When it comes to #SEO most people start with keywords. Keywords are an important part of SEO but they do not always give an accurate reflection of how people actually think. More and more these days, Natural language search – basically speaking to a search engine naturally likr you would to a real person is becoming more important. Here are some key facts i found recently over at SearchEngineWatch.
Natural language search has always been around – think of Ask Jeeves, the 1990s search engine which encouraged users to phrase their queries in the form of a question. Search trends are coming back around towards natural language search. This is the result of a number of different developments in search and technology coming together.
Search engines particularly #Google, have improved their search capabilities so much over the years that people expect to find exactly what they’re looking for on the first try. There’s a reduced patience for sitting and trying different keyword combinations; people are searching on their mobiles, on the go, and they want to be able to ask a question, get the answer, and move on. And search engines have worked hard to meet this expectation, so that people will feel satisfied with the service they provide instead of frustrated by it.
Google recently published a blog post welcoming “complex questions” and illustrating how its search engine can now understand superlatives (tallest, largest, oldest) and “ordered items”, such as a list of the largest cities in a given state, in order of area. Google now also has an improved ability to interpret specific dates, and complex, multi-part queries like “Who was the U.S. President when the Angels won the World Series?”
The third component contributing to the development of natural language search is the rise of voice search and digital assistants. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now – these AI assistants are being adopted more and more widely, and their voice activation capabilities increasingly integrated into technology.
In 2014, Microsoft made updates to Bing smart search which improved its parsing of natural language queries. A few months later, it developed on this even further by introducing the ability to “continue the conversation” after asking a question in search. In other words, you can ask a follow-up question which depends on the previous one for context, and Bing will understand what you mean.
Natural language search is not only a direction that search engines are overwhelmingly moving in in order to better understand the goals and desires of searchers online, but also a key component of some of the most important – and, let’s be honest, futuristic – developments currently happening in the field of technology.