What Are LSI Keywords and Why Should You Care?

What Are LSI Keywords and Why Should You Care?

People often ask us how to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) without “keyword stuffing” their content. They want to create compelling content, but they get stuck with keywords that are hard to rank for, and content that reads awkwardly because keywords have been dropped in and disrupt the flow of the writing. This frustration is partially why Google started to use LSI keywords in order to help writers write naturally, and searcher easily find their content.

What is LSI?

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI keywords are keywords that are semantically related to the main keyword you’re focusing on. These words are not synonyms, but instead related to each other, or are commonly used together. So let’s say your primary focus keyword is peanut butter - what do you instinctively think of next? For most people it’s jelly. Peanut butter and jelly go together, but they’re not synonyms. These are LSI keywords.

How do LSI keywords work?

Let’s say you are writing a blog about cats. You could be writing about any of these topics:

  • Cats the furry cute animals
  • Cats the musical
  • CAT as in a cost analysis tool

There are literally hundreds of things you could be writing about when you use the the word “cats,” so how do search engines know what you’re talking about if your keyword is cats? Google looks for LSI keywords in your blog post to decide which cats you’re talking about. So if you’re writing about the furry cute animals, Google will be looking for words like “animal,” “cute,” “bite,” “petting,” and similar words in order to understand that your blog post is about cats the animals. So if someone is searching something like, “Why does my cat bite me” Google will know that they are looking for content about an animal that is a cat and is biting people, and if your blog post is SEO-optimized, you’ll be likely to show up.

Why are LSI keywords important?

LSI keywords are important because now Google looks for overall content more than individual keywords in order to give users the best experience. People got so carried away with writing for specific keywords that they stopped writing for humans to read and instead were writing for Google to read. Writing for search engines removes the end-user from the equation, which is not what Google wants to do. Yes, you want your content to rank for your desired purpose, but it still needs to do this in a way that is useful to your audience. Google’s goal is to give searchers exactly what they are looking for the first time. This is one of the many reasons Google now looks at total content more than the focus keyword.

How can I use LSI keywords in my writing?

There are tons of tools out there to find your LSI keywords in order to use them in your writing. Usually, LSI keywords come through writing naturally, so if you write like a human, LSI keywords are going to naturally occur in your content. However, if you’re looking to try to include more LSI keywords, here are a couple tools to check out:

  1. Google Search: Just do a Google search for your focus keyword, scroll to the bottom of the search result and look at the “Searches related to XYZ.” For example, I searched “cat toys” and here are some LSIs from Google:

    So these are words that I can look at including in my blog post in order to show up in relevant search results more often.
  2. LSI Graph: With this tool, just enter in your keywords and it spits back out a list of LSI words you can use.

No matter how you find your LSI’s, we highly encourage you to include them in your keyword research and your writing in order to have the best chances of ranking highly.

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Posted by Jen O'Dea

Jen O'Dea

Growth Hacker & Project Strategist: Jen excels at anything she puts her mind to. Her skill set ranges from programming to project management and from website analytics to being our marketing automation guru. Her experience, coupled with her willingness to learn and grow, has made her a valuable leader for our team. If there’s anything she loves more than learning something new, it’s playing with her 3 kitties. Just as cats are the connoisseurs of comfort, Jen is a connoisseur of gin.