LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are a point of debate within the SEO community.
Many SEOs believe that using LSI keywords in content can help you boost your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings.
Moreover, Google also uses LSI technology to index web pages and understand the content.
But is their SEO importance the truth or a myth?
In this article, we will break down what LSI keywords are, how to find them, and whether they matter for your SEO strategy.
What Are LSI Keywords in SEO?
LSI keywords are words directly related to your main keywords. They are not synonyms but related terms that define a topic with context.
For example, if your primary keyword is ‘’loan insurance’’, then your LSI keywords would be words and phrases like ‘’personal loan’’, ‘’business loan’’, and ‘’loan protection’’. These terms are not synonyms of ‘’loan insurance’’, but they can help you define the main keyword with clarity and context.
Indexing and ranking algorithms are not adept at doing things on their own. However, they are good at understanding user behavior, analyzing it, and generating results based on the data.
Thus, these algorithmic robots are fed with lots of data to make them ingenious enough to display quality search results for search engines.
Earlier, Google used to check the frequency of the keyword in a piece of content to determine whether the content is related to the user’s query.
Today, if you search the query, ‘’what is a cookie’,’ Google returns the best results from the web. You can read about the British cookie as well as the HTTP cookie.
However, this was not always the case. Some ten years earlier, Google would have returned the results only about the edible cookie because its algorithms were not capable of linking the context with possible topical variations.
Today, search results are super advanced. The focus is not on keyword frequency but on search intent. Google looks for semantically related keywords to determine the context and quality of the content.
Regardless of all the noise around LSI keywords in SEO, Google does not consider LSI keywords as a significant ranking factor. In fact, according to John Mueller from Google, LSI keywords don’t even exist. Factually, Google’s regular algorithm updates account for such niche-relevant vocabulary to an extent.
At Authority Magnet, we use these semantically related words to create content that rules over the SERP.
What is Latent Semantic Indexing?
LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, is an NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology developed in the 1980s to identify the relationship between words with context.
For example, let’s look at the word ‘’Fall’’. It has two meanings. One is the season of Autumn, which is equivalent to fall, and another is the act of collapsing or falling.
Such words whose meaning change with context are called polysemic words. These are generally different from synonyms.
These word causes problems when the computer analyzes documents. Computers found it challenging to differentiate between both words.
Hence, LSI was created to solve this problem.
Search engines face similar issues when analyzing web pages for particular results. This problem still exists with single keywords.
For example, let’s say there are two web pages about the topic, ‘’sound system for home’’. The first web page uses the word sound system, whereas the second web page uses ‘’home theatre’’ to describe a sound system.
Now, when a user searches for ‘’sound system for home’’, Google might show the first web page and not the second one because the article does not have the phrase ‘’sound system’’ in it.
It is also possible that the second webpage with the phrase ‘’home theatre’’ might be more useful for the users.
In that case, Google’s past inability to understand the contextual relationship between words created problems in filtering out the best search results.
Today, Google has algorithms like Rankbrain to index the best search results from the web.
LSI is now old technology, and it’s less likely that Google will use LSI because it was made for smaller documents and not the entire web.
That said, search engines use semantics or related words to grasp the meaning of words based on context.
LSI Keywords Vs. Semantically Related Words
There’s a difference between LSI keywords and semantically related words.
LSI keywords imply that Google uses LSI technology to understand the content of the pages when ranking them for a query or keywords.
Meanwhile, Google has clarified that there’s no such thing as an LSI keyword.
Semantically related keywords are words related to the main keywords. For example, when you search for ‘’Barack Obama’’, his wife, kids, and presidency are all semantically related words.
Henceforward, we should focus on including semantically related keywords to increase our content relevancy for the users.
Remember that Google does not use LSI keywords or semantically related words as ranking factors. These terms can only help algorithms comprehend the context of your phrases and content quality.
Can Semantically Related Words Boost Rankings?
Most SEOs use the term LSI keywords to indicate related words. Thus, it is technically incorrect.
Keeping the meaning aside, using related words or search terms boosts rankings on SERP. Semantically associated terms improve your on-page SEO.
Google understands that when you search for ‘’best shoes’’ online, you don’t want to see a webpage filled with the keyword ‘’shoes’’. You want to buy ‘’shoes’’.
It will look for related terms such as ‘’buy now’’, ‘’best prices’’, ‘’footwear’’ and ‘’Amazon.com’’ to filter the most relevant search results.
Hence, using highly relevant keywords, phrases, or similar textual entities can boost your search rankings. It also helps Google associate the content of your page with the search query.
How to Find Semantically Related Words?
When you write about a topic, you naturally include all the related terms and phrases in your article.
For example, you cannot write about ‘’best colleges in the world’’, without mentioning ‘’United States’’ or ‘’Harvard’’. Using related keywords is an essential and often natural part of the content-writing process.
However, sometimes you may miss out on essential phrases from an SEO perspective, especially when the content is too broad and complex.
Pages that include related terms in their content rank better because those terms bring more depth into the topic and provide helpful answers for users.
That’s why sites that focus on semantically related words outrank those that do not use semantic words.
With that in mind, here are nine ways to discover LSI keywords for your content.
1. Explore Autocomplete Results
Google’s autocomplete feature may not give us the exact related terms, but it tells us about phrases and semantic keywords which users want to know.
For example, if you are writing about the ‘’British Royal Family’’, you can see ‘’British Royal Family Website’’, ‘’British Royal Family Net Worth’’, ‘’British Royal Family Tree’’ and ‘’British Royal Family Disease’’ as Google’s autocomplete search results.
