Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI can seem very confusing to beginners at first, I know this because I am an SEO beginner myself. One of the best ways to learn something and solidify it in your mind is to attempt to teach it to someone else. In this article I will attempt to teach the basics of what LSI is and what it means to writers - in as beginner-friendly a way as possible.
What is Latent Semantic Indexing?
The idea of LSI is not new, in the past it has applied to the study of thought and understanding of language, however, it's more modern application is in the functioning of search engines. This application is why LSI has become so interesting to writers recently.
Essentially LSI is a method of bundling words and phrases that have a similar meaning together.
In the past search engines have favoured keyword comparisons to find relevant results for a users search. The limitation of this is that sometimes relevant content won't use the same word or phrase that the user searched for. For example: A Google search for 'PC prices' would return results that contained the keywords 'PC prices' but wouldn't show results for 'Computer prices' even though they are relevant to the users interests.
When we compare words to find relevant content we really want to compare the meanings behind the words. The shortfall of purely keyword searching is that different words with similar meanings wont be displayed.
The goal of LSI is to pick the result that a human would select if they were trying to find the most relevant site to their search terms. A human would know that someone looking for 'PC Prices' would also be interested in a page for 'Computer Prices'.
What Does this Mean for Writers?
Google and other search engines are already shifting their focus away from keyword density and on to LSI relevance. This trend is only going to continue into the future until keyword density is irrelevant.
This means that you should be writing as naturally as possible in order to achieve the best SEO. Since it is natural for humans to use LSI when they are explaining something you will automatically achieve a decent balance of keywords and LSI phrases if you write naturally.
It also means that you can potentially improve your SEO by making sure that you cover as many of the appropriate LSI phrases for your topic as possible. Not including the phrase 'Computer Prices' in an article about 'PC Prices' could actually negatively affect your SEO.
InfoBarrel Success story JCMayer777 mentioned in an interview that the best way to 'LSI'ify' your writing is to begin by thinking about the idea or topic you are writing about carefully and to make a list of what type of words would be used to explain that topic. 'LSI'ified articles will generally have most of those word in them.
Here is my attempt to write an LSI list for the topic 'Gaming':
- Video games
- PC games
- Console games
- Console gaming
- Interactive entertainment
- Xbox 360, PS3 etc
I need a bit more practice but this feels like a good start. Now if I were to write an article on 'Gaming' I should include as many of these LSI phrases as I can while keeping the article as natural sounding as possible. Doing this should make my article very search engine friendly.
A Good Future for Online Writing
Writers who have been doing their SEO based on ethical and quality writing principles will now finally come out on top thanks to LSI. Irrelevant, keyword-stuffed content will soon be a thing of the past. This bodes well for the future of online writing. I'm glad I am starting to write in what looks set to be a bit of a golden age for the medium.
Did you find this article helpful or accurate? If you have any questions, comments or any suggestions on how I can improve my explanation of LSI please leave a comment below!