Latent Semantic Indexing: Just What Madison Avenue Needs

June 29, 2011

Ontosearch examines “The Use of Latent Semantic Indexing in Internet Marketing.” Going beyond the traditional use of simple keywords, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) puts words into context. On the assumption that words used in the same context are synonyms, the method uses math to find patterns within text; this process is known as Singular Value Decomposition. The word “latent” refers to creating correlations that are just sitting there waiting to provide important clues to the reader (either human or software) within the text sample.

When used by a search engine to determine ranking, LSI is a huge advance in establishing relevance to the user’s query. It also helps to lower the rank of duplicate websites. A company’s marketing department must keep this process in mind, and refuse to rely on keywords alone.

Google recently made headlines by revamping their search engine to increase the relevancy of their search results. Enhanced LSI was at the root of that change. Many users have been happy with the results, but a lot of businesses found themselves scrambling to recover their coveted high rankings. Adjustments had to be made.

Ontosearch’s post examines the response to this technique in the marketing world:

Latent Semantic system, is known to enhance or compliment the traditional net marketing keyword analysis technique rather than replacing or competing with them. One drawback of the LSI system is that it is based on a mathematical set of rules, which means that it can be justified mathematically but in the natural term, it has hardly any meaning to the users. The use of Latent Semantic System does not mean that you get rid of the standard use of keywords for search reference, instead it is suggested that you maintain a good density of specific keywords along with a good number of related keywords for appropriate Web marketing of the sites.

That technique allows marketing departments to maximize their search rankings. Wow, the marketers are moving to the future! I guess they know what’s good for them. Any company that refuses to embrace the newest techniques risks being left in the dust, especially these days.

But what happens if the Latent Semantic interpretation is incorrect? It can’t guess correctly every time. Check up on search engines’ interpretation of your site’s text to be sure you appear where you think you should.

During a quick Web search (no, the irony is not lost on me), I found that the method has been used to filter spam. That’s welcome. It’s also been applied to education. It’s also been applied to the study of human memory. Interesting. (That reminds me, have I taken my Ginkgo biloba today?)

Our view is that semantic methods have been in use in the plumbing of Google-like systems for years. The buzz about semantic technology is one of the search methods that surf on Kondratieff waves. This has been a long surf board ride. The shore is in sight.

Cynthia Murrell June 29, 2011

You can read more about enterprise search and retrieval in The New Landscape of Enterprise Search, published my Pandia in Oslo, Norway, in June 2011.


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