Search engines are becoming better at understanding the meaning behind the text we write. Copywriting isn’t about keywords anymore. It’s about topics and relationships between entities. Search engines like Google are using natural language processing (NLP) to process and analyse language data, and as SEO copywriters we need to understand how this affects the way we write.
What is Natural Language Processing (NLP)?
Natural language processing is a type of artificial intelligence that helps computers to understand and process language. Typically, machines analyse the syntax and sentiment of language to help understand it. Here’s a simple introduction to NLP if you’d like to learn more.
How Does NLP Affect SEO?
Human language is very complex and computers rely on rules, relationships, machine learning and structure to interpret it. Now, search engines are using these techniques to understand our online copy and we need to make sure we are communicating effectively. To create great content, we need to focus on producing clear, structured writing. Our text must stay on topic and include plenty of the things that we’d naturally talk about in relation to that topic. This really useful post on on-page SEO for NLP explains how to improve writing for NLP in more detail.
Sounds easy? It’s harder than you think. As humans, we often write in a very complex way that doesn’t help machines (and sometimes other humans!) understand us quickly and easily. As busy SEO professionals with limited budgets, how can we avoid falling into this trap and improve what we’re writing?
I’ve been investigating the free tools available to improve SEO copywriting for NLP.
Great copy begins with solid research. It’s really important to give this step the time it deserves. Make sure you understand the topic you’re writing about and what areas of the subject people are interested in. Here are some tools that can help you do just that.
1.Answer the Public
Always a firm favourite, Answer the Public helps you find questions around a subject. Most of your copy will need to answer questions, so use this tool to answer the ones that matter. Look at the different ways’ users ask the same question, and questions that relate to or lead on to similar topics.
Answer the Public is a great starting point for researching and structuring your website copy. The next step is thinking about how you answer these questions. Direct and concise is best. Think about the featured snippets you’ve seen, and how they quickly and simply answer your search query. Aim for something like this, it shows that Google is processing the answer and understanding it as a correct answer.
With Answer the Public there are limits to the number of searches you can do for free, but you’ll get a great starting point with no costs involved.
2. Google Trends
Google trends is a great tool for looking at search interest over time. What’s really useful for creating your copy is the ‘related topics’ and ‘related queries’. Looking at related topics and queries that are rising might just help you get ahead of the curve. Switch to ‘top’ to help build out your related terms and entities, increasing your salience for NLP.
Once you have the first draft, you’ll need to review it. Here are some useful and free tools to help make sure your writing is on point.
3. Hemingway Editor
The Hemingway editor helps you simplify your writing. It’s an easy tool to use even if you know nothing about NLP. So how does it help you write better SEO copy for NLP? As writers, we often overcomplicate things. This tool helps you make writing bold and clear. So, it makes you think about what’s really important.
I’ve known about the Hemingway app for years but if I’m honest I often forget to use it. Since trying to improve my writing for NLP it’s been a go-to free tool. It helps me remove complicated sentences that lose their meaning. Addressing these really makes you think about what you’re actually trying to say!
This is really useful for NLP because if you’re clear about what you say, Google’s NLP parsers won’t get confused as they crawl your sentence. Relationships between words will be clearer and easier to determine if you keep things simple. Of course, this helps human readers too, so it’s a win-win!
4. Ryte Content Editor
With a free Ryte account, you can get 10 TF*IDF analyses per month as well as keyword recommendations and topic inspiration. Add your carefully crafted copy to the content editor, set your focus keyword and you’ll get some really clever analysis on your text. The recommendations are based on what the top-ranking content includes, so you can see what topics and keywords you might be missing. You’ll also get a clearer picture of where you’ve overdone things, as this tool highlights phrases and words you’ve used too often. This will really help you work on the salience (or relevance) of your text to the subject.
If you’re writing copy all the time but want to make use of the free Ryte account, save it for those really important moments, like copy for key pages or a vital article.
Of course, typos and grammatical errors can have an impact on how both humans and parsers interpret what we write. So, check, check and check again. Grammarly is a great tool for picking up errors. Use it.
I love using Grammarly’s Chrome extension to give my copy a final check before I publish it.
Now you’re happy with your SEO copywriting, it’s time to review it. What better tool is there to help you understand what Google thinks of your writing than one they’ve created themselves?
6. Google NLP Tool
Visit Google’s NLP and scroll down the page. There’s a web-based interface where you can cut and paste your text for analysis and there’s currently no charge for doing this. Hit the ‘analyze’ button and it will tell you what it thinks your text is about. If you’ve done a good job of writing for NLP, you should get a high ‘salience’ score for the key focus of your content. If you don’t, it’s time to review your writing. Go through all the stages again and do some more research, further editing and try again.
This tool is really powerful and will help you to see how Google actually understands your text. It can be really revealing, showing where your SEO copywriting has lost its way or confirming that you’ve got things right. Try it for yourself and see what the results can show you.
Set Yourself up for NLP Success
Even if you’re working with a small budget, there’s no excuse not to research, test and check your SEO copywriting. Make sure you enlist the help of some free tools to write the best copy you can. Google (and other search engines) are using NLP to try to extract the meaning of text, so make sure what you really mean is coming across in a focused way. This will help you lay the groundwork for SEO copywriting success!