What Are LSI Keywords And How Do They Help Website Rankings
***Update on 01/12/2019 you can use this great tool called the LSI Graph which now has a premium version to help you find even more LSI Keywords.***
We all know that Google loves content, but not just content. Google loves good quality content. In fact, if you want your website to rank well in Google, you will need quality content. That means quality content for your users and for Google. If you want to rank for a certain keyword, you write your content to rank for that keyword. If you know anything about writing content for a website or ranking that content for a website, then you know that the main or target keyword is an important piece of the puzzle. However, You might not know that Google spends a lot of time looking at the other words on your page. These words are often called LSI Keywords or Semantically Related Words which Google calls Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords.
Wait? What is LSI Again?
One way to think about latent semantic indexing or semantically related words is this. When you are writing a blog post about a certain topic, you will realize that you are using other words that occur together, words that can mean the same thing. One easy way to think about it is if you are writing about website development, you will also be using words like web developers, website design, and website design firms.
Google uses LSI as part of their algorithm which looks at these words in order to try to establish a relationship between words in your article or blog post. LSI is going to be a keyword or any word that regularly occurs along with your main keyword.
LSI Keywords Are Probably Not Exactly What You Think
Long Tail Keywords:
When writing a blog or other piece of content that you would like to rank. Sometimes it’s easier to rank for more words than just one. A long tail keyword is usually 3+ words put together as a phrase. An example continuing with the website development theme would be St. Louis Website Design. This is a long tail keyword, however not necessarily an LSI.
A synonym can be an LSI, but not always. Synonyms are words that will appear with your main keyword a lot of the time but don’t fall into the category of LSI. An example would be if we are talking about St. Louis website design firms. A synonym “phrase” would be St. Louis website design agencies. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a word or phrase that usually occurs with the first word.
What Are Examples of LSI Keywords
Let’s say you are writing a blog post about SEO. Here is a list of words that would most likely occur in the article.
- First Page
What Makes LSI Important?
Over the last couple of years, Google has made it very clear that they want to provide the user with the best search experience. Take a look at this Google search example. If you do a search for SEO in this case meaning Search Engine Optimization, here are the results in Google:
After you review the above results, you can see that Google knows that when I type in SEO, I am talking about Search Engine Optimization. But, how do they know I am talking about that SEO and not South Eastern Ohio?
When Google uses the LSI algorithm it’s easy for them to match up what you are searching for with the most appropriate search result. You will receive information on Search Engine Optimization and not a part of Ohio that you really don’t care about.
Google is really smart, but it’s still artificial intelligence. Google doesn’t just know from its experience in the world that you would rather have information on Search Engine Optimization and not South Eastern Ohio. The reason is because the article you wrote about SEO also had other words like:
The words that went into your blog post are LSI Keywords and why LSI Keyword Optimization is so important. If you were writing a post about South Eastern Ohio you would use different LSI Keywords that would give Google an idea that you’re writing about a part of a state and nothing related to marketing.
When you use more LSI Keywords in your blog post, the more relevant Google is going to consider your post. This, of course, leads to Google giving your article a higher rank.
Basic Keyword Optimization
The conventional wisdom is that you should use your target or main keyword as many times as possible in your post so you will rank well. In fact, this is not the case at all and if you use your target keyword too many times you might get penalized. Google calls that keyword stuffing and Google associates that with low-quality posts, which most of us call spam. Spam is the exact thing that Google and other search engines are trying to get rid of and replace with good quality content.
The LSI Keyword strategy naturally avoids keyword stuffing, which avoids spam and pushes your content to the top. The reason this happens is because you are simply using related words or phrases that make sense together.
Where Should I Use LSI Keywords?
The quick and easy answer to that question is that you should use LSI Keywords anywhere you can in your post. Google’s spider is going to read the text on your entire page, so you are not required to use your keywords in certain areas.
When it comes to your main keyword or target keyword there are still some rules as to where you need to use it. If using WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin will help you with this. The target keyword should appear in your:
- Meta Description
- A Heading (Such as an H1, H2 or H3)
- Title Tag
- Image Alt-Tag
- In Your First Paragraph
Those are all places that tell Google without a doubt what your post is about. Having your target keyword in those places, together with the LSI Keywords strategy, puts you miles ahead of your competition.
How Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords Work
Now that you have a basic understanding of what LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing is and how it is used. In the future, I will dig deeper into LSI Keywords and discuss strategies for finding these words and how to know which ones are the best to use for your specific post. For now, what are you waiting for, start writing and don’t forget to use your new knowledge of LSI keywords!