Semantic Keywords Research and Topic Models

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Seeing Meaning with semantic keywords

I went to the Pubcon 2017 Conference this week in Las Vegas, Nevada, and gave a presentation about Semantic keywords and topic models based upon white papers and patents from Google. My focus was on things such as Context Vectors and Phrase-Based Indexing.

I promised on social media that I would post the presentation on my blog to answer questions if anyone had any.

I’ve been doing Semantic keywords and topic models research like this for years, where I’ve looked at other pages that rank well for keyword terms that I want to use, and identify phrases and terms that tend to appear upon those pages, and include them on pages that I am trying to optimize. So it made a lot of sense to start looking at semantic topic models research after reading about phrase-based indexing in 2005 and later.

Some of the terms I see when I search for Semantic keywords Research include such things as “improve your rankings,” and “conducting keyword research,” and “smarter content.” I see phrases that I’m not a fan of, such as “LSI Keywords,” which has as much scientific credibility as Keyword Density, which is next to none. There were researchers from Bell Labs, in 1990, who wrote a white paper and a patent about Latent Semantic Indexing, which was something that was used with small (less than 10,000 documents) and static collections of documents (the web is constantly changing and hasn’t been that small for a long time.)

Many people call themselves SEOs who tout LSI keywords as being keywords based upon having related meanings to other words; unfortunately, that has nothing to do with the LSI that was developed in 1990.

If you are going to present research or theories about LSI, it pays to do a little research first. Here’s my presentation. It includes links to patents and white papers that the ideas within it are based upon. I do look forward to your questions.

Last Updated May 30, 2019

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46 thoughts on “Semantic Keywords Research and Topic Models”

  1. Aha! should keep eye on phrase. Great . Bill. It’s worthy to read your article. Love you. How older you Bill? Please Don’t mind. I have just started my blog at the age of 40. Numerous question arises in mind. Should I carry forward? Please suggest me. Please have a look through my blog.

  2. Hi Bill, another immensley interesting read, solidyfying the base of what you have discussed in so many of your previous blogs. I encourage all those asking me about see and the underlying principles to read your blog.
    Thanks once againfor your time and knowledge and in making this available.

  3. Most of the time I have seen that people misunderstand keywords. They think that the more keywords they use on content and anchor texts are going to be better for SEO. But actually, the topical, intent-based keyword analysis is something which we need to do.
    Up to this, it was fine but after reading this post and watching the PPT, I am getting a bit confused on the LSI part. So related and suggested keywords shown by Google on SERP are LSI or those are not LSI?

  4. Hi Dhrubo,

    No, There are some people saying to use LSI keywords, which is nonsense. Using semantically related keywords, and keywords that show off the right context, and co-occur on pages that use the same meaning is a good idea. If anyone says to use LSI when doing keyword research, you should really question their knowledge – they are misinforming people. “LSI” is short for “Latent Semantic Indexing”, which has the word “Semantic” in it, but it has a very specific meaning, and doesn’t mean to use semantically related keywords (more here: You should ideally be using semantically related keywords. There is a site that offers “LSI Keywords” which doesn’t explain how they generate those, nor do they tell anyone whom they are, so you can’t research them, and find out more about them. That doesn’t provide much trust.

  5. Hi Alan,

    Thank you. I tried to build this presentation based upon things I have written about in the past; so I’m glad to hear that shows through.

  6. Hi Bill. I’m from Russia. In our country SlideShare is blocked. Can you share another link plz, I’m very interested!

  7. Hi, Bill!

    This is super fascinating stuff that’s really helping me figure out how to approach content from an intent and relevance perspective. I did notice, though, that your link to “Improving Semantic Clustering” seems to lead to a 404 page. Does this mean that content is no longer available?

    Either way, thank you for this post! πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Elea,

    I can’t be sure. The links in the presentation were working when I put the presentation together, which was a couple of weeks ago. I’m trying to remember which page I linked to with that anchor text.

  9. Oh my goodness thanks so much for the link to the paper, Bill! πŸ™‚ I really appreciate being able to sink my teeth into references like this.

    Cheers, and I hope you have a wonderful week.

  10. Keep in mind that as much as semantic keyword research is about finding actual keywords you can use in your SEO campaignsÒ€¦it’s just as much about building a complete profile of your target customer. And the better you can understand your target customer the better your campaign results will be!

  11. Hi Valid,

    Thank you. That is an important thing to think about when doing keyword research; It’s something I was expecting of anyone doing keyword research. Making sure to add context vocabulary and co-occurring words broadens the meaning that your pages may be found for based upon the keywords you select as well.

  12. Hello Bill,

    Great informative post over here πŸ™‚

    Indeed keyword research is something I have always feel troubled with. Frankly speaking I am no good at this area, so I
    always look for relevant topics which can help me to over come this problem.

