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Understanding the Role of LSI Keywords

Screenshot from Keysearch Content Assistant Tool

Search engines have evolved quite a bit from the early days of the Archie Query Form. Fortunately, most of the improvements that have been made over the years have been related to helping us (the users) find what we’re looking for as quickly as possible.

One way that search engines like Google have managed to sift through the bad content and quickly give us what we want is through the use of latent semantic indexing keywords. But what exactly are LSI keywords? How are they relevant to SEO? And how exactly can we use them within our content?

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What Are LSI Keywords?

LSI keywords (latent semantic indexing) are keywords that are similar in nature and context to the main keyword you’re targeting within your content. Without getting too technical, LSI keywords are words or keyword phrases that Google associates with your main keyword.

It’s important to understand that LSI keywords are NOT synonyms of your keyword. Instead, they are words that help search engines determine the context of the content you’re producing.

So for example, if your keyword was dog training, some LSI words might be treat, leash etc… Why? Well, these are words that Google would expect to see in an article about dog training. It helps show that the article is relevant and contains quality information. Keep in mind Google is a robot. It uses relationships between words to help understand the overall meaning of an article.

So how does that help us?

If we knew which words and keyword phrases Google expects to see in an article on a certain topic and we could incorporate those words into our article, then it would not only help Google see that our article is relevant but also of higher quality. This all makes it easier and more likely to rank.

What Are LSI Keywords?
Finding LSI Keywords With Keysearch

Finding LSI Keywords With Keysearch

Free LSI Keywords Tool

The free LSI keywords tool above is a great, quick way to find LSI keywords for any niche. This uses our basic LSI finding algorithm to return results as fast as possible and get you started. If you need more in-depth LSI keywords analysis, make sure to signup for a Keysearch account to access the more advanced features described below.

Keysearch Deep Analysis Feature

Our deep analysis feature uses our more in-depth LSI Keywords algorithm. This algorithm takes the first page Google results for the specific keyword, then goes through all of the articles on those pages to find which words and phrases were used the most amongst all articles. This is truly the Rolls Royce of finiding LSI Keywords. You get a true look at what keywords Google expects to see within your content in order to rank on page one.

Keysearch Content Assistant

Content Assistant uses the same algorithm as our deep analysis feature but also adds another level to LSI keyword finding. We include the Google related searches as well as the top ranking keywords for the #1 result in Google. This is an incredible way to find hidden LSI words. We can see the keywords the #1 result in Google is ranking for and return the ones getting the highest traffic. This ensures you are including everything in your content that Google should expect to see to rank you higher.

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How Are LSI Keywords Relevant to SEO?

Google uses LSI keywords as a way to identify the context of your content.

Since different keywords can obviously have different meanings, Google uses latent semantic indexing to identify the meaning of the keyword that you're using and return relevant content for the users search query.

For example, let's say you have a recipe blog and are writing a post about "dressing".

The term "dressing" can have several different connotations, including:

  • Dressing for a salad or other dish
  • Dressing for a turkey (also known as "stuffing")
  • Dressing as in the act of getting dressed
  • Dressing as in a gauze or ointment that's applied to a wound

In each of these instances, search engines utilize LSI keywords to understand exactly what you mean by "dressing". For instance:

  • If words like 'salad', 'ranch', 'sugar-free', 'recipe', etc. are included in the content, search engines will assume your post is about dressing for salad and other dishes
  • If words like 'thanksgiving', 'stuffing', 'turkey', 'family gathering', etc. are included in the content, it will be assumed that your content is about dressing for a turkey
  • If words like 'clothes', 'socks', 'shoes', 'shirts', 'pants', etc. are included in the content, search engines will realize that it's about the act of getting dressed
  • If words like 'wound', 'blood', 'ointment', 'gauze', 'injury', etc. are included in the content, search engines will assume the post is about dressing for a wound

In our example, where you're attempting to show search engines that your content is related to dressing for a salad, you'd want to include LSI keywords related to that topic such as 'salad', 'ranch', 'healthy', 'recipe', 'homemade', 'low calorie', etc.

How Are LSI Keywords Relevant SEO?
Why Search Engines Use LSI Keywords

Why Search Engines Use LSI Keywords

There are two main reasons why search engines started using latent semantic indexing keywords.

  • Because the original method for judging relevancy of content, keyword density, was massively abused
  • Because it aids Google and other search engines in accomplishing their ultimate goal of giving searchers exactly what they’re looking for

When Google first started trying to determine relevance in searches, they did so by taking a look at how many times a certain keyword was included in a specific piece of content.

As a result, website owners simply littered their content with keywords that they were trying to rank for (also known as keyword stuffing explained here).

This practice diluted the content and presented a huge problem to the future of search engines.

