Google aims to provide improved and better search results for all of its users. For this purpose, it keeps on improving the user experience by adopting different standards and rolling out different updates. Introducing BERT update and adopting natural language processing is the part of the same sequence of events. Last year Google opted for the NLP process to refine the search results and satisfy user intent.

Natural language processing (NLP) has played a vital role in changing the way web works. It has also brought a change in search engine optimization by shifting content discovery from keyword-based search to context and intent-based search. This particular transition was life-changing for all the SEO professionals because it has impacted the on-page SEO techniques. It has changed the way we do on-page now in 2020.

But how?

We will explain in detail how NLP has changed the on-page SEO after its entrance in the world of SEO. But, for that, you first need to know what NLP is and how it works?

What is NLP?

Natural language processing (NLP) is a phenomenon of breaking down the text to build a relationship between the words and comprehend the meaning of those words. It has 12 basic components through which your content is analyzed. These components include;

  • Tokenization
  • Parts-of-speech tagging
  • Lemmatization
  • Word dependency
  • Parse Label
  • Named entity extraction
  • Salience
  • Sentiment
  • Subject categorization
  • Text classification and function
  • Content-type extraction
  • Structure implied meaning

You need to consider all these factors while writing content for on-page SEO. Because Google is now using natural language processing for serving search results. However, you might have observed that whenever NLP is discussed, BERT is discussed too.

Do you know why?

Because BERT update is an essential component of NLP.

What is BERT?

BERT is an abbreviation for Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers. It is a major update announced by Google in October 2019. It enables the bot to comprehend the search intent and the context in a better and improved way. These improvisations revolved around the language understanding.

How are BERT and NLP connected?

The bidirectional component of the BERT update is significant to understand the NLP process. The term bidirectional means Google can understand the meaning of a word through both preceding and the following content.  Also, it refers to the learning ability which means that BERT can evaluate the meaning from the context as well as possesses learning ability.

This explanation will help you in understanding the relationship between NLP and BERT.

How do NLP and BERT influence SEO and web searches?

The one-word answer to this question is “Substantially”

As Google’s BERT algorithm update involves NLP, a significant impact has been made on SEO (both on-page and off-page) and web search. NLP has changed the way Google understands a query and its words separately.

Since Google is the most commonly used search engine so we will discuss Google search to answer the question asked above. Google has two main ranking algorithms that run side by side. These algorithms are;

  • PageRank algorithm
  • Mobile Algorithm

They cover a wide range of factors which also include the context of your query and search terms. PageRank algorithm drives many SEO strategies like on-page optimization and page titles. Minor updates in Google’s search algorithms keep on occurring but major core updates are rolled out once in a while.

The new algorithm of Google analyzes and determines your search intent from various aspects which are as follows;

  • Which type of device is being used either desktop, mobile or tablet?
  • Is the query written or voice is used?
  • The number of consecutive searches
  • The related topics to the query
  • What else users are looking for?

It means it has become smarter and with the involvement of NLP, Google can now assess the sentiments of entities as well.

How NLP has changed on-page SEO?

If we talk about on-page SEO specifically, we will observe many changes in it as well. Traditionally, on-page SEO was about targeting a primary keyword, its related terms and long-tail variants in the content by placing them at specific positions. For example, title, heading, first paragraph and throughout the body content.

However, writing for on-page SEO and that too concerning NLP, requires additional considerations. It requires you to understand the intelligence behind the logic and the limitations of Google’s parser. For NLP, you should write clear and well-structured content in which the relationship between words is comprehendible.

How to optimize on-page content for NLP update?

You can optimize your on-page content for natural language search by keeping the following points in mind;

  • Plan and craft your content around the topics and keep it relevant. Instead of focusing on a single keyword, try variations in the use of related terms.
  • Keep the sentence structure simple while answering questions and connect the answers to the questions. Prefer answering the question in 1-2 lines. Use units and adjectives in the answers so that NLP parser can determine the precision of text.
  • Try to keep the sentences short and simple and reduce the dependency hops.
  • Write clear and concise content and do not beat around the bush.
  • Using unclear antecedents is a major turn off for Google’s crawler. So avoid them.
  • Format your content well. It should have a proper structure like headings, subheadings, lists, bullets, HTML tags and tables etc. Formatting also helps the crawler to understand the type of content.
  • For NLP, keyword salience is very critical so boost your salience.
  • Write simpler content around the entities that you want Google to extract easily and successfully.
  • Focus on the structure of content and convey meaning through it.

The Bottom Line

There is a deep connection between NLP and SEO especially after the introduction of BERT update. You need to understand it if you want to perform well and rank on Google. By reading this article, you can not only grasp the concept of NLP but also optimize your content according to the NLP standards. Google is committed to making the user experience better with every passing day. You should keep yourself updated if you want your business to survive in the digital world.