Latent Semantic Optimisation
Latent Semantic Optimisation: Brief Summary
Latent semantic optimisation, or LSO for short, is a technique associated with search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts. Put simply, it involves optimising content, so that it includes words that are semantically relevant to the main keywords being targeted. The purpose behind this is to score highly with Google’s latent semantic indexing approach, in order to boost your placement and overall visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).
When latent semantic optimisation techniques are used effectively, your website or content should rank higher up on SERPs than less relevant web pages, even if they are targeting the exact same keyword(s). Additionally, LSO can also help you to place ahead of websites using outdated or low-effort SEO methods, such as keyword stuffing.
Latent Semantic Optimisation: Detailed Summary
The concept of latent semantic optimisation emerged due to improvements made to the algorithms of search engines like Google. In the platform’s infancy, Google would determine which search results to display based on a number of factors, with one of these being keyword density. However, this led to the rise of a practice called ‘keyword stuffing’, where sites would use the keyword as often as possible, in order to boost visibility on search engine results pages.
Keyword stuffing allowed website owners to manipulate results, even if their content was not actually relevant to what the user was searching for. In response to this, Google updated its algorithms, penalising keyword stuffing, while also making use of a technique known as latent semantic indexing. Essentially, this involves analysing web content and assessing the relationships between words contained within that content.
By adopting latent semantic indexing, Google is able to present more relevant search results. This is not only useful for preventing issues like keyword stuffing and other manipulative SEO practices that could affect the quality of the results being displayed to users, it also helps the search engine to more easily assess the context of words that have multiple meanings, avoiding many situations where irrelevant results would otherwise be displayed.
The concept of latent semantic optimisation emerged as a direct result of this evolution of search engine algorithms. It is a concept that is associated with search engine optimisation and involves optimising on-page content, so that latent semantic indexing recognises the website as relevant and places it high up on search engine results pages.
In practice, this will usually involve identifying words that are associated with your main target keywords and making sure they are used within content. In addition to helping to boost your placement on SERPs, making effective use of LSO can also potentially help to attract the most strategically useful visitors to your website. At the same time, it can help you to avoid attracting visitors who are actually searching for something different from what you have to offer.
TF-IDF and Latent Semantic Optimisation
One term you may encounter when reading about latent semantic optimisation is ‘TF-IDF’. This stands for ‘term frequency–inverse document frequency’ and is another technique that Google uses to help rank content for its search engine results pages. Essentially, it helps the search engine to determine how important certain words are to a piece of content. However, it can also be used by marketers to improve latent semantic optimisation efforts.
TF-IDF tells you how frequently words appear in a piece of content, but also how important those words actually are. To do this, it not only considers how often the word appears in your content, but also how often it appears in other content elsewhere. Words that are frequently used across all types of content, such as “and”, “a”, “I”, “you” and “the” are played down, because they do not contribute to relevance, while more unique words are given extra weight.
Online tools like Ryte and Searchmetrics can assist you in conducting a TF-IDF analysis for your content. They will help you to take a closer look at your writing, highlighting the most common words and providing a final TF-IDF score. While this will not be exactly the same as the analysis that occurs when a user carries out a search on a platform like Google, it will serve as a useful guide and provide you with some idea of how well your content will perform.
The results from the analysis could be useful for latent semantic optimisation, because they should show whether the words you are targeting in your LSO efforts have been given significant weighting within your content. If you find that you have given insufficient importance to relevant target words, you can then adjust your content accordingly. While you should not rely solely on TF-IDF for your LSO efforts, it is an advantageous technique to turn to.
Best Practices for Latent Semantic Optimisation
In truth, one of the best ways to achieve latent semantic optimisation is to identify the keyword(s) you are targeting, choose the topic for your content based on that keyword, and then write the content as naturally as possible. If you focus on creating high-quality content, that is relevant to the keyword(s), more often than not you will find that you include words that are semantically related, requiring only minor adjustments to be made afterwards.
There are a number of online tools, which will help to determine the sorts of words you should be targeting with your latent semantic optimisation efforts, based on your chosen keyword(s). For example, within the Google Ads platform, the Keyword Planner tool includes an option for “additional keywords”, which should provide some ideas. A free alternative to this is LSIGraph, which produces a list of words that are semantically linked to your main keyword.
One of the key ways you can enhance your latent semantic optimisation efforts is by limiting the number of times you use your main keyword, focusing instead of relevant usage. If you replace some instances of your main keyword with synonyms, you should find that you naturally use words that are semantically linked to it. Of course, you can guarantee this by utilising one of the aforementioned LSI keyword tools and picking out specific words to use.
Finally, in terms of placement, while keywords are often used in headings, subheadings and in the main body of content, it is recommended that you try to keep words linked to your LSO efforts in the main body only.
The concept of latent semantic optimisation arose in direct response to the shift in approach from Google, away from keyword density and towards latent semantic indexing. In reality, much of the work associated with LSO will often be carried out organically, as long as you focus on writing high-quality content, which is relevant to your keywords. However, by using online tools to identify words that are semantically linked to your keywords, you can guarantee this.