What is an LSI Keyword?

LSI can be a confusing term to understand if you’re doing keyword research but honestly, it’s such a simple thing that once you get it, you’re going to realize how genius Google is for having it and how it can also lead to your website getting so many more visits. 

I think understanding this term is way simpler to do if you don’t focus on the abbreviation (Latent semantic index). Just think of keywords (Note: I’ll also refer to them as KW, phrase and term) you chase when you write content and then think of how many different types of versions of that KW’s you can have.

Here is an example of LSI: 

I had a post written a long time ago on a program called Survey Say. The main phrase I was looking to rank under was that program and the word “scam”:

sse

There’s almost no competition (12) for this. My site is also #2 for that phrase right now:

sse2

However there are many different ways that KW can be typed by people into Google and for this example, I didn’t even know many different ways it could be written until I looked at Webmaster Tools:

lsiexample

There are 4 green terms I highlighted there that do not even chase the same phrase I was looking at and yet I am ranked for them and they are getting clicks, and a lot. 

Every single term in that picture is an LSI KW. 

What are the benefits of using this?

  • The first thing is more traffic.
  • The second thing is more rankings which means more traffic.

There’s no better reason to understand why this is good. Just look at that picture again. Those 4 phrases each have a large number of clicks: 244, 189, 179 and 74 and it’s 686 extra clicks overall!

Imagine if Google only ranked that article I wrote for just that 1 phrase? I’d get less than 100 visitors monthly for it alone, but I’d be missing out on several hundred extra visitors were it not for the LSI perk this search engine has. 

How do you make sure that Google uses the maximum number of LSI for your content?

You really don’t because Google is smart enough to do this on it’s own. Remember I said I didn’t even know I had traffic coming in for those 4 terms and it was Webmaster Tools which showed me? 

Well if had I known this, would it be wise for me to stuff my content with those phrases?

No and this leads to the point about not trying to play the LSI game too much and telling Google all the versions of the KW you want to rank for. 

Some people still try to do this by creating an index on their pages or “tags” for KW’s they want Google to see and rank them for. Others just put as many versions of their KW into their content when they write. 

But I don’t do this because I believe when you try to stuff your content with these words…

  • It’s going to make your grammar and content look worse. Some of those phrases they ranked me for technically aren’t correctly written and if I put that into my content, it would ruin the grammar.
  • Certainly there’s ways you can try to put them in to make them readable, BUT then you have a big problem: KW stuffing which you saw me write several times which means you write the keyword or it’s variation so many times that it’s seen as spam.

Instead:

  • Focus on the very basic idea of only using 1 low competition KW as the main one. Let Google figure out what other variations there are and how to rank them.
  • Only try to find multiple variations on your own IF your keyword has other similar phrases that make sense to write about that are also low competition. 

For example:

If you have an article where you review a program, the most obvious and common terms you’ll find for it are:

The keyword itself + the words attached to it like review, scam and other things like that. Each of those are technically LSI variations and if your article reviews it, it totally makes sense if you use those terms and explain them. In those cases, I think you should do it, but remember, I did say: Not too much above so in this case, I only have maybe 2-3 or similar keywords I am chasing in a single article.

And remember, it won’t just rank for those 2 or 3, it’ll rank for anything else Google deems right for it to show up for. Even if you don’t use them, Google in my opinion may very likely rank you for them regardless. 

Because LSI exists, there’s no such thing as ANY keyword ever being “un-rankable” for the 1st page:

I had a question regarding this from a woman who was correctly doing SEO on her site, but she had a rare SEO situation:

sse3

So she is correctly chasing low competition keywords, YET she can’t hit the first page because the other competitors just have a better position.

What does she have to do? Honestly, nothing because the LSI rule is going to take care of this problem and I told her that.

It is rare but true that SOMETIMES you may have a low competition keyword that is impossible to rank for on the 1st page because there’s too many websites with higher authority and possibly better content outranking you, BUT as long as there’s LSI, it means there’s other terms with less competition and those pages that outranked you in one aspect will not outrank you in the other ones. So you’ll have plenty of opportunities despite the main term you’re chasing not doing as well.

The 1 occasion where you should compile all the versions of your KW:

 

That is only for PPC. In paid searches, you’re going to be telling an ad network which keywords apply to your site and the place where you’ll be adding them is on the network itself, not your site which means you’re not violating any rules of organic search.

honest review

24 Comments

  1. Netta

    I have learned something new today, thank you for that. LSI Keywords are an eye opener for us newbies and you have made it very easy to understand.

    I am building my own website and I would like to know roughly how long it takes after implementation of your keyword searches and write ups before you start seeing traffic?

    Thank you

    Craig

    • Vitaliy

      Well it always varies depending on the niche, the targeted terms, how many comments you get, but the average amount of blog posts before you start seeing organic traffic is usually about 25-50. After 50, you can expect to see more page 1 rankings and much higher traffic booms.

  2. TomasB

    Hi Vitaliy, your discussion about LSI and keywords was easy to understand and the way you presented it clearly shows how valuable it is to use this technique on our blogs or our niche websites.

    Is this something we should do on every page and every post? Or should we be selective about it to avoid “overdoing” it as you mentioned?

    I have used keywords on my website, but not as much as I should because I get more concerned about the content.

    • Vitaliy

      Focus on the content and on one specific keyword Tomas. If the content you write requires you use a natural variation of the targeted keyword, then write it, but just don’t over do it.

  3. Chris Towers

    Thanks so much for this. I also have my own website and to be honest the Keyword Research is something that I have trouble with.

