Friday 03 January, 2014
Search engines have come a long way during the internet’s short history. Today, Google and other search engines use a smarter way to search. It’s called latent semantic indexing (LSI) and it has changed how we create content.
The Basics of LSI
LSI offers a more natural way for search engines to interpret and rank webpages. The search engines used to rank websites based on the frequency of certain keywords. If you stuffed a website with a certain keyword, the search engines would find the site for that particular keyword.
The problem is that internet marketers figured this out and started making junk webpages that were stuffed with keywords. They knew how to game the system. LSI makes it much harder to do this because it works in a fundamentally different way.
We’re not going to get into the specific mathematics of LSI, but here’s essentially how it works. LSI looks not just at keywords but at relationships between keywords and terms. It takes into account the ‘distance’ between two words, or how they’re related. It also looks at relationships between webpages and not just words and phrases on the pages. It takes a much more complex approach and is thus much harder to manipulate.
This in turn gives you better search results. The unnatural, keyword stuffed pages are gone from the top of the search results and thank goodness for that.
What LSI Means for Content Creators
For content creators, this means no longer targeting a single keyword and using it relentlessly in your content. Rather, you should choose a group of related keywords and use each only when it’s natural. Stuffing was out years ago. Today, it’s better to use alternative words.
For example, if you’re writing about ecommerce, you may use alternates like ‘selling online,’ ‘online business,’ ‘internet shopping,’ and other related keywords. It’s better to mix up these alternates than to use one word or phrase repeatedly.
The only place where you should concern yourself with keywords is in titles, headers and descriptions. They still count a great deal in those places. But in the actual text of your copy, you can write more naturally.
The Growing Importance of Offline SEO
This is also why today off-page SEO is so important. It’s not only the content on your page that will get it indexed, but how your page is connected to other pages. It’s more important to get backlinks from relevant sites than to worry about your keywords so much.
Search engines use LSI because it allows the best, most relevant content to rise to the top. That has always been the aim of Google – to bring the best search results possible. This is why it has become the most popular search engine and will probably continue to be so.