In an Internet marketing industry where the quality of content and the performance of organic search engine optimisation (SEO) are monitored closely by algorithm sifters and updates such as Google’s Panda and Penguin, the delineation between white and black hat practices are becoming ever clearer. The more distinct they become, the better business owners and marketers can perform their tasks without fear of penalisation or loss of ranking.
Among the best practices in organic SEO to avoid keyword stuffing is latent semantic indexing (LSI). LSI has been the subject of much research ever since keyword abuse started to be heavily penalised, and with the current demands in quality content and white hat SEO, LSI will be a very powerful tool for both entrepreneurs and marketers. Let’s look into three best practices when it comes to LSI.
LSI is SEO’s version of context clues. Back in school we were taught several methods to ascertain the meaning of words within sentences that we were unfamiliar with — the most popular were probably definition by example and context clues. Using context clues from the rest of the sentence or the paragraph where the unfamiliar word appears, we can gain a clearer understanding of what it means. This is practically what “semantic indexing” means, though for search engine algorithms instead of students in English class.
This means that your content’s semantic indexing is an important tool for search engines to figure out what your website content revolves around. Or rather, to be more technical, search engine algorithms use a method called semantic indexing to derive context clues to identify the subject of your content. If you can maximise this use of context, you help search engines glean your primary and secondary keywords, helping them rank you properly on relevance (authority will be up to the inbound links).
To maximise context, make sure you not only use your primary and secondary keywords a few times within your website content, but also be sure to make them stand out — formatting important keywords in bold or italics help, but also using them as anchor text that go out to relevant websites. Furthermore, ensure you use certain key terms that are not as search-engine friendly, but help establish your focus topic. Primary keyword targets like “sterling silver jewellery” can be bolstered by terms such as “grade,” “karat,” and other relevant, authoritative, and context building terms. These words might not be what you are targeting for SEO (and may not be used at all by your target market depending on your website content’s subject matter), but they help in context — in semantic indexing. This also allows your content to rank for related searches using these terms.
Link to and From Your Own Content
If you know your link-building essentials, then chances are you’re already doing this. If not, it’s time to start. Internal linking contributes to PageRank, though of course not as significantly as external outbound links, and it also strengthens your site structure, which search engines like in general. The reason it’s ideal for LSI to perform internal linking within your own webpages and website contents is because of the same principle of context building, only on a larger scale.
As mentioned earlier, using certain keywords as anchor text to outbound links is a good way to make them stand out. Anchor text is deemed important by search engines because they signal links, which means that the webpages they link to are related to the words used as anchor text. If you use the words “a news report indicated” as anchor text and linked to the news report article you mentioned, then the words “news report” within that anchor text will easily be associated with where you linked to. For the recipient of the link, this helps establish something essential: it’s a news report. Now, if in an article about pet food you use a certain keyword, such as “pet food dangers,” and link to a webpage explaining common pet food dangers, then you will be doing that webpage a favor by associating those keywords to its content, as well as lending your PageRank by linking to it. On your end, search engines will see that you deem the keywords “pet food dangers” relevant enough to your topic to link to another source to, which means that your topic is related to it.
When you perform internal linking, you benefit from being both the source of the link and the recipient of it: keyword association and context building. It’s building context in a larger scale — instead of just one article, search engines can look at the links between articles and get a clearer picture of what each is about and also understand what that group of webpages is focusing on.
Use Long-Tail Query Variations
Finally, another nifty and natural practice to perform is to use long-tail query variations of your main and secondary keywords. It’s only natural that within the scope of the discussion about certain keywords, you expand on them and mention a few long-tail query variations. The trick, however, is finding the right ones that rank.
This can become rather technical, as you need to research on long-tail queries and insert them into your articles as naturally as possible. Usually, this practice comes after an article is already written, and it is revised to accommodate a few targeted long-tail queries. Using keyword research tools, seed a few main and secondary keywords to generate a list of variations. Take the most well-ranking longer variations and reseed, then cull your list by relevance to your topic. The main advantage of long-tail query keywords is that they convert better, though they do not drive as much traffic. In this case, however, since you are targeting them at the same time as your other keywords, it’s a completely beneficial scenario for you, without sacrificing general traffic to target conversion.
These are just three practices you can use to maximise your LSI for better organic SEO performance. As LSI becomes an increasingly important facet of the industry, it will inevitably become part and parcel of content strategy as it is already an aspect of SEO.