What Are LSI Keywords & Should You Worry About Them?

So, you may have heard of a term called LSI keywords.

“What are LSI keywords?” you wonder.

A quick Google search leaves you more confused than informed. The jargon is dense, and the explanations are convoluted.

Your head spins as you try to decipher phrases like “latent semantic indexing” and “machine learning.”

Frustrated, you close your laptop.

But what if understanding LSI keywords didn’t have to be so complicated?

In this article, we’ll focus on demystifying them and answer questions that are commonly asked about them.

To sum it up, you should know that most SEO experts don’t use the term “LSI keywords” — in fact, they’ll tell you this term doesn’t exist.

Despite that, “LSI keywords” has come to mean the same thing as “semantically related keywords.” People use these terms interchangeably, even if that’s technically incorrect.

The main point is, using LSI keywords/semantic keywords can help your content rank better.

Of course, you should want your blog posts to rank for as many high-value keywords as possible. The return on investment from this content strategy is incredible.

After all, organic search has the power to bring in 1,000% more traffic than organic social media.

Let’s look at how LSI keywords can help.

Table of Contents:

What Are LSI Keywords?

LSI keywords are words and phrases that have a similar meaning to the main keyword of a page. They help define the topic and improve your content’s relevance for users.

Think of them as phrases or terms that are semantically linked to your primary keyword. 

The idea behind LSI keywords is that they provide additional context for what your content is about, allowing search engine algorithms to deeply understand a web page and better categorize it. This ensures the web page ranks for relevant searches.

That also means identifying and finding LSI keywords and incorporating them naturally into your copy will be crucial for SEO success.

You’ll commonly find LSI keywords in the “Related” section of a Google search engine results page (SERP):

LSI keywords in google related searches section

However, there is also a second meaning when we talk about LSI.

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing), also known as LSA (Latent Semantic Analysis), was developed in 1989 as a natural language processing (NLP) technique. The technology was patented by Bell Communications Research, Inc., but the patent has since expired. This original LSI was used exclusively for documents — not for web pages — and helped identify the relationships between words.

However, somehow the term “LSI keywords” came to be associated with using related terms and synonyms to optimize content for SEO. When we talk about LSI today, that’s what most people and SEOs are referring to.

LSI Keywords vs. Synonyms: What’s the Difference?

LSI keywords aren’t necessarily synonyms, but rather words that go hand-in-hand with your main keyword. They are words people might use to describe a problem or the topic they are searching on Google.

Semantic keywords have a strong connection with your primary keyword but aren’t direct replacements for it.

For example, if you’re writing about a “car”, semantic keywords could include “vehicle”, “sedan”, and “truck” while synonyms would be words like “automobile” or “auto.”

Another example: Let’s say you’re writing a blog post about dog training tips. LSI keyword suggestions for this topic might include: 

  • “puppy obedience classes”
  • “dog behavior modification techniques”
  • “positive reinforcement dog training methods”

While both types of keywords provide context, synonyms replace your primary keyword without changing the meaning of your content, while latent semantic indexing keywords add depth by providing additional context that enriches understanding of the topic at hand.

This distinction plays a significant role in SEO because search engines value richly contextualized content over the mere repetition of exact-match phrases.

LSI Keywords vs. Primary Keywords

Primary keywords are single words or short phrases that describe the main topic of a web page. Search engines use these short phrases or single words to understand the main theme of a web page and its content. 

On the other hand, LSI keywords provide additional context and are more specific than regular keywords.

LSI keywords go beyond simply identifying what the page is about; they also offer information on related topics, helping search engines determine how relevant it is to certain queries. 

what are LSI keywords?

For example, if you have an article with “cooking” as your main keyword, adding LSI terms like “recipes” or “kitchen appliances” will give readers a better idea of what type of content they can expect from your website.

Unlike regular keywords which focus on one particular subject matter, LSI keywords provide more detailed information by covering multiple aspects within that subject area. This allows search engine algorithms to make connections between different concepts when ranking pages for certain searches – something that would not be possible with just regular keywords.

Adding LSI keywords in blog posts also provides writers with an opportunity to expand on their ideas without needing to add extra words. This makes them great tools for creating concise yet informative pieces quickly.

