Suppose you are at a construction site.
You see the site engineer using a measuring tape to find out the length of a wall. A little later, he tells his colleague to note down 30 feet.
Using your senses, you quickly understand that ‘feet’ here refers to the unit of measurement and not the human body part.
But, search engines are not capable of this.
They don’t have sensory organs to help them differentiate between the feet used to measure and the feet used to stand.
So, LSI keywords come into the picture.
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing.
It was developed in the late 1980s to extract precise information from large data sets. However, over the years, it has improved tremendously.
Almost ALL search engines use it to understand the content on web pages and rank them better. (Even if they say there’s no such thing as LSI keywords!)
LSI keywords are simply terms or phrases related to the main keyword on a web page.
They are semantically (contextually) related to each other in one or more of the following ways:
- Synonymy (Similar): Pipe and tube, rich and wealthy, rise and ascend, etc.
- Antonymy (Opposite): Cold and hot, summer and winter, top and bottom, etc.
- Hyponymy (Subordinate): Tree and plant, man and child, puppy and dog, etc.
- Meronymy (Part): Cheese and pizza, ship and fleet, flower and bouquet, etc.
- Troponymy (Manner): March and walk, whisper and speak, nibble and eat, etc.
- Entailment (Consequence): Drive and ride, assassinated and dead, competition and winner, etc.
- Derivations (Forms): Magnetic and magnetism, gynecology and gynecologist, simple and simply, etc.
Thus, relationships exist between the keywords, and search engines use them to understand a web page’s content better.
LSI keywords bring out the context and define the main topic of the page.
Let’s say you have created a web page about a bat and written a good 1500 words about it.
But, a bat can either be a small animal that flies and hunts at night or wooden playing equipment used to hit the ball.
How would the search engine gauge it?
They will look for different LSI keywords in your content.
- Words like cricket, match, player, batsman, bowler, pitch, field, ground, score, etc., will help them know that it’s about the playing equipment (bat).
- Words like wings, flying, nocturnal, darkness, echo, food, habitat, mammal, etc., will tell them that it’s about the animal (bat).
Once they understand the main topic of your web page, they will rank it for relevant search results.
LSI keywords impact SEO by helping your page rank for:
- Relevant Search Queries: If it is about a cricket bat, it should not appear in searches for the animal bat.
- Related Search Queries: If it is about a cricket bat, it can also appear in searches for cricket equipment.
Thus, they increase your ranking potential and enhance your site’s SEO.
When you have expertise and knowledge about a topic, you will unknowingly include semantically related keywords in your content.
But, to be on the safer side, you must perform exhaustive LSI keyword research before you start writing.
There are 3 ways in which you can find related words and phrases for your content:
While typing a search query, you must have noticed that the search engines try to guess it.
It looks something like this on Google and is known as the Autocomplete Feature:
You’ll also find it on other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Duck Duck Go.
They all highlight the words they are adding to your search query for a quick selection.
But, if you take a moment to analyze them, you can get many LSI keyword ideas.
For example, your main topic is chatbots.
When you type chatbots in the search box on Google, you get a lot of autocomplete suggestions.
Looking at them, you can find LSI keywords like ‘artificial intelligence‘ and ‘user interface‘.
Next, if you use autocomplete feature of other search engines, you can get even more suggestions.
All search engines display searches related to your query at the end of the search results.
When you look at them, you find multiple phrases containing your search query and additional words before or after it.
For easy differentiation, the other words are in bold.
Look at these searches related to ‘credit card application’ on Google:
You’ll notice several highlighted words in these search queries.
When you look at them closely, they give you hints about potentially related terms to use in your content – the LSI keywords.
In this case, ‘apply online’, ‘online application process’, and ‘charges’, are some LSI keyword ideas.
And this is from Google alone.
You can examine related searches on other search engines as well to get more ideas.
Duck Duck Go:
Each search engine gives you different suggestions, and so you’ll have plenty to pick and choose from.
If you don’t want to spend time with the search engines, you can use a free keyword research tool to discover LSI keywords.
It will give you thousands of keyword suggestions and also list common search terms and phrases.
So, you can use the tool as your own free LSI keyword generator!
Here’s how it works:
Scan through the keyword suggestions to identify semantically related terms.
In this case, you can use the following words as LSI keywords:
- meal plan
With that, finding LSI keywords for your content becomes a cakewalk.
The selection of LSI keywords demands using your instinct and common sense.
You don’t need to use all the LSI keywords you find in a single piece of content.
Only the ones that make sense and go well with your topic must be used.
Simply pick keywords with maximum relevance to your content.
If you are writing a listicle on ‘women handbags’, your LSI keywords list will include:
If you are giving information, words like shop and buy will confuse the readers. So, you shouldn’t pick or use such words in your content.
On the contrary, if you expect users to buy handbags, shop and buy will be the most important words.
So, the selection criteria will change based on the intent and context of your write-up.
Use your instinct and common sense while making a choice and prevent any possible blunders.
With that, LSI keywords should be simple and easy to use.
Search engines have one goal: to provide relevant and valuable results to their users.
They can understand your page’s content ten times better with the help of LSI keywords.
Thus, you can achieve higher search rankings and decreased bounce rates by spreading semantically related keywords throughout your content.
Dropping out LSI keywords or randomly sprinkling them whenever and wherever in the content can cost you big time.
To see their power, use them wisely.