    Semantic keyword research tool looks very promising and it would be good to dig some more into this topic.

    Topical based keyword research is that we all need to do, its not good idea to put in too many keywords, one or two is enough
    to create chances for our web site.

    Thanks for this awesome share.


  13. Thank you Bill – I’ve been researching more on how to improve the semantic core of a site, and I really appreciated your insights here.

    And thank you for showing LSI to be the silliness it is!

  14. Hi Shantanu,

    Researching the areas that you feel you may need to work upon is always a good idea. It’s how we turn our weaknesses into strengths.

    Glad to hear you liked this post.

  15. Hi Karl,

    I’ve been using the ideas behind this post for a long time, and they seemed to work well, and were worth sharing. I was happy to see the Context-based stuff from Google and Co-occurrance of terms from phrase-based indexing is something I’ve been using since at least 2005, and it makes sense to use

  16. Hi Bill,

    Great read and deck.

    I haven’t fully delved into the papers, but was wondering about the typical “People also ask” questions.

    Google knows these exist, they put them there on the SERPS, would it not be beneficial to include these in content (and answer them)?

  17. Hey Bill,
    This is a great article.
    Most of the time i have been thinking what practices should i use for better keyword research, as i’m new to blogging i never knew the importance of semantic keyword research. All i knew was just the keyword research with the conventional methods.
    Thank you for such an informative article! πŸ™‚

  18. Hi Bill Slawski,
    This post has given me an idea how to do Keyword Research and Topic Models.Its help me a lot.Keep up your good work.Thaks For it.

  19. Thanks Bill For sharing This Great Article i loved to read your articles but first time i am commenting on your blog.

  20. What I do not understood is actually how you are not actually a lot more well-liked than you what I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way IÒ€ℒll be subscribing to your feed now. You are very intelligent. You understand therefore considerably in the case of this matter, produced me individually believe it from numerous varied angles. Its like Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say thanks.

  21. Nice blog Mr Bill? Semantic keyword research tool looks very promising and it would be good to dig some more into this topic
    Thanks for this awesome share

  22. Hello Bill, How are you today? πŸ™

    Its been long time I read your post. πŸ™‚

    I’ve found it on slideshare and its amazing for semantic keyword research and best topic model indeed.

    Anyway, I just noted few points exactly image 7 and 13. Can you explain those? If possible please answer!

    Thanks for another biggest thumbs up. Keep it up! πŸ˜‰

  23. Hi Bill

    I went through your presentation page by page and it is surely a page-turner. Actually it has been an overhauling reading experience in terms of keyword research for me. Thanks for such a detailed and enlightening presentation.

  24. Very powerful guide to Semantic keywords. Anyone can utilize these ideas to get a lot of good and low competition keywords semantic keywords with this guide. This guide very easy understands and implementing in the proper way. Thanks a lot for this awesome stuff.

  25. Hi,
    Great Information about Semantic Keyword Research, I am new to the field, this tips very useful to everyone.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  26. Really insightful read!

    We did a SEO session today on Semantic Search and this post and slideshow was perfect.

    we actually feel like we’re learning and understanding SEO at a more advanced level than what is in the usual “how to improve your SEO” articles you find online, and you make perfect sense.

    This article has more or less defined the term “semantic keyword” brilliantly and for that Thank you!

  27. I was struggling to rank for the right keywords on my website and this has explinained the process and what I need to do to target the right keywords. Thanks Bill

  28. Hi SEO Nottingham,

    Happy hearing that you enjoyed my post and presentation, and that your session went so well. I was really happy with how it turned out at Pubcon as well, and the questions it received were a lot of fun answering. You’re welcome.

  29. I agree with the ranking on the right keywords comment. This was helpful. Thanks a million. I’m just starting out in the seo game but am learning so much. I can’t believe I thought that just building the site was the start of what I would need to do to promote the site. Anyway, thanks. Informative.

  30. Thanks Bill For sharing This Great Article about keyword research. i loved to read your articles but first time i am commenting on your blog.

  31. I actually added your blog to my favorites and will look forward for more updates. Great Job, Keep it up. First of all let me tell you, you have got a great blog .I am interested in looking for more of such topics and would like to have further information. Hope to see the next blog soon.

  32. key word planning is most important part of seo, back link may influence your possibility of gating your rank , but without particular keyword is it not possible. good post.

  33. Hi Manas,

    Having a plan for how you are focusing upon the content that you are putting on a page is always a good idea. Building a topic that a page is about. Using knowledge base information to include context terms, and finding co-occurring meaningful phrases from high ranking pages for the query terms you are targeting are both good ideas. πŸ™‚

  34. Hello Bill,
    Your posts are very helpful, actually they let me to closer understanding about how the system actually work. Could you share the present with me?

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