Language Is Second Nature for SEO With Machine Learning
Since 1997, marketers have been going loco over SEO and have spent a considerable amount of time analyzing it, improving it, and finding new ways of making the most of it. SEO works hand in hand with technology which means that it moves fast and as we find ourselves living in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, so does our SEO. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the role that natural language processing (NLP) plays in SEO and what you should be doing right now to avoid being left behind.
Let’s Introduce You to BERT
In the closing stages of 2019, the almighty Google introduced a new algorithm called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations From Transformers). BERT was created to improve searches by developing a better understanding of natural language and the context behind words and phrases used on the world wide web. This internet-changing algorithm harnesses the power of NLP in order to dig deeper into what internet users say and what they actually mean.
NLP uses artificial intelligence along with linguistics, computer science, and a little bit of magic to bridge the gap between computers and human language. It is able to process humongous amounts of data to allow computers to get to grips with language used online and to interpret the meaning behind what is said. NLP has one goal in mind, to untangle the complexities of human language in order to provide the best possible search results.
In this endeavor, NLP and BERT are two sides of the same coin. NLP is the key to delivering exactly what the internet user wants when they conduct an online search. If we want proof of BERT’s power, this can be found in the results of an experiment that showed that the number of queries with featured snippets increased by 5.2% after the introduction of BERT.
BERT’s Impact on Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are the holy grail for SEO professionals because, quite frankly, internet users are lazy. Featured snippets give a precise amount of the content of a page or site. This information gives the user a good idea of what they’ll get if they click on it. Needless to say, gaining a Featured snippet gives businesses a huge advantage as pages with these receive a whole lot more love from internet users than those who don’t have them.
BERT and NLP work hand in hand to supersize search results by gaining a deeper understanding of what the user is trying to achieve. It does this by getting to grips with context to provide a better experience for the internet user. The knock-on effect of brands getting on board with this is that their chances of being gifted a Featured snippet by Google improve significantly.
Why NLP and SEO Should Be Besties
SEO is all about tweaking the content on your website to climb the flagpole of Google’s rankings and to make sure that your potential customers find you. At its fledgling stage, SEO was about nothing more complex than stuffing your content full of keywords and phrases in the hope that this would make your site more visible. However, things have, of course, evolved since then.
Over the years, SEO has marched to the beat of advances in technology and, in 2021, SEO and NLP are set to become BFFs. Why? As BERT and his pal, NLP, are on a mission to change the way that we understand queries, this has a direct impact on on-page and off-page SEO. Marketers and SEO professionals can use the dynamic duo to improve the SEO of their entire digital presence by understanding Google’s use of sentiment:
Start Your Engines
Google uses BERT and NLP to analyze the sentiment, which means that it’s no longer just looking at individual words; it’s now examining entire sentences and paragraphs and doing its best to understand them. This is great news for marketers as they no longer have to rely on just keywords. For marketers and SEO experts, there are a few things you need to know to make this work for you:
NLP targets what it refers to as entities. These are basically people, products, events, numbers, and organizations. NLP is quickly able to understand and categorize these.
Google and NLP sort content into categories to fine-tune the search for internet users. Needless to say, making sure that your site or page lands in the correct category is of vital importance for visibility, ranking, and conversions for brands.
Google and NLP work hard to figure out the salience or importance of a word within a piece of text. For example, in a piece about breakfast, ‘morning’ would be deemed more important than ‘evening’ or ‘afternoon.’
By understanding how the above work together, you can then begin to factor this into your content, and Surfer SEO is a really good tool to help you do this. Surfer is an online tool that prompts you as you write to give you suggestions for keywords and more.
Getting on Board with NLP
Now that we’ve given some pretty compelling reasons for using NLP for your SEO, you’re no doubt wondering just how, exactly, you should do this. The following simple three steps will have you heading in the right direction:
Your first task is to examine your website and social media pages with a fine-toothed comb to see how you’re doing. You can use an online tool like Surfer or Brand 24 for this. The idea is to figure out how effective the language that you’re using is within your digital presence. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to look at restructuring your pages for optimum impact.
Next, you’ll want to analyze the sentiment of your content. If you find that, in general, the sentiment score for your content is negative or neutral then you’ll need to be prepared to put in some serious work to put this right.
Your final step will be to add those important entities that we mentioned earlier. This is incredibly important as these entities are the cornerstones of NLP and so, should never be overlooked.
Completing these tasks is your best course of action to make sure that you’ll get noticed and go sailing up Google’s ranks but it doesn’t stop there. As with any kind of SEO, it’s a fluid thing and it’s an ongoing thing so you need to make sure that you’re analyzing and updating regularly.
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Use NLP for SEO to Strengthen Your Digital Presence
In order to get ahead with SEO, the key is to understand the different elements which will come together to bring a customer to your site. These elements include relevance, visibility, and search intent. By intent, we mean the result that the searcher wants, and being able to figure this out is more than half the battle in SEO.
If you understand what a customer wants when he or she enters a certain search term, you’re then in a position to be able to tweak your content accordingly to form the perfect match. NLP helps do exactly that.
NLP is one of the most important leaps forward for SEO professionals in recent years as it demystifies the search process and allows you to make sure that your content is search-ready at all times.