In November of this year, Google announced an algorithm update now known as the “Nov. 2019 Local Search Update.” The big thing with this update is that Google is now making use of neural matching as part of the process for when the search engine displays local search results. As described in our previous blogs about the BERT update, Google is trying to understand the language in which we search. With the rise in popularity with voice search, searches can be performed with different speech as each individual using voice search is bound to search differently than others and this is where neural matching comes in to play.
What is Neural Matching?
With the Nov. 2019 Local Search Update being a major update to Google’s core algorithm, it is important to understand how the search engine is better understanding our searches. On Google’s SeachLiaison Twitter account, they explained that:
Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. It’s like a super-synonym system. Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words.
For example, neural matching helps us understand that a search for “why does my TV look strange” is related to the concept of “the soap opera effect.” We can then return pages about the soap opera effect, even if the exact words aren’t used.
The use of neural matching means that Google can do a better job understanding conceptually how a search result might be related to the query searchers use and their intents. It does this by allowing Google to go beyond the exact words in a business name or description. This is perfect to show results when a search is done with local search intent but a business’s name or description isn’t included in the original search.
How Is It Different?
SEO experts and webmasters may see neural matching as just another version of RankBrain and BERT algorithms. While all three of these algorithms aim to help better understand searches, searcher’s intent, etc. so there are relevant results, there is a difference in how they do that. The SearchLiaison explains that:
- RankBrain helps Google better relate pages to concepts.
- Neural matching helps Google better relate words to searches.
What Needs To Be Done?
The good thing for businesses and webmasters is that with this update, there are no changes that need to be made. Google refers to its local ranking help document for best practices when trying to rank for local searches. The three key factors to ranking well for local include relevance, prominence, and distance. With neural matching, Google has expanded the relevance factor when determining local results.