In the fields of artificial intelligence and deep learning, Google has made significant progress over the years.
No longer are the days where you can use exact match keywords to effectively rank for a target phrase on Google. LSI keywords are increasingly being used by search engines to determine the meaning of any piece of content, so it's worth taking the time to learn how to use them in your SEO approach and content marketing strategies.
Read our latest article to learn more about LSI keywords; what they are; how to find them as part of your keyword research strategy; and how to properly use them to improve your keyword rankings on your website.
The tool used by Google and other search engines to research and compare relationships between various words and concepts is known as latent semantic indexing (LSI). These keywords can be used to boost SEO traffic, increase popularity, and enhance search rankings.
Keywords like "free," "ubuntu," and "facebook" may be initially unfamiliar in a search engine and may be less likely to appear in search results. But by analyzing the relationships between what is commonly searched as if the search engines had access to the LSI, a new keyword is introduced to the search engine that has a higher probability of appearing in search results.
SEO isn’t always about the right set of keywords; instead, it requires you to create content that relates to problems, insights, emotions, or statements that others have expressed, and so, it provides a more accurate reflection of beyond what most search engines can process then a latent semantic indexing, which evaluates what content would be good to relate to your target topic / keyword phrase.
While it’s a common misconception, LSI Keywords aren’t always synonyms. LSI Keywords are typically phrases or words that are closely related to a target keyword, but aren’t synonymous with it.
An example of a synonym for “car” might be “sedan”. But LSI keywords may include words such as eco-friendly, 4-door, 4-cylinder, hybrid, and so on.
One way to better tell what is considered a LSI keyword is to perform a Google Search to see what suggestions appear for your search phrase:
Latent Semantic Indexing is a natural language processing method that was created as far back as the 1980s.
The problem latent semantic indexing aims to solve is that the words a searcher uses don’t always exactly match the content that’s already indexed.
One example of latent semantic indexing in play is if you’re looking for information about the season “Fall.”
While you may be expecting information regarding “Autumn”, an exact match result would provide you with information about “falling” off ladders or buildings.
This obviously doesn’t match with your search intent.
Latent Semantic Indexing helps to tie threads and index “Fall” with articles that include “Autumn” as a synonym.
There are several benefits to using LSI keywords to improve the SEO of your website, which we’ll explore below:
By including related keywords in your content, it helps Google to better understand the relevance of your topic and rank it for other similar keywords without resorting to keyword stuffing the same phrase over and over again.
Simply put, LSI keywords help to provide a better search experience, which can improve several on-page ranking factors such as bounce rate, time spent on page, or conversion rates.
Because Google is better able to understand the relevance of your content, your keyword rankings will improve for your target phrases as long as your web page matches the user intent for that query.
Back in 2014 Google introduced latent indexing into its algorithm to help serve better results to users.
In the past Google relied on exact match keywords to return search results - this method is easily manipulated, with webmasters either stuffing content with the same keyword, or even cloaking (hiding keywords on the page that were invisible to users, but visible to Google’s crawlbot for indexing).
Once Google changed its algorithm to analyze related keywords in content, it drastically changed what it considers to be the most valuable content to more appropriately match user searches.
Like I mentioned before, Google is better able to understand your content by searching for related keywords to identify what the overall topic of your page is.
This allows Google’s algorithm to analyze your content beyond looking at how many times your web page uses the exact same keyword.
Google’s algorithm attempts to interpret the content on a page in the same way a human would. This helps it to categorize keywords by analyzing the context of your web page.
For example, there’s a significant difference between the terms “mortgage” and “mortgage rates”. Some users are interested in learning more about mortgages in the home buying process, whereas others are looking for today’s mortgage rates with intent to purchase or refinance.
By analyzing LSI keywords, Google may see phrases such as mortgage pre-approval, buying a house, and home loan requirements to determine that a user is seeking to learn more about mortgages.
Whereas for mortgage rates, Google may look at phrases like today’s rates, FHA loan rates, and current mortgage rates to determine that a user’s intent is rates-specific.
Looking at LSI keywords in this way helps Google contextualize your web page and serve it for the appropriate searches that properly match the user’s intent when looking for information / products online.
Furthermore, their algorithm is programmed to take into account the company name, domain, and sector in order for Google to gain a comprehensive understanding of each page on your site and how it contributes to your company as a whole.
Google's primary mission is to offer the most important results possible to searchers, except for the 15% of search keywords that have never been searched before. That is an incredible level of accuracy that the search engine will not be able to attain without latent semantic indexing.
Read our latest guide to learn more about search engine optimization basics you should be considering when fleshing out your SEO strategies.
Below we’ll walk through how to find LSI keywords for your content.
Using Google’s Auto Complete feature is a great way to find LSI keywords as it tries to predict what you might type next.
You’ll want to look at the keywords that are bolded and use them in your website’s content when trying to beef up an existing topic.
At the bottom of the Google Search Results is a “related searches” box that you can also use to generate LSI keywords when creating content for your web pages.
The People Also Ask snippets on Google are one of my most preferred methods for identifying LSI keywords to incorporate as subheads / additional context to flesh out my content.
The LSI Graph is a free generator tool for ideating LSI keywords to include in your content - enter your keyword into the generator and it will automatically pull a list of LSIs as part of your keyword research strategy.
Similar to the LSI graph, Serpstat will pull a list of LSI keywords, whether you’re looking on an individual keyword basis, or even entering a whole domain / link to generate ideas from.
SEMRush is great for pulling LSI keywords. When performing keyword research, it can offer a list of commonly asked questions associated with your primary keyword.
As part of it’s on-page optimization audit tool, it will also display a list of similar keywords you should be including in your content as you write it, which is incredibly convenient.
Clearscope is an industry leader when it comes to ideating LSI keywords. Similar to SEMRush, it will generate an article brief for your desired topic and list all of the LSI keywords you should include, filtering them by relevance, importance, and the number of times you should include them in your content. It will then provide you with an overall grade for how well your content is optimized, that you can improve upon before publishing your content on your website.
Rankiq is similar to Clearscope, but a much cheaper alternative that delivers the same level of quality. I’m currently using Rankiq for my content optimization efforts and it’s helpful in determining if my content has a high enough content grade to rank well for my target keywords in the search results.
Now that we’ve walked through tools that you can use to find LSI keywords, let’s go over a few ways you can use them in your SEO strategy.
Beyond your primary page elements, you want to sprinkle in your LSI keywords in your supporting body content as much (and as naturally) as possible.
Before you go overboard with LSI keywords, you want to keep the user experience top of mind as you create your content.
You do want to include them in a natural sounding way. A good check to ensure you aren’t overdoing it is simply reading your content. Does it sound spammy, choppy, or does the insertion of the LSI keywords sound unnatural? Is this how you would normally write, or does it properly emulate your natural tone of voice?
A good rule of thumb is to use a fixed ratio of about 1-2 LSI keywords for every 150-200 words of content. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it will help to ensure that you’re writing in a way that’s concise and conveys useful information to your target audience.
Focus on providing value first and you’ll most likely include LSI keywords naturally as you write your content.