Google has just confirmed that they are now using Neural Matching in the process of generating local search results. Neural Matching is a system based on Artifical Intelligence (AI) technology that helps in understanding how words and concepts correlate.
Keep reading if you want to find out what this actually means for you and how it will affect your page rank in Google’s SERP.
Neural Matching vs. RankBrain
Neural Matching is not the same as RankBrain. According to Danny Sullivan (Gooogle’s Public Search Liasion), the difference is simply:
- Neural Matching: is about the words and searches; it helps Google to relate them better.
- RankBrain: is all about the relation between the concept and the pages.
Google first began using Neural Matching back in 2018 and described it as a super-synonym system that allowed them to understand how concepts and words related to each other. A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same or a very similar meaning to another word or phrase within the same language. For example, the word Powerful can be a synonym for the word Strong. You might wonder how can this be helpful for local search results. Well, it is prevalent that the author of the page would write something in a certain way, while the searcher looks for it in another way.
A searcher might search for “how do I tilt my chair?” while a page author might have a blog about “adjusting seat recline” or vice versa. You can notice how none of the words in the search query are an exact match to the blog. But with this system, these two can be matched, and the searcher will find the relevant information they are searching for.
In this sense, using Neural Matching is a positive thing that allows searchers to reach the desired relevant content even if they search for it using completely different phrases and words than the author of the page.
RankBrain was first used sometime in 2016 to allow Google to relate a concept to a page. It meant that even though a particular page did not contain the exact words of the search query, the idea could be matched with phrases on that page. Hence, RankBrain is also an AI-based system that relates concepts to pages.
RankBrain and Neural Matching together
To be clear, RankBrain and Neural Matching are two different systems regardless of their similarities. Yet both systems can work together. RankBrain finds and determines synonyms on a page while Neural Matching allocates synonyms for words and phrases in the search query.
Why is this important?
It is relevant if you are monitoring your data and your position on Google’s SERP, and noticed changes in ranking. Now you can understand why these changes happen and how Google matches search queries with relevant results to provide a superior user experience.
Moreover, if you are in the process of optimizing your On-Page SEO and trying to create pages that generate more traffic, it is essential to know how Google is looking at Pages and how it is matching them to Search Queries.
Can you optimize your page for Neural Matching?
Not really. According to Google, there is nothing new that you need to do specifically for this update. Google still relies on relevance prominence and authority as vital elements in local ranking. The main difference is that Google is updating its system to better recognize and relevance with the use of Neural Matching.
If you want to see the latest list of Google Search Updates, you can click here. Otherwise, if you have been affected and trying to recover from a Google Update or simply trying to drive more traffic to your site, you can click here for more help.