If you have been dabbling in Digital Marketing or Search Engine Optimization for a while now, you may have heard some talk about LSI Keywords. Latent Symantic Indexing is a technique which anyone interested in Data Science is also well aware of, it is used in Natural Language Processing. Gone are the days when stuffing your article with keywords was the norm. Search Engines have developed their algorithms exponentially and are now making use of Latent Symantic Analysis to find the perfect results for your search queries.

So, let us start with what exactly are LSI Keywords and why should they definitely be something you should consider before you start writing your article.

Latent Semantic Indexing

1. What are LSI Keywords?

LSI Keywords (Latent Symantic Indexing) are all the keywords which are semantically related to your main keyword. This has led people to misinterpret LSI Keywords as Synonyms, which does not tell the complete story! Keywords can be semantically related to each other without being synonyms.

For example, if you are writing an article about “iPhones” or “iPads” then “Apple” is a semantically related term to them. However, it is clear that they are in no way synonyms of each other. Search Engines have evolved and can now clearly understand the relationship between the terms. Even Online Shopping sites like Amazon and Ebay make use of Latent Semantic Analysis to process the search queries.

For years, Google has been shifting from a keyword-match algorithm to the topic-match algorithm. This translates into a better experience for the users which is why you should always be writing content for the users and not the search engines. The Panda update confirmed the paradigm shift.

This means that if you include more LSI keywords of your topic, Google is going to like you more. In layman terms, if you explain your content well, and in a broader manner than your competitors, you have a higher chance of ranking for that topic.

2. How does Google use LSI / LSA to match queries with correct search results?

This is a very superficial explanation of a very dense topic, so here we go:

Suppose you enter the query “Apple”, this is what Google probably does. Thank you Ubiq for this example.

  1. If your page contains the words: ‘baked apples’, ‘red apple’, ‘green apple’, ‘apple nutrition’, ‘fuji apples’, ‘honeycrisp apple’, ‘eating apple’, your page is probably about apples, the fruit.
  2. If your page contains the words: ‘itunes’, ‘apple ipad’, ‘apple news’, ‘apple stores’, ‘apple iphone X’, ‘apple new ipad’, ‘apple stock price’, ‘discount computers’, your page is most likely about apple computers.

3. Why did Google change from keyword-match to topic-match?

Google Hummingbird LSI

Well, Google probably realized that people were abusing the search engine for their benefit and many times users would not find what exactly they were looking for because of some people stuffing their web page with keywords everywhere. And NO! Reducing the font size of your keywords and stuffing them in your header and footer is NOT GOING TO WORK ANYMORE! Search Engines are smarter now and they are not going to fall for that.

There are basically three main reasons why Google introduced the Hummingbird and Panda updates :

  1. To improve the relevancy of search results.
  2. Reduce the number of people abusing the loopholes in search engines.
  3. Recognize search intent and deliver results accordingly.

4. Should you be using LSI Keywords in your articles?

Yes, you should definitely be using LSI keywords in your articles. However, this does not and should not translate into stuffing synonyms in your articles. Like explained above, LSI keywords are not just limited to synonyms, but they are related to the topic you are writing on. If you manage to explain your topic so that the user understands it better, then rest assured you will end up ranking higher than someone who has failed to cover all aspects of the topic he/she is writing about.

Content has always been King, it is just the way you write content which has changed! Good content has never gone unnoticed, and will always continue to rank higher.

5. How should you be using LSI Keywords?

You should naturally be using LSI keywords to explain your topic in a broader sense. This means that instead of repeating the same keyword in all the important places, you can mix and match and convey the same meaning! It is really not that difficult, try not to focus on keyword density too much and focus on getting your point through to the audience. Here are some good places to use your LSI keywords :

  1. Image Titles, Meta descriptions
  2. Header tags
  3. Opening Paragraphs, Closing Paragraphs
  4. Anchor text for establishing your internal linking structure.

There is no limit and no fixed cheat-sheet for using your LSI keywords, but keep in mind that you need to help your user find what he wants without much difficulty.

6. So, how do you find LSI keywords?

Well, Google helps you find LSI keywords too, there are other tools out there which will help you generate a broader list of LSI Keywords with approximate data about the search volume, CTR, CPC among other KPIs.

Latent Semantic Indexing

Honestly speaking, this is the only help you will need if you know what you are doing. If you want to get to the thick of it then I recommend you start using SEMRush, the first 30 days are free so you can give it a try.

You can read my short guide on finding keywords too!

And finally, how to use LSI Keywords Correctly?

A user searches on the web for different reasons, you need to decide what your primary keyword intends to do. A user might be in either of the many stages of his search. However, here are three main stages in a user’s journey:

  1. Gathering Information : In this stage, a user is looking to gather as much information as possible about the given topic. This could be anything ranging from finding out about the latest technology or a latest movie or researching for a product.
  2. Research : Now, the user has found something he likes and he is using specific queries to find out more about that particular thing. So, let’s say that he found a product and now he is looking out for online reviews before making a decision.
  3. Buying Decision : In this stage, the user is convinced about something and is now making up the decision to purchase it. You can take for example, any product.

Your goal as a content producer is to help the user in his journey so he can complete all the given steps. Hence, you need to build content with LSI keywords which help the user in that particular stage of his journey. Make sure that you give context to your primary content, this is all what LSI keywords are about. 

You need to help the user and the search engine in identifying the content so that the user gets the best experience! 


So, why should you be using LSI keywords?

To explain your content as deeply as possible. LSI keywords also help you avoid keyword stuffing by not repeating the same keywords again and again, this improves the user perception of your website as well as helps you rank higher in the eyes of Google!

LSI might seem like a very complex term which requires a computer science degree, but it is not. You have to understand how it works on the content side of things, and that’s all.

LSI is only one part of your SEO strategy, you will require a lot of other strategies to be successful!

Good luck!