Do you want to take your content to the next level both for Google and users? Want to optimize your website to the new reality by implementing NLP?
In this article, you will better understand the NLP concept and find 8 simple ways to create relevance and trust with users and Google.
What is natural language processing (NLP)?
Google announced a new natural language processing system called BERT on October 25, 2019, that will help better understand the context, search intent, and improve search results. The system will be used on 1 in 10 searches in the U.S. in English and will drive this to more locales and languages over time.
Every time when people search for something on Google, they start their search query with a question. Google does the best to deliver relevant content with answers for certain search queries. As content marketers and SEOs, we can optimize our content based on customers’ needs and interests, and how Google interprets content on the web.
When it comes to natural language processing (NLP), it is a complicated process of parsing through text that allows establishing relationships between words and the meaning of words to get a better understanding of what is being asked.
Lately, Google worked with statistical models based on keywords and links. Today thanks to machine learning and big data, the search engine starts understanding the very nature of content without relying on keywords. Users can have the ability to type a search query in the way they would speak it naturally.
Now you can see how deeply machine learning algorithms and semantic graphs impact the quality of search results and the way how these results appear for the end-user. From featured snippets and zero-result SERPS to voice responses and video carousels.
Since keywords carry little weight when it comes to ranking web pages, Google determines what content to deliver based on the core components of NLP like syntax, sentiment, and entities instead.
With the help of big data, natural language processing software can conduct a syntax analysis of web pages to better understand sentence content and categorize all the words of a text for understanding. Syntax analysis can easily define whether the content is well-written ranging from good grammar to clear sentence structure.
The best thing about it is that keyword stuffing isn’t a huge issue anymore. Now users can enter any keyword on a page in hopes of ranking for it, even if the content topic has nothing to do with this keyword.
Google continues experimenting with this aspect and figuring out sentiment analysis of search queries. Sentiment plays an important role in ranking. So, if you want to rank for a positive query, make sure to write content with a high sentiment score. For example, people who search for “are elephants friendly” should receive the same featured snippets as they enter using positive words like “friendly”, “loving”, “intelligent”, etc.
Make sure that Google calculates the sentiment value not only for the entire page but for each subsection of your content. Additionally, the sentiment formed around brand mentions, and backlinks seems highly probable to send Google signals as well.
Entities are fundamentally people, places, nouns, events, organizations, numbers, etc. Google is really good at taking out entities and evaluating them from a piece of content. Since Google differentiates those entities, search engines use this information to produce satisfying results to users.
We should consider two additional metrics like salience and category. Salience attempts to sum up how important the entity is in the context of the overall text. Salience is a one-word way to understand how they are related to each other and gives a clear picture of what the page is about.
When it comes to the category, thanks to NLP, Google can easily specify content in an appropriate category. Categories can serve as a great anchor. I recommend conducting entity analysis of the top-ranking pages before creating content and using category classification as more of a post-writing check.
Where does NLP interact with local search?
With the increased focus on natural language, more and more people use voice search, type in questions, and use conversational queries in local search. For local businesses, it’s important to base their content strategy on context and conversation. I mean that local business owners need to produce content that addresses the questions people will be asking and possible issues they will be looking for.
For example, if a person is searching for “I was injured in a motorcycle accident. Do I need a lawyer?”, Google will show results that provide the most accurate and useful answers related to the search term.
This blog post answers the specific question and offers valuable information that potential clients can be searching for. Satisfying the user-request, they will find you and get in touch with your firm. That’s why it’s important to regularly publish high-quality content on your local website because people always need fresh content that addresses changing issues and adds much value for them.
Tips for improving your local content for NLP
While the different components of NLP seem overwhelming, you can start writing today by using simple tips below and get found online.
1. Provide short answers to questions
Optimizing your content for NLP starts with a simple sentence structure and provides specific information for your target audience. Give short and clear answers to their questions.
For example, if the question is “Is there a train from LA to New York?”, then the clear answer should be “No. There is no direct train from Los Angeles station to New York station.” Don’t tell a story about traveling from LA to New York around 500 words later, and here’s your answer.
Write about a 1-2 sentence answer if you would expect Google to show when asking it a question. Stick to the following basic format: [entity] is [answer]. Want to better optimize for NLP? Reduce the clutter and the number of semantic hops. Create content that is easy to read and skim for users, and easy to parse and understand for search robots.
2. Don’t beat about the bush
When it comes to answering a question, a lot of content marketers like beating about the bush. I don’t mean that they provide the wrong answer, but they don’t provide a concise determination of the answer. And this is a common NLP problem that you should definitely avoid.
There’s a great expression in journalism: don’t bury the lede. Basically, it means you should include the most important information first, at the top. If people read that one paragraph and get the gist, they probably want to read further.
Here’s how people usually like to digest content. They don’t want to read your content because it’s not useful. They just don’t want to read it because they don’t have enough time and they need a quick answer right here.
