LSI Keywords and SEO

Are LSI Keywords still relevant to SEO and website Ranking in 2020?

Savan Francis
Savan Francis/March 12, 2020

The year is 2020, theories around SEO abound. The future of search engine optimisation looks more shrouded in mysteries than ever, owing largely to Google’s policies that keep users guessing all the time. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a technical phrase that frequently appears in discussions revolving SEO and Google. In fact, it’s a term so widely used by everyone in the industry that any SEO worth their salt would have heard about it. Some say it holds the key to unlocking top-ranking positions in organic result pages while others say it’s no longer a ranking factor webmasters should care about. We will spare you the details of all the disagreements here. What’s important is that we come clean about this topic once and for all.

So, for the one last time, what exactly is Latent Semantic Indexing and can LSI keywords help you rank well in 2020?

Yes, it can help you rank, just keep reading. You have come to the right place to learn about LSI and the potential role it could play in improving your ranking.

In addition to explaining the workings of LSI keywords and their everyday application, we must also dispel the misconception surrounding the concept. Let’s now dive into the questions and answers and find out how to get the best out of LSI keyword.

What are LSI Keywords? 

Remember the last time you sat down to write a great article by drawing on a list of keywords gathered using some complex mathematical equations? Well, I don’t either.

When was the last time you sat down to write an amazing piece of content, pulled out your mathematical matrix for determining the most valuable keyword phrases, and set to work with a smile on your face? Yeah, me neither.

“When used effectively in content strategy, LSI keywords can get your website rankings to skyrocket in no time”  

If all the expert SEOs out there used some hair-splitting scientific formula to identify keywords, most of us would have found it almost impossible to make sense of it all. But thankfully, that’s not the case and we’ve got a simple yet effective option in Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to find the keywords we need. What’s worth noting is that this technique can get your website rankings to skyrocket in no time. Don’t worry, we are not going to bog you down with technical mumbo-jumbo.

Before you can start implementing LSI keywords in your content strategy, you need to form a better grasp of the concept. LSI is essentially an advanced means of exploring different patterns found in concepts and rendering the most semantically accurate search results. In order to deliver the best results for search queries, the search engine should do its job properly and the LSI keywords set it on the right path.

In the best interests of people reading this post, it’s better to refrain from using scientific terms to explain LSI keywords. Let’s set aside the complex terms for another article. In fact, one doesn’t have to be bogged down by the details, rather they just have to understand semantic connections between terms and their relation to ranking.

The LSI algorithm reviews the semantic relationship of documents using cosine similarities, vectors, and a bunch of other complicating terms I’d rather not add to the discussion. Fortunately, we don’t need to go down that rabbit hole. We just need to examine semantic relationships as they pertain to SEO ranking.

You can classify the semantic relationship between terms into two categories

Semantically relevant–  When a piece of content carries a diverse range of related words

Semantically irrelevant – When a piece of content has just a few similar keywords

The search engine algorithm relies on pattern recognition formula to figure out how semantically relevant a piece of content is to search queries.

Relevance is deduced from the following patterns:

  • Phrasal connection and associations
  • Synonymously related words
  • Similar phrases

The algorithm draws on these standard patterns to look for the semantic relationship and render the most relevant search results. Ultimately, a page is ascribed its semantic relevance based on the relationship between the words, phrases and sentences.

In one way or another, the functioning of LSI is similar to that of the human brain in that they both try to make sense of the words thrown at them. The only difference is that unlike the brain algorithm may not always be able to understand the context just with a random series of words. Yes, the algorithm cannot always make sense of the intricate expressions or emotions as shown by human beings.  For instance, when someone you know says “I don’t believe you”’ in response to you telling them about landing a major character role in a big movie, you would be able to interpret its intended meaning in the context.

We know, for example, that when our best friend says, “I hate you” in response to us getting a huge promotion, they are only teasing us. To reach this conclusion we interpret body language, tone, and past communications we’ve had with that friend.

The importance of using LSI keywords in the content 

If you have read this far, you may have understood LSI as an advanced method of understanding the authority of rendered content and its relevance to the search query. In fact, it’s possible to use your knowledge of LSI to improve your ranking potential.

So, how do algorithms help you achieve this end?

Search engines deploy techniques like natural language processing to make sense of the words and phrases on a page. It’s an advanced technique used to explore the complex relationship between human language and machines. Natural language processing allows search engines to process the language similarities. LSI uses this method to know what content should be rendered.

So, what does all of this mean of your rankings? Well, knowing what patterns to include in your content is perhaps the first step to actually ranking your online properties. So, by simply optimising your content using all the right patterns and phrases, you can improve your chances of ranking in search results. You can start by incorporating a proportional mixture of related phrases and synonyms in your content.

How do LSI keywords help SEO?  

