An outdated myth is that if you want to rank your website content high in search engines, you should include keywords in it as many times as possible – what is known as keyword stuffing.
Here’s the kicker: If you put this way of ranking content in play, not only is your copy going to sound unnatural and awkward to the readers, search engines may flag your site for over-optimization and even penalize it, which would be a dismay for your content creation efforts.
Here’s an example of keyword stuffed content:
“Our San Diego health spa services utilizes the knowledge and expertise of leading professionals to provide you with the best spa services in San Diego. With San Diego spa professionals specializing in…”
Think about it, would you enjoy reading something like this, or something that speaks to you more naturally? Google and other search engines want to reward their users with the latter, so it will always be best just to write content with a natural feel to it.
Enter LSI (Latent Semantic Index) keywords – the untapped gold nuggets that target the practical side of content that readers and search engines prefer.
What are LSI keywords?
If you search for a universal definition of LSI keywords (also referred to as long-tail keywords), you would find answers all over the place. But in simple words, latent semantic indexing involves identifying synonyms and plurals to your main keywords.
The perspective is that by finding similar words for your primary keywords, you can add a natural element to your content. The ability of search engines to find an analogy between the main keywords and LSI keywords also helps in maintaining natural relevance (that’s what semantic in LSI refers to: ‘pertaining to’ different meanings of the main words or symbols).
Search engines use LSI keywords to determine what your content is all about. For example, if your primary keywords are ‘Apple smartphone’, you wouldn’t want search engines to relate your content to terms such as ‘Samsung smartphone’ or ‘LG smartphone’.
With LSI keywords, search engines scrutinize your content and try to discover other terms associated with your primary keywords. Therefore, if you have ‘Apple smartphone’ related terms in your content such as ‘iPhone’, ‘iOS’, ‘earpods’, etc. then search engines will index your content for the term ‘Apple smartphone’.
So by being more specific with keywords related to your primary keywords, you can guide search engines while keeping your content natural. As a result, you can make them rank your content based on the main keywords without keyword stuffing or over-optimizing your website. Also, you minimize the chances of your being penalized by search engines with this approach.
Benefits of using LSI keywords in your content
There are several benefits of augmenting your articles, blog posts, long-from guides, whitepapers, etc. with LSI keywords, including the following:
#1 Improve your rankings
As mentioned before, search engines check for LSI keywords while indexing the content of a website. Specifically, they use these keywords as a measuring stick to determine the quality of content, so content that includes primary keywords in moderation and its LSI variations has the best chances of ranking high in search engines.
#2 Stay safe from algorithmic or manual penalties
Utilizing LSI keywords in your content will differentiate it from being marked as spam due to the practice of keyword stuffing. The reason is that you won’t have to repeat the main keywords multiple times in your text (which makes it unnatural), but instead use related worlds to the main keywords to give leeway to your content as well as yield search results for specific queries.
#3 Increase reader interest
Internet readers need a solid reason to stick with your content. Most of the time they will be in a hurry and skim through most of the content they come across, but LSI keywords can help in grabbing their attention. These keywords give you the ability to rephrase the main keyword in several different ways to create content. This can help to increase reader engagement.
#4 More keywords to target
No more redundant keyword phrases or forcing primary queries into your content – you can use as many LSI keyphrases as you desire in order to make your content unique and relevant to your niche/industry. Just be creative and you will be able to gain an edge over your competitors and stay on top of any ranking challenges that may arise.
Discovering LSI keywords
So, how do you find out what the best LSI keywords to use in your content are? You may get some help from a standard dictionary, but the following tools make it extremely easy to discover LSI keyphrases related to your main keyword:
#1 Google Search Suggestions & Results
This is the most convenient method to discover LSI keywords to your primary keyword. All you need to do is open ‘google.com’ in your web browser and write your primary keywords in the search bar, without pressing enter. The search engine will automatically present additional queries that could serve as LSI keywords.
So for example, your primary keywords are ‘best cakes’ – enter them into the search bar and do not press enter. Google will give you a list of LSI suggestions such as ‘best cakes ever’ and ‘best cakes recipes’.
Google search also lets you discover LSI words for each individual word. Upon pressing enter, you’ll be presented with a list of results that may include equivalents to individual words that make up your primary keywords. Taking the previous example, searching for ‘best cakes’ will return the following results:
LSI terms: Best = top and Cake = Bakeries
Keep in mind, the method of discovering individual LSI terms doesn’t always return expected results. You may not be able to find equivalents for your primary keywords if they do not have any LSI keyword associations.
