LSI is not Pie in the Sky: An Overview of Latent Semantic Indexing

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Keywords are important. This is something that anyone interested in SEO or online marketing is taught from the outset, and it is very true, they are important.

Did you know though, that there are a variety of different types of keywords?

There are things like exact match, broad match, long-tail and so on.

One type of keyword that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is called LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords.

What are they?

It’s typical of any industry to create an obscure name for something really quite simple. LSI keywords are at the very core related keywords and synonyms.

They are used by search engines to check for two things:

  • To see if you are keyword stuffing
  • To see if the content is truly about a particular topic

You see, by looking for terms and phrases that are related to the content’s topic, Google et al can tell both of those things above.

Let’s take an example. If you use the phrase Internet Marketing in your article and you keep using it throughout, Google will realise that your article is about Internet Marketing, but they will also assume you are possibly keyword stuffing, which is a no no.

If however, you mix the phrases up a bit and use variations such as online marketing, making money online, etc, it comes across as more natural and boosts the idea that your article is about Internet Marketing.

Why they matter

As mentioned from a search engine point of view, the same phrase being repeated multiple times raises a flag and could in theory reduce the impact your otherwise excellent article could have in the rankings.

Another aspect here is that you can in theory rank for other keywords as a result of implementing LSI keywords. Because you are using varied language to represent the same theme, these will also be indexed along with the core keyword or phrase.

From a visitor’s point of view, I like to use a book analogy here. If an author of a book uses the same word or phrase over and over again it become increasingly annoying and jarring. However, if the author varies it the reader doesn’t notice and it flows much more smoothly.

The same goes for your readers, LSI keywords help you to improve the range of language in your articles and thus make it easier on the reader.

How to find them

LSI keywords will naturally appear within an article if written for the reader, but it doesn’t hurt to research some based on your topic, in order to help improve the overall SEO of the article.

Luckily there are a few places on the web that make this easy.

Google’s Autocomplete System

When searching for something in Google, the search engine provides some suggestions as you type in the key word or phrase. These are not just randomly shown, but are in fact other searches related to your topic

As such, the autocomplete function can be “mined” for alternative terms for your topic.

Google Keyword Tool

Another helpful tool from Google which most marketers are aware of, is the Keyword tool.

Though aimed at Adwords, it can also be used to find different terms to use.

LSI Keywords.com

Of course the internet wouldn’t be the internet if there wasn’t already a site that can be used to help you with something. In this case lsikeywords.com uses a Google search and some magic to help find LSI’s for you.

How to use them

In general LSI keywords can be used wherever you like within an article, especially if you feel like you keep repeating the same phrase over and over.

It is also a wise idea to include them in:

  • Headings and titles
  • As anchor text for links
  • As anchor text for external backlinks

Using these different phrases as part of a backlinking strategy is definitely a must. If Google sees that all your incoming links are the same phrase or even just a couple of phrases, it may well raise a flag that your site is trying to game the system.

While you don’t need to go overboard on the variety of phrases used, a handful is definitely much better than one or two.

The Bottom Line

For me the bottom line here is to make sure that you mix up your language: the variety will not only help improve your SEO, but will make your articles easier and more enjoyable to read!

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