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Google’s Neural Matching Algorithm And Its Impact on SEO

Written by: S M Lutfor Rahman
Last Updated October 1, 2023
Originally Published On: September 28, 2023
Neural Matching Algorithm and What SEO Experts should know about it

Since the search engine is continually evolving, keeping tabs on Google's algorithm changes is vital. Over the past decade, semantic search engines like Google gradually developed new algorithms using artificial intelligence technology and deep learning.

And there's a hot topic that's been making waves lately – Google's Neural Matching. This innovative technology has the power to reshape SEO and user experience. Besides, It makes searching the internet better because it connects you with information that's more closely related to what you're thinking, not just what keywords you type in.

As you explore this amazing feature of Google searches, this might sound like something straight out of sci-fi movies, but it’s gradually turning into a reality! So, let's dive deep into what this algorithm is all about.

What is the Neural Matching Algorithm?

Neural Matching is a sophisticated retrieval engine that uses AI technology to connect words to concepts better. As Google confirmed, it is used to analyze patterns using vectors and was primarily created for image analysis but has since been applied to various other areas since 2018.

Imagine you're searching for information on the internet, and you want to find something, even if you need help with how to describe what you're looking for, or you're using different words than what's on a webpage. This is where something called "neural matching" comes in handy.

This machine learning system is like a smart mechanism that helps search engines like Google understand what you mean. Instead of only paying attention to specific words, it looks at the whole query. It tries to figure out the big ideas or concepts hidden in your words and then finds pages that match those concepts. So, it's like having a conversation with a really understanding friend who can grasp the main ideas of what you're saying.

Let’s say you're searching for a recipe online. In the past, search engines would mainly look for the exact words you typed, like "chocolate cake formula."

But this advanced algorithm focuses on more than those exact words. Now, it goes beyond that.

Here's How It Works

Google's Neural Matching algorithm uses something called neural networks. It’s like digital brains inspired by how our own brains function. These digital brains are excellent at processing and understanding a massive amount of information.

Now, instead of just hunting for specific keywords, this machine learning technology focuses on figuring out what you're looking for. For example, you type in "easy chocolate cake at home." this doesn't get stuck on the exact words anymore. 

It understands that you want a simple chocolate cake recipe that you can make in your kitchen. So, it looks for recipes that match your intent, even if they don't have those exact words.

Basically, it:

  • Understanding queries by considering the context,
  • Find synonyms (words that mean the same thing),
  • Spots the hidden connections between words by using AI. 

This way, it can give you more relevant search results. As a result, it makes your online searching experience much smoother and accurate.

Google’s On the New AI Algorithm

On September 24, 2018, Danny Sullivan, Google's public liaison for search, took to Twitter to discuss the newly introduced AI-based system.

Danny Sullivan Tweet on Google Neural Matching

Also, in his tweets, he addressed common questions and concerns about this technology. He made clear distinctions between Neural Matching and another Google AI system known as RankBrain.

Sullivan also highlighted how Google was leveraging neural learning to enhance search results. He introduced the concept of Activity Cards.

It’s a feature aimed at helping users explore past content related to their current search terms.

How Google May Use Neural Matching

It is often used in search engines to match user queries to relevant documents, but can also be used for other tasks such as question answering, natural language inference, and text summarization.

Here are the possible use cases —

Natural Language Processing 

So, at the core of this AI system thing is using the newest, smartest computer rules to decide which websites should show up first when you search. But here's the catch: when websites are listed, they shouldn't just be there because of regular stuff like having lots of links or specific words.

Instead, the magic happens when websites are picked based on what people type and what the websites are about.

This means Google can understand different words that mean the same thing (like "happy" and "joyful").

So, even if you don't explain your search perfectly, this buddy can still find what you want.

Danny Sullivan from Google said in another tweet regarding this:

“How people search is often different from information that people write solutions about.”

