What are LSI Keywords? How to Find and Use Them in Your Content

Many SEOs still debate the power of one essential keyword versus a dozen long-tail keywords. In my eyes, you need both. 

Your main keyword drives the intent and targeting of your content while the long-tail keywords help you pick up traction and gain traffic as you work towards ranking for the more difficult terms. 

That said, there’s a third type of keyword called an LSI keyword. What are LSI keywords you ask? Tuck in and you’ll find out. 

What are LSI Keywords?

LSI or “Latent Semantic Indexing” keywords are words and phrases that are semantically related to the keywords within your content. 

For example, in an article about internal linking, words like external, backlink, SEO, on-page, and Google are all LSI keywords. 

What makes these different from other types of keywords is that you don’t have to necessarily add them to your content. When Google crawls the page, it uses LSI keywords to learn more about what the page is about. 

Tools like SurferSEO have helped writers create content using LSI keywords to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the page’s intent. 

LSI Keywords vs. Synonyms

While both LSI keywords and synonyms are related concepts that contribute to effective content optimization, they serve distinct roles in enhancing search engine visibility and user experience.

That said, there is a difference. LSI keywords go beyond traditional synonyms by providing a broader range of contextually relevant keywords based on semantics. These are language patterns and relationships between different words that help Google better understand the topic. 

A synonym on the other hand is a word that has a similar meaning to a keyword. We use these in writing to prevent overusing a certain keyword to provide better quality content. 

For example, a synonym for “healthy” could be “wholesome” but I wouldn’t consider these to be LSI keywords. 

An LSI keyword for “healthy” would be recipe, food, dinner, lunch, breakfast, dessert, and so on depending on what your content is actually about. 

In an effective content optimization strategy, LSI keywords and synonyms can work hand in hand. Integrating both allows you to create content that is not only well-optimized for search engines but also user-friendly and informative. 

By using synonyms, you can enhance the readability and natural flow of your content, while LSI keywords provide the contextual depth that search engines seek

The Benefits of LSI Keywords

If you’re confused, I think this section will help you better understand why this topic matters. Implementing LSI keywords in your content can help with your overall SEO efforts. 

Content Relevance 

Adding LSI keywords to your content helps it become more topically relevant because you’re including more of the keywords that are related to the content you’re writing about. 

For example, if you’re writing about content marketing, mentioning words like SEO, digital marketing, and content strategy is likely to happen naturally because these words are all related. 

It doesn’t mean that you have a bad piece of content if you don’t include these words but it helps it become more comprehensive to Google if the crawlers find those words contained within the text. 

Topical Authority 

I’ve talked about this quite a bit because it’s important. The goal of your content should be to cover a topic so extensively that the person doesn’t have to go anywhere else for information. You might assume this means that the article needs to be really long.

That’s not always true. 

It simply means that you need to be the topical authority on that subject. When the page contains a lot of LSI keywords that are related to the overall topic, this tells Google that you’re an authority on the subject because you’ve covered it so comprehensively. 

As long as your content itself backs up that claim, you’ll likely be rewarded with credibility and authority on that topic. 

Improved Organic Traffic

By leveraging the power of LSI keywords, your content becomes more discoverable to users searching for related terms. 

This broader coverage not only attracts visitors who are specifically searching for your main keyword but also captures the attention of users interested in the broader context of the topic. As a result, your content can generate more organic traffic from a diverse range of search queries.

To illustrate this, compare an article with only one keyword to an article with 15 relevant keywords. 

The more related keywords you have, the more options Google has to display the content for a search phrase. If someone searches for “healthy dinner ideas” that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing they’re looking for. 

Healthy meals, healthy meal preps, healthy lunches, quick and healthy dinner ideas, and healthy affordable dinner ideas could all be relevant LSI keywords as well but if you don’t include them in your text, you don’t have as high of a chance of getting traffic from them. 

What Google Says About LSI Keywords

This is where things become a little muddy.

what google says about lsi keywords

According to Google, LSI keywords do not exist. But if we understand basic keyword research, we can understand that this isn’t necessarily true. LSI is old news but we know that Google can understand related terms and that’s really all an LSI keyword is. 

In fact, if you Google something you see where the autocomplete provides suggestions for what you’re going to type next. This is the result of Latent Semantic Indexing because Google learns and follows trends. 

As a result, I don’t think Google is saying that LSI keywords are useless but I don’t think it’s something we need to go after and target. 

Tools like SurferSEO will tell you to include the word “cheese” 55 times in an article about salads. Do I really think it matters if you only include it 25 times? Of course not. But, I do think there is some value in LSI keyword density and I think Google is a little misleading with this take. 

How to Find LSI Keywords

If we’ve determined that LSI keywords are important for your SEO efforts, how do you find relevant ones that will actually make a difference? Here’s how. 

Related Searches 

One of the easiest ways to find LSI keywords is to look for the related searches section at the bottom of the SERP. When you enter the primary keyword and receive your search results, scroll down and you’ll find a few related keywords like this: 

what are lsi keywords

In this example, these are related searches for the keyword “what are LSI keywords”? 

These are not only keywords that you’ll want to include in your content but they can help you find topics and concepts that your target audience wants to know about. 

Google Autocomplete 

Whenever you start typing something in the Google search bar, you’ll see that Google starts to complete the search for you based on related and past searches. These suggestions are based on popular search queries related to your keyword. Pay attention to the phrases that appear in the dropdown, as they can provide valuable LSI keywords to include in your content.

lsi keywords and featured snippets

As you can imagine, someone who wants to know what LSI keywords are may also want to know how to use them, what the benefits are, and some examples of this in practice. 

You could use all of these keywords as headers within your content to both provide a roadmap for users to follow and to show Google that you have the most comprehensive piece of content on the internet about this subject. 

People Also Ask 

When you perform a search on Google, you might notice the “People Also Ask” or PAA section. This is similar to the related searches but the difference is, these are all questions based on the overall searchphrase. 

people also ask

So, what are some other questions you might ask if you want to know what LSI keywords are? How do you find them? How do you use them in SEO? What’s the difference between LSI and long-tail? These are all relevant questions. 

In fact, many people including myself use the People Also Ask section to find great ideas for FAQ questions. These questions are based on user behavior and frequently searched terms, making them a goldmine for LSI keyword ideas.

SEO Research Tools

Lastly, SEO research tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and SurferSEO can help you find LSI keywords by generating a list of related keywords when you search for something. 

Take Ahrefs for example. 

lsi keywords in ahrefs

If you look up “LSI keywords” in the Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, everything inside that red box is considered an LSI keyword in some capacity. 

You’ll want to include as many of these relevant words and phrases as possible to provide context to Google and to rank higher for a number of different searches. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about LSI keywords. 

What is an example of an LSI keyword?

An example of an LSI keyword is a word closely related to a primary keyword. So if your main keyword is “bagel” then an LSI keyword would be “cream cheese” or “butter.” 

How do I use LSI keywords in SEO?

It’s best not to think too hard about LSI keywords because they generally come naturally in your writing. If you try to force too many it can make your reading feel robotic. I recommend having 5-10 keywords to include within your content. 

What is the difference between LSI and long-tail keywords?

An LSI keyword is meant to portray relevance and natural language patterns whereas a long-tail keyword is generally something very specific with low competition. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand more than you ever thought possible about LSI keywords, start finding ways to use them in your content. When you’re writing a blog, do some research and find relevant words that help expand your content and show Google that you are an authority on the subject. 

If you’re looking for more help with your SEO, don’t forget about internal linking. With Link Whisper, you can receive automatic link suggestions while you’re writing your content. Click here to try Link Whisper today! 

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