#2 Google Related Searches
Google and other search engines have a place at the bottom of the search results page where they suggest other searches the user may wish to perform. This location shows LSI phrases for the exact keyword phrase you searched. These terms are also an indication that people have been using them in their content and search engines are familiar with their use:
For the keyword ‘best cakes’, you get the following terms in related searches:
Every time you search a keyword, Google will give you at least 8 LSI keyphrases under the related searches section. These LSI keywords could be used in conjunction with LSI terms you discover from other sources when writing content for your primary keyword i.e. ‘best cakes’.
#3 Google Keyword Planner
Google keyword planner lets you ‘search for keyword and ad group ideas’, which basically gives you a list of LSI keywords to use in your content. To use the keyword planner, create a new Google account or use an existing one to login at the following URL:
After logging in, the keyword planner will ask ‘what would you like to do next’. Select the first option ‘search for new keyword and ad group ideas’, and enter your keywords (our example is best cakes) under the ‘your product or service’ search bar, and click ‘get ideas’.
Select the second tab ‘keyword ideas’ to see a list of relevant keywords. The tool will display LSI keywords along with their monthly competition and average cost per click.
There will be several keywords that have low competition when it comes to monthly searches – these are the ones you would want to include in your content as they give your text higher chances of ranking well in search engines.
#4 Paid tools
Tools such as Market Sumari and Long-Tail Pro are similar in functionality as Google keyword planner, but will give you more LSI keyphrases for your primary keyword. The user, however, needs to pay a monthly subscription fee to access the full suite of features offered by these tools.
You can take a free trial (which limits the number of keywords you can search and the results) to get a feel of things before going with the subscription option. WordPress users can also take advantage of LSI plugins such as SEOPressor. Such plugins come under the ‘premium plugin’ category and cost $30 to $50 for lifetime use. Their LSI suggestions, however, might not be as detailed as web-based tools that are exclusive to discovering LSI keyphrases.
Before you start bombing LSI keywords into your content, it is a good idea to get things organized. Make a list of all keywords that could be used for a topic and start grouping them. Pick the ones that people would likely type in search engines when they are looking for your topic.
Pick three to five that go together and keep making little groups of three to five keywords until all of the new keywords you discover are in groups. Then include those keyphrases in the content of your website pages.
And please! Do not force keywords in because you are trying to optimize content. If you have done the grouping correctly, it should be easy to fit those keywords in your content. You might even be surprised to see some of them already present in your text.
LSI Keywords & Content Titles
LSI keywords can also broaden the content topics you choose to post on your website. You can use these keywords to discover new content themes in the following ways:
Google Search Suggestions
As with discovering LSI keywords to include in your content, Google search suggestions is a great way of discovering content topics with LSI terms. In this case, you can add a generic word before or after your main keywords to see a list of suggestions, which could be used as titles for your text.
For example, putting the word ‘in’ after the primary keyword ‘best cakes’ will give these suggestions;
All of the suggestions are potential content themes that can be used to create unique content on your website.
With Google Alerts, you can set up an alert for your main keyword. This will notify you every time when new content is posted on the web and indexed in Google pertaining to your primary keywords. The content is directly arrives in your inbox via email.
For example, setting up alerts for ‘best cakes’ will give title suggestions under the ‘alert preview’ tab that were recently published and indexed in Google, while any future content for this keyword will be emailed to you. You can scrutinize the content to look for new themes and LSI keywords in your niche/industry.
Enter your primary keyword in the search box and click ‘create alert’. But remember to select the email you want fresh content delivered to and how often you want it delivered: you can configure them under in the show options settings.
Using LSI keywords, in addition to your primary keywords, enables you to avoid keyword stuffing and comply with search engine algorithm and guidelines. You also have greater flexibility in your content and in the end you provide a better and a more natural experience for both, your site visitors and the search engine bots.
Expect these keywords to bring higher search traffic to your website and increase your rank in SERPS. No need to put search engines first, people second, or the other way around… Make your content valuable for both by using LSI terms.
Are you familiar with LSI keywords? What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave comments.
Article by Dan Virgillito
Dan Virgillito is a professional blogger and content strategy consultant who loves working with startups, companies and nonprofits and help them tell their story better, engage fans and find new ways to drive business through content. You can learn more about his work and get in touch with him via his website.
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