Danny Sullivan Tweets Talked about Big Change in Search

Therefore, when you search, you get the stuff that fits what you're looking for, even if you didn't use the exact words.

To understand the intent of search queries

This machine learning AI can help Google understand the meaning of a search query, even if it is not clear from the words that are used. For example, if you search for "how to make a cake," neural matching can help Google understand that you are looking for a recipe, even if you do not use the word "recipe" in your query.

To match search queries to relevant web pages

Neural matching can help Google to match search queries to web pages that contain the relevant information, even if the web pages do not use the exact keywords that are found in the search query. For example, if you search for "how to fix a leaky pipe," neural matching can help Google to return results that contain instructions on how to repair a plumbing leak, even if the results do not use the exact words "fix" or "leak."

To understand the context of search queries

This AI tech can help Google understand the context of a search query, which can help to improve the relevance of the results.

For example, if you search for "best restaurants in Paris," neural matching can help Google to understand that you are looking for a list of the top-rated restaurants in Paris, even if you do not use the exact words "restaurants" or "Paris."

To identify synonyms and related words.

For example, if you search for "dog food," neural matching can help Google understand that you are also looking for results that contain the words "canine food" or "pet food."

To identify the relationships between different words and concepts.

For example, if you search for "how to build a computer," neural matching can help Google understand that you are looking for instructions on how to assemble the hardware and software components of a computer.

To understand the meaning of search queries that are ambiguous or have multiple meanings.

For example, if you search for "the capital of France," neural matching can help Google understand that you are looking for the city of Paris.

Enhancing Language Analysis

Google's AI capabilities have significantly improved its understanding and analysis of language, enabling more precise matching between queries and content. Considering this, Google voice search and neural matching have a connection. Keep reading to know about it.

What SEO Professionals Should Understand

About 30% of all Google searches get this smart help from Neural Matching. Google has many secret formulas called algorithms to figure out which web pages are the most helpful when you search.

Some of these formulas are well-known and written down. But, Google doesn't spill all the beans about how this super-smart system works. However, this poses a challenge for SEO folks as Google is always changing the rules of the game by updating these secret formulas.

But it's also what keeps the internet interesting and makes sure you get the best results when you search for something online. Check the following sections to learn more.

Why It Matters

It has a significant development because it signifies a shift away from the rigid reliance on keywords and backlinks in the world of SEO. With this technology, search queries can now be understood in a more contextually relevant manner. Once again, you no longer need to use an exact set of keywords to retrieve relevant content. That means, any similar words and synonyms will be sufficient.

This reliance on synonyms creates a common language between users and the search engine. As Google continues to refine its algorithms, content optimization becomes increasingly important.

Document Relevance Ranking Does Not Use Links

An important aspect of Neural Matching is that it does not rely on traditional ranking factors such as backlinks. Instead, it begins with traditional ranking factors and then moves to an Ad-hoc part or Document Relevance ranking.

The initial phase serves as a vetting function or to put it simply it carries out a careful examination. This way it eliminates spam and collects the most relevant results.

The second Ad-hoc part involves re-ranking web pages based on the new criteria of Super-Synonyms. This approach differentiates from Document Relevance Ranking using traditional factors like links and keywords.

Google Voice Search and Neural Matching: A Dynamic Duo

Think of Google Voice Search and Neural Matching as a fantastic team that's making our online searches way better.

You are already aware that, during Google Voice Search you chat with your device. To be more specific, you speak your search, and it turns your words into written text.

Then, this written text is passed on and the real magic happens. — if you don't use the perfect words. It knows how to figure out what you want—even if you talk casually or use different words that mean the same thing. 

Next time, when you use Google Voice Search, remember that it's not just about talking to your device. You're having a conversation with Neural Matching, too.

Together, they make sure you find what you need quickly and accurately. This partnership shows how much better our tech is getting at helping us find stuff online.

