Understand what NLP, BERT and MUM are and what they mean for SEO.

With BERT and MUM, Google is introducing a new generation of algorithm updates that leverage AI and machine learning for a better search experience. Here is what it means for search engine optimisation.

SEO experts understand the importance of keeping up with Google’s latest algorithm updates. The latest technologies used by Google, BERT, and MUM, deliver a search experience that is more attuned to users’ needs.

Natural Language Processing

BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers is a technology Google adopted in 2019. Google has continued improving this technology by focusing on Natural Language Processing (NLP) research throughout 2021.

BERT is a neural network that relies on NLP, a branch of AI science that focuses on deriving meaning from text based on context and other factors. In other words, NLP gives Google the ability to understand entire sentences instead of interpreting search queries as a string of separate keywords.  

NLP also means Google can identify entities like people, places, events, or products and analyse the sentiment behind a query, whether the user feels positively or negatively about the topic.

Here’s what NLP means for SEO.

Recognisable Entities

NLP means Google can recognise entities. Make entities stand out to indicate your content is relevant to users researching these entities. Mention entities in your content, headers, URLs, meta tags, and more.

Better Understanding of Intent

More search engine optimisation experts are prioritising cluster targeting over keyword targeting. NLP means Google has a better understanding of the intent behind a query and can determine whether your content addresses relevant topics and intents for a query. 

A common strategy is to create pillar pages for broad intents and branch out with several pages dedicated to subtopics to capture more specific search intents.

Don’t hesitate to target more complex keywords, including longer keyword phrases. The NLP updates can understand intent and sentiments in a more nuanced manner, which means Google can recognise your content is relevant even if you don’t use the exact keywords from a query.

Improved Google Analytics

NLP is also improving Google Analytics. Make sure you upgrade to Google Analytics 4 or GA4. GA4 can help you understand searches and user intents with more advanced insights.

Google MUM

Google introduced MUM or Multitask Unified Model in May 2021. This technology relies on NLP and AI, but it goes further than the BERT update by analysing different content formats to return richer search results.

Besides understanding complex user intents and sentiments, MUM can analyse information in different formats, including images, videos, and more. MUM can summarise information and provide users with a varied search experience that encourages content consumption.

Here are a few tips for leveraging MUM for your SEO efforts:

  • Make sure Google can crawl and index different media content with meta tags, descriptions, video transcripts, and more.
  • Integrate all content formats into your linking structure to build expertise and trustworthiness.
  • Explore new content formats, especially those your competitors are overlooking.
  • For eCommerce professionals, there is an opportunity to list products on Google Shopping since MUM can return more relevant shopping results for queries with an intent to buy.

From richer Google Analytics 4 insights to more varied search results, Google is leveraging AI and machine learning to provide better experiences. The BERT and MUM updates call for updating your SEO strategies and focusing on more natural-sounding keywords, cluster targeting, and a wider range of content formats.