That post in particular is very interesting and includes some concepts that were new to me like term frequency–inverse document frequency (TF-IDF).
This absolutely makes great sense to me, although I hadn't originally heard about it. I mean, if the topic is "underwater basket weaving" it doesn't make sense (and is obvious keyword stuffing) to have it mentioned 10 times in your article. However, if the topic is "SEO", it is inevitable that you will need to say SEO lots of times as you reference it so often.
The fact that they may be starting to understand that there is a "normal" density for each specific word instead of just an overall proper density for any keyword is definitely important information. I have actually swung from being too keyword density focused to then being afraid to use the terms too often.
While really, it seems that Google will recognize that some terms need to be used more than others. I imagine you can check and see the keyword density by other top ranked results to get an idea on if your density of usage is normal for a given keyword or not.
While they did bring up a graphic reading the semantics and one showing the inclusion of keywords in the title, meta, url, headers, and body, they still didn't give a definitive answer about whether the exact keyword can be used or if semantic variations still work in this particular usage.
However, given how Google is moving and seems to be aiming for a more "natural" usage and revolving terminology, I'm going to assume that semantic usages in these areas is desirable. Do you agree?
I think it's still important to place primary keywords in titles, headings, photo tags.
Related phrases and variants are interspersed throughout the content. If they're close in proximity to the primary keywords, search engines can more easily find relationships. You can experiment to see what works best for you. Another helpful article by Cyrus on the topic. http://moz.com/blog/on-page-topic-seo
BTW, I'm not an seo geek, I just like to read this stuff and learn what I can. Search engines are some kind of beast.
The question with a keyphrase is whether people are even googling it. If not, even if it ranks number one, you won't get traffic. It's not really whether there's a lot of competition. You have to look at what the competition is doing and if you can do it better. Or, even more important, what they are not doing so you can do it.
Jaaxy(dot)com provides answers to those questions, and other similar packages
That's a good point about people possibly not actually searching for the term you may be able to rank. I am definitely trying to figure out the balance between competition (and how to judge it), traffic (and how this traffic may be funneled away by semantic searching), and how to integrate semantics and conceptually related terms into my content optimally.
Oops. I think my original posts came across as too promotional and were removed. Anyhow, I wanted to mention how this forum post suddenly was ranking #1 for a variety of searches in Google. I actually decided to make a hub (and then made another with an updated screenshot as well as talking about how Google search results are changed by semantics) showing screenshots and trying to analyze how it happened and asking for people's inputs (polls) regarding how they deal with SEO, semantics, etc.
I guess I can't actually post the links here, but I don't have that many posts, so it is easy to click on my face, go to my profile, and click on the hubs in question.
The first hub I made was titled "Has LSI Killed Long-tail Keyword Effectiveness?" and shows up in my list of hubs. I kind of rushed it because I was excited to get all my thoughts down, but it has some nice screenshots that show some terms that this forum post (as in, the thread you are reading right now) suddenly managed to be the #1 result in several different Google search queries out of tens of thousands of results (although I later found it ranked #1 out of 2.96 million and put a screenshot of that in my second hub).
The second is newer, so it may not be in the main list, but shows up in my spotlight hubs area as the second listing under "Impact of LSI on Long-Tail Keywords in Search: Relevance to SEO?". This one focuses on showing how searching for one term in Google actually gets you semantic variations as well and questions how that will impact trying to determine actual traffic and competition deduction.
Towards the bottom, I provided an updated screenshot showing how this thread had become the #1 result out of 2.96 million results for a particular keyword term.
I thought that was totally crazy and a cool thing to show off...but apparently providing the actual links meant the whole posts here got deleted. Anyhow, if you are interested, you can click through and find them.
Regardless, the fact that a forum post that was less than a day old could suddenly rank is hugely telling about the new era of searching, even though I am still trying to analyze exactly what. What are your thoughts?
While I'm in the process of learning the best SEO procedures, I just now created a new hub that discusses what you absolutely shouldn't do.
It may be debatable exactly which methods are best, but there is zero question that some practices absolutely shouldn't be used anymore.
My three picks for the top outdated "tricks" to avoid were: keyword stuffing, buying low quality links, and having duplicated or awful content.
Are these your top three picks for worst old fashioned SEO practices to avoid nowadays as well?
What else would you add to these three if you were going to make a list of the top 5 or 10 bad tips that don't work anymore because of Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird algorithm changes?
Edit: Again, the hub is very new, so you have to look in my "spotlight" section to find this new hub. Eventually, it should show up in the regular list of hubs under my profile.
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