Why Are LSI Keywords Important for On-Page SEO?

Semantically related keywords are important for on-page SEO for the following reasons:

Improved Search Engine Rankings

When you add LSI keywords (or semantically related terms) to your content, you are helping search engines understand the topic and theme of your page. When search engines recognize that your content is comprehensive and relevant, it can contribute to higher rankings in search results.

Enhanced Relevance

Semantically related words provide additional context and relevance to your main keyword so they help search engines understand the subtopics in your content. By incorporating semantically related keywords naturally within your content, you can provide a more comprehensive and valuable experience for users.

Avoiding Keyword Stuffing

In the past, some website owners would engage in keyword stuffing, which means excessively using the same keyword to manipulate search rankings. However, search engines have become more sophisticated and now penalize the practice of abusing keyword density. Semantically related words allow you to diversify the vocabulary and language used in your content, making it more natural and avoiding keyword stuffing.

Improved User Experience

LSI keywords can help you create content that is useful and informative to users. By incorporating related terms and phrases, you can provide a broader perspective on the topic, answer potential questions users may have, and address different aspects of the subject matter. This improves the overall user experience and increases the chances of engagement, which can indirectly impact your SEO efforts.

Expanded Keyword Variations

LSI keywords help you identify different variations and synonyms of your main keyword. This allows you to target a wider range of relevant search queries and attract traffic from various related keywords. By incorporating these variations naturally, you can increase the chances of your content appearing in search results for a broader set of queries.

Optimizing your pages for semantically related keywords helps Google understand not only what type of information you’re providing, but also how it relates back to other topics.

Using LSI keywords can also help boost click-through rates from organic listings as they give readers more information about what the page contains before they click through to read it.

When you generate LSI keywords, don’t just throw random related terms into your text. Instead, focus on those related keywords that accurately reflect what you’re talking about.

Does Google Use LSI Technology to Index and Rank Web Pages?

Google does not use LSI technology to rank web pages.

Google simply doesn’t refer to related terms and synonyms as LSI keywords — even though that’s a popular way people refer to them in SEO.

Why? Because LSI technology was patented. When the patent expired, there was no sense in using the technology as Google had developed something better which could accomplish the same goal as LSI keywords – understanding the contextual meaning behind searches.

what are LSI keywords?

As a technology, Latent Semantic Analysis is not scalable and thus is unsuitable to use for a large data set that is as dynamic as the internet.

The closest thing to LSI keywords you will get with Google is “related searches” that you see at the bottom of the SERP.

Google Autocomplete is another Google feature that surfaces what can be described as LSI keywords. 

Whatever you call them, LSI keywords are an important tool for optimizing content and improving on-page SEO to boost your website’s visibility and ranking.

Where Can You Find LSI Keywords?

We have already talked about Google’s Related Searches carousel and Autocomplete feature as sources of your initial LSI keyword research. But the best way to find LSI keywords related to your topic is your own deep knowledge of the subject matter.

When you become an expert on your topic, LSI keywords come to you naturally because these are words built into your expert vocabulary. This is one of the biggest advantages of writing content as an expert: the ability to use related target keywords in a natural way.

Another great source of LSI keywords related to your niche is your competition. Look at the words they’re using as their primary keywords when targeting similar topics. If they’re not similar to the words you’re using, those become LSI keywords to you.

If you write a lot of content and are pressed for time, you can use LSI keyword generators like LSI Graph. Premium SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs also have LSI keyword generator tools that help you with your keyword research.

Pro tip: When optimizing blog posts generated using the Content at Scale AI writer, there’s no need to fire up an LSI generator in a separate tab to find related keywords to add to your article. To your right is an Optimization tab that lists LSI and other specific keywords the AI has already researched for you.

Once you have identified potential LSI keywords, use the Google Keyword Planner tool or Semrush to assess the relevance of each term based on search volume data and competition levels.

How to Use LSI Keywords for On-Page SEO

LSI keywords are an important part of on-page SEO. They help search engines understand the subject of your content and its relevance to specific keywords, which helps position it high on the SERPs. 

