The term ‘LSI’ (Latent Semantic Indexing) keyword is used in content writing and search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies. It means, in simple English- a related keyword.
So what exactly is the relevance (and point) of using LSI keywords and how can they benefit your SEO strategy?
The answer lies with the search engines and the changes that search algorithms have undergone in recent years.
Search engines are now trying to imitate human thinking and search patterns. This means that they are not looking for exact match keywords anymore.
Keywords and SEO
For many people who are familiar with SEO content writing, the term ‘keyword’ is often used to identify the main topic of the article.
In traditional (old) SEO tactics the way to attract the attention of the search engine was to place one keyword multiple times throughout an article. This made it very clear to the search engine, which then sought to rank that article anytime that particular keyword appeared in a search query.
There were a number of problems with this system that search engines discovered.
- Content writers were stuffing keywords into their work making it difficult to read.
- The keyword might not be the main topic since it was chosen to ensure a better ranking possibility.
- The written article became very difficult to read since it didn’t flow naturally.
In essence the reader experience was not good, and people got frustrated and left pages or hopped around different search results.
In response search engines decided to look for other factors to determine how and where pages should rank. They stopped focusing exclusively on keywords and began considering other factors, such as authority, content length and reader usability.
And this is where LSI keywords came in.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
LSI really means hidden significant meaning and comes from the Greek word Semantics, which is the study of relationships between words or symbols.
Some people assume that LSI keywords are simply synonyms or alternative words meaning the same thing, but actually LSI keywords are slightly more than that.
Understanding the Relationship Between Words
Search engines need to be able to understand the context to your keywords.
For example if I wrote ‘my Apple computer is broken‘ and ‘the apple I picked was juicy‘ you can see that apple is the keyword for both.
But it is the surrounding words that tell the search engine what my topic is actually about. Words such as computer and broken are related words to Apple the machine. Whereas picked and juicy are related words to apple the fruit.
It is this relationship of words to one another that really tells the true story and this is how the search engines are beginning to see keywords.
What Is A Synonym and Can It Be An LSI Keyword?
Often when people refer to LSI keywords they refer to synonyms, these are word that can exactly replace the keyword and mean the same thing. For example if I use an online Thesaurus and look for the word Dog these are the results.
These are words that make reading more interesting rather than constantly using the word dog in an article all the time.
However LSI keywords can also be related topics associated with dogs, such as those that often appear in keyword tool results.
If I use an LSI keyword generator such as LSIGraph and type in the word Apple this is the list generated. As you can see these are not just replacement words for Apple they are related topics and contextual words.
Now the problem is that many of these words might not be of interest or relevant to my own article but they illustrate a point – not all LSI keywords are synonyms.
Using Keyword Tools To Find LSI Words
Here in the screenshot the keyword tool gives different options for the keyword dog, this time ranging from health, walking, videos and stores.
As you can see these words cannot replace the word dog, as the sentence wouldn’t make sense. Instead they are associated with the keyword and provide a context to the topic.
Advantages of LSI Keywords
As Google advances in its search capacity, there is the potential for LSI keywords to become even more important for SEO purposes.
Even now there are a number of advantages that can be useful to consider, when planning your LSI keywords.
- there is the potential to rank for more terms not just your named keyword but also your LSI keywords.
- there is the potential to rank for keywords you haven’t mentioned at all, because you have used LSI words instead.
- you can show stronger authority by using related and LSI keywords and demonstrating the links between them
In addition longer pieces of content have the potential to naturally use more LSI keywords, and so this is another factor to consider in ranking and LSI keyword use.
LSI Keyword Summary
LSI keywords are increasingly becoming more important for SEO and search engine ranking. This is because these are the words that reassure the search engines that your article is what you say it is.
Using LSI keywords is not about trying to beat the search engine, it is about increasing the quality of your writing, so that readers have a more enjoyable and meaningful experience.
Ultimately this is what will increase ranking.
Further Reading on Keywords
There are a number of other articles on this site that may be of interest on the topic of keywords.