LSI Keywords Explained With My Easy 3-Step Semantic Research Strategy
During the summer of 2022, Google search engine traffic for the term “LSI keywords” has increased by 900%. This implies that a lot of people have recently learned about this SEO strategy and are now trying to figure out how to use it on their websites to get better rankings.
I find this a bit amusing because I’ve been teaching others LSI SEO since 2012 and was using it for many years before that myself. Has it really taken others 10+ years to figure out this was a good approach to write search engine friendly content? It was really obvious to me over a decade ago.
A popular paid tool to find new semantic keywords is LSI Graph, which didn’t come around until 2015. I can’t say for sure, but I may have been one of the first people to pioneer this strategy and teach it to others.
You won’t need to pay for LSI Graph though. I’m going to teach you how to do semantic research for free in this training guide.
LSI Keywords Meaning
LSI is an abbreviation for latent semantic indexing. This doesn’t exactly tell you what it means though. The Oxford Dictionary defines semantic as “relating to meaning in language or logic”.
Semantic keywords are words that are similar in meaning or relate to the same topic. I like to think about natural conversation between two people when I imagine LSI keywords.
Let’s say you’re talking with your parents about your new cat. You’ll tell you got a new cat, but the vast majority of your conversation about that topic isn’t going to use the word “cat” over and over again.
You may talk about getting it at the Humane Society, putting it a carrier, buying toys, catnip, food, treats and a bed. You’ll mention clipping it’s claws, brushing fur and changing the litter box. By talking about these other topics, it’s implied that you’re still talking about your new cat without actually saying it. All of these relational topics and words are semantic or LSI keywords.
Keyword stuffing in your page content is a bad idea, but you can talk about these semantic topics to easily avoid using your primary keyword phrase too often.
You should understand “semantic” now, but what about the whole thing: latent semantic indexing?
“Latent” can mean hidden or concealed. “Indexing” is a search engine method of crawling and storing the contents of your site.
Combined together, LSI keywords are words that relate to each other but their connection may not be obvious upfront. By storing or indexing keywords on a site, Google can compare them in bulk to find these semantic words.
Later in this guide, I’m going to walk you through an SEO research strategy that you can use to find an excellent list of semantic keywords for any base keyword.
Google Keyword Planner
I highly recommend that you start this research with the Google Keyword Planner.
The primary keyword phrase that you choose for each page of your website should have search traffic.
The Keyword Planner will tell you how much traffic each term has monthly on Google.
You’ll need a Google Ads account to be able to access this keyword planner tool, but you do not need to run ads.
Here are my results using the Keyword Planner to search for “LSI Keywords”:
With 1k – 10k monthly searches, this is the best primary phrase for the page as long as it matches my content.
However, numerous relational phrases show up here that would be worth targeting as a secondary keyword: meaning, seo, generator, lsi graph and semantic keywords.
This research not only helps you figure out which terms have the most search traffic, it also can help you to plan your content.
The short list from the Keyword Planner is responsible for 2 of the 7 sub-header topics on this page (meaning and generator).
Semantic Keyword Generator
There are a number of websites you could potentially use to generate lists of LSI keywords. Some of them are free sites that will give you some results, but they’re not amazing. Paid sites can produce much more in-depth lists, but their costs are often not worth it for beginners.
I’m going to talk about two of these sites here, but make sure you continue reading this entire lesson because I’m going to show you the free method that I use that gives you powerful results.
I briefly mentioned LSI Graph earlier. This is an option you could consider if you depend on this SEO strategy but you don’t want to spend a lot of time to generate keywords.
Personally, I don’t think the average website owner really needs that paid tool though. There are ways to do the same things for free and the expense can be hard to justify unless you’re already making a full-time income.
Another option is KeySearch LSI Keywords Generator. It’s a free tool you can use, so I recommend this even though it won’t produce results that are as good. It’s good for quick research when you don’t want to spend a lot of time and don’t need huge lists of words.
