SEO is a dynamic industry. What worked some weeks ago might not work again right now.
As an SEO professional, you need to know the latest trends and emerging technologies, to keep up with the ever-changing demand of the industry. That way, you can stay on top of your game and become more efficient in your business.
In this post, I’ll share with you seven emerging technologies in the SEO industry and how they impact your work as an SEO expert. Finally, I’ll show you how to apply them in your business for optimal results.
If you want to scale your SEO processes in 2021 and beyond, you should watch out for these technologies, and start implementing them in your business right away.
1. Natural Language Processing (NLP)
In December 2019, Google officially rolled out the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) algorithm update worldwide. This update brought NLP to the fore, and it’s been a technology to watch out for in the SEO industry since.
With NLP, Google can understand what a word in a sentence means by looking at its context.
This means that Google no longer relies on the specific words or phrases that users are searching for to provide them with the right answers. Rather, they’re looking at the intent behind each search.
Here’s an example of how BERT (an offshoot of NLP), affects a search query according to Google.
Before NLP, if someone searches for the query “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa”, Google thinks that this is an informational query to confirm if a U.S citizen can travel to Brazil without a visa. Hence, it shows a Washington Post article that answers the question on top of the SERPs.
As you can see, the context behind this search is someone wanting to travel to the USA from Brazil who needs a visa. While it was difficult for Google to figure out what these kinds of queries meant in the past, with BERT, the algorithm understands the context behind each search and provides the user with the right information.
How to utilize NLP in your SEO processes
With NLP, informational content is more crucial than ever. However, optimizing for BERT isn’t something you can do as an SEO.
Rather, you should focus on creating high-quality content that answers search queries accurately. When you do, you’ll definitely rank well.
This Moz article shows you how to write amazing pieces of content for search engines and people.
2. Natural Language Generation (NLG) for short-form content
With NLG, SEOs can now produce meaningful phrases and sentences just like a natural language, but using technology.
Instead of battling with writers’ block and spending hours thinking of what to write, NLG removes that burden through automation. And if you’re a content creator, this helps you focus just on polishing the content and making it read better.
While there are a lot of use cases for NLG, at the moment, it’s better used to write short-form content such as headlines, product descriptions, meeting memos, and so on.
How to use NLG as an SEO
There are a lot of use cases for NLG technologies. With a tool such as Copy.ai, you can create landing page hero text, Facebook primary text, blog introductions, email subject lines, listicles, meta descriptions, and so on.
Here’s an example of some listicles I created for the topic “quality blog content” using this tool:
As you can see, if I wanted to write an article on this topic, I can use some of these suggestions as an outline for my post. With these, I can focus instead on researching the individual sub-topics.
Here’s another example of some website taglines that I created for Moz by entering the brand name and a brief description of “The Ultimate SEO tool you can trust” into the tool:
If you were starting a new brand as an SEO, you can use NLG tools such as this, to discover awesome taglines to use for your brand.
TF*IDF stands for “Term Frequency times Inverse Document Frequency”. This measures how you use a term on a particular page and how it compares to a collection of pages for that specific keyword.
While TF*IDF might seem like a measurement of keyword density, it’s actually measuring how important a keyword phrase is by comparing it to that keyword’s frequency in a large set of documents.
Although it’s not yet clear if Google uses TF*IDF in its algorithm, it’s a good practice to incorporate it into your on-page SEO strategy.
Before applying TF*IDF, you need to create a piece of content targeting a particular keyword. Once that’s done, plug the content into a TF*IDF tool. Some recommended options are Text Tools, SEO PowerSuite, Ryte, and Surfer SEO.
How to use TF*IDF in your SEO processes
With technology and some information about your keyword, TF*IDF tools usually suggest some phrases you can add or remove from your pages. As an SEO, you can optimize your page based on these suggestions to meet the required TF*IDF score for that keyword.
That way, you can figure out some phrases which are closely related to the keyword you’re writing about, but not present in your content. When you add these phrases and words to your content, it makes your article topically relevant and helps your page rank better in the SERPs.
4. GPT-3 for automated content creation
In September 2020, The Guardian published a story on its website that was written by a robot. Since then, Generative Pre-trained Transformer Number 3 (GPT-3) has been a hot topic in the SEO industry.
The GPT-3 API works in an interesting way because it’s been trained with a large pool of datasets to mimic how humans write. This includes the Common Crawl dataset, Wikipedia, relevant historical books, and so on.
When you provide the GPT-3 API with a writing prompt, it tries to predict exactly what would come after that, based on the information it’s read on the Internet.
