What is LSI, and Why Should You Care?
In 2011 the online world shifted. You may not have felt the earth move, but your online life has never been the same. Because in 2011 Google introduced a major innovation in search crawling named Panda.
Panda was created to get rid of a pervasive online tactic called keyword stuffing. Before 2011, search engines looked for keywords, and the site with the most keywords got the top ranking. if you wanted to rank for certain keywords, you would fill your website to the brim with those few words. You’d shove those keywords over and over into meta tags and add hidden pages on your site full of nothing but, you guessed it, keywords.
What do Luxury Cruises Have to do With Target?
That’s why, back in the dark days before Panda, if you searched for “luxury cruises,” Target might have popped up as the number-one ranked site. In the pre-Panda world, Target as was famous for keyword stuffing (and also famous for lots of other, very positive reasons.) Target didn’t limit keyword stuffing to the items they sold – they loaded their site with all kinds of keywords, sometimes describing items wildly outside of their retail offerings, working on the premise that if they popped up on a search for any reason, you were more likely to visit their site.
But Google and other search engines were working to make search better. They developed ways to create algorithms that could look beyond keywords, and take into consideration the context and syntax around keywords. It wasn’t enough that a website had the correct keyword. It also had to have the kinds of surrounding words and terms that made sense for that keyword.
LSI is Born
Panda’s introduction was a big deal because it introduced a complicated new approach to web-crawling called Latent Syntax Indexing, or LSI. LSI made Panda able to rank sites based on their overall content and relevancy, instead of relying on keyword headcounts. In 2013 Google introduced a second-generation approach with Hummingbird. Panda and Hummingbird coding now enabled Google to penalize sites with too many keywords. With the help of their advanced LSI approach, Google was able to refine a search in more accurate and user-friendly ways. You were now able to search for Cars the Disney movie vs. Cars the 80s band vs. Cars the thing you want to buy to drive around in.
How Can You make Google Panda and Hummingbird Love Your Website?
Now that you know some of the secrets to Google’s approach to search, how can you make sure your website ranks for your chosen keywords? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Follow the 3% Rule
While no one believes that your keywords must be restricted to exactly 3% of your overall content, limiting keywords to about 3% is a good rule of thumb. The 3% rule helps you quickly assess whether you’re relying too heavily on one or two keywords. Generally, for every 100 words you put on your site, only about 3 or four should be keywords. Yoast offers some great tools to help you with keyword density (and lots of other SEO challenges.) If you’re looking for a free keywords density tool, check out FreeSEOResouces.com.
2. Use Synonyms
If you’re promoting a car, the kind your ride around in, you might use synonyms like auto, automobile, ride or vehicle. While you can use the word “car “frequently, search engines also recognize that synonyms are a kind of keyword, and will rank you accordingly. Using synonyms is also a good writing practice, and usually makes your content more engaging and easier to read. Stuck for synonyms? Check out Thesaurus.com. It’s a free online tool that offers a long list of synonyms for almost any word.
3. Include Lots and Lots of Content
The only way you’ll get your keyword onto your site repeatedly, without getting penalized for keyword loading, is to include lots of relevant content. Relevant content, by its nature, will include the kind of relevant syntax LSI loves. If you’re selling cars, include long descriptions on your site. Add pages on car care, the best ways to shop for cars, ways to customize cars, car washing tips…you get the idea. By talking about your cars over and over again, in ways that your target audience cares about, you’re adding keywords and synonyms, and making your site more attractive to search engine crawlers. And your target market will like your new, more useful site more in the process.
While we don’t have a magic tool to help you create more content (unless you want to hire Cup O Content, which is always a good idea and works almost as well as magic) you can easily check your new, expanded content for typos and grammatical errors with Grammarly’s free and paid versions.
LSI is an essential consideration today, but SEO is always changing. Cup O Content is following those changes closely and will continue to share them on this blog. Want to jumpstart your SEO and start improving your search rankings right now? Contact us for a free consultation.
Want to read more blogs about digital strategy? Check out these Cup O Content articles.