    The LSI makes sense to me now after reading your material..I can also see after reading your information here that I have made a few too many mistakes when it comes to selecting good keywords.

    Back to the drawing board I think! Thanks again.

    I appreciate it!

    Chris

    • Vitaliy

      If you have trouble with it Chris, try one of the keyword hunting methods I use. Don’t overthink the problem with keywords in that you need to find the perfect one, you’ll only slow down your own progress, find ones which you can write about and get at least a little bit of traffic and let your content, Google and LSI take care of the rest.

  4. greg smyth

    Vitaliy, I learned a great deal from this post, being new to internet marketing. lsi and keyword research are topics that I must learn a lot more about. Thanks for the info. Will try to implement this information to get results! I’m trying to learn as much as possible at the moment, so this information will certainly help.

    Thanks

    Greg

  5. louloublogger1980

    Great explanation, thanks for breaking down LSI, now it makes more sense. So I’ll be looking for those phrases that come naturally to the reader.

    It’s also a relief to know that Google is so genius and that one keyword could possibly reach others. I’ll continue to concentrate on using keywords in the correct context and writing quality content.

  6. Casi

    Great article about LSI. I didn’t know there was a difference between a normal keyword and an LSI keyword. I, myself, am still learning how to tie keywords to my website so this article would be helpful in the future for me! I am more focused on social media marketing for the time being but I plan on expanding my visitor generation through search engines. So, how would I tie LSI Keywords to my website? Through Google Ads?

    • Vitaliy

      LSI can be used there Casi, but for the most part, it is used in SEO. You don’t actually have to do anything to let Google know about your LSI, continue targeting a low competition keyword and Google itself will figure out which LSI to use.

  7. Gary

    Thanks for brilliantly explaining the relationship between a keyword and an LSI keyword. I view LSI as those words we would naturally associate with the central theme of an article.

    As a writer, I’m pleased that the smarter the search engines get, the more rewarding it is to write naturally. Once I have a keyword and a few related LSI words, I write for the reader.

    • Vitaliy

      Good point Gary, the LSI keyword concept does basically make writing a lot more free for people, especially those who worry about tagging their articles or trying to make sure their keywords get the best ranking possible.

  8. Justin

    Great read! I have been struggling with getting my site ranked with specific keywords. I would spend hours toiling away at the keyboard trying different variations, and I don’t even use PPC.

    I will definitely keep LSI in mind next time I start posting. I think it will keep my mind occupied with just typing interesting content. Rather than spending all my time trying to come up with the perfect keywords to get my page noticed.

    Thank you for the enlightening read!

  9. Martina

    This is great, I’ve learned something new today. Thanks for the post Vitaliy. I’ve also shared your post to my Google+ page. Or at least I tried, my computer can be sometimes finicky with the share buttons. I had no idea what LSI was beforehand. But now that I think about it, I do get a lot of clicks from similar terms to the keywords I try and rank for!

    • Vitaliy

      You can check all of these different terms on webmaster tools if your site has been connected to it Martina.

  10. Diana

    Hi Vitaly,

    It is great to get an idea what an LSI keyword really is. I also gained a lot of value from this article. I will admit I am a bit guilty about adding tags with my keywords to my blog posts… it’s always just been a force of habit.

    Is it really hurting or helping my posts to add these tags containing my keywords on my website?

    Also, like you said, I tend to use keywords plus variations of it when I create a product/service review(product + review or product + scam), what does that tell Google?

    Thanks for the insight,
    Diana

    • Vitaliy

      I don’t see anything wrong with adding a few variations in the content of your posts Diana as long as you just don’t overdo it. Regarding the tags, I also don’t see a big problem with that unless, again, you create too many of them. In my experience, just placing the targeted keyword and maybe 1 or 2 variations is enough and you’ll still get ranked for many more terms in time through the LSI algorithm.

  11. Dave

    This is awesome stuff, I had no idea that targeting one keyword had the potential to reach so many others. Am I correct in understanding that you don’t really need to do a lot about LSI and just let Google sort it for you? I try to focus as much as possible on making good quality content

    • Vitaliy

      That is correct Dave, they’ll handle it for you. If you start writing your own LSI terms on your page, it may lead to a worse quality site. Stick to using one keyword in a correct context throughout your content.

  12. Will

    I really like the information on this page. I feel keyword research is so important to the survival of a site. One thing I did not know though is using many keyword phrases on your page to boost the rankings. That is genius. Can I get into trouble with Google if I use many keyword phrases on one page? Thank you for the information.

    • Vitaliy

      It can happen Will which is why you should use them only in places within your article/s where it makes sense. The more you write the keyword, the less quality your article will have.

  13. Mark

    Vitaliy-

    Wow… this is great information to keep in mind when writing articles. I’m sure a lot of bloggers can benefit from this information, including myself. Many of us assume that we only get ranked for the keywords that we go after, and have no idea that google is working on our behalf (as long as the content offers a lot of value).

    Thanks!

  14. Neil

    It’s amazing to know how just one keyword term can lead to a page of your content getting ranked under several other terms 🙂

    I totally see your point when it comes to LSI and not trying to play Google. However, I do tend to enter between 3 – 5 other related keyword terms as tags for each post I create. Will Google be OK with me doing this?

    Cheers!

    Neil

    • Vitaliy

      Hi Neil, this should be OK. Most of the time you’ll have at least 2 versions of a keyword per article so 3 shouldn’t be a problem.

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