LSI Keywords

Google has been doubling down on its AI abilities, so, naturally, theories are spreading like wildfire. One of them is the importance of LSI keywords for SEO. But does Google use LSI in the first place, and can it really affect your ability to rank?

Let' s bust some myths!

What Are LSI Keywords?

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are terms related to the page's primary keyword. 

For example, if you were writing content about the primary keyword: "hiking gear", your semantically-related keywords would include:

  • Hiking backpacks
  • Hiking boots
  • Ice axe

But despite the debate in the SEO world, that's not happening. Google doesn't even use LSI keywords.

Does Google Use LSI Keywords?

No, Google doesn't use LSI keywords. As John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google said way back in 2019 - Google doesn't use the concept of LSI keywords.

The myth likely originated from Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) - a natural language processing technique that helps computers understand the relationship between different words and concepts.

You could think of it as computers reading the content online.

Unfortunately, LSI is quite old technology. Most professionals in the field agree that Google doesn't have to use Latent Semantic Indexing; it has much better tools.

Do LSI Keywords Have Any Value?

Even though Google doesn't use LSI keywords, the concept isn't without its value. It gives us three clear lessons:

Rule #1: Write for People, Not for Search Engines

Some LSI words will pop up naturally on your website.

For example, if you're writing an article about candid photography, you'll inevitably mention related phrases, words, and entities such as:

  • "What is candid"
  • "Best camera for candid photography"
  • "Best lens for candid photography"

However, you can also check your content and pages to see if you've overlooked any pertinent points

For instance, if the article is about candid photography tips, you would want to mention camera settings and the type of shots you can take.

Rule #2: Focus on Topics

Google's goal has always been to provide searchers with great resources. That's the entire point of crawling billions of pages.

From a user experience standpoint, you don't want a visitor to visit your website and bounce back to the SERP because they can't find the answer to their question(s).

You want to make them dwell on your site longer by giving them a comprehensive resource:

  • Understand your topic. Which questions does your audience have? Provide in-depth resources for the frequent questions, and make them turn to your website for information instead of bouncing back to the SERP.
  • Don't over-optimize for one specific keyword. Rather, understand other related keywords and use secondary and tertiary keywords.
  • Expand your keyword research:
    • Include Related Searches, People Also Ask, Google Autocomplete, and wildcard search terms
    • Find ideas in online glossaries, encyclopedias, and knowledge bases

Rule #3: Apply Common Sense

Don't force keywords into your content. Any well-researched text will naturally contain semantically-related keywords which help visitors find the information they need.

If your keyword research results in keywords that don't make sense in your content, remove them.

If you believe a question should be included, but see zero search volume, include it anyway.

SEO 2022 Is for People - Not Bots

Even though Google doesn't use LSI, it's a good lesson in writing for visitors, not for bots. Create comprehensive resources for searchers, understand your topic, and provide answers to their questions.

You won't need SEO hacks - you'll have content that Google will want to rank.