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Capturing more customers online is a modern business’s endless pursuit. Even if you think you’re getting the hang of digital marketing, do you ever have the nagging feeling that your competitors are copying your every move? You might be:
- Blogging like a madman, but seeing no results
- Failing to rank in a highly competitive field
- Relying on an SEO strategy that your competitors have copied
While you’re writing, blogging, and churning out content, your competition may be using the same keyword strategy—and they might be doing it better than you. If you haven’t seen a change in your online rankings, it could be a content problem.
Can a lesser-known ranking method help you succeed? Read more to find out about latent semantic indexing, a powerful keyword ranking method you can use to strengthen your SEO strategy.
What Is Latent Semantic Indexing?
In the fledgling days of the internet, all it took to rank high on Google was to stuff as many of the same keywords onto a page as possible (colloquially known as keyword stuffing). The internet was flooded with irrelevant content vying for attention, and the content itself offered readers limited value.
As SEO specialists pursued top-searched keywords in their industry, they cared less about the quality of the content they produced. Instead, they focused on trying to “win” Google’s algorithms. As a result:
- Content strategy focused more on the quantity of keyword use, and less on quality
- Lower-ranking keywords were abandoned in favor of keyword stuffing
- The fight to rank in top-searched keywords became highly competitive
In the Wild West of the internet, Google’s algorithms were easily taken advantage of. It didn’t take long, however, for Google to notice and make a change. Upon several updates made to improve search experience online, Google introduced latent semantic indexing, a ranking factor that measures the contextual relevance of a page.
To rank higher in the SERPs, content had to offer greater contextual meaning. Goodbye, keyword stuffing. Hello, semantic search.
What Does Latent Semantic Indexing Mean for My Business?
Businesses are thriving, competing, and closing their doors on the internet every day. They understand that the key to gaining market share in the 21st Century is increasingly dependent on their performance online. Unfortunately, tough competition has led many companies to make the following mistakes:
- They purchase expensive freelance work and hardly see any results
- They blog weekly or monthly, gain impressions, but make few conversions
- They write to highly competitive, top searched keywords, and fail to rank
More often than not, potential customers are leaving your site because they could not find what they were looking for. In other words, the content lacked the contextual relevance a reader was hoping to find. This is exactly the type of user experience problem that latent semantic indexing is trying to correct.
How LSI Rewards or Punishes Websites
Latent semantic indexing is one of the key reasons why, if you enter “broken water pipe” into a search bar, you don’t end up reading an article that mentions “broken water pipe” 50 times and also “vampire bats” another 50. Under the process of LSI, Google’s algorithmic goals are to:
- Reward sites that offer relevant content by ranking them higher
- Harm pages that resort to keyword stuffing
- Encourage sites to provide more contextually relevant information
- Provide online searchers with a superior user experience
The process of latent semantic indexing helps users find what they are looking for and encourages sites to provide more relevant and meaningful content. As a result, a business has a much higher chance of ranking high, earning impressions, and converting sales if their content is relevant and succinct.
How Latent Semantic Indexing Is Used Everyday
If you search online for “smart home” you’re likely to come across a comprehensive range of listings, from products to reviews and features. Why? Rather than find page upon page of the same “smart home” products, Google interprets that maybe you also want to see results for “smart home technology”, “smart home light switches” or “diy home automation”.
Check it out in Google’s auto-suggest feature:
The content you will find when you search “smart home” relates mostly to types of home automation systems, but as you scroll in the SERPs you will also see curated mentions of popular brands, magazine features, blogs, and DIY projects. If it is a competitive search term, you’re likely to find comprehensive results that become resources to you.
In a way, latent semantic indexing (LSI) tries to understand the search intent behind your search query. When you form a search, it evaluates the relationship between keywords to provide you with a highly relevant answer to your query.
Understanding the Math Behind Latent Semantic Indexing
At its core, LSI is a mathematical algorithm and can be best understood using this latent semantic indexing example.
Because LSI is devoid of feelings or subjectivity, it’s able to scan documents and words and determine keywords based on the frequency, relation, and interdependence of certain words on a page. What this means for businesses who want to improve their SEO strategy, is that LSI can be used in conjunction with, or in place of, a regular keyword search!
Examples of Latent Semantic Indexing
Contrary to popular belief, not all keywords that are ranked by latent semantic indexing are synonyms. Rather, they are the words that relate to each other in the greater context of the page. Think about keywords you may find in this blog post, and how they are semantically related:
- Blog post
- SEO strategy
- Keyword stuffing
- Top searched keywords
- Search intent
- Search query
- Bounce rate
- Long-tail keywords
Unlike synonyms, most of these keywords cannot be replaced with each other to make sense when used in the same sentence. However, learning how to use strategic keywords together can provide relevant and comprehensive information about a larger topic – in this case, SEO.
