Google BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Google BERT is an algorithm that better understands and intuits what users want when they type something into a search engine, like a neural network for the Google search engine that helps power user queries. BERT is a form of open-source intelligence that allows computers to better understand user queries through natural language processing. Google is likely hoping you’ll imagine Bert from Sesame Street.
Google continually makes adjustments so its search functions are more user-friendly, but it can take some time before businesses see just how it will affect their SEO practices. In fact, Top SEO Companies always look out for the latest updates from Google as they know it will directly impact their business. A recent update, Google BERT, stands to affect 10% of all searches.
Ten percent may not sound like much, but when it comes to ranking, it’s huge.
In fact, it’s one of Google’s largest scale updates in the past five years. Arguably one the largest changes since Google launched RankBrain, it’s bound to affect businesses small and large. Learn how BERT will affect search queries and how it may disrupt your business’s content marketing plan.
Think of it this way, when you put in a flight number, Google automatically shows you its status. When you put in a business stock number, it will show you how it is performing that day.
Google can effectively predict what you are searching for when you put these concrete figures in, but more vague terms are harder for search engines to process.
When they released the update, Google gave this search term as an example: “2019 brazil travelers to usa need visa.” Without natural language processing, Google would interpret this as a U.S. citizen needing advice about traveling to Brazil.
With the new BERT update, however, Google should theoretically understand the context of this query and provide more relevant results to a Brazilian seeking information about traveling to the U.S. on a visa.
Before the BERT update, Google would read the term “stand” as “stand alone.” In other words, the search results were not about physical demand, but the ability to practice in an office by themselves. Now, Google reads this with the intended context.
Previously, the results would feature tips about getting a prescription filled. Now, they have access to more relevant results about the act of picking up someone else’s prescription.
Google’s BERT update affects more than just search queries – it also makes updates to featured snippets. As the name implies, featured snippets are blocks of content within a page that help the user more readily identify if it contains the information they need. Google BERT also applies its natural language processing algorithm to featured snippets in an effort to garner more relevant results.
For the featured snippet “parking hill no curb,” Google would place too much weight on the word “curb” instead of the word “no,” which would ultimately affect the search results. Now, users can find more relevant featured snippets that educate on how to park a vehicle on a hill.
With any new change that Google launches, there is always some concern for how it will affect SEO practice.
The first thing to understand about BERT is that it does not penalize anyone for their current SEO practices. What’s working for you today should work for you tomorrow. The purpose of BERT is to improve the search engine’s understanding of user queries by using the latest technology available in artificial intelligence.
As such, it will not affect your current website content in the traditional sense. At the same time, any update requires an examination of your current SEO strategy.
Since BERT affects user queries, it’s helpful to know the three main ways that people search for information on Google:
These three queries can build on each other. Here’s how that would work.
Now that BERT has been active for a couple of months,
SEO experts have noticed that BERT does affect top-of-the-funnel keywords, which are the informational queries. This provides some actionable insight for businesses who want to leverage SEO to get ahead of their competition. To maintain your current rankings or even rise a few places in the SERPs, get more specific with your content.
When you create content for your site (the best way to rank for those informational keywords and queries), SEO best practice tells you to make long-form content – more words mean more chances for Google to find you – or so conventional wisdom says.
You may have heard before that long-form content ranks better on Google, but the key is not to get hung up on a specific word count. Rather, Google algorithms focus on the quality of content, and long-form content gives you more opportunity to do that.
Here are a few key takeaways from the Google BERT update, confirmed by the gurus at Google themselves:
Businesses who create meaningfully, unique content shouldn’t worry too much about BERT. The update works to better understand user queries, and those who create comprehensive content with precise keywords will experience improvements in their on-page SEO. By leveraging content and ignoring keyword density, businesses harness the power of BERT to their benefit, boosting traffic and increasing conversions. Expect Google to get smarter with each passing year.
As Google gets smarter with every passing year, you need to as well. While you stay updated with the latest news from Google, make sure that you are able to attract the attention of your end customers with the help of branding agencies. Once they eventually land on your page, you also need to make sure that the content on there is enough to keep them hooked. Give your vision to creative agencies to work together to create meaningful content that will keep your customer glued to the screen.
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