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Currently, the tilde search operator is my weapon of choice. Let's see if Google sees any relationships for the ubiquitous widget [google.com]. Notice that GUI is bolded in the SERPs. We now know Google sees a relationship between those two words. In theory, including GUI on your widgets page will increase your ranking for widget but not vice versa [google.com].
Too find all of the terms related to widget, we could simply browse the listings looking for bolded terms. But I'm too lazy for that, so I begin excluding words from my query, starting w/ my main term [google.com]. Be sure to collect all your traditional stemmed words( widgeters, widgeting, etc) before excluding your main search term. Each new match is added to my exclusions until no results are found [google.com]. You end up w/ a nice list of related words that can be copied out of the search box.
One downside to this strategy is the chance of missing out on potential matches that only appear on pages you've excluded from your search. However, the time savings is worth it when working with thousands of pages.
Give it a go with a less generic term, and you'll begin to see how much more natural "keyword stuffing" can look now. Anybody else working on a personal Google thesaurus?
As far as using the above words to increase your rankings, I would say that is going to take post or two on it's own. I just try to incorporate as many of the words into my pages as possible.
Not all themed words are equal though. I would say there is a scoring system with different values placed on semantic matches. For the search on widget from above:
widget gets 1 point
widgets gets 1 point
gui gets .9 point
I can usually get a relative idea about the semantic bond between two words using the ~widget -widget search. Usually, the order in which the results are returned is relative to the strength of the bond between your target word and the semantic match.
Please note, all the above is a work in progress. But I will say I have spent many hours w/ my new friend tilda. Be forewarned, going all out on semantic optimization will hurt your rankings on SE's outside of Google. However, once the others catch up it should usher in a new era for search engines and SEO's. Can you tell I'm excited?