The screenshot below is an example of GPT-3-generated content that went viral on Hacker news some months ago. Most users commented on it, just like they would on a regular post, without knowing that it was written by a robot.
How to Use GPT-3 for automated content creation
- Email writing: As an SEO, you most likely recognize that writing great emails is a skill that’ll help your business grow, yet find it difficult to do so. With GPT-3, you can write emails easily. All you need to do is provide some bullet points outlining all you want to cover in the email, and it’ll automatically write it for you.
- First draft writing: Creating the first draft is the most difficult aspect of writing. With GPT-3, you can create the first draft of your content, and then edit it afterwards to meet your brand voice. This saves you a lot of time and makes you more efficient.
5. SEO A/B testing
Most SEOs focus more on user A/B testing and less on SEO A/B testing. While user testing involves randomly assigning visitors (users) of your website to different versions of your pages, and eventually deciding on the one to use based on the performance. In SEO A/B testing, the users are Googlebots and not end-users, and they’re typically shown the same version of the page.
What this means is that when you implement SEO/AB testing, you’re only showing users or Google only one version of the page, and not multiple pages.
How to implement SEO/AB testing
There are different ways to implement SEO A/B testing, depending on what you want to achieve for your business. If you’re just starting out, some things you can test include:
- Title tags
- Meta description
Take for instance, Etsy conducted a title tag SEO A/B testing for some of its pages, and within a few days, they started seeing significant traffic changes to their pages.
If you’re an intermediate/advanced SEO, you can test other things such as:
- AMP pages
- Internal anchor texts
- Schema markup
- New content
- And so on
For example, SearchPilot ran an internal link SEO A/B testing for a grocery store, and saw a 25% increase in organic traffic.
Conducting SEO A/B tests such as these will help you know exactly what works well for your brand and what doesn’t. That way, you can make more informed decisions when optimizing your pages for SEO.
For instance, if your traffic decreased to a particular page after making changes to it during the SEO A/B test, it shows that the test didn’t work out.
Typically, you should expect to start seeing results from your SEO A/B testing as soon as Google crawls your variant page. If Google crawls your test page within say 7-14 days, then you can compare it with the main page.
Some SEO A/B testing tools you can use for this purpose include: Google Tag Manager, Rankscience, Optimizely, etc.
6. Automated on-page content optimization
When creating a long-form piece of content, you typically:
- Check the top-ranking pages on the SERPs
- Go through each piece of content ranking on the SERPs
- Figure out the specific headings and subheadings the pages are covering
- Identify the missing points in the pages
- Create a better outline of our own piece.
- And so on
This usually takes a lot of time. You have to spend hours manually checking one piece of content after another and taking note of the most important points to include in your own piece.
How to use automated on-page content optimization
Instead of spending hours to create content briefs and researching the information you want to include in your content, you can use SEO tools such as Frase AI and Content Harmony.
With Frase AI, you can shorten the time you use for content research. Say you want to write about “how to lose weight fast”, you can input the main keyword into the tool.
Once done, it’ll automatically check the top-ranking pages in the SERPs, and provide you with some useful information you can use when creating your content. These include the top results for the keyword, statistics and data you can add in your content, questions your target audience are asking on Quora, Reddit, and Google’s People Also Ask.
With a tool such as Content Harmony, you can automatically create content briefs that meet search intent in less time.
All you need to get started is your keyword. Once you input it into the software, it automatically analyzes the SERPs using different data points. Afterwards, you can build your content briefs from there.
7. Non-text content factors
Non-text content factors are becoming more prominent in SEO because they help you create a nicer user experience on your website pages.
If you read a piece of content with blocks of texts all over it, you’ll most likely find it unappealing to look at. And with the upcoming enforcement of Core Web Vitals by Google in March 2021, non-text content factors will have a huge impact on SEO.
Some of these non-text content factors include:
- Audio clips
- Downloadable files such as PDFs
How to use non-text content factors for SEO
- Canva: With this tool, you create high-quality non-stock images for your pages.
- Venngage: If you want to create infographics that catches your readers’ attention, then you should use Venngage.
- Invideo: Invideo helps you create and edit videos online in a few minutes with different ready-made templates.
- Animaker: If you don’t have a design background and want to create animated videos, then this tool will help you greatly.
With these tools, you can make your pages and posts more appealing. Hence, your readers will spend more time on your website, and your bounce rate will eventually decrease drastically.
As we look forward into the future of the SEO industry, new technology developments will definitely play a significant role. While some of them are already in use, others are still in development.
If you’re an SEO who wants to remain on top of things in the industry, then you should keep an eye out for these emerging technologies and start applying them to grow your business. Have more SEO tech to add to this list? Let me know in the comments.