The Ultimate Guide To LSI Keywords: Rank Higher Where It Matters

what is lsi keywords

Welcome! If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been frantically trying to figure out what exactly LSI Keywords are and what exactly you’re supposed to do with them. If that’s the case, then congratulations! You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’m going to define LSI keywords, their uses and advantages in an online marketing context, as well as giving you advice on how to find them, how to use them, and what effects you can create with them.

We will help you understand the power of using related concepts and establishing context in your content, to play the game the way search engine algorithms play it. This will help you generate a better ranking for your content, resulting in more traffic and conversions. In short, LSI Keywords can be the key to unlocking greater content marketing success.

Sound good? Then let’s get started!

What Is Latent Semantic Indexing?

latent semantic indexing definition

The not-so-important definition of Latent Semantic Indexing

LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing is a fancy name for a mathematical methodology that determines the relationship between terms (specific words) and concepts (specific ideas) in content. Latent Semantic Indexing was utilized by sites like Google to provide better results to their users.

LSI helps to give words greater context, resulting in better accuracy. A great example is apple vs Apple. One is a fruit and one is a technology company. That capital letter makes a big difference to what you’re searching for. If you want information about apples and you end up with information about Apple, it isn’t going to help you very much.

So, Google and other search engines use contextual clues. For instance, if you put in “apple recipe” it’s very unlikely you’re trying to create an iPhone at home. By contrast, if you put in “Apple repair”, it’s equally unlikely you’re trying to fuse pieces of fruit back together again.

What Are LSI Keywords?

LSI Keywords are keywords thematically related to your main keywords based on its context of use.

LSI Keywords are keywords thematically related to your main keywords based on its context of use.

Broadly speaking, LSI Keywords are words thematically related to your main target keyword.

For example, if I was to look for “sword fight”, thematically related words might be “sword fighting game”, “sword fighting olympics”, “sword fight training” or “Sword fight scene”. Each is a very different thing in itself, but they are all thematically related to the world of sword fighting. You could also have large groups of different related items, such as “sword fight gloves” “sword fight mask” “sword fight classes”, “pirate sword fight for children’s birthday” – the list goes on and on.

LSI Keywords aren’t quite the same as long tail keywords, but there’s a lot of overlap. Another good way to think about LSI keywords is to think about synonyms – different ways people might be looking for the same thing.

Why Use LSI Keywords?

Fortunately, there are many great reasons to use LSI Keywords, as they confer a number of distinct advantages. Here are some of the top highlights to convince you of how worthwhile the practice can be:

  • LSI Keywords give your content greater context. By using semantically related terms, you help search engines understand HOW your website, product or service relates to the primary keyword and strengthens that relationship to ensure more accurate traffic is driven to your site. For example, if you’re a plumber called Mario, you’ll want to use related terms like ‘pipe repair’, ‘boiler maintenance’, ‘fixing leaks’ and so on so you don’t get useless traffic from people looking for the popular video game franchise. Just typing “Mario plumber” over and over again won’t help you rank for your industry.
  • LSI Keywords make it easier for search engines to categorize content accurately. If you’re a plumber called Mario and you specialized in commercial boiler installation, you wouldn’t want to be categorized under ‘emergency call outs’ for residential customers. Because the internet is so stuffed full of options, categorizing them becomes essential to providing a good service. The more relevant LSI keywords you employ, the less likely you are to be wrongly categorized.
  • LSI Keywords make it easier for search engines to match and rank you for the right keyword. Every LSI Keyword you use reinforces your ranking for the keyword they are related to. What’s more, you can introduce LSI keywords into your content a lot more easily than simply stuffing the same phrase in there over and over again. It allows you to write more naturally, while augmenting your ranking for that all important search term.
  • LSI Keywords help users learn more topic-related terms. By educating your readers about the different terminology used in your sphere, you make them more likely to use that language when creating their searches in the future. If they do, and they learned it from you, this will of course help bring them back to your content, when your LSI Keywords then become their primary search.

How Do I Find LSI Keywords?

A lot of people seem confused about how to find LSI keywords, but the truth is right under your nose.

With instant search, Google will give you autocomplete suggestions based on their LSI algorithm. This means you simply have to type in your keyword to see related terms. If you’ve never even thought about LSI before, this is enough to get you started.

If you’ve exhausted the few related terms they give you through autocomplete, Google fortunately has three other ways to discover LSI Keywords.

