How to Use Keyword Synonyms to Improve Your Content

In order to have your texts SEO-optimized, you need to know how to use keyword synonyms. Otherwise, you might create weird content with vaguely robotic repetitions that, in the professional SEO world, is called keyword stuffing. Believe me or not, but no one loves this type of text, you wouldn’t appreciate it either. 

The good news is that there is a better way to do things now. You can use keyword synonyms and create content that Google will like and readers – value and in this article, I’ll show you the easiest ways to do it. 

In this article you’ll learn:

  1. Why keyword stuffing is bad for your SEO
  2. What has changed with the Google Hummingbird update
  3. What are keyword synonyms 
  4. Why use synonyms of target keywords within your content
  5. Proven techniques on how to find keyword synonyms
  6. What professional tools you can use to search for synonyms

Why is Keyword Stuffing so Bad?

If you’re not already familiar, keyword stuffing is the practice of repeating an exact-match keyword numerous times. This is usually done with the intention to outsmart the Google algorithm and make certain pages rank for a specific keyword. 

Although keyword stuffing should be avoided, a lot of SEOs accidentally make this mistake, because they’re trying to increase their page’s keyword density

Note: Keyword Density is the percentage of words on a page that exactly match your keyword.

Keyword stuffing used to be a proven technique that the majority of SEOs followed because the search engine was young and naive back then. However, things have changed when on September 26, 2013, Google rolled out its core algorithm update called Hummingbird. This update has gone to the basics of SEO and changed how Google algorithm interprets keywords. 

Before I dive in further, I wanted to assure you that there are still ways to recover if you got hit by a Google Core Update. I have a separate blog post about why your Google rankings are dropping with instructions on how to be prepared upfront and to recover fast

What Was the Purpose of the Google Hummingbird Update?

The Hummingbird update introduced, what we call, a semantic search. That was the purpose of the Google Hummingbird algorithm update. It means that right now Google no longer looks for phrases that exactly match the search terms, but for broader content. 

Let me use a simple example to show you how Google Hummingbird works. In the past, a fitness blog could have had one page optimized for “foods that burn fat” and another one for “fat-burning foods.”

But with Hummingbird, Google understands that those search terms mean the same thing and are burn fat synonyms. 

Food that burns fat is a fat-burning food. They’re logically equivalent. More importantly, Google understands that those terms mean the same thing. This is what the hummingbird algorithm does. So, a website that has optimized pages for each keyword suddenly finds that both pages simultaneously rank for both search terms. And now they have a keyword cannibalization problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. 

But if Google understands logical equivalence …does it also understand when words mean similar things? In other words, does Google know that “parakeet” and “bird” are related?

Does Google know that “parakeet” and “bird” are related? Definitely yes.

Yes, Google does. And that was the key change with the Hummingbird update.

Hummingbird update wasn’t created to limit you, but to reward high-quality content that users value. You can use it to your advantage and achieve the same goal as keyword stuffers but without the need to create blog posts and landing pages that sound like they were written for an elementary school. No one likes those, you wouldn’t either. 

What are Keyword Synonyms?

Synonyms are words that mean exactly or nearly the same. In other words, they can be easily interchanged by one another without hurting the context. 

Hard and difficult, couch and sofa, suitcase and luggage. You know these and therefore could have probably already guessed what a keywords synonym is. 

A keyword’s synonym is a word or phrase that means something similar to your keyword. For example, if you’re writing a post about “dog food,” keyword synonyms might be “food for dogs,” “food for old dogs,” “pet food,” or “puppy food.” 

You might have heard that joke: “An SEO expert walks into a bar, pub, grill, brewery, bartender, Irish house, beer, cocktails, drinks, liquor…”

SEO jokes can also be funny

Why Is It Important to Use Keyword Synonyms?

I understand that maybe you don’t want to take things to quite that level yet, but let me tell you the truth. 

Each core update improves how the Google algorithm works. Don’t ever forget that Google is a search engine and it was built to serve users by providing them the most relevant and accurate answers. That’s what core updates usually focus on: they reward original content that brings value and ban the one that aims to get traffic in the first place and increase revenue out of it. 

That’s why it’s super important to start incorporating keywords synonyms into your content now. Why? Because those relevant keyword synonyms give Google context. And context, as you might have known, is incredibly important for Google. 

