SEO Philosophy – The Long and Short of it (Part 1)


Most self-help books provide a bunch of techniques. If you do such and such thing, you will experience these results. Books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People provide a more philosophical framework that theoretically enables you to find ways to customize a solution or some such thing for your own life.

Both of these approaches are relevant. If you want to lose weight or build muscle, you do not need a philosophy but a set of exercises that strengthen muscles. On the other hand, if you have ever tried to implement a lifestyle diet created in a country other than your own, you will quickly run into problems because some foods are not available in your country (Has anyone eaten Bambara groundnuts?). Here’s a philosophical approach– low carb, high protein, no sugar, etc.– would be more appropriate.

“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account.”

This kind of search, where all the words, as well as their relation to one another is taken into account, is called a conversational query.

Becoming more philosophical about SEO can also benefit your product. Remember, like we mentioned in the SEO Checklist, Google, Bing and the others do not supply us with their search algorithms and therefore it is not merely a matter of filling the blanks.

Semantic Search

The question: Is so-and-so a pig? (or is so and so Justin Bieber? but we tread cautiously before the potential law suits by the World’s Porcine Population for insulting them.)

Clearly, you are not trying to figure out what kind of animal your chosen so-and-so is. This sentence is about a person’s character, morals, and behavior.

Semantics is all about meaning. As you can see from our example, the meaning of the sentence, or, if you prefer, this specific combination of words, is completely different from the words.

So, you have to accurately determine what your potential clients mean when searching for something. Even more than that, you will have to anticipate the user’s meaning behind the conversational query. Do this, and your page will be ranked higher.

This means that focusing solely on keywords is not enough anymore. You will have to use long-tail keywords and LSI keywords.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are very, very specific to whatever you are selling.


Let’s say, your eBook is about zombies. (ZenScribe: Is there any philosopher out there who would like to explain why the Zombie genre is so popular these days?)

However, knowing that there are millions of competing eBooks, you add a twist in that your zombies die whenever coming into contact with a white rabbit. Which “three and four keyword phrases” would most accurately describe your book?

  • Zombies killed by rabbit
  • zombie killing rabbits
  • and so forth

Why is it important to focus on long-tail keywords? Somebody using a long-tail keyword phrase is more likely to buy something, seeing that they are searching for something specific.

In our example, we are not just searching for any run-of-the-mill generic zombie, but a very specific sub-genre.

Long-tail keywords generate less traffic, but the quality of the traffic increases.

LSI Keywords

LSI is short for Latent Semantic Indexing.  Why they do not just call it what it is– plurals and synonyms– I do not know. It seems that obfuscation provides an element of intellectual superiority.

You will have to include words like, “living dead, walking dead, biter” and whatever else you use to refer to your decomposing characters.

Google also uses LSI to determine how these words relate to one another. Orange can refer to a color, fruit, film, war, bicycle or a multinational mobile telecommunication company.

If your LSI keywords, include “citrus, vitamin c, juice” or a whole range of other possibilities, your customer preferred search engine should be able to figure out that your website is about the fruit and that it is not relevant for someone looking to complain about service.

Semantic Markup

One way to help search engines better understand what your website is about is to use Semantic Markup. This supplies the search engine with information or micro-data about your website.

This information is not used by Google to determine the ranking of your website. Then, why do it, you might ask? Search engines use this information to display rich snippets in the search result itself.

The price or another piece of information displayed in the search result might just be the key needed to open a prospective buyer’s wallet.

The main problem with SEO is that it cannot think. It does not contain intelligence in itself. And, while artificial intelligence is still a dream, the algorithms will always fall short. This is why these algorithms are updated periodically.

The End of Keywords

The End of Keywords is not in sight at all. Unless Google starts scanning your brain. Keywords will always play a very important role. Semantic queries and semantic based searches mean that you should really pay attention to long-tail and LSI keywords.


  1. Pingback: SEO Philosophy – The Long and Short of it (Part 2) | InstaScribe

  2. Pingback: SEO Philosophy – The Long and Short of it (Part 3) | InstaScribe

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