Long gone are the days of optimizing content solely for search engines. Modern SEO content must please both robots and humans. But how would anyone know if what you’re writing can check the boxes for both man and machine?
The relationships between entities, words, and how people search
To understand how Google currently approaches parsing content and understanding what content is about, you would have to know how Google is putting a ton of effort and a lot of money on things like neural matching and natural language processing, which seek to understand when people talk and what are they talking about.
This ties back to the evolution of search being more conversational. They are spending a lot of time trying to understand the relationships between entities and between words and how people use words to search.
A core component of natural language processing is understanding salience. Salience is a one-word way to sum up to what extent a piece of content is about a specific entity. Google is really good at extracting entities from a piece of content. Entities are basically nouns, people, places, things, proper nouns, regular nouns.
When Google is saying, “Okay, here are all of the entities that are contained within this piece of content,” salience attempts to understand how they’re related to each other, because this is what Google is really trying to understand when they’re crawling a page.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) APIs
Fortunately, there are now a number of different APIs that you can use to understand natural language processing:
- IBM has one: https://www.ibm.com/watson/services/natural-language-understanding/
- Google actually has a natural language processing API that’s right here on https://cloud.google.com/natural-language/
You can test it out by putting in a piece of content to see (a) what entities Google is able to extract from it, and (b) how salient Google feels each of these entities is to the piece of content as a whole. Again, to what degree is this piece of content about this thing?
It is essential for SEOs to understand that salience is the future of related keywords. We’re past keyword selections to optimize for chocolate chip cookie recipes that would include chocolate recipe, chocolate chips, or things like that. Instead, we need to understand the entities that Google is using, such as Freebase, where Google sees these entities co-occur at such a rate knows it can feel reasonably confident that a piece of content on one entity is salient to the other.
Using an expert is the best way to create content that’s salient to a topic
The next most likely trend we’re going to start seeing as a content trend in SEO is the best way to create content that is salient to a topic is to have an actual expert in that topic create that content. Someone with deep knowledge of a topic is naturally going to include co-occurring terms because they know how to create something with words surrounding each other that are all related to the same topic. Maintaining a cheap budget on content will begin to manifest as a negative in search engines soon when this idea is ignored.
How can you use this API to improve your SEO?
The best option for content in the now is to take content that ranks but not well, run it through this natural language API or another natural language processing tool, and look at how the entities are extracted and how Google is determining that they’re related to each other. Sometimes it might be that you need to clarify words around the entities. Ensure any words or groups of words describing the keyword directly relate to that word or its definition.