  1. Google related searches helps you see what Google suggests to users when their search terms are vague, and the related searches provide helpful hints as to how to get the best from the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
  2. Google Trends is another free and very useful tool from Google. You can put in your search term to see how it is trending both short and long term, and it comes with related topics and related queries, together with information on where geographically the term is most popular. This can give you plenty of inspiration for what audiences to target and how.
  3. Google Correlate is a relative new tool designed to help people find relationships between keywords that relate to real world data. This throws up some pretty interesting things. When we searched “Mario Plumber”, one of the strongest correlations was “2010 Dodge Avenger”. This is obviously not helpful for our commercial heating installer, but another strong correlation was “number for Facebook”, which may be worth including.

What LSI Keyword Tools Can I Use?

If this all feels a little much, then never fear, there are tools that can help you make the process as easy as possible. A couple of our favourites are:

  1. LSIGraph – A great online tool that allows you to put in any keyword and see the most popular long tail and semantically related terms being Googled for right now. It will generate up to thirty of the best terms for you to use, which allows you to simply copy and paste them into a note for inclusion into your later content. Every LSI keyword you use strengthens your relationship to that individual keyword, so it allows you to go very easily from strength to strength, without having to do the research yourself.
  2. SEOPressor Connect – a WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your keyword density, with in-page suggestions for related LSI keywords, so that you can include them as you go along. It comes with a number of features designed to optimize online content for maximum impact, and of course LSI Keywords are an important part of that. By including On-Page Analysis, SEO Intelligence, a Semantic Builder, Crawler Control and Link Management, the tool gives people everything they need to optimize content before publishing.

How Do I Use LSI Keywords?

So we’ve told you the what and the why, and we’ve given you the tools. Now what? It’s time to talk about how to harness the power of these keywords. This requires two basic processes across a number of touchpoints.

  1. Select the right LSI Keywords based on search intent. As we’ve explained so far, context is everything. You need to know what people’s search intent will be when you want them to find your business. Understanding this will give you insight into what terms they will use when searching, and what are the appropriate terms to use. Believe when I say, if you run a fencing school you don’t want to select “Sword Fighting urbandictionary” from the available LSI keywords. By searching the keywords themselves and seeing the results, you can better understand what intent is behind them.
  2. Implement your LSI Keywords. This is a simple enough process at first sight, but the way you choose to include them can have a massive impact on your overall success. Some recommendations:
    1. title tag – your title tag is an HTML title element critical to both SEO and user experience, helping search engines identify the title. Including an LSI Keyword in the title is a great way to improve your ranking. That said, the title should also definitely include the keyword itself.
    2. description tag – The description tag uses an HTML excerpt in a web page header to summarize the content of the page – this is the best possible place to position your LSI keywords, as it provides the broader context of your piece.
    3. header tags – by paraphrasing your topic area in your header tags within the content itself, you can redouble the association of your title with your topic area.
    4. permalinks – the link used to share your article is also commonly analysed by search engine algorithms and putting LSI or Longtail keywords in the permalink can boost your traffic, especially when considering the increased adoption of voice search.
    5. anchor text – Your anchor text on your links will be analysed, and provide a great place to reinforce your association with the product or service area.
    6. first and last 100 words – these are given precedence by search engine algorithms as they provide your first and last impression. By ensuring you get your LSI’s into these passages, you can amplify how useful they are.
    7. Replace overused keywords – because of ‘keyword stuffing’ – the practice of simply getting the keyword in as often as possible regardless of sense – search algorithms will now punish websites with >2% keyword density. Replacing over-common instances of the main keyword with similar LSI keywords allows you to reap the benefit while avoiding the punishment.

Call In The Reinforcements

A lot of people wrongly think of LSI keywords as diversifying their target keywords or as diluting the focus on their main keyword of choice.

From this article, you should now know exactly why that’s the wrong attitude. LSI keywords don’t dilute, the reinforce. LSI Keywords can improve ranking for the exact keywords you’re targeting. They do this because they are semantically related, provide greater context, and anticipate the intent of your target customers. They make your content marketing more accurate, not less.

While this is the single biggest reason to utilize LSI keywords in your approach, there are far more great benefits that come from this practice. Maximizing the variation of your target keywords not only reinforces the main keyword performance, it helps content look and read better. It increases engagement and expands the functional vocabulary of your audience when discussing your product or service.

What’s more, there are tools available to make it as easy as possible to seamlessly incorporate them into pre-existing content. As such, there has never been a better time to bring LSI keywords into your daily online marketing practice, and start seeing the rewards for yourself. With the information in this article, you have all the knowledge, tools and approaches you need to make it a success.

Do you have experience with harnessing LSI keywords? Have you discovered a particular positioning or strategy that has delivered unexpected success? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below!

Equally, if you have any questions or require any clarification on the overview we’ve created here, comment below to get more information from our growing community of online marketers.

Updated: 1/6/17


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