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LSI SEO: what is it, how does it work and does it really matter?

11 Mar

We know what you’re thinking – yet another 3-letter acronym? How many of these things are there exactly?

Unfortunately, we aren’t the ones that come up with these – sorry about that!

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can’t help you out by explaining what LSI means in search engine optimisation, and how it can play into your SEO strategy.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI for short) keywords are becoming increasingly important when it comes to SEO, and are something that you need to start thinking about when it comes to optimising your web pages.

But what is it exactly, and how does it work?

And most importantly, what role does it play in your SEO and marketing strategy?

What is LSI? Where do we use it?

Back in the old days, Google would interpret a page’s focus using solely keywords – this is what allowed dodgy tactics like keyword stuffing to be so effective (until Google cracked down on them, that is).

Nowadays it’s a completely different story.

Google’s systems have gotten way, way more advanced. It can see through attempts to brute force your way to the top by focusing not on recurring words and phrases, but by piecing together what your pages are about.

And LSI keywords are a key part of that.

What are LSI keywords?

Basically, LSI keywords are keywords, phrases and concepts that are related to the main ones you’re targeting for a page.

Say for the sake of argument that you’re trying to optimise a web page for a specific keyword or phrase – let’s say you’re looking to sell coffee makers in Sydney. In this case, LSI keywords might be things like:

  • Coffee pods
  • Coffee machines
  • Beans
  • Presses

Notice how not all of them are just straight-up synonyms, and that many are actually just tangentially-related words and phrases.

All of these are examples of LSI keywords which can help Google build a better understanding of your web page content.

What is LSI SEO?

Simple: LSI SEO refers to SEO strategies that use LSI keywords in addition to your focus keywords.

While they haven’t replaced traditional keywords, LSI keywords have a role to play. And according to many in the industry (including our Melbourne SEO experts), when used correctly they can have a tangible impact on your site’s rankings.

Your content marketing and SEO strategies may result in you using  a lot of LSI keywords naturally – going back to the coffee maker example, it’s hard to talk about that without talking about beans, grinds and presses.

What differentiates LSI SEO is the planning and strategy behind it. Instead of popping up organically, you carefully choose LSI keywords to support your target keywords.

What keywords should I use for SEO? The case for including LSI keywords in your search engine optimisation

Now for the big question: how can LSI keywords be leveraged for your SEO?

As with many things Google-related, there’s no clear-cut answer. That being said, we’ve been aware of LSI keywords for years and in that time, we in the industry have experimented and fiddled around, figuring out a couple of things.

The big one is that LSI keywords almost certainly have an impact on your SEO!

They help Google understand your web content

Google’s algorithm is all about understanding what web pages are about, and using that understanding to present them to searchers.

The problem is that the English language is a mess, with countless varieties as well as synonyms. Say you’re targeting a keyword like “buy mouse in Adelaide” – does that mean computer miche or real live mice?

This requires you to provide context for Google – and that’s what LSI keywords do.

It’s a lot easier for Google to rank pages when it really gets what they’re about. And that in turn leads to more relevant search results and in many cases, better rankings. 

Rank for more keywords and searches

Let’s go back to our hypothetical coffee machine manufacturer. While “coffee machine” might be their target keywords, LSI keywords can help you rank for other searches as well.

Google might look at the extra context and meaning that these terms and phrases provide and determine that in addition to coffee machines, this web page might also be useful to people searching for, say, milk steamers.

LSI helps your pages rank for related searches and synonyms, allowing you to rank for a wide number of other potential searches and terms.

Improves Google’s understanding of your site

There are literally hundreds of ranking factors – one of which is Google’s understanding of what your website is about.

While it isn’t an important one, it does impact your ranking. Say you run a website that reviews headphones – cram in as many clothing-related keywords as you want, that still won’t change the fact that Google sees your site as an audio site first and foremost.

And LSI keywords are a key part of forming this image of your site.

If you want to broaden Google’s read of your site, LSI keywords are a crucial part of the equation, and will need to be a part of your strategy.

How do I find my LSI keywords?

Luckily for you, you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for advanced analytics tools to pick out your LSI keywords – all you need is a web browser!

You know how when you type something into Google it automatically generates a full search? Or how at the bottom of the search results page there are related searches?

Guess what? These are examples of potential LSI keywords that you can work into your SEO strategy and content going forward.

Does Google use LSI when ranking web pages?

So far we’ve been talking about the benefits that including LSI keywords in your SEO can have in theory.

Key word: theory.

Our SEO agency in Melbourne reckons there’s no harm in including them and most folks in the SEO industry are pretty certain that it has a role to play.

That said, there are a couple of hold-outs.

As with all things Google, it’s hard to get a straight answer meaning that a lot of the time, it comes down to trial-and-error and general consensus. While most agree that LSI has an impact, not everyone does.

That having been said, including them is relatively effortless and easy, meaning that you aren’t losing a whole lot of time including them.

And if it turns out that everyone else is right and they do work, you won’t miss out on the potential SEO benefits!

Why keywords are (still) important for SEO: what keywords should you use for SEO?

All of this is to say that while LSI is important, it doesn’t displace the role of careful keyword selection. If you ask us, LSI should be in support of your SEO and content marketing efforts, not the sole focus.

Just like LSI, it’s important that SEO keywords are carefully chosen so that they align with your business’ offerings, as well as with your intended target market.

You’ll also want to get as granular as possible, choosing specific long-tail keywords as these are easier to rank for in the beginning.

Even getting a little bit specific can have a powerful effect – for instance, type “search engine optimisation” into Google and you’ll come back with a little bit under 34.5 million results. Now add “Melbourne” to the end and it drops to a little bit over half a million.

While that’s still a lot, it’s much less than the first search!

At the same time, you can’t get too specific – there’s no point in being the first result for a search that only 5 people type in each month.

This is just a small handful of the things to consider when choosing keywords – you’ll also need to think about relevance, competition levels, search volumes, and cornerstone content, meaning that this process can take a lot of work to perfect.

And perfect is what you’re going to want!

Don’t have the time or expertise? Let our experts help you out!

Search engine optimisation is a lot of work. Thinking about LSI is just one small part of what makes a successful strategy.

And it doesn’t stop, either – it keeps going, requiring constant work to sustain your ranking and results.

Who has time for that?

That’s where our SEO specialists in Melbourne come into the picture.

We specialise in getting your website to rank and convert, using a wide range of different strategies. Whether you’re interested in search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising or content marketing in Melbourne we’re the team to call.

Let us take all that work off your hands – call iformat for your digital marketing needs today on 1300 88 64 50 or by clicking here to get in touch online.