When you add related keywords in your blog posts, focus on those that are conceptually relevant and use them in a natural way rather than forcing them in. 

For example, if you’re writing about how to make money online, consider adding alternative keywords such as passive income ideas or side hustles throughout the body text of your post without making it sound awkward. 

Another way to add related keywords is by writing them into meta tags such as title tags and meta descriptions. 

When these phrases show up alongside your main keyword phrase, readers know exactly what type of content to expect when they click through – thus increasing click-through rates even further.

Another great way to use LSI keywords is by including them in anchor text links pointing to other pages on your website. This helps establish topical relevance between different pieces of content while also boosting internal link signals.

All in all, using latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords both off-page and on-page can significantly improve both visibility and user engagement.

How to Incorporate LSI Keywords Within Blog Posts

When writing blog posts, it is important to include both regular and LSI keywords. Find related keywords and phrases that provide context for your content. They can be synonyms or terms related to your topic that can help search engines understand what your post is about. 

So how do you optimize your blog posts with long-tail LSI keywords to boost their visibility in search engine results?

Use Natural Language

Using natural language when incorporating LSI keywords into your post is key. It helps ensure that the content reads smoothly and makes sense to readers. 

For example, if you’re writing a post about SEO best practices, you could use “search engine optimization” as well as “SEO” interchangeably throughout the text instead of just one term exclusively. 

This provides more context for search engines and makes your sentences less repetitive and thus easier to read.

Sprinkle LSI Keywords in Key Places

Don’t just add synonyms and related terms to the body of your article. Here are some key places where you can and should use LSI keywords:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • Headings
  • Link anchor text
  • Image alt tags

Particularly, optimizing page titles and meta descriptions is key for search engines to have a better understanding of what the topic entails, potentially leading to higher SERP rankings.

Mastering the skill of finding and integrating LSI keywords into content is an intricate task, but with a bit of practice, you’ll soon be able to strike an ideal balance between SEO objectives and user engagement.

Fact: Google values high-quality content that provides valuable insights to users.

The more comprehensive your content is, the better your chances of improving rankings.

And this isn’t just a baseless claim – it’s a well-established fact supported by numerous studies.

keyword research for seo

FAQs – What Are LSI Keywords?

How do I use LSI keywords?

Use LSI keywords liberally in your blog posts. The idea is to use an LSI keyword where you would have used your target keyword. This improves your content by preventing the overuse of your primary keyword and helps make it accessible to more readers. Add them to the metadata, headers, and body text.

How do I choose LSI keywords?

Start by researching and understanding your topic using LSI keyword tools. Research other sources related to your topics such as industry publications, forums, blogs, and competitor keywords for potential LSI terms. Choose those that make the most sense for your content marketing strategy and SEO objectives.

What is the difference between secondary and LSI keywords?

LSI keywords are secondary keywords in the sense that they are not the primary target for your on-page optimization. That said, not all secondary keywords can be LSI keywords. 

LSI keywords are secondary keywords that mean the same thing as the primary keyword. Other secondary keywords may mean something different than the primary keyword, only that they have to be topically relevant and expand understanding of the primary keyword.


So what are LSI keywords and why are they important?

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. They differ from regular keywords in that they provide more context to search engines by adding related words or phrases.

LSI keywords are an important tool for on-page SEO and can help improve the quality of your content. By using LSI keywords, you can make sure Google knows exactly what your page is about without having to rely solely on exact match keywords. This will help ensure that your content gets seen by more people and ranks higher in organic searches.

When used correctly, LSI keywords can make a blog post stand out and increase its chances of being found through organic searches. With proper keyword research, it’s possible to find the right combination of LSI keywords that will optimize your content for maximum visibility online.

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About the author

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an 8x author and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and presence that lasts online. As the VP of Marketing at Content at Scale, she helps marketers achieve insane ROI (3-10x their time back at 1/3rd the cost) in a new era of AI as a baseline for content production. She's been named in the top 30 of all content marketers worldwide, is the founder of Content Hacker, and recently exited her 100-person writing agency with a desire to help marketers, teams, and entrepreneurs find the keys of online success and revenue growth without breaking.

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