Impacts on SEO 

It’s clear that Google’s Neural Ranking is changing  SEO. Neural ranking and neural matching are closely related concepts. Neural ranking is a broad term that refers to the use of neural networks to rank webpages, while this AI system is a specific type of neural ranking that is used to better understand the intent of the search.

Let's explore the key impacts of Neural Ranking on SEO and what it means for SEO experts. Google employs neural matching for understanding the meaning of words and phrases, but it's different from ranking algorithms like RankBrain. While RankBrain may incorporate it, it's not solely reliant on it and may have been improved with neural matching capabilities over time.

1. Greater Focus On User Intent

As mentioned earlier, It emphasizes understanding user intent. Thus, SEO professionals must create content that fulfills user needs and addresses their queries will be crucial. So, you must align your strategies with providing value to users.  

This algorithm aims to improve search result accuracy by recognizing the context and nuances of the searcher's intention.

  • It analyzes user queries and identifies documents that are not an exact match for the word or phrase but are semantically relevant.
  • This means that even if a webpage doesn't contain the exact keyword used in a search, it can still rank well if it matches the intent behind the search.

2. Quality Content

High-quality, informative content is critical in the age of Neural Matching. Google's search algorithm rewards content that comprehensively addresses user queries. Hence, investing in creating authoritative content is essential for SEO success.

It plays an important role in delivering a variety of search results that are finely related to the specific intentions of users. If you're searching for "lightweight laptops for travel." Neural Matching won't just look for webpages with those exact words. It comprehends that you're interested in laptops that are easy to carry while traveling.

So, it might show results for "ultrabooks," "portable laptops," or "best travel-friendly laptops" because they all match your intent, even if the words aren't identical.

Neural matching is a more powerful approach to SEO than phrase-based indexing because it is able to better understand the intent of search queries and match them to relevant web pages. This means that websites that are optimized for neural matching are more likely to rank higher in search results.

.This ability to generate diverse SERPs ensures that users receive a more personalized and accurate search experience. 

3. It doesn't rely on link signals

This AI-based system has facilitated the ranking of documents based on relevance, allowing Google to filter out irrelevant results and present the most valuable ones to users.

The shift away from heavily relying on backlinks. Again, SEO professionals should diversify their strategies by developing deep neural networks.

While backlinks remain an important search algorithm, other factors such as content quality, user engagement, and on-page optimization gain significance.

4. Impact on Local SEO Understanding Local Intent

Neural Matching isn't just changing things for general SEO. It's also leaving its mark on local SEO efforts.

Here's how:

This system helps the Google search engine to get better at figuring out what people want when people search. Like when they're looking for "restaurants near me" or "mobile repair". Even if there are no locations mentioned. This means Google can understand the concepts in queries and connect users with the most relevant local businesses.

What Local Businesses Should Do

If you're a local business, this means you should make sure your website has accurate and detailed information.

Keeping that in mind, Include your:

  • Precise location
  • Services you offer
  • & What your customers say about you in reviews

This way, when this kind of algorithm is working behind your search, it'll have all the right info to help users find you. So, local SEO is all about being clear and informative on your website to match what users are looking for.

Finally, Will Neural Matching Shape the Future of SEO?

It represents a significant shift in how search engines understand and rank web documents. As SEO professionals, it's crucial to adapt to these changes by focusing on:

  • Focus on user intent, not just the keyword 
  • Creating high-quality content relevant to the intent
  • & Diversifying ranking strategies

In conclusion, it is here to stay. And it will continue to shape the future of SEO.

Staying informed and adapting to these developments will be key to maintaining visibility and relevance in the ever-competitive online landscape.

About Author

SEO Expert In Bangladesh

S M Lutfor Rahman

SEO ExperT, CEO of LutforPro.
I'm the driving force behind LutforPro, a renowned company in Bangladesh specializing in data-driven digital marketing and AI-optimized SEO. Besides guiding our accelerated growth, I regularly share my knowledge on SEO and digital marketing at various events. My dedication to innovation continually challenges and expands the boundaries of the digital marketing industry.
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