But by transitioning to LSI keywords and other effective methods of determining relevance, Google was able to squash this problem while also helping searchers get the relevant results they want and need for their search queries.

Do LSI Keywords Factor Into Your SEO Ranking?

As with most things in the world of SEO, we don’t know for sure how Google and other search engines factor LSI keywords into their algorithms.

Some experienced SEO specialists, such as Clark Boyd of Candid Digital, believe that latent semantic indexing won’t help your SEO.

Others, such as Ashton Kimberley and us here at Keysearch, believe that they’re extremely important to SEO ranking because they signal to search engines that your content will satisfy what the user is searching for.

Both of these SEO experts make valid points for their opinions.

The reality is that, even if LSI keywords do not have a direct impact on SEO, the fact that they aid Google in determining relevance of content (and therefore help search engines achieve their ultimate goal of giving searchers what they want) means that they, at the very least, play an indirect role in SEO ranking.

Do LSI Keywords Factor Into Your SEO Ranking?
How to Find LSI Keywords to Include In Content How to Find LSI Keywords to Include In Content

How to Find LSI Keywords to Include In Content

Finding LSI keywords to include in your content is actually a fairly simple process and there are several methods for doing it.

The easiest method, by far, is to simply type your main keyword into Google and take a look at the keywords featured in the autocomplete drop-down menu.

For example, if I was writing content on the topic of "getting a mortgage", I would simply type that into Google and the autocomplete menu would look like the image on the top left:

The autocomplete feature immediately gives us 9 potential LSI keywords. In reality these are actually more long tail keywords than LSI keywords, but they still are useful.

In this instance, I can also move forward with my search and find a new set of keywords at the bottom of the first page results.

Here’s what it looks like in the image on bottom left:

These are found at the bottom of the first page results.

In addition to these methods, there are also several tools, including Keysearch, that you can use to aid in helping you find the right latent semantic indexing keywords to include in your content.

How to Incorporate LSI Keywords Into Your Content

Ok so now that we know about LSI keywords, here is where we can gain our edge. We can just include these LSI words, give Google what it wants and make our lives that much easier when it comes to ranking!

You’d be surprised at how well this works. In our dog training example above, would I have known to include references to Koehler training? Would I have referenced operant conditioning? Possibly if I was a dog training expert but even still I may have left those things out.

Now I know Google wants to see these things, so I’ll make sure its there. Not only that, by adding these words into my article you can already see the article quality would be even better.

The most obvious way to include LSI keywords into your content is to actually put them in the sub-headings and body of the content.

It’s especially valuable when these keywords are used as anchor text and in the first/last paragraph of your content.

But showing relevancy doesn’t stop there.

Other options for incorporating latent semantic indexing keywords involve including them in:

  • Title Tags
  • Meta Tags
  • Alt Tags
  • Header Tags
  • Captions Under Images
  • Image File Names

This certainly doesn’t mean that you should start stuffing LSI keywords everywhere that you can (as this will most likely hurt your cause).

But incorporating them naturally throughout your content, and in the other areas above, is a sure-fire way to help Google’s algorithms understand exactly what your content is about.

How to Incorporate LSI Keywords Into Your Content
LSI Keyword Tools

Other LSI Keyword Tools

There are a wide variety of LSI keyword research tools available.

If you’re looking for a few free tools to test out as you get started with your latent semantic indexing research, a few of the most popular include:

LSI Graph

This is one of the best LSI keyword research tools available as it’s built exclusively for finding semantically related keywords.

As you can see in the screenshot to the left, it gives us dozens of keywords that we aren’t able to find through the Google search methods:

The major downfall of this tool is that you only get 3 free searches per day and the premium plans start at $24/month (which is comparable to tools with far greater capabilities).

LSI Keywords

While this free tool can be valuable in helping you find ideas for LSI keywords, it isn’t quite as effective as LSIGraph because most of the results involve simply adding words to your main keyword. It's really more of a normal, long-tail SEO keyword tool than an LSI keywords generator.

Still, the fact that it gives you a list of 300+ results for most inquiries makes it a great free LSI tool for finding ideas for subheadings.

LSI Keyword Finder - Latent Semantic Indexing Tool - LSI SEO Tool - No Captcha Required

Making LSI Keywords a Part of Your Content Creation

Hopefully, after reading this post, you have a better understanding of what latent semantic indexing keywords are, why they’re important, and how to incorporate them into your content.

In the end, our objective as content creators and SEOs is to help search engines like Google achieve their goal of "organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful." By using LSI keywords, we’re able to do just that.

Using LSI keywords is a really simple way to up the quality and relevancy of your articles. With Keysearch we’ve made it super easy to find these LSI keywords for any topic. So make sure you take advantage of it and give your articles that extra edge! We encourage you to sign up for a Keysearch account and unlock the power of a tool that makes keyword research as easy as performing a Google search!

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