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Let's Talk about LSI Keywords

April 2019

In the past six months or so, “LSI keywords” have become a buzzy topic among SEO experts and online content specialists. What are LSI keywords, and what do they mean for your online presence?

Related: Five Foolproof SEO Tips for Law Firms

What Is an LSI Keyword?
The “LSI” in “LSI keyword” stands for “Latent Semantic Indexing.” An LSI keyword is a keyword that is “semantically related” to the primary keyword for your page. In other words, LSI keywords are keywords that are closely related in their meaning or context. LSI keywords are words that are frequently found together in content online.

Why Are LSI Keywords Important to Google?
To understand what LSI keywords are and how they work, we need to look at why Google uses them. Google is relying on LSI keywords as context clues for the meaning and relevance of a specific piece of content.

Say a user searches the word “Galaxy” on Google. Galaxy, like many other words, can have multiple meanings depending on the context. The user might be searching for details about galaxies, as in the actual astronomy term. Or they could be searching for details about the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Or they could be looking for the calendar for the LA Galaxy, the Los Angeles soccer club. How does Google know which pages pertain to which versions of this keyword search?

LSI keywords are the answer. While the word “Galaxy” might have multiple meanings, each version of the keyword has its own set of LSI keywords that provide context about what a piece of online content is actually about. If a page contains words like “Samsung,” “Galaxy S10,” or “Galaxy smartphone,” it is probably about the Samsung Galaxy device. If the page includes words like “Milky Way,” “spiral galaxy,” or “interstellar gas,” it is probably about a system of stars. In the case of the LA Galaxy, LSI keywords might be mentions of “soccer” or “football,” or the names of players and rival clubs.

In each case, the LSI keywords are important for giving Google context clues about the topic of a specific page. Google’s current algorithm, Hummingbird, relies on these clues to cultivate its rankings. Hummingbird cares about synonyms, meaning, context, and relevance, and LSI keywords can help the search engine to evaluate each.

More than just for context, Google uses LSI keywords to fight keyword stuffing. Google use to judge page relevance primarily based on keyword density, which meant that a lot of people tried to game the system by using the same keyword repeatedly. By looking for pages that use synonyms or related terms as well as the primary keyword, Google effectively derailed the strategies of keyword stuffers everywhere.

Harnessing LSI Keywords for Your Site
Google’s focus on LSI keywords means that your pages need to support their primary target keywords with a slew of secondary keywords or other closely-related terms. Using keywords and keyword variations on your pages will help you tell Google what your page is about. It will also give you the chance of showing up in searches for those keyword variations, which will improve your site’s visibility.

Inherent would be happy to help you develop an LSI-driven keyword approach and content strategy for your site. Contact us today to get started.