Google Natural Language Processing in Plain English
Updated on: May 19, 2020 by Christopher Prouty
Did you know that Google changes its algorithm every day? In 2018, the search algorithm saw more than 3200 changes during the year. Some changes are barely noticeable. Others are major core updates that can have a major change in search results.
In 2019, it was more of the same. One of those changes that rolled out in October was known as BERT. At the heart of this update is Google natural language processing.
Read on to find out more about what natural language processing is and how it will impact search in the future.
What is BERT?
BERT has nothing to do with Sesame Street. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, which is from a project by Google’s artificial intelligence lab.
When Google crawls a website, the bots would read the content from left to right, the same way that we read a book. In this type of a crawl, the bots could find the keywords of a given page, figure out what the page is about and index it accordingly.
BERT enables a site to be crawled from right to left and left to right. It may seem really simple, but there’s much more to it than that. By reading context in both directions, the context of the content can be easily understood.
How Does BERT Impact Search Results?
Google really has one job. It’s to provide the most relevant search results to its users. Think of it this way, where would you be without good search results from Google.
You’d probably turn to another search engine. Google knows that and the company certainly won’t risk billions in advertising revenue to provide less than stellar search results.
Most searches are long-tail searches, which are more than five words. They’re also more conversational, partly due to the rise of voice search. These searches are more likely to include prepositions, such as the words “to” and “for.”
These words can mean so many things, that you have to know the context of the words to understand the entire question.
This is a major shift for search, and it’s expected to affect about 10% of all Google searches.
Do Keywords Still Matter?
This is a question that needs to be answered. For years, search optimization has revolved around matching keywords.
Does natural language mean that they don’t matter anymore? Keywords still matter. However, the context of the keyword matters more.
Google’s reps have repeatedly said that there’s nothing to optimize for. You just have to write useful content. Useful content along with other factors like local reviews will position your site well in search results.
Google Natural Language Processing is Changing the Search Landscape
What is Google natural language processing? It’s a way for Google’s search bots and algorithm to understand the context of a website's content, rather than rely on exact match keywords.
This doesn’t make keywords obsolete, but it does force you to write better content that provides value to your audience.
Do you want to know more about how search engine optimization can transform your business? Take a look at this case study that shows you how to maximize your opportunities through digital marketing.