Latent semantic indexing sounds super technical and confusing, doesn’t it? Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to understand – and it’s a powerful SEO tool.
In fact, you’re probably already using it at least a little.
You’re about to learn not only what this fancy term means, but how to use it to give your SEO a boost.
Latent Semantic Indexing Explained: Your Newest SEO Tactic
What Is Latent Semantic Indexing (or LSI)?
LSI is a method by which search engines can recognize search intent and match it with relevant results. Google is, of course, very tight-lipped about what goes on in their algorithm, so there’s no guarantee that this is exactly how Google does it – but it’s a good thing to understand.
Without going too deep into the technical aspects, LSI keywords are words and phrases that search engines correlate because they’re often found in the same context. There’s a bit of a misconception floating around that LSI keywords are simply synonyms, but that’s not quite correct.
Here’s an example: let’s say you search for “Apple news” because you want to find out what the tech giant Apple is up to. If Google instead served up pages talking about all kinds of apples, as in the fruit, you’d be pretty unimpressed, right?
Now flip that around. If you’re writing about Apple, the company, your page will probably include keywords like “Apple TV”, “iTunes”, “iPhone” and so on. That’s an indicator that your page is about the company, not the fruit, and latent semantic indexing (or something very like it) is how search engines can tell that.
Turning That Into SEO
Besides telling Google that your page is about a particular topic, using LSI keywords can give you a variety of benefits. If your content contains numerous keywords that are relevant to the same topic, that’s a strong indicator that you know what you’re talking about. This, in turn, builds your website’s credibility.
As much as you want to rank for all the best keywords, you don’t want to rank for the wrong ones, because that will lead to more people clicking your site and realizing it’s got nothing to do with what they’re looking for.
So how do you figure out your topic’s LSI keywords?
Latent semantic indexing keywords and long-tail keywords are similar in concept. In fact, many of the LSI keywords you’ll end up using will be long-tail versions of your focus keyword.
Your first step should be to take your focus keyword, type it into Google, and see what Google’s autocomplete offers you. Those are very clearly LSI keywords related to your main topic. Jot down any that you think you can work into your copy.
Next, head over to LSI Graph. This is a free SEO tool that you can use to find LSI keywords, as well as useful information about each. Once again, plug in your main keyword see what it spits out.
For example, I typed in “ambrosia apple” (which are the best kind of apples). It gave me a list of all kinds of related terms, from “ambrosia apples taste” and “ambrosia apples season” to “ambrosia apples vs honeycrisp” and even just “honeycrisp apple”.
There’s an established correlation between all these terms. If you can include them in your page’s copy without keyword stuffing, you should – they’ll give you some extra SEO juice.
Once you’ve got your list of LSI keywords, use them in the same way you would your main keyword: in H1 and H2 tags, meta tags, alt text, the first paragraph and so on.
It’s important to reiterate that you should never cram these keywords in for the sake of having them. Only use them if they fit organically and naturally into your copy.