How to properly use LSI keywords [Guest Post]

09 May 2016
| Last update: 05 Apr 2017

LSI keywords are one of the most important aspects of on-page optimization. However, even though they are a crucial part of every article, they are not often discussed within the SEO industry.

This practice is most likely because LSI keywords should be an organic byproduct of a well-written copy. As such, they can be easily implemented even by amateurs. But, before we go any further, let’s start by explaining the term.


lsi keywords

LSI keywords definition

LSI stands for latent semantic indexing. This strategy is a process that allows a program to identify phrases and words which are closely related to each other or are synonyms.

Google introduced latent semantic indexing and LSI keywords with the Hummingbird update. Previously, search engine determined relevancy of an article based on keyword density. Because of this, there was a lot of “keyword stuffing”.

In other words, you were able to rank in top results simply by oversaturating your copy with one and the same keyword. Naturally, this led to the creation of articles that were unreadable.

When Google introduced Hummingbird, keyword stuffing was eliminated, and it gave way to LSI keywords which stimulated the creation of high-quality content through synonyms and related phrases.

Finding LSI keywords

If you are new to this strategy, you can begin with a simple Google search. Whenever you type something in the search box, the engine will automatically give you some suggestions. This process is called Google instant search.

Another great way to find some LSI keyword suggestions is at the bottom of the page. These keyphrase proposals are the results of the “searched related to” feature. However, in most cases, these are only suggestions which are based on root word which you typed in. For a proper LSI analysis, you will have to use some of the LSI keyword generators.

Anyone who has ever worked in SEO industry knows that SEO tools can be quite pricey. When it comes to LSI keyword generators, they are usually free. Furthermore, most of these tools are easy to use and give you instant results. In that regard, you can perform entire process in no time. Most famous LSI tools include:

  • LSIGraph
  • Keys4up
  • Ubersuggest
  • SEMRush related keywords

No matter which one you use, you can get numerous suggestions in no time. For those that are thorough, they can use more than one tool and extract different results which can make it easier to write copy.

However, even with all these tools, you have to observe things from a human perspective. In other words, if you wish to write high-quality content, you have to implement LSI keywords naturally, without tool suggestions or any other assistance.

A great example for this is Wikipedia. Just type your main keyword in its search box and check the page it returns as a result. Then start reading the page and see what other words tend to appear in the body of content. Voila! You already have a great source for latent semantic indexing keywords. Now let’s see how to use them in practice.

lsi keywords

Using LSI keywords

Besides improving the quality of the copy, there is another important reason why you should use LSI keywords. Back in the day, it was possible just to increase your keyword density thus increasing your chances to rank high for a particular keyword. Nowadays, repeating one and the same keyword can get you into trouble.

Nevertheless, Google still has to determine why we wrote a particular article. In some cases, one word or phrase can have different meanings (such as “apple” – company, product or tree). With LSI keywords, we can tell Google what is the main idea behind the article.

We are no longer able to optimize easily for one keyword. However, today, if you can create a great copy and rank well for your main keyword, it will boost all other semantically related keywords as well. In a sense, you are no longer pursuing only one phrase.

Instead, your article should be used as a way to give answers to all related questions surrounding one particular topic.

Now that you understand the basic thought process behind latent semantic indexing keywords, you are ready to implement them in your article. As previously stated, even if you are trying to boost a keyword, Google will recognize all keywords as well.

That means that you can include all semantically related keywords in your article and together, they will help Google find your copy.

So, how many different LSI keywords should you include? The short answer is – the more, the better. However, you shouldn’t overdo it. When Google introduced Hummingbird, its primary task was to stimulate the creation of readable articles. Every copywriter should recognize this fact.

Have in mind those different keywords have a different impact on the material. Have you ever heard of the term frequency–inverse document frequency (TF-IDF)? In a nutshell, it represents expected frequency of a keyword within an article.

If you use the phrase “the most popular soda in the world”, Google can easily realize that your piece is about Coca-Cola. At the same time, due to its rarity, you should use it less because it would be unnatural if you use this particular phrase more than once.

This term has high TF-IDF, and it helps more than some other standard words such as “refreshing drink”. But, as previously stated, you cannot boost your SEO by increasing your TF-IDF. It is only a parameter that can show you Google’s expectations when it comes to the appearance of the copy.

Another thing that you need to consider is the position of your LSI keyword within the text. Keywords that are within the title as well within the body have much bigger impact than those that are in the header, footer or sidebars.

Also, try putting your LSI keywords next to your main phrase. This placement will help Google make the connection. If the sentences are split apart (for example, in different paragraphs), Google will perceive it as a random occurrence, and it will not give necessary value to your LSI keyword.

Practical LSI example

Always remember; your LSI keywords cannot “boost” your SEO on their own. They can only polish your copy so that it performs even better in SERP.

lsi keywords

This outcome means that you cannot gain an unnatural advantage over your competition if you do on-page optimization with LSI perfectly.

Instead, it can only put you on the even playing field as your opponents. Having this in mind, the best approach is to adapt to your competitor’s strategy.

How can you do this? Simple, find top 10 competitors within your niche and analyze their main keywords. This data will give you an insight as to how did they optimize their copy.

If you use a similar strategy (not necessarily exact), you can create a copy with the same structure ensuring that you are also able to enter top 10 results in Google (at least based on your on-page optimization).

In conclusion

The best advice I can give you is to write naturally. As long as you have an organic copy, LSI keywords will be introduced by themselves.

When you finish writing your article, you can check them out, just in case you missed something.

Even though this is an important part of search engine optimization, it should come naturally so that even laymen without any SEO knowledge can easily use it.

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