What Are LSI Keywords and How to Use Them to Boost Your SEO Results

11 minutes read
What are LSI Keywords and How to Use Them to Boost Your SEO Results

SEO professionals use various techniques and strategies to improve search engine rankings. While some of them are common, others remain highly underutilized. Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords is a technique that falls under the latter category.

For those unaware of LSI Keywords, two primary questions will be –

  1. What is Latent Semantic Indexing?
  2. What are LSI Keywords?

1. What is Latent Semantic Indexing?

Technically speaking, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a computer technology developed in the late 1980s to retrieve precise information from large sets of data. The computers use Singular Value Decomposition process to find the correlation between different terms in a seemingly random set of data.

Is that too much jargon for you? Let us simplify.

LSI allows search engines to find the hidden relationships between different words in a document to understand its correct meaning. In other words, it enables computers to learn and understand any text just like humans do.

So, how are LSI and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) related to each other?

LSI allows search engines to understand your content and its context along with your search intent and its relationship to a specific keyword. As search engines can read your content like humans do, using relevant keywords will improve its chances of getting ranked higher in search results.

It is a well-known fact that Google is putting more emphasis on understanding the context of any piece of content. That’s how latent semantic indexing found use in SEO and is likely to prevail in the coming years.

2. What are LSI Keywords?

The definition of LSI keywords states they are the keywords that are semantically related to your target (or focus) keyword. But, they are not synonyms. Unfortunately, most people wrongly assume that LSI keywords are synonyms. These keywords are thrown together as they share the same context, but not the same literal meaning.

For example, take the word “Apple.” Usually, it means either a fruit or a leading US technology brand. A search engine such as Google looks for different LSI keywords related to this term to better understand the intent of your search query. Here are two possible case scenarios –

  • If Google finds words such as pie, juice, milkshake, food, fruit, and farm among others, it will probably think the web page is about a fruit called apple.
  • If Google finds the words such as iTunes, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Mac OS, MacBook, and iPod, among others, it will probably think the web page is about the smartphone and computer brand.

Similarly, when you type “Cooper,” Google will find different LSI keywords to know if you are looking for shoes (Lee Cooper), a car (Mini Cooper) or the fictitious character of Sheldon Cooper from the American TV series, The Big Bang Theory.

Now that you know what Latent Semantic Indexing is and what LSI keywords are, let’s understand how they can be used to improve your SEO rankings.

3. Keyword Density

In the early days of SEO, keyword density was one of the primary ways to determine the search ranking of a web page. In simple words, keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the same.

For example, if a search phrase appears six times in a 200-word paragraph, the keyword density of this page is said to be 3%. It was used to determine whether or not a web page is relevant to a specified search query. Naturally, web pages with higher keyword density were considered more relevant to the search term.

Unfortunately, this quickly led to keyword stuffing. Marketers used focus keywords as many times as they liked without bothering about the context. As a result, web pages often ranked higher but failed to provide any value to the reader.

With the emergence of advanced algorithms, search engines such as Google stopped considering keyword density as an SEO factor. Instead, they started concentrating on the relevance and context of a web page for ranking. It also started penalizing web pages with keyword stuffing.

  1. A. Hummingbird and Rankbrain Duo

    In the last few years, Google has started using two advanced algorithms namely Hummingbird and Rankbrain. Hummingbird is the memory unit. It listens to the search queries and reads the web pages and the schema to create an entity base. That’s why Google does not rank web pages, but only the entities.

    Rankbrain is the artificial intelligence that makes the best correlation between the search queries and the nested entity database created by Hummingbird. It can understand what the search query means and churns out the appropriate search results. It keeps track of your search activity, what you like, and your browsing time and online behavior to make an educated guess about your search intent.

  2. B. Where Do LSI Keywords Fit In?

    Without LSI keywords, Google and other search engines would struggle to find the correlation between search phrases and the content on your site. In other words, instead of using focus keyword repeatedly, you should use LSI keywords throughout the web page.

    Although they infer a similar meaning, LSI keywords are not the same. So, you can use them more frequently without getting penalized for keyword stuffing. They also allow you to create conversational content that can communicate with users directly. Thus, using LSI keywords is a win-win for everyone including the customers, the brand, and the search engines.

4. How to Find LSI Keywords

Now we come to the million dollar question “How to find LSI keywords?” Honestly, finding LSI keywords is easier than ever. You can consider the following methods:

  1. A. Through Search Engine –

    One of the easiest ways to find your LSI keywords is through the search engine. You can type a particular phrase in Google Search to find the relevant LSI keywords and search terms. For example, if you google the search term “Website”, you will find the following LSI keywords.

    Google Search Keyword Suggestion For Keyword Website
    Google Search Page Footer Suggestion For Keyword Website

    These are the specific keywords that Google links with search terms. However, these keywords will change based on your geographical location and search term.

  2. B. Google Keyword Research Tool

    You can also use the Google Keyword Planner if you are familiar with it.  Or else, you’ll need to open a Google AdWords account to use the Keyword Planner.

