Latent semantic indexing is an acronym for latent semantic indexing. Simply put, it’s a software program that learns synonyms based on the context in which they’re used. Google has made headlines before for its advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
You are right if you think that’s complicated. LSI keywords are now an important part of search engine algorithms, so it’s worth taking the time to learn how to use them effectively.
On this page, we’ll cover LSI keywords, how to find them, and how they can improve your website’s performance.
Latent semantic indexing is what it sounds like.
Google’s algorithm was the starting point for LSI. To improve relevance, LSI was incorporated into the Google algorithm in 2004.
Keywords were important, but they weren’t the only factor. Link neighborhoods, or a group of websites linked to one another, became possible because of LSI, which helped Google understand anchor text used in hyperlinks.
With all of those changes in one update, Google’s search results drastically changed. The algorithm didn’t only look for exact-match keywords anymore – it was also able to understand synonyms and context.
This means Google doesn’t just look at the keywords on your page and how frequently you use them. Google considers the entire page.
The process begins with Google’s crawlers (also called spiders).
Just as Google does for years, when it crawls your page, it looks at the keywords to determine the topic.
In the wake of the LSI update, however, Google started taking into account more of your page’s keywords as well. To get a comprehensive picture of each page, their algorithm weighs your business name, industry, and website.
The Google algorithm is capable of understanding the context of a page by reading it, meaning it can differentiate words based on the most minute details. In other words, it tells the difference between a literal shoehorn tool and the expression “to shoehorn” something.
As Google reads, it organizes keywords according to the context so it can understand what is on the page. In fact, LSI is so important to Google’s algorithm because it is almost identical to how an individual reads.
Even when a user searches for a term for the first time, Google wants to deliver the best possible results. LSI is Google’s secret sauce, and they wouldn’t be able to accomplish that without it.
As a result, Google could find the terms “Internet marketing” and “digital marketing” on the same page when crawling WebFX.com. However, since we use both terms interchangeably, Google will understand that they describe the same thing.
The result isn’t necessarily dominance in search results, however. Google will understand that they are the same if you create a page that targets “running shoes” and includes the words “jogging shoes.”
Google may then return your page when someone searches “running shoes” on the search engine.
Searching for “jogging shoes” may not yield the results desired.
This is due to the fact that you are using the keyword “running shoes” as the “main” keyword on your page. In other words, incorporating “jogging shoes” into your page helps Google better understand it, and that might even boost your page’s ranking.
However, your page will not rank perfectly for two different keywords.
As a result, finding the right LSI keywords for your site and following a few best practices will allow you to maximize their effectiveness.
The first thing you need to do is find them.
What are LSI keywords?
In your industry, you have a few options for finding LSI keywords. Below, we’ll discuss the two most popular methods.
Here is the first method – Understand your industry
Depending on your knowledge of your industry, the first requires the least amount of research. With a thorough understanding of your industry, you can pair synonyms together for your pages to increase their ranking power.
You might be a foodservice supplier specializing in catering supplies, for example. Your business sells disposable plastic 8′′ dinner plates, but you know your audience isn’t looking for that term on Google.
To avoid this, you add the LSI keyword that your target audience searches for – “wedding plates.”
You have now covered all your bases. The text on your page describes the product in its literal sense, and you include the way your audience uses it to give it context.
It will see your literal keyword on your page along with “wedding plates” and deduce that they are referring to the same product.
It’s not just Google that has knowledge on this subject! By comparing it to other places it has seen the phrase “wedding plates” it can better understand your product.
You can then use LSI keywords to rank your page for things like “8” disposable plastic dinner plates,” “wedding plates,” and more.
But knowing your industry is just the beginning of finding LSI keywords. Research can help you uncover even more opportunities no matter how much you know about your industry.
It’s for this reason that you need tools.
A second method is used – Use online tools
When Google began to consider LSI keywords, some programmers found a way to identify them automatically.
There are online tools created by those programmers that can help you find LSI keywords you might not have thought of otherwise.
Your company must leverage these LSI tools in order to avoid falling behind its competitors.
Our first (and best) recommendation is LSI Graph. LSI keywords can be found by entering your page’s main keyword and you’ll get a list of related keywords to consider.
Let’s use the example of “Internet marketing.”
That’s a lot of options! And they’re all good, depending on the context.
When creating a WebFX page on Internet marketing, we might combine “Internet marketing” with “Internet marketing methods.”
The LSI keyword “Internet marketing opportunities” might be used, however, if we are talking about ways for small companies to improve their marketing strategies.
Different contexts call for different keywords. Finding the right ones depends on the page you’re creating.
It is still possible to use LSI keywords on a different page if you see an LSI keyword that does not pertain to your page’s context.
Now let’s move on to our next important question – how do you use LSI keywords?
What is the best way to use LSI keywords?
It is surprising how easy it is to use LSI keywords on your website despite Google’s difficulty in implementing LSI in their algorithm.
The only thing you need to do is replace the main keyword on your page with an LSI keyword. Using LSI keywords every once in a while won’t harm you – but you don’t have to do it all the time.
You can place an LSI keyword on a page every 300 words as a rule of thumb.
There is no guarantee that you will rank for LSI keywords, but it is a general guideline that will get you started.
Incorporating LSI keywords into the text of your page helps Google better understand the page and gives it more ranking power – even if just a little bit at a time.
Also, by adding LSI keywords one at a time, you avoid overcrowding your page with keywords, a practice known as keyword stuffing.
As with the primary keyword on a page, using LSI keywords naturally throughout the text is the best strategy.
No matter how often you use them, your priority should always be to provide clear, concise, and useful information that encourages your readers to convert into paying customers.
When you do that, you’ll probably use LSI keywords naturally in your text without even thinking about it.
In a sense, that’s exactly what you want. LSI keywords will not be viewed as an attempt at keyword stuffing by Google if they’re used without your knowledge.
Your readers will have a better experience, Google will rank your pages higher, and your online presence will improve.
Does Google Use LSI Keywords?
Two kinds of authoritative and trustworthy data are available in search marketing:
- Research papers and patents provide information based on publicly available documents.
- SEO ideas that are derived from what Googlers have revealed.
Everything else is mere opinion.
There is a difference between the two.
In an interview with Google, John Mueller explained how LSI keywords are completely false.
Bill Slawski, a recognized expert on search patents, has also spoken out about Latent Semantic Indexing and SEO.
As a result of Bill’s deep knowledge of Google’s algorithms, which he has shared in fact-based articles (like here and here), his statements on LSI make sense.