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Keywords and Natural Language Processing

You’ve likely used keywords to one extent or another to draw traffic to a website. There are many methods for optimal application of keywords, and they’re evolving over time as Google changes. But if keywords are the sole focus of your SEO strategy, you’re losing out in a big way.

Speaking of Google, the search engine has gone well beyond just looking at keywords used on different sites, which is why you should too. We’ve all tried searching for information on a subject, only to land on a page that’s just loaded with the “right” keywords, but communicates little of value about the topic. In an effort to weed out such options from top search results, Google has turned to natural language understanding.

Natural Language Understanding

A subtopic of natural language processing, natural language understanding helps teach artificial intelligence to make sense of language like a human. Just how this is done is an incredibly complex and fascinating topic. What you need to know for the purpose of your own website is that just stuffing keywords isn’t going to cut it anymore.

This technology is being used to measure relevancy of the words in a document. The AI measures the similarity of different words or phrases from a webpage, all with the aim of producing better search results.

Many people immediately think natural language understanding is just teaching AI a bunch of synonyms. While synonyms certainly are useful to one extent or another, they’re only part of the picture. You must think of concepts or ideas that are related to keywords, generating a list that is present naturally in your site copy.

It’s easier to understand this concept with an example. Before, if you had an e-commerce site stocked with dog care items, you might just insert something like “dog training leash” several times on different pages to draw in traffic. With natural language understanding you would create a list of words that are related to the idea of dog training leashes. It could include: dog walking, puppies, running, harness, pulling prevention, aggression, dog behavior, collar, choke chain.

Natural Language Processing is Not Keyword Stuffing

One key point of natural language processing is that you cannot just stuff this new list of words into odd text. The emphasis is on the natural use of language, so your website must have copy that actual people can understand and enjoy reading. Gone are the days of writing for search engines alone. The different keywords need to be grouped as it makes sense in the natural flow of the text.

What this means for your SEO is that you need to generate content that covers your target topic in the most thorough sense possible. Focus on comprehensive information on the subject, not just lightly touching on it and being done. Not only will this approach help boost your search ranking, it will entice visitors to stay on the site and read more, which also in turn boosts your ranking.

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