What are LSI Keywords and Why Does Google Use Them?

How LSI keywords help with SEO
LSI keywords help improve your SEO as they share the same context of your main keyword. They are related semantically to your primary keyword.

What are LSI keywords? A term that is starting to be mentioned more and more recently.

In this article I will share exactly what they are, how you can find them, and how LSI keywords help with SEO, allowing you to rank higher in Google results for your main keyword.

1. What are LSI Keywords?

So what exactly is the LSI keyword meaning? Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are keywords related to your main term. They help support your content and give more context so search engines recognize what your keyword is really about. Some people assume LSI keywords are synonyms, but this is not true. LSI keywords share the same context, therefore it helps to include them in an article. Search engines like Google and Bing rely on LSI keywords to better understand what your keywords are actually referring to and with of Google’s Hummingbird update, Google is now searching for more of a topic match rather than an exact keyword.

LSI keywords Example:

Let’s say you write an article about apple. How will Google understand if you’re referring to the fruit or the company?

This is where it will reference LSI keywords:

  • If your article contains the words: ‘red apple’, ‘apple nutrition’, ‘baked apples’, ‘green apples’, then your article is very likely talking about the apple fruit.
  • If your article contains the words: ‘iphone’, ‘apples news’, ‘itunes’, ‘apple music’, ‘apple ipad’, ‘macbook pro’, then your article is known to be about apple the company.

2. Why Does Google use LSI Keywords?

Before Google’s Hummingbird update, Google relied heavily on keyword density. As we all now know, keyword density was abused horribly and caused a lot of spam content. Google moved away from keyword density and began using LSI keywords.

Primary reason (Referring to the example used above):

An authentic page about the company Apple will most likely contain words that are related to apple computers, such as: ‘apple store’, ‘apple ipad’, ‘macbook’, ‘apple stock price’, ‘iphone x’. A keyword stuffed page, would likely contain the word apple computers repeated heavily.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) helps google to better understand the meaning of a web page and also the meaning of search queries. This greatly helps Google improve the search results of what people are actually looking for.

3. LSI keywords help with SEO

Because Google does not look for finding just keywords anymore, but instead uses semantic indexing, it better understands the topic of the page. Now keyword stuffing is not an issue since you know to use variations or relative keywords of your main keyword.

4. How LSI Keywords can improve your ranking (3 ways)

  1. Google now crawls the whole article rather than just the density of keywords. The better Google understands the context of your page, the higher it will rank for your main keyword.
  2. With LSI keywords, you can safely add related keywords to help improve your ranking. This is far better than exceeding the keyword density limit and risk getting penalized by Google.
  3. LSI keywords closely relate to your main keyword – better known as ‘keyword variations’. This will help you rank for your main keyword, but also rank for all the other keyword variations that you’ve used.

5. How to do LSI keyword research (find LSI Keywords)

Below are some of my favorite tools I use to do LSI keyword research to find the keywords I want to include in articles (listing from most often, to least often used):

5.1 LSIGraph

LSIGraph is free and provides a great list of LSI keywords.

Enter your main keyword:

LSIGraph Generate LSI Keywords

Then view the results and find the LSI keywords that you would like to use on your page.

LSIGraph Nespresso Pods Keyword List

5.2 Google Auto Suggest

This is another great one! As soon as you start typing, Google will suggest various terms that people have previously searched for relating to what you want to search. These are all LSI keywords, and Google automatically matches them based on searches that have been conducted in the past. In addition to Google’s Auto Suggest, after conducting a search, at the bottom of the page you will see similar results showing LSI keywords.

Google Auto SUggest LSI Keywords Nespresso Pods

Simply type in your main keyword and Google will show in bold the LSI keywords relating to your main keyword.

Screenshot example:

Nespresso Pods Google Search

I searched for nespresso pods, and as you can see a more detailed and related LSI keyword would be ‘nespresso coffee pods’ or ‘nespresso coffee capsules’, Google automatically bolds these. You should include them on your page if your topic is as such.

6. How to use LSI Keywords

Use them all throughout the article, as long as they fit into the sentence and sound appropriate. It’s a much better approach to have at least 2-3 variations of your main keyword.

Some of the main places where you should include LSI keywords are:

  • Page title
  • H1 and H2 tags
  • URL address
  • META tags
  • Images alt text
  • Anchor text links
  • and of course within paragraphs of the body content

7. Over-optimizing with LSI Keywords?

Yes, it’s true. Just as you shouldn’t over-optimize for your main keyword, you should also be on the lookout to not over-optimize for LSI keywords. If you abuse the use of a particular keyword, this will be seen as keyword stuffing, and Google can and very likely will penalize you if it sees this.


How can LSI keywords be used to rank higher in search results?

  • Use LSI keywords to avoid keyword stuffing of your main keyword
  • Using LSI keywords can improve your SEO as you will be using a variation of your main keyword
  • Writing larger posts of more than 1,500 words, will help in using LSI keywords, as you will write natural content as opposed to optimized content
  • Use LSI keywords sporadically throughout the article and keep your article natural, don’t just stuff it with keywords
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