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How to Find and Use LSI Keywords

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LSI keywords are some of the most important tools in your writing toolbox when it comes to creating great, natural-sounding content.

These keywords help your content get indexed and found. Although they aren’t anywhere near as important as main keywords (and in fact, some experts argue they don’t really exist), it’s good practice to use them to boost your content’s readability. In this post, we’ll explain what they are and how to use them, as well as providing a few tips on how to find LSI keywords.

LSI keywords: what are they?

You’ve heard the phrase “content is king.” And it is, at least in our opinion. But swap out one tiny letter and all of a sudden, you’ve got this: “conTEXT is king.” And that, we think you’ll agree, is a different ball game altogether.

Context is essential for understanding content. It’s something we humans deal with naturally. If you’re reading an article about cycling, for example, you’re going to understand and expect to find words like “bikes,” “pedals,” “gears,” “routes,” perhaps even phrases like “Tour de France” or “Race Across America.” You’ll understand that all these terms relate to the main topic of cycling – you’re not suddenly reading a different article just because the word “bikes” is being used a lot. Computers, however, approach things differently. And that’s where LSI keywords come in.

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and it’s all about understanding context through linked concepts. Those words we just listed – which are related to, but not synonyms for, the main keyword – could all be LSI keywords in an article about cycling. As well as scanning your page for the main keyword(s), a search engine like Google will look for these related terms as well. That way, it can be sure your article is really about the topic: it’s a foolproof way of understanding context.

Using LSI keywords effectively

The good news is, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to employing LSI keywords. They’re not actually proven to improve your SEO ranking, but Google and other search engines do use them to look for content. This is partly a move to counteract keyword stuffing – an old trick that no one should be using anymore. Search engines are smarter than ever, and they know that humans want to read something natural. That’s why you should be using LSI keywords – if nothing else, they’ll improve the experience of reading your content.

How to use them depends entirely on your writing style. Many authors will naturally insert LSI keywords without even thinking about it (we challenge you to write an article about cycling without once using the word “bikes”). But some terms might not have occurred to you, so keeping a list of LSI keywords handy can be useful when you sit down to write content. Inserting them subtly into your text will make your content watertight when it comes to a search engine scanning it for context.

Remember, LSI keywords are not the same as synonyms. You need to use them in addition to, not instead of your main keyword. As well as the main body of text, you can also insert them in:

  • HTML and metadata
  • image captions, titles, and alt text
  • headings, meta descriptions, and page titles
  • old content – to give it a fresh SEO boost

Now you’re all good on what they are and how to use them, here’s the most important part: how to generate them.

How to find LSI keywords

It may come as surprise to know that you don’t need a set of software or complex tools to find those LSI keywords. All you need is a search engine (like Google) and a pen and paper.

Type your main keyword or topic into Google and you can find LSI keywords in four locations:

  1. Autocomplete: the words that appear in bold when you type your keyword into the search box can all be used as LSI keywords. For example, when we put in “cycling”, we got terms like “news,” “shoes,” “weekly,” and “calories.”
  2. Snippets: Google also highlights semantically related terms in the snippets of information provided with each search result. Very often these will be synonyms (so not LSI keywords), but the further you go, the more related terms you can find.
  3. Related searches: at the bottom of the search results, you’ll find Google’s related searches. All these can be useful as LSI keywords. Using our example again, we were suggested “workout,” “magazine,” “training,” and “courses.”
  4. Images: a simple but ingenious way of finding LSI keywords. Simply switch your search to Google Images, and check out the words provided in bubbles along the top. Related to “cycling,” we found terms like “pro,” “racing bike,” “clothing,” and “indoor.”

The beauty of using a search engine as an LSI keyword generator is that the results are based on things that real people have searched for. The computer may be clever, but in the end, you’re looking to appeal to users – in short, there’s nothing quite like the human touch.

However, there are a few more simple tricks to finding LSI keywords. They include:

  • Use a generator – like Ubersuggest, KeywordTool, or LSI Graph. These work in similar ways to Google Autocomplete, but will give you a longer and more targeted list of options.
  • Other Google tools – mainly Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner. As well as giving you inspiration for primary and secondary keywords, you can find semantically related terms.
  • Topic modeling – part of any good content marketing strategy, topic modeling helps you to focus on certain subjects and structure your content around optimum keyword density.

Latent Semantic Indexing may sound scary, but as you can see, it doesn’t have to be. After all, it’s based on a natural human process of filtering content for better understanding – if your brain does it day to day, your content can too, can’t it?

So, next time you’re sitting down to write, take a few minutes to click through Google Autocomplete, and maybe the Images results. Embed those LSI keywords in your writing and your content won’t just be search engine-friendly – it will read better to humans, too.

Gonzalo Suárez
Gonzalo Suárez
Co-founder and COO @ Key Content
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