I’m going to show you how this research works for a topic, so you can see what results you can produce with my tips.
I will use this page topic, lsi keywords, for these examples so you can see what I did when planning and writing this content.
I begin by searching my phrase on KeySearch:
Performing this search is going to give me a brief list of 1, 2 and 3-word phrases.
Here are the results from that search:
As you can see, the results that are returned are fairly basic. They can be somewhat helpful, but it really feels like the best semantic phrases aren’t showing up on this list.
This can be okay for fast research, but it won’t be enough if you’re looking to write an in-depth article that will likely have thousands of words of content.
Refer back to this list after I show you my own research strategy – you’ll be able to see a difference.
Alternate Research Strategies
There are other ways to try to find my LSI keywords. One of them is using Thesaurus.com.
I’ve searched for “semantic” on Thesaurus:
Searching for “LSI” doesn’t yield any results here. It’s really just helpful for words that can be found in the dictionary.
Even though the words that show up on Thesaurus mean the same thing, I still consider these to be semantic words. They are words that are often used alongside or in place of semantic.
If you want to get really in-depth with your research, you can use the thesaurus to find alternate words, and then try to find keyword traffic and semantic words for these alternates.
Easy, 3-Step LSI Keyword Strategy
My personal strategy for finding LSI keywords is actually very similar to what Google is doing in the background.
When other websites write about the same topic, you can find semantic words by comparing similarities between them.
This would be really difficult and time consuming to do manually, so I’ve always used a strategy to automate this process.
I will run the content of numerous web pages through a keyword density checker. The more similar pages you can use, the better the results.
The SEO Review Tools Keyword Density Checker is a decent option, although it will only return the top 10 results for 1, 2 and 3-word phrases.
I’m going to walk you through this entire strategy, step-by-step.
Step #1 – Search on Google
First go to Google and search for your primary keyword phrase. These are the top 5 results for “LSI Keywords” on Google:
Step #2 – Copy Page Text
I’m going to open all five of these search listings. I like to right-click on each listing to have it open each page in a new tab.
My goal is to select and copy all of the text content on all five of those pages.
If your browser doesn’t have a way to select all of the page text, you can start selecting a small amount of text at the top-left of the page, scroll the bottom of the page, hold the SHIFT button and then select the last text in the bottom-right. This should select everything on the page. Then just right-click and copy (or CTRL+C).
Step #3 – Scan Copied Content
Once I have this text selected and copied, I want to past it into the Keyword Density Checker on SEO Review Tools:
Repeat that same process for all 5 of the top Google results for your phrase. DO NOT run the density checker scan until you have text from all of the pages. You want to run the scan with their text combined and not an individual scan for each page.
By combining the text from numerous top results on Google, you will get to see the most commonly used phrases on those pages. More often than not, these will be your LSI keywords!
The more pages you scan at the same time (as long as they all have the same topic), the better results you’ll receive. If you’re willing to take the time, scan all top 10 sites in the search results.
Here are my 1-word results from my research:
In some ways, the previous list of 1-word phrases was better, but mostly because it was a longer list. Running this same scan with more than the top 10 results would yield much better results.
SEO shows up in this one-word list but it doesn’t show up in the previous list. This is why I consider this to be a more reliable and accurate LSI strategy because it uncovers phrases that aren’t picked up with other techniques, but I guarantee that Google knows about these words.
My 2-word LSI keywords:
The area where my strategy really shines is with longer semantic phrases – finding the 2 and 3-word phrases is better with this approach.
In the list of two-word phrases, 6 of the 10 that were picked up from this search simply do not appear on the previous list from KeySearch:
- related words
- semantically related
- related keywords
- keyword research
- related terms
- related searches
This list is much better than the previous 2-word phrases. KeySearch likely doesn’t use this same technique or they don’t take a large enough sample size to get accurate results.
