LSI keywords

LSI Keywords – Latent Semantic Keywords – What Is It

Sometimes blogging terminology sounds so complicated that it just about compels one to throw up his hands in despair. A prime example are the terms: LSI, LSI keywords or latent semantic keywords.

Bloggers will often come across these terms when learning about the principles of search engine optimization and/or best SEO practices for their blog content.

Note: don’t think even for a moment that SEO is not important.  It is very different from what it used to be before the algorithm updates, but certain optimizing techniques need to be practiced if you want your blog content to be found by the bots.

To get back to the LSI keywords topic, in reality this mumbo jumbo is nothing more than geek speak of relatively simple concepts related to the perception of language in the eyes of the search engines. As well, it relates to the optimization of content for both humans and the search engine robots.

Definition of LSI Keywords – Latent Semantic Keywords

LSI is an acronym for Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI Keywords are keywords based on latent semantic indexing method.

In geek speak, the technical definition of LSI is:

…an indexing and retrieval method that uses a mathematical technique called Singular value decomposition (SVD) to identify patterns in the relationships between the terms and concepts contained in an unstructured collection of text…A key feature of LSI is its ability to extract the conceptual content of a body of text by establishing associations between those terms that occur in similar contexts… Wikipedia

In simpler terms, latent semantic indexing is the process of identifying related words or phrases. Basically and very simplistically, it is a process of identifying synonyms and synonymic phrases. As well latent semantic indexing is based on the assumption that terms that are used in similar context tend to have similar meanings.

Major search engines, particularly Google use latent semantic indexing as one of their many search and indexing algorithms in their quest to provide the best possible search results to their users.

Your online existence and your blog’s chances to be “found” depends on the search engines’ likeabilty of your site and their ability to correlate your site’s content to the search queries. Therefore, it is in your best interest to provide content that can satisfy search engines algorithms and one that search engines deem worthy of being matched to the search queries.

Because LSI will also include results that are conceptually similar in meaning to search criteria, it is important that you not only use targeted keywords relevant to the topic of your website or an article, but that you also use synonyms and related words and phrases.

Use Of Latent Semantic Keywords – LSI Keywords

Previously, for SEO purposes (or rather, the manipulation of search engines), most website owners keyword stuffed their content with the terms that the website was targeting. As a result much of the online content was written for search engines and not for humans. The quality of search results suffered.

In the last few years this practice has been discouraged and currently major search engines penalize sites that still adhere to this questionable practice.

The use of latent semantic keywords and phrases within the content is a very natural way of using a language. It often results in a user friendly, much more legible and understandable, better quality content.

For example, if your website or an article revolves around weight loss and your main keywords are “weight loss” or “lose weight”, LSI keywords would include related phrases or words such as, diet or healthy diet, exercise, fat free foods, healthy foods, healthy recipes and so on.

To use synonyms and/or related terminology is very intuitive. A normal use of a language intuitively dictates an avoidance of duplicate words. In other words, normally when people speak they automatically avoid frequent use of the same words (most people do, anyway).

Free Tools To Search For Latent Semantic Keywords

  • Google Keyword Planner – is the best tool in my opinion I am not including a link because it is so complex and it often breaks. However, all you need to do is to input “keyword planner” search term in the search box and the link to this tool will be in the first spot of the search result page. If you don’t know how to use the new keyword planner yet, you can learn how to use the keyword planner here…
  • Thesaurus – you may also want to use an online or offline thesaurus to come up with excellent alternatives for your keywords. The online Thesaurus is my favorite of all online dictionaries .

Conclusion And a Cautionary Note

Using latent semantic keywords, in addition to your targeted keywords, allows you to easily comply with major search engines’ algorithms which penalize websites that keyword stuff their content. You have a greater flexibility in expressing yourself and in the end you provide a better experience for both, your human visitors and the search bots.

A word of caution. With respect to the use of synonyms or related words, the same rules apply as those that apply to the use of targeted keywords. Less Is More. Do not over stuff either your targeted keywords or related keywords. Keep the keywords at between 1-2% of your text.

Finally, latent semantic keywords (LSI keywords) should be used not only in your content but also when building your links. Mix up targeted keywords words, related words and synonyms. It is not hard to do. A little thought into the process will take you a long way.


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4 Responses to LSI Keywords – Latent Semantic Keywords – What Is It

  1. Oona Houlihan February 28, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    In my experience the meaning of LSI is mostly only superficially understood by those who need to come to terms with the concept. To be able to use LSI concepts successfully in one’s SEO strategy, the keyword research has to be far more fine-grained than before LSI. Synonyms are easy to find on a word-by-word basis, but finding synonymical phrases of words that pertain to a certain search domain is much more complicated and time-consuming. Writing articles on the thus defined LSI domain is even more exacting and when one checks the SERP results many SEO-oriented content writers still fail miserably.

    • Dita Irvine February 28, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      Hi Oona,

      Thank you for your comment. I completely agree with you. Many “old school” SEOers still cannot get rid of the “old fashioned” SEO ideas. Unfortunately, there is still much info coming out in a way of courses that pipes the old tunes of SEO. A lot of new internet marketers still fall for it. It will take time to weed out these “old ideas”.
      Dita Irvine recently posted…iProPartner Program – An Affiliate Program That RocksMy Profile

  2. Glenn Shepherd January 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Hey Dita,

    Wow, this is a really interesting post. I was aware of the related words thing that Google does, but I didn’t know what it was called, how we would use it in our blogs or even that we should consider it. I’ll certainly be more aware of it from now on though.

    I think you make an important point about SEO. These days there seems to be very much an extreme to one degree or the other with regards to SEO – either that it’s the only way to do things or that it’s dead. Of course SEO is not dead, it’s just that the most effective methods aren’t the same as what were most effective, say, five years ago.

    The Internet is constantly evolving and we have to keep up with what works and what doesn’t. SEO remains an important part of it but the key is doing it in the best way.

    Thanks for the top-class post as always 🙂

    Glenn Shepherd recently posted…Seven Silly Mistakes That Could Be Killing Your BusinessMy Profile

    • Dita Irvine March 4, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      Hi Glenn,

      You are right. We have to keep up with the evolution of the internet but we can never forget the basics. People who are completely ignoring SEO are doing themselves (or rather their blogs) injustice. There will always be a need for basic SEO. I never would use extreme SEO to manipulate the search engines. That may have worked for a while. People who think they can manipulate Google are idiots, plain and simple and I have no sympathy for those that lost their rankings when Google finally released Panda and Penguin and clamped down on such practices.
      Dita Irvine recently posted…On Page SEO – Importance Of Internal LinksMy Profile