Does it often feel like you can’t find what you’re looking for when you search online? You add word after word in frustration, trying to explain what you were looking for. You’re still using an algorithm to talk to a computer to find things on other computers. The computers don’t know the difference between an animal and a car named after an animal. That’s why natural language search is still being developed.
Now, let’s add in the proliferation of virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa. You wouldn’t ask out loud “impala car size” because that wouldn’t feel natural. You’d be more inclined to ask, “What’s the size of an impala?” But, if the search engine doesn’t have context about what kind of impala you’re looking for, it might return a result about the animal rather than the car.
In the future, natural language search might shift to include clarifying questions such as, “Did you mean the animal or the car?” These questions would more closely match how a person might narrow down what was being asked. For now, search engines like Google use the application program interface (API) to look at what’s called a parse tree. A parse tree is a way to diagram a sentence so the program can determine what is most likely being asked.
Right now, the main use for these parse trees is chat bots. However, keeping in mind that natural language search is the Holy Grail of search engine processing, it’s important to position your video content for the future of search. While search engine optimization (SEO) is a continually moving target, there are still some best practices to make sure your video content is ready for the next wave of search results.
While there are several similarities between optimizing your video to be found by search engines and preparing your video for natural language search results.
Start With Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are a way to capture search intent and future-proof your content catalog. The more work you do today, the less work you’ll have to do when natural language search becomes the norm.
As you create long-tail keywords for your content, think about how someone might find your videos in the future. Think about your video from broad to narrow. Broadly your video might be about a car, but more specifically about how to replace the radio knob. All of these keywords are important when titling, describing and keywording your video.
It might seem as though autocomplete suggestions have been around forever. But they’ve only been around since 2004. If they were a person, they couldn’t even have a learner’s permit yet.
All the suggestions that autocomplete suggests are influenced by algorithms. Nevertheless, these algorithms will most likely form the basis of natural language search.
One strategy I recommend is to examine the autocomplete suggestions in Google and YouTube to see what other people are searching for. Because it really is a matter of time before the meaning and intent behind the phrases being searched for make up the natural language search algorithms, using these tools to inform your titles, keywords and descriptions will help your content in the long run.
Wrap Up on Natural Language Search and Video Strategy
While internet searching may not quite be able to answer, “That place with the funny decorations and the killer cheese fries,” it probably isn’t too far off either. (Especially if a few other people use that same phrase to look up the same restaurant.) Prep your video content for the future.
Plus, by focusing on long-tail keywords, good titles and rock-solid descriptions, you are helping the people who find your content based on those longer search terms know you are the droid they are looking for. (Couldn’t help the Star Wars reference this close to May 4!) When people find the content they’ve been looking for, they’re much less likely to bounce and they’re more likely to engage with more of your website.