You don’t want to annoy your readers in the middle of your blog post because you kept repeating the same phrase over and over until it became painfully obvious you were writing for SEO.

Your readers are smart – they know when they’re not the first person in mind. If you’re writing for search engines, the intent behind your writing isn’t to benefit your readers, but to benefit your own interests.

Also, keyword synonyms make your posts so much easier to read because you sound more professional and natural. Plus, the longer users stay on your page reading your content, the less the bounce rate this page has. And we all know that Google takes the bounce rate of the page into account before making its final ranking decision. This brings us to one more benefit of enhancing your content with keywords synonyms. 

Check out my recent blog post where I shared Best Free Resources to Learn SEO Copywriting. No prior experience is required, so why not give it a shot and create engaging pieces that your audience will love and appreciate. 

How to Find Keyword Synonyms

Now that you understand why you should incorporate keyword synonyms into your writing, you need to actually know how to find synonyms for keywords you wish to target

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of techniques to unearth proper substitutions for your keyword. You can: 

Let’s look at each of these options.

Brainstorm Synonyms 

That’s right – you can brainstorm your synonyms. Believe me or not, but it’s not always the least effective way to do it. It’s because you get an opportunity to think about how your customer might talk about your keyword.

This is where your old market research may come in handy. If you’ve surveyed your audience, you can dive into it to learn what language your target customers are using. It will help you outsmart the autogenerated synonyms because you can come up with keywords synonyms that your audience will most likely be using to look for your services or products. 

If you haven’t done any market research, you probably have comments from old blog posts and replies to emails you’ve sent – you may find your treasure there. If not, who told you that you should use only your own platform? Look through comments and feedback users are leaving on websites similar to yours. You might be surprised by what turns up!

Use a Dedicated Tool

There are two major tools dedicated to finding keywords synonyms:

  1. Thesaurus

The first one I want to talk about right now is Thesaurus. It’s an extension of the famous dictionary.com and is the best google synonyms search tool. It is a free online tool for finding generic synonyms for everyday English usage. It’s easy to use: just fire up the site, plug in your keyword, and pick keywords synonyms that make sense.

How to use Thesaurus to find keyword synonyms
Screenshot from thesaurus.com
  1. LSI Graph

LSI Graph is also an incredible tool that will help you find LSI keywords. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords may also function as synonyms for your chosen keyword. 

The tool itself is pretty intuitive and straightforward. You just need to type in your keyword and scroll the generated list to find the most relevant options for your case. 

LSI keywords are not always keyword synonyms. But they do give you plenty of content ideas and help you understand what your target customer might be searching for, so they’re still useful. 

How to find keywords synonyms using LSI Graph tool
Screenshot from LSI Graph

Ask Google

This is the easiest solution because all you have to do is to google your keyword and see what Google will highlight for you.

Find keywords synonyms by asking Google

Here, what you should keep in mind. When you google any search term, Google will show you the most relevant results it has to answer the query. What it means is that you don’t need to invent opportunities, but to be curious with your searches and give search engine answers it doesn’t have or the best answer among those it has.

Knowing which related terms Google highlights in the SERPs is a huge advantage because it makes including those keywords extremely easy. Also, including words that are very likely to get the attention, can increase your click-through rate and get you more readers, which is the entire reason you’re worried about SEO in the first place.

Want something that will work even faster?

Look at the text in Google Ads. Those words are not there by accident. Just imagine how much money has been spent on A/B testing or how many hours were dedicated in order to come up with exactly these words in this exact order.

Texts for Google Ads go through a lot of testing in order to convert well. This is the reason why you can be confident that any phrases you take from the advertisements that pop up on a particular search, will definitely be good picks.

Final thoughts

A lot of SEOs make the mistake of paying too much attention to keyword density and repeating the same keyword over and over again.

This is bad not only because it can result in keyword stuffing, but also because it leads to bad writing which can undermine your reader’s trust in your content.

Keyword synonyms will fix both of those problems. While giving you the opportunity to improve your reader’s experience, you tell Google that your page is highly valued by your visitors and, therefore, is worth high rankings.

How to Use Keyword Synonyms to Improve Your Content

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