What Is Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and How Can It Help Your SEO?
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a process of keyword indexing for Search Engine Optimization that goes beyond standard keyword density. Traditional keyword density for SEO has a “sweet spot” of around 2% of the total words in an article consisting of your chosen keyword. While this remains true, latent semantic indexing also takes into the consideration the context behind your chosen keywords in an article.
Keyword density was the staple for online marketers until people found a way to short-circuit Google’s ranking algorithm. Keyword stuffing became popular to get easily ranked on the first page of search engine results pages. A black-hat SEO writer would stuff their article, site, and meta descriptions with keywords without contextualizing them (and often times hiding them in the meta tags and through hidden text on a page), which made ranking as simple as having your chosen keywords show up on a page more often. This was only successful when the Google bot ranked for keyword density. Recently, Google created new algorithms to rank regarding keywords. Google Panda and the most recent Google Hummingbird focuses on the meaning or semantics of the words. Hence, Latent Semantic Indexing.
As an example of latent semantic indexing, say you performed a Google search on the word “Cleaner” to find information about the movie with that title. Google is going to try and compensate for your vague search with related items that may not be about the movie. Cleaning services might pop up or locations of cleaners around you, along with the movie called “Cleaner” you meant to search for. Now, if you were to search “Cleaner movie,” you would most likely find only content relevant to the movie you were searching for because Google contextualizes articles and content to understand the difference between an article about Cleaner the movie, and a website selling cleaning services.
How Do You Efficiently Use Latent Semantic Indexing?
To effectively thrive under the LSI system, you must understand the intent of someone searching on Google. LSI keywords help contextualize the meaning of your primary keyword, so to know how someone searches and to contextualize those searches with content in your article is the most effective way to make use of the LSI system. Searchers have three intents with visiting a search engine for answers:
Informational – Informational is an answer to something someone wants to learn. If someone wanted to order a pizza, they might search “pizza places in Pittsburgh” to find all the local pizza restaurants available to them. To use LSI keywords to contextualize this, if you write content for a pizza restaurant in Pittsburgh, it is essential to create content that includes where the pizza shop is located to contextualize the searcher’s needs successfully.
Navigational – Navigational is more specific and may ask a question related to the general informational question. If someone finds your pizza shop after searching and wants to know how long you have been open, a navigational search may include “how long has Joe’s Pizza been open?” This search intent requires more specific contextualization when writing content for LSI.
Transactional – Transactional is related towards purchasing or obtaining something. In this search intent, someone may look for “best pizza prices,” “Pizza specials,” or “price of a large pepperoni pizza.”
Once you understand a searcher’s intent, you can create relevant content that not only includes your primary keywords but keywords that answer the searcher’s intent correctly. This process creates useful content that allows search engines to best understand the content of your pages in a unified context, improving the chances of your page better ranking in search engine result’s pages.
Knowing how to use LSI’s is irrelevant if you cannot find keywords. Finding LSI keywords is no different than finding common keywords. A simple google search can find you some LSI keywords by viewing the auto predicted bold words that pop up in the search bar after typing in one word. You can also find keywords on a google search by visiting the bottom of the search page and viewing “Searches related to ______.”
LSI is a crucial and unparalleled way to optimize your web page’s content. The LSI system ensures relevant context between all of the content on your site, creating a cohesive story for search engine bots to best fit your site with searcher’s intent.