Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI What Is It and How Does It Work?

Latent Semantic Indexing is a systematic method used by search engines to automatically classify documents. It examines every word on your website or article and then calculates similarity measurements for each document or for individual terms. It can then gauge accurately which documents are really relevant to a search phrase even if that search phrase does not appear in the article. As you know, measuring keyword relevancy is the primary component of a search engine’s ranking algorithm. Understanding how the search engines use Latent Semantic Indexing can have significant impact on the ranking of your article or website.

So how can a search engine such as Google tell the difference between relevant information and irrelevant information in an article or document? How can it tell if an article contains the precise information as queried. Latent Semantic Indexing aids the search engines to solve this problem. LSI helps improve a search engine’s relevancy performance in three significant and specific tasks: recall, precision, and ranking.

– Recall is defined as the search engines getting or pulling up all of the relevant information available for your specific keyword search.
– Precision is getting only the exact information that is relevant or pertinent to your specific search.
– Ranking is getting all the information in a meaningful systematic way from the most relevant to the least important.

When you enter a keyword query into a search engine that uses Latent Semantic Indexing, the search engine then examines similarity values and calculates it for every word in the document in question. This search method examines the document or article as a whole and knows which websites are semantically close or not very relevant based on the relationships between all the words in each article and all the words in the rest of the website or blog. Latent Semantic Indexing does not require an exact match to the query phrase to find relevant documents.

So what does this mean to the search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, website owners or article writers who want high visibility in the search engines? It means that every word on your document is important and not just the keywords you use. The right combination of the words in your content is really what matters. What you do with your keywords is still important but now you must go beyond that… now you’ve got to have the right context, word combinations and systematic flow to support your keywords.

Because Latent Semantic Indexing correlates well with how we as human readers might classify a document or article, writing content that performs well under LSI analysis does not involve writing contrived, robotic styled verbiage. This includes using article spinners, keyword replacement tools or synonym exchange software. It involves giving proper attention both to persuasive, well written copy and to semantics. The article is now a delicate balance of art and science. The search engines of course like this because it increases the quality of the content in their search databases. This is also good for your website because you’ll have precise information that generates more traffic and more better conversion rates.

The proper formula for Latent Semantic Indexing involves principles from various sources: knowledge of the subject, flow of information, knowing human psychology and recognizing systematic patterns. This combined with proper time tested internet marketing principles should result in top search engine results.


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