What is Natural Language Processing? How Does It Impact Content Marketing?

The worlds of technology and content marketing continue to intertwine. Not just in the platforms content marketers use but also in the application of technology to develop more meaningful content. One component that’s fairly new to the conversation is natural language processing.

It sounds very technical and intimidating! Alas, it’s not. It’s something every enterprise content team should know about, and we’re going to put it all in perspective.

What Is Natural Language Processing?

First, let’s define what we’re talking about. Natural language processing, or NLP, is a subcategory of AI. It helps computers to understand, interpret, and manipulate human language. It’s the bridge between human communication and computer understanding. It works with assistance from computer science and computational linguistics.

While NLP goes back decades, it now has a more practical application in a world where humans and computers communicate. Any time you’re asking Siri or Alexa a question via voice search, you’re using NLP. It’s not just voice. Google uses it as well to match the best content to the query, autofill expected search terms, and present ads to users.

These applications begin to shed some light on why content marketers view it as a useful tool.

Explaining How Natural Language Processing Works, the Nontechnical Version

Let’s break down how NLP works in a very layman’s term manner. Before the introduction of NLP, search engines weren’t “learning” based on user inputs. They simply responded to our commands. Now any device or search engine can understand how you search. They’re learners now. With that learning, they attempt to provide you the best content to fit your needs.

You see this in action every day when you search for something that’s not quite right, but Google knows what you mean. Or simply with the autofill in the search field—it’s like your soulmate finishing your sentences. What did we do before this was possible? We could only rely on our own knowledge.

Simply put, NLP works by analyzing tons of language data from queries, seeking to identify contextual patterns to interpret results.

How Can Natural Language Processing Impact Content Marketing?

So, how can you apply NLP to content marketing? It’s all about tapping into what search engines are learning about content preferences. It affects more than just the context of the content but also the structure.

NLP put the kibosh on previous SEO strategies that required the exact usage of the word, making a lot of content sound really weird. Now, NLP can match content to terms even if they aren’t word for word because it understands context. Google leverages AI and NLP to do this, with the hope of delivering the highest quality content that can answer the searcher’s query, not an article that uses the keyword 10 times.

Applying Natural Language Processing to Content Marketing

NLP offers some new opportunities in content marketing. There are several different ways it can improve your content.

NLP Allows You to Measure Sentiment

In all your content analytics, you can measure many things, but sentiment is evasive. You can see performance indicators like pageviews and social media engagement, which tell you that users landed on the page and shared the content. But you don’t always know if the traffic is positive. Let’s be honest—going viral is only good when the reaction is positive.

To understand how people actually feel about the content, you can use sentiment analysis, which provides context. The evaluation looks for negative, positive, or neutral language around the content. If you see positives, then you have a winner. Take what you learn and add it to your content strategy.

NLP Acts as a Great Content Auditor

In your library of content, not everything is 10X content. There is going to be a subset that could use work. There are NLP tools that can analyze content to identify areas for improvement around topics and keywords. It will grade your content and provide related content suggestions so that you can revise it.

Beefing up this content could then help you with ranking. It will also be more valuable to your audience.

Understanding NLP Methodology Can Improve Organic Ranking

Every brand wants to land on the first page of Google organically. Ranking for key terms that your audience searches for is a complex, multi-layered endeavor. While you’re likely using many SEO tools and best practices, adding NLP to the mix can give you a boost.

You already know that Google uses NLP to crawl and match the keyword to user intent. If you search for “how to build a birdhouse,” Google sends its crawlers out to find you the best answer. With the help of NLP and AI, they look at syntax and semantics to gauge if the content answers the question completely and includes all the steps.

Knowing that’s the methodology, you can rank better by ensuring your content matches the user intent. It sounds simple when you boil it down to this. The philosophy is to create content that isn’t fluff but is relevant and compelling for your audience. If your customer can’t take something away from it that solves their problem, you’re not fulfilling your obligation.

Target Better with NLP

Audience targeting is essential to content marketing efforts. That’s why you spend all that time creating buyer personas and content calendars. NLP can help you connect with the right audience for paid content campaigns. Google has all this impressive data about the people you want to reach, and you can tap into it.

You’ll see this in retargeting. Users visit your website but don’t convert. With the help of Google and its long memory of how that person is searching and interacting, your ads show up where they go next, from other websites to Facebook.

NLP Could Be the Next Big Thing for Content Marketers

NLP could be a technology worth adopting for your content efforts. It can be a potent tool and one that will continue to evolve. Consider these applications and how they can strengthen your content marketing.

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