Why Does Traditional Keyword Research Fail?
In the past, it was easy to compete for rankings and churn out content. The internet wasn’t yet saturated with competition, and users had a limited pool of content to choose from. Now, however, we have seen that optimizing your page around a single keyword phrase isn’t going to cut it anymore. Here’s why:
- Search engines are getting smarter and more complex
- More companies are operating on the internet
- Competition to rank online is fiercer than ever
- The internet is flooded with competitive content
At the end of the day, the problem with traditional keyword research is that everyone is doing it. Think about it: If all of your competitors are trying to target only the most highly-searched keywords, and you are doing the same, who will win? It might be time to consider an alternative SEO strategy.
How to Boost Your SEO Strategy Using LSI
Latent semantic indexing differs from traditional keyword research because it doesn’t just look at top searched keywords to assign a ranking; instead, it looks to the relationship of keywords within a page. To boost your SEO strategy under the teachings of LSI, you can take the following steps:
- Expand beyond the use of only top searched keywords
- Include long-tail keywords in your content strategy
- Think strongly about answering your ideal customer’s search intent
- Consider topics that are similar to your keyword but are not exact keyword phrases
If you own a business and are trying to convert more customers online, knowing how to perform keyword research around latent semantic indexing can help your business reap the benefits of a strong SEO strategy. You may rank higher in SERPs, convert more leads into sales, navigate around competition, and strengthen your overall SEO strategy!
Answer the Public is a popular online tool used to spark ideas for content and research trending topics and questions. In the example above, researching the term “lawn care” produced a range of topic ideas that can be used to create weekly blog topics, service FAQs, or to get in touch with what people are thinking about when they search for basic keywords like “lawn care”.
How Can I Use Long-Tail Keywords Strategically?
When thinking about how latent semantic indexing works, remember that building valuable context is the key to finding ranking success. Long-tail keywords consist of two or more keywords that together make a phrase. They are often ignored in favor of higher-ranking keywords, but when used correctly they can have an indispensable effect on capturing search intent.
According to SEO expert Neil Patel, users who search for long-tail keywords present more serious purchase intent. They are often past the general research stage and are looking to achieve a specific end-goal. Consider the following list of top searched keywords related to “wedding planner”:
The keywords above have a high monthly search volume and strong competition. However, can you tell what the user’s intention is when they search these terms? Beyond general research, it’s anybody’s guess.
Now take a look at this list of long-tail keywords for the same subject matter:
In the example above, you suddenly get a much clearer image of the user’s search intent. Although search volume is lower, you may have a stronger chance of writing to what users are really looking for, and you won’t have to compete as hard to rank for it.
Remember, users who enter a long-tail search are much more likely to become valuable leads, not just researchers!
You can find out more about how to leverage long-tail keywords or how topical optimization works, but our takeaway for today is that using long-tail keywords is a great way to discover and provide the desired context a user is looking for when they form a search. With the introduction of stronger context, typically comes a higher conversion rate.
How Do I Maximize My SEO Strategy Using Latent Semantic Indexing?
Before you write any content online, it is always important to stop and think about who you are writing for, why you are writing the content, what problems you are solving for the reader, and what is the intended end result. In a way, latent semantic indexing supports these questions with its own:
- What is the search intent and how do these keywords relate?
- Are these keywords relevant within the context of my content?
Understanding how latent semantic indexing works helps you as a business to better capture your target audience and bolster how effective your content will be online, even in the face of tough competition. Context is key, and using semantically related keywords should be a continuous part of your SEO strategy.
Improve Your SEO Strategy with Blue Corona
Google’s algorithms are constantly on the move, updating and changing to keep everyone on the internet on their toes. As digital marketing becomes a full-time job for business owners, it’s up to digital marketing companies to help them get ahead of their competition and protect their growth online.
At Blue Corona, our passion is in helping home service companies like yours succeed with proven methods in inbound marketing and SEO. Check out our SEO services today, or give us a call to learn more about how we’re helping companies like yours convert more customers online.
About The Author: Sophia is a Content Marketing Specialist out of the Blue Corona Charlotte office. Outside of work you’ll often find a cat in Sophia's lap and book or journal in hand. She also loves to travel, explore nature trails and attempt to fish.
View more blogs by Sophia Ege