When it comes to NLP, get right to the point first, showcase the main topic, the main entity, the primary focus of your content, and descend to the details. The key is to create a well-structured piece of content to make it easy for robots to parse on all sides.
3. Focus on conversational keywords
Local businesses should use conversational long-tail keywords to grab the SEO benefits of the Google BERT update or rank better for voice search. When people use voice search, they speak by using longer key phrases and sentences. So, using additional words to a target keyword phrase in the written content imitates the way real people talk.
In the main, this means leveraging long-tail keywords and turning them into natural-sounding questions. For example, instead of using “own a pet tiger in New York” as the target keyword, this law firm put some creativity into this post and designed as “Is it legal to own a pet tiger in New York” to help humans in resolving their queries.
So, for best results, create your conversational keyword variations about “what”, “how-to”, “when”, “where”, why”, “can I”, etc. These words are closely associated with voice search queries.
4. Implement on-page SEO tactics to convey the meaning
Everyone knows the importance of on-page SEO to rank your content. Unfortunately, right now using outdated SEO tactics doesn’t make sense as NLP continues to impact search engine results. Structured writing and formatting have the semantic meaning of your content that can convey an additional context for NLP understanding.
Here are some useful tactics and concepts you need to follow:
- Use the Inverted Pyramid structure where the most important information is presented first. The article should contain a lead, body, and tail. Starting with your conclusion will help you come to that conclusion throughout the rest of your story.
- Include H1, H2, and H3 header tags to break up the content into logical sections that will help users and search robots better understand where transitions in thoughts happen.
- Build lists with numbers or bullets that will help you make your content super skimmable for users and easier to parse and extract for search robots. Breaking up a list with bullets or numbers can quickly organize information and increase your chances of getting featured snippets.
- Structure by Content type to define relationships between content. Products should have names, prices, and names. Events and places should have locations, names, and dates.
- Evaluate the context of internal links. The link structure and placement becomes more important than ever before. If your links are placed in the right context, they will boost the power of each web page. To help you manage your backlink profile, you can use the Backlink Monitoring tool from SE Ranking to evaluate the power of your site links and avoid unnatural links.
5. Use the Google NLP API tool
If you want to take your local content to the next level, Google created a great tool known as Natural Language Processing for companies to examine any text and get insights from unstructured data with the help of machine learning technology.
So you can learn more about your customers through social media, chats, and e-mails. If you’ve done a great job of writing for NLP, you will get a high score for the primary focus of your content and know for sure that your content is well-optimized for the given niche.
The tool can really help you to figure out how Google understands your copy and prove that you’ve got things right in your SEO copywriting. However, the tool has a few limitations, for instance, it doesn’t support any language.
6. Eliminate “keyword-ese”
Google wants you to produce natural, user-friendly content. It wants you to write content for people, not search engines in mind. In its official blog post, it coined the term known as “keyword-ese” in which content writers use awkward phrases or language to better optimize content for appearing on search engines.
Google attempts to eliminate the use of this phenomenon and make the search experience more human. Here’s what it says on its blog:
So, make sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation as Google considers such things like “Quality Rater Guidelines”. I mean that a well-written, grammatically correct, and well-structured article can be a good indicator of authoritativeness.
7. Transcribe podcasts and videos
Due to the advancements in AI and natural language processing, it becomes easier for Google to define spoken keywords within podcasts and videos to rank them accordingly. I mean that podcasts and videos have their own media snippets and get them indexed and ranked by Google as well.
You can provide more information and insights using podcasts or videos than any long-form content without any additional effort by transcribing this content. That will increase shareability, create a better experience for users, and drive more traffic to your website.
8. Track content performance
Creating content that keeps customers engaged and increases conversions is an important task but monitoring and measuring your content performance will help you to identify what content works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved to resonate with your audience. Understanding user behavior and actions is a silver bullet that will show you whether you move in the right direction.
With Finteza, you can find out which pages and events bring more conversions, analyze your target audience, and drive more paying visitors to your local website to boost sales. The tool has recently introduced the option for local stores to get detailed analytics on their products, the actual sales volume, the unrealized profit, and customer loyalty.
Finteza helps me show which content pages, products, or services visitors actually buy and which one they only view. It also detects the behavior of your customers in the cart, calculates the average cost of your products and the average check.
The tool provides a great opportunity to create super-specific content. So, you can easily create any local-oriented campaigns, receive data analytics of each piece of content, and find the perfect recipe for your content marketing strategy.
Writing content for NLP is incredibly useful because that builds relevance and trust with users and Google. But creating content for NLP requires a greater understanding of word relationships, clearly structured writing, and formatting.
If you want to rank well in Google and engage with your customers, you need to organize content by topics in a logical and natural way. This approach will help you get more new prospects by growing your relevance and power from each piece of content within your website.