This indicates that these terms are worth mentioning when writing about the British Royal Family.
All these terms might not be directly related, but users want to know about them. Google will push such articles on top of the SERP as they are in demand.
2. Analyze Related Searches
Google’s related search appears at the bottom of the search results page.
Similar to the autocomplete results, they give us an idea about closely related terms and phrases.
For example, if we look at the related searches for the ‘’British Royal Family’’, we can find several associated terms such as ‘’Succession’’, ‘’Scandal’’, and ‘’History’’.
These terms help Google find a correlation between the topic and the content.
In other words, Google can easily relate these terms with the article and might consider the article as a quality search result for the users.
3. Look at The “People Also Ask” Results Section on SERPs
People Also Ask results is another section of the SERP where we can find terms related to the topic.
Most times, these results are additional or related queries about a topic.
For the ‘’British Royal Family’’ keywords, you can find new terms such as ‘’Queen Elizabeth’’, ‘’Bloodline’’, and ‘’Highest Rank’’.
You can use these terms to bring more depth into your content and include more semantically related keywords.
You can also use the Peoplealsoasked.com tool to find related search terms similar to “people also ask” results.
Simply enter your query, and you can view an expanded version of Google’s “people also ask” section.
4. Use Google Image Tags
Image tags are still unexplored, and not many website optimizers use them.
But these are like goldmines for LSI or semantically related keywords.
Just enter your keywords into Google images and look at the top of the page showing keywords for graphics.
For the query, ‘’British Royal Family’’, we can find a series of related terms on the top of images, such as ‘’Tiara’’, ‘’Kate’’, and ‘’Windsor’’.
You can apply a similar strategy on Pinterest, but remember that those results do not come from Google searches.
Thus, they might not help in improving your search rankings.
5. Find Bold Terms From the Search Results Page
This is another way to find related terms directly from Google’s snippet descriptions.
If you look at Google’s search results and observe meta descriptions of each result, there are several bold terms. These bold keywords match our search query.
Google does not only bold terms that match phrase by phrase with our search term but also similar or closely related words.
For example, let’s look at the search for ‘’British Royal Family’’ again.
You can find several bold words such as ‘’British Monarchy’’ and ‘’Royal Family’’.
Sprinkle these keywords in your content to make it more relevant and contextual for Google’s algorithms.
6. Study Google’s Knowledge Graph
Google’s knowledge graph is the infobox beside the main search results, where Google shows information relevant to the search query. It stores data about relationships between different people, concepts, and news stories.
Study the knowledge graph clearly and try establishing a connection between these different sections.
For example, when you search for US president Joe Biden, you can see search results about other heads of state.
Moreover, if you look at Google’s knowledge graph for the term ‘’British Royal Family’’, it also shows us about other royal families around the world.
If these terms show up in Google’s knowledge graph results, it means Google associates these new terms with the main topic.
Observe the context between all the terms on the knowledge graph and your main keywords or topic, and see if you can include these data points in your content.
7. Examine Knowledge Bases
Knowledge bases like Wikipedia and Wikidata are great platforms to find semantic or related terms that users might look for when searching for a topic.
On the Wikipedia page of the ‘’British Royal Family’’, look at the blue terms. Google might consider these potentially related search terms when indexing pages for a keyword.
On the other hand, wiki data pulls out related web pages and title tags, typically associated with the primary topic.
These knowledge bases are a powerhouse for semantically related terms for your content.
8. Use Keyword Tools
Keyword tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, and Uber Suggest are excellent sources for related search terms, similar to LSI keywords or semantically related words.
Look at the results for the keyword ‘’British Royal Family’’ from the Semrush keyword tool.
You can see keyword variations, questions, and also related keywords.
These tools, except Google keyword planner, sometimes pull out data from additional sources like Quora and Reddit to generate potentially related words.
Also, Google keyword planner suggests the most popular related terms people search on Google.
If there are too many keyword suggestions, you can filter the top-ranking SERP results and use them as a source for your related keywords.
Note that there’s no valid proof that Google might view these terms as semantically related.
However, Google does try to understand the relationship between different words and entities through these terms. The more the algorithm relates, the closer your web pages get to ranking higher.
9. LSI Graph
When using keyword tools, take a look at LSI Graph, an LSI keyword-specific tool that can generate all the semantically related words for your content.
All you have to do is enter your primary keyword to get a list of semantically related terms and phrases along with their KD (Keyword Density) and CPC (Cost Per Click).
LSI graph has a vast database from several countries, locations, and languages, which helps the tool generate LSI keywords with ranking potential.
Apart from these nine strategies, you can use common sense in the SEO and website growth industry to discover semantically related terms.
For example, when writing a guide about the ‘’British Royal Family’’, you will write about their history and family tree, but along with that, it makes sense to include details about the traditions, customs, or controversial members of the family.
Therefore, our writers at Authority Magnet don’t just rely on tools for SEO writing, but they also brainstorm keywords based on popular demand and human intellect.
LSI keywords do not exist in Google’s ranking database.
Semantically related words and phrases do exist, and including them in your content can help you boost rankings.
You can use semantic keywords to add additional sections to your content page. Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to use these words. Use them only when they are relevant to the main topic, and don’t just add them thinking it will boost your rankings.
These keywords can backfire when used with little relevancy.
Do you have any more questions about LSI?
Leave a comment below to clear all your LSI and SEO-related queries.