Monday, May 11, 2009

Understanding The Word Latent In Terms Of Search Engine Optimization

by Justin Arnold

There is much talk of latent semantic indexing, and the importance of using latent semantic language within articles and web content, but there is also a great deal of confusion, misunderstanding and assuming. For example, most people appreciate the word 'semantic', immediately flooding their articles with similar or related keywords, but what about the word 'latent'?

The word 'latent' means potential or subtle, without being obvious. The trouble is that when it comes to search engine optimization and writing good quality web content many people ignore this aspect, and the abundance of keywords is woefully obvious. By pouring keywords into writing, many web publishers are making it so obvious that they are trying to optimize their content for Google that the meaning of the text becomes virtually lost.

Trying to read a sentence with half a dozen sub clauses and with every third word repeated in six different ways isn't going to help endear your website to your visitors. The trouble is that by trying to optimize your articles for the search engines you are attempting to gain short term benefits by sacrificing the longer term advantages.

What does this mean? Effectively it means that by writing in such a way that you virtually ignore the word 'latent' and simply flood your website with semantically equivalent words and phrases, you might be successful in catching the attention of the search engines, but you'll lose the attention of your visitors.

People don't want to read web articles which are written purely for a computer to read. Sentences that read something like 'fixing, repairing or having repaired your bike, bicycle or cycle is important to keep your bike, cycle or bicycle running smoothly, running well and running safely.' This is simply nonsense, and whilst a search engine might recognise it, and deduce that the subject is clearly about bicycle maintenance, any human will simply stop reading after the first sentence, and find a different website.

In this way, you are losing clients or visitors, and almost certainly losing sales. But isn't search engine optimization about getting more visitors and sales? What is the benefit of employing article writing services to produce keyword relevant content if the writers you choose are producing gibberish that only makes sense to a computer chip? Surely you should be writing text that is informative and useful for real live humans to enjoy, as well as being interesting and easy to read.

One of the most effective ways of boosting your position within the search results pages is to maximise the number of external links which point to your pages. However, by including articles with keyword density so high there are barely any other words in it, you are highly unlikely to find many websites willing to direct their visitors to you. This will decrease your popularity and lower your rank.

In this case it will become necessary to write ten times as many articles just to try to hold your position. But this is a little like trying to hold on to an oily rope - a great deal of effort just to stay still, and the moment you stop trying, you'll sink very quickly into oblivion.

It makes far more sense to pay attention to the word 'latent', and to employ article writing services who understand that this word is just as significant as the word 'semantic'. The language used within an article on your web page should be subtle, and never obvious. If a visitor becomes focused on the keywords rather than the content, then the battle may be lost already.

Well written search engine optimized web content should use keywords, and use semantic language, but the words and phrases should not be compiled in such a way that you're offering excerpts from a thesaurus rather than useful, informative content.

The other point to mention is the fact that the major search engines, such as Google, understand that content can become flooded with particular words, or similar words, and will lower the rank of a website which employs this tactic.

Hurling badly written documents on to the web in the hope of attracting the attention of the search engines may well do just that - but then once they spot that your documents are grossly laden with semantic language to the detriment of the quality of the content, then they are likely to ignore future articles and content.

It is of critical importance to make sure that you write for people - your real live visitors - rather than for computers. The search engines may be hard to please, but real people offer an even greater challenge. Latent semantic language means optimizing your web content and your articles to please both, not merely the one whose name you know.

About the Author

Justin Arnold is a full-time freelance writer and SEO expert, who has written many thousands of articles for a large number of companies and organizations around the world. For information on his article writing and SEO services, please visit or for more information on other writing services available, visit .