What are LSI Keywords & Do They Help SEO?

Staff Writer
Last Updated
July 5, 2024
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If you’ve been paying attention to SEO techniques, you’re probably already aware of how important keywords are in optimizing your website for search engines. Search engines often look at keywords, among other things, to figure out what your content is all about, but there are actually several ways that this can be done, one of which is LSI.

What is LSI?

LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing is an information retrieval method that uses natural language processing techniques to evaluate the semantic relationships between words as a way to deliver more useful and relevant search results. Developed in the 1980s, this method heavily contrasts the conventional method that relies on keyword matches, which can theoretically provide unrelated or inaccurate results. 

How Does LSI Work?

With the help of highly complicated technology, mathematical formulas, and a set of test documents, LSI analyzes words and phrases to discover any meaningful patterns that may exist. This becomes more important when you realize that computers don’t really have the same understanding that humans do regarding the relationships between words, such as synonyms and polysemic words.

What are LSI Keywords?

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), sometimes also referred to as Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), keywords are words that are semantically related to a specific keyword or topic. If you’re writing an article about computers, then possible LSI keywords include desktop, laptop, PC, and personal computer. LSI keywords can help search engines better understand the topic, intent, and context of your webpage.

Does Google Use LSI?

No, Google doesn’t use LSI for a few different reasons:

Old Technology 

LSI was created way back in the 1980s to find results on smaller document sets—not really the entire World Wide Web. Because of this, many argue that the term LSI keywords actually doesn’t exist as LSI was never developed for the internet to begin with. Perhaps the most prominent figure that has spoken about this is John Mueller from Google who tweeted “There’s no such thing as LSI keywords—anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken”.

Quality of Results

If Google fully relied on LSI for search results, the top result would simply be the website that used a keyword and its many variations the most number of times. With that being said, Google does consider semantics when loading its results pages and utilizes various algorithms, analyses, and programs to understand both the topic of a website and what the user is actually looking for with their query. Aside from keyword matches, Google also looks at the other uploaded media files to better assess the relevance of a website’s content to the search query.

Inefficiency Indexing

LSI was created mainly to evaluate a small set of known documents, which means that it’s not equipped to handle the fast-paced and dynamic nature of the internet, as well as the billions of websites and pages that occupy it. If Google did use LSI, then it would have to run every single time there’s an update in the storage files, which would take too much power and be incredibly inefficient.

Instead of LSI, Google employs other technologies like natural language processing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and knowledge graphs to index websites and deliver the best results to its users. 

As previously mentioned, Google also takes into account the other elements uploaded and included in your content to better understand your page and rank it accordingly, which means that there are still benefits to including semantically related words and phrases in your content.

The Takeaway

LSI keywords are words and phrases that are related to a certain keyword or topic. These are often used in LSI, which is an information retrieval technology that’s used to yield results based on the semantic relationships that exist between words. While Google doesn’t use these when loading their search results, the search engine still considers this semantic relationship during indexing and ranking websites, so there’s still a benefit to doing so today.

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