    Google Keyword Planner Tools Using Google Adwords Account

    Log into your Google AdWords account and go to the “Find Keywords” option. Click on the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category” option. Type the same search term, “Website” and hit the Get Ideas button.

  3. C. LSI Keywords Tools

    The third option is to use one of the free or paid LSI keyword generator tools available on the web. LSI graph is one such tool that allows you to search LSI keywords for 20 search phrases daily. All you have to do is type your search phrase (again we have used the term “website”) and hit the Generate button.

    LSI Keywords for Website keyword- LSIGraph.com Screenshot
    Source – https://lsigraph.com/
    Here is a list of more LSI tools for you.

    1. Keys4up
    2. TwinWord Ideas LSI Graph
    3. Niche Laboratory
    4. Semantic Link
    5. LSI Keywords
    6. Ultimate Keyword Hunter
    7. Answer The Public
    8. Keyword Tool
    9. KWFinder


  4. D. SEO Tools

    You can also use SEO tools other than the Keyword Planner to find LSI keywords for a search phrase. We often make use of SEO tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush for this purpose.

    LSI Keywords through "Search Suggestions" from Keywords Explorer - Ahrefs.com

    For Ahrefs – You can search LSI keywords through “Search Suggestions” from Keywords Explorer.

    Search LSI Keyword using SEMRush Tool

    For SEMRush – You can enter a keyword and search LSI keywords in the “Related Keywords” section.

    Once you find the keywords, the next step is to choose the most relevant LSI keywords for your content.

5. How to Choose the Best LSI Keywords

LSI keyword research is the simple part. The difficulty lies in choosing the keywords with a decent amount of search volume and maximum relevance to your content. So, first, you need to understand why someone is searching for the specific item or information. Next, you need to find keywords that are relevant and can be included naturally in the content.

  1. A. Intent

    Usually, a user intends to do one of the following three things –

    1. I. Find Information

      In this case, people want to find out more about the subject at hand. They are mostly looking for general information. For example, (continuing with our search term “website”), people may want to know what is a website and why you need it.

    2. II. Navigate

      This type of search query often points in an explicit direction. For example, in this case, people may want to know how to build a website in WordPress or which is the best platform for e-commerce website building.

    3. III. Transact

      As the name suggests, when people want to carry out a specific task, they use search phrases with transactional intent. In this case, it may be about hiring a web designing company.

  2. B. Context

    Naturally, you will need to use the LSI keywords that are highly relevant to your content. Only then a search engine will be able to index and rank your page in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

    For example, if you offer website design and development services for small businesses, using LSI keywords such as “small business website design”, “cheap business website builder”, “website development” and “website hosting” makes sense.

    Does this mean you can use as many relevant LSI keywords as possible? The answer is NO! Not all keywords will fit into the content naturally. So, you should only use the ones that seem natural and meaningful. Read the text carefully to see if everything fits in naturally. Remove anything that doesn’t.

    Next, you will need to be careful about stuffing too many LSI keywords in the content. As a precaution, avoid using a single LSI keyword more frequently compared to others. Make sure to scatter them throughout the content evenly.

6. Benefits of Using LSI Keywords

When it comes to SEO and user experience, LSI keywords-driven content can lead to several benefits.

  1. A. Higher Search Engine Rankings

    The primary purpose of a search engine is to serve relevant and valuable content to the users. LSI keywords make your content most relevant and valuable. Thus, your search engine rankings are bound to surge for semantically-related searches irrespective of what your target keyword is.

  2. B. Increased Content Credibility

    As the content is highly relevant and fresh, an increasing number of people are likely to read and share it further. As a result, its credibility will only increase over time. It will make your content stand out from the rest, especially run-of-the-mill content that occupies most of the web.

  3. C. Improved On-Site Browsing Time

    Better content means visitors will spend more time on your website. They may even check out other links on your site. A natural and conversational tone plays a critical role in keeping your target audience glued to the screen, thanks to the varied use of LSI keywords.

  4. D. Decreased Bounce Rates

    LSI-driven content is extremely targeted. It always reaches out to the right audience. So, it leads to better engagement, which in turn, reduces bounce rate. All these benefits ultimately translate into enhanced user experience and better SEO.

Wrapping Up

When aiming for a higher search engine rank, LSI keywords can be one of your closest allies. Leaving them out from your content marketing mix can cost you big time. LSI is easy to understand even if you don’t come from a technical background. You need to start using LSI keywords today. Hopefully, this detailed guide will help you learn more about it. If you still have doubts or need more help, drop your thoughts in the comments section. Best luck for LSI keywords research and strategy development.

Looking to master your Keyword Research skills? Here’s our Advanced Keyword Research Guide to help you understand the keyword research process in depth.

  • Taral Patel is SEO Manager and Content Strategist at E2M who specializes in the content ranking and building organic traffic. His advanced keyword research and content strategies have helped brands to boost their organic traffic, conversions and reach the right target audience. He also co-hosts the company's podcast, Marketing Microscope where we invite industry thought leaders and influencers to share their insight with our audience.