Finally, here are the 3-word semantic phrases from my research:
A handful of 3-word phrases that were returned stand out as excellent picks:
- semantically related words
- bulk keyword research
- google keyword planner
Take a look at the frequency column on the chart above. When you get towards the bottom of that list, the 3-word phrases have only showed up 7-8 times each. This may simply not be a large enough sample to produce a full list of 10 excellent phrases.
Phrases on the 2-word list occurred 20+ times each, which is why that list was highly accurate. If you see this with your own searches, considering adding the text of more web pages to your LSI keyword research to get better 3-word keyword phrases.
Conclusion & Next Steps
There is a lot more to SEO than just finding LSI keywords and using them in your content.
To give yourself the best chance to rank on Google, you’ll need to learn multiple strategies and combine them on your site.
I highly recommend the three SEO articles below to learn a handful of other strategies that I consider to be among the most powerful to optimize a website for search engine rankings:
- How to Write Page Titles to Improve CTR: A Simple 5-Step SEO Guide
- Google Questions: How to Easily Rank Your Website For “People Also Ask”
- How to Quickly Analyze Your Website Competitors for SEO Backlinks
Frequently Asked Questions
What is LSI?
“LSI” stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. This is a method that search engines like Google use to make hidden connections between related words. By storing and comparing content about the same topic, a search engine can figure out words that relate to each other in sometimes non-obvious ways.
What are LSI keywords?
LSI keywords are semantic keywords or words that relate to each other, often in hidden ways. Consider these words and phrases: litter box, hair ball, sharp claws, chase mice, fur, toys & vet. You can probably guess that all of these words are about “cats”. Those are LSI or semantic keywords.
What is a keyword list?
When you’re planning to write content for a new website page, it can be helpful to create a keyword list. This will be a list of relational, semantic words that you’ll want to try to use within your writing. Using a list helps to ensure that you cover topics of interest and so people can find your page through a search engine.
Do LSI keywords matter?
Yes, more than you may realize. You can’t write thousands of words of high-quality content about a single topic without using LSI keywords. You may use them without knowing it, but you’re still using them. Search engines like Google know which words are semantic to your topic, so they can automatically determine relevance to your topic based on your usage of LSI phrases.
How do I find LSI keywords?
Some third-party websites, both free and paid, allows you to generate a list of LSI keywords automatically. Our website teaches a method that is as powerful as paid tools but it’s something you can do without spending a penny. This strategy involves reproducing the same tactics that Google uses internally to detect relational words.
How do I use LSI keywords?
These words can be used anywhere within the content of a page: the title, meta description, the page content itself, or even in ALT tags for images. The key secret is to only use relevant words and make sure you’re not using them when they are not appropriate (keyword stuffing is a bad, black hat method that does not work long-term).
Which tool is famous to extract LSI keywords?
LSI Graph is a famous tool used to generate these keywords, but it’s not cheap to use either. There is actually a completely free method to extract LSI keywords for any topic that I teach on this page that gives you the power of LSIGraph without having to spend money.
Why are keywords important for SEO?
When you write content on a website without using keywords, you make it difficult or even impossible for people to find your site. Search engines depend on keywords in your content to figure out what each page is about and how relevant it is to the searched phrase.
How many keywords are good for SEO?
There is not a set number of keywords that you should use on each page. Target 1 or 2 primary phrases per page. Beyond that, you can technically target as many secondary and semantic phrases as needed. However, any phrase that you target is going to need to have content. This means that what you decide to put on each page determines how many keywords you should be using.
Can you have too many keywords?
Absolutely. Using keywords that aren’t relevant to your page content will harm your rankings instead of benefiting them. The same can happen from keyword stuffing, which happens when you use your phrases too often in your content. Focus on talking “about” your topic instead of repeating the keyword over and over again.
Where do keywords go in a website?
Anywhere they are relevant. They can go in the title, URL, content, image ALT tags or page sub-headers as long as they make sense where they are located. Focus on writing naturally, like you would speak to a friend. Consider how you would use a phrase in conversation naturally, and that will give you a good idea of where to use it on your site.