In recent years, with Google’s development of BERT in 2018 and MUM in 2021, SEO has been making an increasingly pronounced shift in the direction of using conversational language to make the search process smoother and more natural for users.
Which is where NLP enters the fray, easing content writers, managers and SEO marketers along the transition between stilted, jargon heavy seed keywords to NLP keywords.
What is NLP?
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NLP stands for Natural Language Processing and is vital for the management and understanding of online information in the modern digital age. Essentially, it uses machine learning and algorithms (such as MUM) to analyse and understand human language on the internet, extracting keywords that can be used for research when planning and writing your own content.
It represents the shift away from stilted search terms to make the user’s journey on Google a lot easier to navigate. It provides users with more high-quality content and encourages MUM to understand semantics and make better, more informed choices that help the technology to be more adept at providing the most relevant and valuable results in the SERPs.
NLP Keyword Extraction
Keyword extraction is the process by which a text is analysed and the most relevant and significant words to a topic are extracted which helps to summarise the content of the analysed page and identify the main topics for those looking to create content in a similar field.
AI and NLP are the two main tools used in an extraction, allowing machines to identify and select connected words based around a topic that can help to clue you in about what users are looking for, their goals and their most common questions. This give you something to focus on and talk about in your own content.
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You can extract keywords in a number of ways, depending on your personal preference. You can use a keyword extractor like the one available on MonkeyLearn, an online name extractor which pulls things like names and locations out of the inputted text or you can even use a word cloud generator to make the whole process more fun, get a cool graphic out of it and see more clearly which keywords are being used the most.
Search Rankings and Search Intent
In a nutshell, NLP’s ability to understand and generate text makes user-machine communication much more human. With BERT and now MUM’s focus on natural language processing when it comes to the algorithms crawling and ranking pages, the more aligned with NLP your content is, the better a chance you have of ranking high in the SERPs.
Using NLP keywords in tandem with search intent is the best way to try and rank higher in the SERPs. User intent is more important than ever to Google’s algorithm, even more so than keywords and the key to ranking high is all about how you shift your usage of NLP keywords to match each version of search intent, whether it be transactional, commercial, informational, navigational or location-based.
User searches in the modern day often revolve around question formats, especially informational searches and Google’s algorithm has been updated to reflect that.
Don’t be the one left in the dust – base your own content around answering prospective questions to match the users’ searches and increase your value as a source.
Using SEO to optimise your content for more natural language, engaging in a question and answer conversation with the user, helps you to remain responsive and important to their intent. This broadcasts your relevance and authority to Google, encouraging a higher ranking.
NLP and MUM
We’ve mentioned MUM before but it’s important to understand in a little more detail exactly what NLP does for MUM.
MUM has been lauded as a more sentient AI with a greater capability of understanding language with the intention of making searches feel more like human-human interactions as opposed to human-machine.
This is where Google NLP comes in. NLP breaks down a text to be able to better process human speech patterns and act accordingly. For example, what you put into the Google search box will be divided up into words and phrases and continue to be broken down until they are back to their standard roots which is then when MUM takes action, applying a contextual understanding to the collected data to provide the perfect answer to your query.
MUM’s NLP abilities have also helped it to garner an understanding of 75 other languages across the globe, bringing that human connectivity to users worldwide and enabling a greater ability to use NLP to rank and help more content to prove its value to the user.
With MUM and BERT before it, Google is no longer looking at words on an individual basis. Instead, they are being placed in a wider context of the rest of the query and the user’s intent, making the SERPs more accurate and reducing the need for you to stuff your content full of keywords for a chance to rank.
Natural language processing means more natural writing.
NLP Benefits to SEO
With the cementing of NLP as one of the foundational aspects of Google’s search algorithms, SEO can begin to benefit in better ways than ever.
NLP gives you the opportunity to target more accurate and valuable keywords to make your content stronger. It allows you to formulate more accurate and specific keyword clusters.
NLP can also help to identify entities (people’s names, company names, numbers) and evaluate them based on both category (keyword cluster topics) and salience, which informs you how important any one entity is to your content. For example, the keyword ‘natural language processing’ would have a high salience in this particular article.
NLP can also affect your use of links, increasing their power in SEO. Internal links and backlinks have always been a big part of online content, getting you authority in the eyes of Google and allowing you to connect your pages, highlighting to Google which pages you consider the most important.
Making sure your links are well placed within the content is more essential than ever. Contextual importance both within the text itself and in regards to the linked pages themselves increases your content’s readability, ensuring you’re value to Google in both NLP and in links.
NLP has become a massively vital part of machine learning as technology looks to develop and create a more user-friendly experience on Google. Combined with SEO, NLP can ensure your pages have a better authority to MUM’s algorithm and create more valuable content for the users, ensuring your page is always optimised to answer their questions and respond efficiently to their search intent.
Your SEO strategies can be made even more natural with an understanding of NLP so always make sure you’re keeping up with Google’s latest innovations and most importantly, make sure you are always putting the user first.
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