BERTWe know what you’re thinking…another Google update! Does this one really matter? Should I pay attention to it? How could it possibly affect my business? The answer to all these questions is yes! Google’s latest algorithmic update, called BERT, is an advancement in Search, affecting about 1 in 10 queries. This is one of the biggest updates in the world of Google, potentially being the biggest leap forward for Search in the past five years.

What Is BERT?

BERT is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing pre-training called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT for short! In simple terms, BERT can help computers understand the human language a little bit better. How? This latest update processes all words in a sentence, understanding what these words mean—rather than going one-by-one in order.

BERT uses Transformer, which is a machine learning model that specializes in natural language learning. This system learns contextual relations between words in a text. Transformer is made up of two different mechanisms, one being an encoder that reads the actual text put into the search and a decoder that creates a prediction for the query. So, the BERT model now considers prepositions like “for”, “to” and “by” making your search results much more relevant.

How Will BERT Impact My Website?

BERT will be used globally, in all languages meaning it affects snippets. Google snippets are the short text or description you see when you search for something. In one example provided by Google, when a user searches for the query “Parking on a hill with no curb”, before the implementation of BERT, Google systems would become confused by this query, placing more emphasis on the word “curb”, rather than what’s more important here which is “no”. These new changes help make Search more relevant, creating a more useful and user-friendly experience for everyone.

For optimizing purposes, BERT is mainly only impacting top-of-the-funnel keywords. What does that mean for your website? Typically, the easiest way to rank was to produce longer ended content. Now, Google is focusing more on quality content versus word count and keyword density. As BERT gets better and Google better understands the context of the content being input, focusing on delivering highly specific content could help your website rank better.

Key Takeaways

While some websites might see a slight dip in search traffic, don’t panic—it’s not a bad thing. As Google refines its search results, more relevant users will land on your website, increasing conversion rates. Some key takeaways you should understand about the BERT update:

  • Keep doing what you’re doing – if you’ve been creating natural and unique content, specific to your business or industry, keep up the good work! Users can now search Google more naturally, so they will see more relevance in their search results.  
  • Tweak your SEO strategy slightly – focus on creating super-specific, quality content and avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Write content that answers questions – ultimately, people head to Google when they have a question. Make sure your content answers a question your customer cares about. 

These changes began rolling out mid-October and are fully live now. While the English language is the first to see the effects of this change, in the future we will see expansion to other languages.