Despite all the changes the SEO industry has undergone over the years, LSI continues to be a crucial part of every website owner’s plan. If you build your SEO strategy around LSI, you will be able to outrank high-authority websites. You can do this by contextualising your content with the most relevant range of keywords and patterns.

How LSI can make all the difference:

  1. Increase in organic traffic
  2. Improved user experience for visitors
  3. Render the most relevant pages for users to visit.

The search engine sends out crawl bots to discover, crawl and index all the properties of your website. Search engine indexes all types of links and content associated with your page. LSI sieve through all your indexed pages looking for the best match. It’s your duty as a webmaster to make it easy for search engine crawlers to crawl the content on your website, render it for relevant queries and give it a good boost in ranking. The most effective way to get your website crawling-ready is by sprinkling the right combination of LSI keywords all over your pages.  The more relevant your LSI keywords, the greater the effect they will have on your search rankings.

Making your content more crawlable 

  • Identify your phrase keywords and find a list of keywords that could semantically complement.
  • Include synonyms that add real value to users
  • As you start putting keywords and phrases make sure to arrive at the right keywords density. You don’t want to go overboard with keyword insertion and sabotage your rankings.

Tips for contextualising your content 

LSI technique was introduced to keep black-hat SEO practices at bay and improve the quality of content published. In fact, the technique was successfully deployed to stop keyword stuffing to a great extent. Not too long ago, webmasters used to stuff their pages with keywords to rank high in Google. But things are not the same. The radical changes in SEO have compelled webmasters to adopt and learn new techniques, skill sets and best practices to keep up to speed. Today, if you want to rank, it’s absolutely vital that you make room for LSI in SEO strategy. More importantly, it’s been proven that using them correctly can not only grow your organic traffic but give a much-needed boost to your rankings in a short period of time.

You can contextualise your content using the following tips:

Properly structure your website content 

The more organised your website copy, the greater its LSI quotient. Even after the myriad algorithm updates, the golden rules for website content creation remains the same. For everything from creating compelling H1 tags and writing good quality content continues to affect your ranking. Your headlines should define what the page copy is all about, whereas the copy should be high on relevancy.

Understanding the structure of the content is key to learning how you can optimise various SEO elements to rank properly. When you look at it in detail, you may find an endless list of things to optimise but that’s not what we are going to do here. Let’s look at a couple of things that can bring you immediate results.

  • Contrary to popular belief, bolded, italicised words carry some degree of SEO relevance
  • Putting keyword synonyms can improve the relevance rate of your pages.

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Use relevant LSI keywords

At the risk of starting to sound like a broken record, putting LSI keywords in your website copy is absolutely essential to rank in search engine results pages.

Start out by finding the right set of keyword synonyms and variations.

Keyword synonyms –  Hike: climb, trek, walk

Semantically related words – Hiking jackets, Trekking boots, Mountain climber, Climbing tool

By the way, discovering LSI keywords isn’t as difficult as you may think. You may want to get things started by running basic keyword research on Google. Once you have found basic keywords for your business, you can turn things up a notch or two by using various tools.

Do’s and don’ts while using LSI keywords 

It’s one thing to talk about the best practices in SEO, and a whole different ball game to put things into practice. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, webmasters continue to fall prey to the allure of over optimisation. For instance, it is a terrible idea to fill your meta tags with an unnecessary amount of keywords. Whether you want to improve your page visibility or drive more traffic to the website, stuffing your content with unrelated keywords is not the way to go about it.

Webmasters have been encouraged by the positive results people get when they improve the accuracy and authority level of the content. You can achieve this by selecting a specific theme for web page content. Once you have inserted all the corresponding LSI keywords, simply make sure that you don’t deviate too far from the theme you have selected.

Remember, no matter what you put out there, it needs to make sense to the search engines and people reading it. If your content is talking about the trekking you don’t want a paragraph about swimming to appear out of nowhere. The content needs to be consistently relevant to the theme you chose.

Things to keep in mind

Search engines love crawling and indexing content that is naturally structured. So make sure you find the most naturally fitting positions to place your keywords. While preparing content, think about the most natural-sounding conversations and see if introducing LSI keywords will look out of place. If the words in your content do not flow like a natural conversation, then your content preparation should go back to basics. You are under no obligation to use one keyword per paragraph to optimise your content. Instead, just focus on the flow of the content.

It is true that over the years, Latent Semantic Indexing as a technique has lost its popularity among SEOs for various reasons. And arguably, this has led to a general ignorance around the topic in the industry. Not many people today understand the means of optimising their web properties using LSI.

If you are unsure how to go about getting the best out of LSI, Mr Digital would love to help you out with it. Our digital experts make a point of using LSI as an important part of our SEO strategy, and it’s about time you did too.

Latent semantic indexing is not new to the search engine world by any means, but it has taken a back seat to more mainstream tactics. Because of this, relatively few people understand how to optimise their content for LSI. That’s a good thing. It means those who take the time to comprehend and implement LSI tactics will be leading the SEO charge.

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