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The Essence of Latent Semantic Indexing

January 12, 2009 | Neha Arora
lsiLatent Semantic Indexing is increasingly being used by leading search engine Google as the scanner to sift through the ocean of content and pick information that is valuable, well presented and original.  Stiff competition among the search engines and the constant struggle to control spamming and to provide searchers with the valuable content has prompted Google to look beyond the earlier popular method of measuring density of primary and secondary keywords. Other search engines are, needless to say, following suit.

Now what does LSI stand for?

In Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI, latent implies present but hidden. Semantic stands for meaning of a word or a phrase. And indexing means organizing a document.  In short, LSI is the analysis of the hidden meaning of a word or a phrase and how frequently they appear in a document.

History

Google had begun using Latent Semantic Indexing for its Adsense program and later in 2003, it bought the California-based company Applied Semantics aiming to use LSI concepts in the search engine rankings and to strengthen Google’s search and advertising programs.

LSI has since changed the way search engines operate today, how search engine optimization is done and how content should be written, evaluated and ranked.

How Does Latent Semantic Indexing Work?

Latent Semantic Indexing doesn’t have a human mind but the way it operates makes it seem intelligent. Latent semantic indexing algorithm enables search engines to determine whether the web page has relevance and quality by figuring out whether the related keywords have been used or not.

LSI algorithm doesn’t understand the meaning of the words but it does understand that there is a relation between words with similar meanings or what we call synonyms. In short, LSI emphasizes more on related keywords rather than focusing only on primary keywords. For example, a page about mobile phone must have identical terms such as cellular phone, cell phone, GSM, etc to attract attention of the search engines.

LSI has slowly and surely replaced the earlier trend of writing content stuffed with keywords, which often made the copy sound repetitive and monotonous and neither added value or provided relevant information to the user. Google and other search engine spiders used to crawl the document and index the keywords. Using related keywords and providing good quality content to the users was neither considered necessary nor important.

Today, things are different. The content presented on a web site, web page, or blog or even an article needs to be of high quality.

For instance, earlier if you typed ‘shoe’ in the search bar, the search engine would show results of web sites which contained the word ‘shoe’ maximum number of times.

But now with search engines using LSI algorithm, the scenario has changed. If you search ‘shoe’, the results would show web sites which apart from ‘shoe’ also talk about ‘boot’, ‘sandals’, ‘footwear’ and other related terms.

What this signifies is that LSI gives more importance to related keywords rather than emphasizing just on primary keywords.

If you are looking to outsource web design and SEO services from a web development and marketing firm, make sure that the outsourcing firm adheres to the principles of LSI while optimizing and promoting your web site.

Benefits of Latent Semantic Indexing

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is beneficial for everyone. From the web searchers point of view, LSI is useful because they get higher quality of content from their searches.

Search engines are benefited by LSI as it helps them control spam and maintain a database which is rich in quality content. Thus it helps them in providing rich, informative content to the searcher and thereby increasing its own popularity as a search engine.

And it helps online businesses by bringing more traffic to their site and thereby increasing the chances of conversions.

How to optimize content using LSI

Step 1: Use related keywords in content

The mantra is not to be keyword-centric. Instead of writing content based on one single keyword, build content around a number of related words and synonyms.  While writing content, use keywords which have similar meanings. For e.g. if your keyword is ‘purse’, then you should use other related keywords such as ‘clutch’, ‘handbag’ or ‘bags’.

For clearer explanation, there is one more example. Suppose your keyword is ‘petrol’, then you can optimize content by using other related keywords such as ‘petroleum’, ‘fuel’, or ‘oil’.

Now you can find related keywords with similar meanings. Here are two ways to find good keywords:

a). You can find best performing keywords by searching for keywords and related keywords in various keyword tools such as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery or Google Adwords Keywords Tool External.

b). Another way to find synonyms is by using tilde (~) on the keyboard. Type tilde (~) in front of the word in the Google search bar and press enter. The results would show the other words related to the search query.

Step 2: Use related keywords in anchor text

Use related keywords in the anchor text also. By this I mean that you shouldn’t highlight only the primary keywords. For example, if your keyword is ‘elegant wedding gown’, then you should use other related keywords in the anchor text such as ‘elegant bridal gown’, ‘elegant bridal dress’ or ‘elegant wedding dress’. This shows that you are not focusing only on one keyword and your content appears more natural.

Step 3: Use related keywords in Header & Meta descriptions

It is also imperative to use related keywords in Header (h1, h2, h3) and Meta descriptions. This is done because Google’s spiders crawl Header and Meta description and index the keywords.

Step 4: Get inbound links from similar themed sites

Search engines now look for relevance and quality. Hence it is important that your web site should get inbound links from those sites which have similar theme as yours and high quality content. And also ensure to get back links from reputed, authoritative web sites such as Stumbleupon.com, Wikihow.com, Searchenginejournal.com etc.

Step 5: Don’t have inbound links go to same keyword

It is not a good idea to have your inbound links go to the same keyword. Instead your inbound links should go to different keywords and their synonyms. In addition, it won’t be appropriate either if your inbound links always direct to the home page. The best thing to do is to have inbound links take the user to different pages in the site.

Step 6: Steer clear of Link Farms

Link farm is a group of web sites in which there is no content and the sole purpose is to increase link popularity and improve search engine rankings. Link farms are considered spam and it is advisable that you don’t use link farms for promoting and optimizing your web site.

Google and search engine look for relevance and quality in the web sites, rather than just keywords or links. Hence it is essential that you create valuable and relevant content in which keywords are inserted seamlessly and your web site is able to offer your target audience what they are desperately looking for – informative and worthwhile content.

If you want to implement for your online marketing campaign and you don’t know how to go about it, we can help you out. As an professional and experienced web design outsourcing firm based in India, we can create relevant content keeping in mind Latent Semantic Indexing. And make sure that your site is rewarded with higher rankings, more conversions and sales.

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