Search Engine Optimization

How Search Works: What Deep Rank and Natural Language Processing Mean for The Future of SEO

Search engines have been evolving and getting more complicated for years – implementing Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
This guide fully covers why DeepRank and NLP will have a huge impact on SEO and how to be prepared for the future that is already here.

What is DeepRank?

What is DeepRank?

DeepRank has been live in Google Search starting from October 2019. To be clear, DeepRank is largely known as BERT. In 2020 it was announced that DeepRank is used for all English search queries.

So, what is exactly BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers)? It is an algorithm that combines AI, Deep Learning and Machine Learning. It helps Google to better understand complex queries, context and nuances of words to provide more accurate search results.

Simple queries are easy for Google to understand and show exact results. For instance, “SEO Tips” or “Google Bert Update” search terms are easy to grasp. But complex and long search queries like “What Deep Rank and Natural Language Processing Mean for The Future of SEO” will cause confusion and right content serving issues. After the BERT update, Google understands more complex queries – allowing you to type your question more naturally. 

The main steps how BERT works are:

  • It takes a search query and breaks it into words
  • Understand the context and relationships between the words

Google provides an example of before and after BERT update search results for “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa” query:


How Do You Optimize a Website for DeepRank?

Danny Sullivan answered this question that “There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.”

So, the one thing to do is to make sure that the website has useful, high quality content and natural text.

Here are some tips and techniques to take into consideration when optimizing for BERT.

Table of Content

Add a table of content at the very start of your post. This will raise your post’s readability and make the navigation easier as users will be able to jump to the section they are interested in. Besides, the reader will be aware of what to expect from the article.

Content Clusters

A content cluster is a batch of interlinked articles or webpages. So, before creating a website’s content, separate broad topics or pillar content and write related but more focused and specific pages around it. This approach will optimize a website’s overall structure and internal linking.

User Intent

Optimize a website for a goal or an intention that a user has in mind when entering a search query. Focus on user intent before creating content, as it is a central factor in SEO and website ranking.

Focused Keywords

Keywords stay important but they should be used as topics that the content is built around. The best practice is to focus on the context around the keywords.

User Centered

Optimize the content for users instead of search engines. Focus on answering your readers’ questions instead of keyword stuffing your web page.

Natural Content

Provide useful information and write in simple, straightforward, natural language. Avoid using stop words and difficult sentences that will make the reading difficult.

Relevant Backlinks

Relevant topic related backlinks are an important part of BERT optimization.

How DeepRank Affects SEO?

The answer to this question depends on whether you have used SEO best practices for your website, or not. If you have optimized your website for users and focused on publishing useful and natural content for your audience, BERT update will not have a huge impact on your website.

So, if you are creating an insightful content with rich information, just continue your awesome work.

What is Natural Language Processing?

What is Natural Language Processing

NLP is the process of analyzing a string of words or symbols, creating relationships between those words and understanding the meaning of the whole text. Or, simply put, everyone can phrase a search query the way we all speak and NLP will break it into the below mentioned steps:

  • Breaking query into sentences
  • Breaking the sentences into tokens
  • Tokens analysis and classification into the separate groups of speech
  • Identifying the root word of the word
  • Understanding the relation between the different words in a sentence
  • Entity recognition
  • Finding all the possible expressions that are linked to the same entity in the text

How Does Natural Language Processing Work?

How Does Natural Language Processing Work

If you still have questions on how NLP works, don’t worry, just keep reading.

  1. NLP analyzes the syntax of a text or page to understand sentence content and the context. It can decide if the content is well written or not – excluding keyword stuffing.
  2. NLP analyzes the content to understand if it is created for the user or for search engines.
  3. NLP categorizes the content according to industries.
  4. It understands images’ and videos’ alt texts and their relevance to the webpage or the content.

So, NLP is the process that Google has implemented to better understand the phrases, sentences and main keywords on a page by analyzing the content surrounding them. It determines if the content has negative or positive emotions compared to the ones that are ranking. It also rates entities as some words are more important in a specific context.

How Does NLP Affect SEO?

How Does NLP Affect SEO?

The best way to understand the impact of NLP on SEO is to first understand BERT, as NLP is BERT’s brain. When trying to predict the impact of the NLP on SEO, the important question is what Google wants to achieve? The answer is still the same – search quality.

As use of NLP will grow, here are the predictable impacts on SEO:

  • More demand for voice search optimization
  • It will almost eliminate some black hat SEO tactics
  • Boost of natural language content
  • Changes in keyword research
  • Need for TF-IDF content optimization

How do You Optimize a Website for NLP?

There are a few things that SEO professionals can do to optimize the website for NLP.  

  • Improve the structured data markup
  • Write semantically-rich metadata
  • Analyze competitors’ websites using NLP
  • Use headings 
  • Write for user
  • Use images that are relevant to your content
  • Optimize for Voice Search
  • Focus on long-tail keywords
  • Write high quality content
  • Don’t focus on content length
  • Avoid keyword stuffing

How do You Optimize a Website for NLP?

There are some proven techniques to implement for improved content:
  • Simple question and structured, clear answer
  • Use simplified grammar, natural and clear writing
  • Simplify the content around entities
  • Use clear structure
  • Give precise and informative information
  • Use headings and subheadings

How NLP Will Change SEO?

How NLP Will Change SEO

Machine learning and natural language processing will continue playing an important role in SEO and, overall, the digital marketing field. Natural Language Processing will impact websites that have thin content – forcing out black hat SEO tactics and making website’s more user oriented. AI algorithms will improve user experience by delivering more relevant and timely content. The websites that have concentrated on developing natural language and informative content, will gain more visibility.

Need help in this department? Make sure to check out our diverse SEO services that will skyrocket your website performance and put you in front of the right eyes.


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Narine Nazaryan is a digital marketing specialist with more than 5 years experience in the field and more than 10 years experience in the banking and finances spheres. She is an obsessed reader and content writer. Her hobbies include coding, astronomy, physics and following the latest scientific discoveries. As it is obvious from this short bio, she doesn’t like bragging at all and is a very modest and pleasant person.

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