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Are you sitting down? This statistic may shock you: Google uses neural matching instead of traditional SERP ranking factors for 30% of queries!

Google’s Danny Sullivan describes neural matching as an “AI method to better connect words to concepts,” noting in a later tweet that “how people search is often different from information that people write solutions about.”

In other words, a single word may have multiple meanings, and Google must identify the intent of the search beyond the surface query. They want to bridge intent with content, to use “super synonyms” to improve relevance of results.

To work around this vast challenge, Google’s AI has increasingly leveraged Document Relevance Ranking, known as Ad-hoc Retrieval, which ranks pages based on the relevance between the query and the text content only. This new ranking paradigm is unique, in contrast with traditional ranking formulas which include content, network structure and link signals.

In recently published research (Deep Relevance Ranking using Enhanced Document-Query Interactions), Google describes using traditional ranking signals first (to limit the scope of all returned results), then applying Ad-hoc Retrieval to determine the most relevant (and thus, the top ten) search results.

What does this mean for our clients?

  • We won’t be adding lots of synonym keywords. Google’s neural matching is increasingly matching concepts, so as usual, we recommend maintaining clear and consistent page content… not keyword spamming.
  • We will advocate a thorough awareness of each audience segment, and how each page of content is relevant to their understanding and intent and need.
  • That’s it! According to Google: “there's nothing special searchers or webmasters need to do. These are part of our core systems designed to naturally increase understanding.” So HDMZ will keep recommending that our clients keep developing good, relevant, authoritative content and maintain best practices for optimal website user experience!

Have questions? Drop us a line. We’d love to dive into optimizing your site content for these new SEO opportunities.

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Topics: Google | SEO