What is LSI?

We’ve discussed the importance of targeting your site text to specific keywords and keyphrases in Keyword research section– so it’s only natural to assume that you’ll get the best rankings by packing your content full of the same phrase over and over again. But it’s not. While it’s never a good idea to stuff your site full of repetitive keywords, recent Google algorithm changes provide further incentive to use natural-sounding language by taking into account the value of semantically-related words.

If that sounds overly complicated, don’t worry. The term “semantically-related words” is really just a fancy way of saying “synonyms”. In the context of search engine optimization, accounting for semantically-related words means that the search engine robots evaluate the page as a whole, taking related keywords into account when determining what the page is about.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI):

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is one specific algorithm that the search engines use to evaluate site content through related keywords.

So what does this mean for you as a site owner? Well, suppose you’ve built up a page that revolves around the keyphrase “how to get six-pack abs”. In order to score high on the search engine rankings, you’ve used this exact phrase repeatedly throughout your text, without using any related phrases, like “how to get a flat tummy” or “how to tone your mid-section”. If a search engine robot using an LSI algorithm visits your site, it won’t be able to get a good feel for what your site is about since you’ve focused on only one keyphrase.

Whether you’re updating old content or working on new text for your sites, it’s important to vary the keywords you use to create more natural-sounding copy. If you’re having trouble thinking up keyword or keyphrase variations, you can use Microsoft Word’s synonym feature (simply right-click on a word and scroll down to “synonyms” to see more options) or consult an online or offline thesaurus. For example, a keyphrase like “SEO tools” could also be written as “SEO products”, “SEO courses” or “Search engine optimization ebooks”, depending on what your content is about.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that no one knows exactly what the search engine algorithms are, and we are dealing with software, not humans, so it’s still a good idea to include several repetitions of your target keyword or keyphrase. I still recommend including your target keyphrase enough times to reach a keyword density of 2-5% (which means you can pretty much write naturally). This will ensure that your site gets ranked for the specific phrase you’re targeting while still compensating for the new changes in semantically-related word algorithms.

Since the search engines will reward you for writing naturally and not forcing keywords and phrases, I suggest you just write naturally. Make sure the keywords and phrases you’re targeting are in your content, but don’t go overboard.

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