A great many online marketers have been somewhat confused of late about which horse to back – the good old faithful SEO beast which may well have teeth and a bit of a temper, but runs well on a good day, or the lesser known dark horse called LSI.

As far as creating SEO articles or SEO content is concerned marketers have known for a long time that there are a number of reasonably reliable ways of boosting the visibility of businesses within the SERPs, and of course ways to abuse SEO in ways more likely to have websites demoted in the listings.

Traditional SEO often meant including the primary keyphrase or keyword in specific locations within the document to improve the chance that the search engines would pick up on it more easily.

Generally this meant including your key words in the first paragraph, the last paragraph and a few times in the document somewhere. Keyword density is no longer the issue of the day, because anything over 2% is almost certainly likely to count against you, and anything less could hardly be called ‘density’ anyway.

But LSI is something quite different. To start with LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, is not a method of optimisation. It’s a method of assessment. Specifically it is the way major search engines such as Google assess the relevance of an article or web content to the subject matter.

For this reason it is important to ensure that content is optimised for this assessment. Therefore, current SEO techniques should be including optimisation for LSI. But what is LSI, and how do you optimise for it?

In its simplest form LSI analyses text to assess the likely subject matter. So if it finds the word ‘car’ fairly prominently in the text, title or headings then it will assume that the article is about cars. But how relevant is that content to the subject of cars?

The basic approach used in LSI is to compare the vocabulary of the text to the vocabulary used in known reputable material on the same subject. If the breadth of the subject related vocabulary is broad enough, then the relevance of the piece is considered to be high, and the article is treated as important, drastically improving the chances of it being indexed, and listed prominently in the SERPs.

But note the use of the word ‘broad’. Some internet marketers and SEO specialists are still believing that optimising for LSI means including a range of semantically similar words to the keyword throughout the text. So if the keyword is ‘car’, some people would advocate including the words ‘vehicle’, ‘motor’, ‘auto’ and ‘automobile’.

The trouble is that this hardly demonstrates a broad range of vocabulary, because all the words mean the same thing. All that will happen is that Google will identify the same meaning for each word, and count them as being identical.

This of course pushes the effective keyword density up through the roof, seriously jeopardising the chances of the content being listed at all. If you’re not careful such a tactic could well result in content being blacklisted, or even the entire domain. It has happened.

Instead, when optimising for LSI it’s essential to include a broad range of vocabulary that relates to the subject of cars, such as ‘drive’, ‘journey’, ‘traffic’, ‘road’, ‘fuel’ and so forth.

So as far as SEO and LSI is concerned, traditional SEO keyword placement is still important in order to make sure that the search engines identify the main focus or subject of the content, but today SEO techniques have to ensure that text is fully optimised for LSI. Today it isn’t about keyword density, it’s about keyword context, and the keyword as far as that is concerned is breadth.