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Do you or your search optimization company have a defined strategy for choosing SEO search terms?

Obviously, the quality of those terms is foundational to the quality of your overall SEO and digital marketing strategies. But how do you identify the key phrases that will be best for your site content and for your search engine results page?

These are two distinct but equally important factors in choosing SEO search terms. One determines how natural, relevant, and effective your content will be, while the other determines whether that effectiveness will actually reach the correct audience.

Fortunately, you’re not likely to encounter too much tension between these considerations when choosing SEO search terms. This might not have always been the case. The language that people used to use when searching the web was not always the same as the language they’d expect to see after clicking on a results page.

These days, though, sophisticated search engine algorithms tend to smooth out much of the tension. Google’s existing algorithm is referred to as “bidirectional encoder representations from transformers,” or BERT. It’s not important for you to understand what that technically means as long as you recognize that BERT has a good track record for parsing natural language and making adjustments when corresponding terms are more stilted and non-grammatical, as when people are hastily searching for the most efficient combination of words.

While this is a valuable skill, it’s also steadily becoming less necessary. As more and more people pivot to voice search, they are becoming more likely to search in full sentences that match the natural language of a well-written web page. This is potentially helpful for anyone who’s tasked with choosing SEO search terms, because it creates a broader range of natural, easy-to-use options among the phrases that are already directing people to SERP pages.

Of course, there are still plenty of situations in which your target audience will be typing unusual phrases that don’t flow naturally in web content. You still shouldn’t allow yourself to get caught up on those peculiarities when choosing SEO search terms. It’s much better to count on BERT to save you, rather than risk using unnatural and difficult-to-read language, which could cause your page to be flagged for using SEO trickery.

As has been said many times before, quality is the most important thing these days when you are choosing SEO search terms and writing optimized content. Your marketing team’s competitive research should certainly identify all the phrases that are currently driving traffic, regardless of their structure. If those phrases don’t read naturally, though, your SEO team is better off tweaking them to fit the content, as opposed to lowering the quality of that content to suit the key phrase.

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