The Google BERT Update: What You Need to Know
Posted by PNdigital

Google is always updating its search algorithm to produce more relevant results for its users. As an SEO agency, it’s our job to keep an eye on the changes so we know exactly what you need to do to rank higher.

But while Google is constantly tweaking the algorithm, some updates are bigger than others. The most recent big update (and one of the biggest in years) was introduced recently: Google BERT.

So what is BERT, and how does it affect SEO for your business?

Overview of BERT

Google BERT was announced by Google on October 25th, 2019, and it is being described as the most important algorithm update in years. It impacts as many as 10% of all search queries.

Its main purpose is to improve complicated queries and long-tail searches, which are increasingly important in a world of voice search where the context of the search is more important than ever.

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It’s a deep learning algorithm that is related to processing natural language.

Google says BERT focuses on ‘improving language understanding’ with a special reference to natural language and conversational queries. BERT essentially helps the search algorithm understand the context of the words used in searches so it can match them with more useful results.

Examples of BERT Using Context

SEJ provides the example of a tricky search query: ‘how to catch a cow fishing?’ In New England, a cow in a fishing context refers to a type of bass.

Before BERT, the results displayed by Google were focused on livestock. After BERT, the results changed to fishing. This shows that BERT understood the context of the query. It used the word ‘fishing’ to add context, and this enabled it to provide more useful results.

Another example from Google highlighted the search phrase: ‘2019 brazil traveller to usa need a visa’.

For us, that’s easy to understand. It refers to a Brazilian who wants to travel the USA and needs a via. But it was tricky for Google to work out exactly what the intent was before BERT came along. Before BERT, Google ignored the word ‘to’, which in this case changed the entire meaning of the query. Post-BERT, it understands the context better.

What BERT Means for You

While BERT is a major milestone for search, it does not make a huge amount of difference to your SEO. Or at least, it shouldn’t. As an experienced SEO agency, we know that Google has always put a strong emphasis on high-quality content – content that provides value to the reader, content that people are looking for when they carry out a search.

If you have been creating this type of content already, then BERT should only help you. If you have poorly written content on your site, you are not going to benefit from BERT, and it is more likely to hurt your rankings.

Let Us Help You Rank Better

BERT has only been released for English results in the USA at the moment, but it will be rolling out to other countries soon. Your site may be impacted, and if so, you may need to improve your content or make other SEO changes to prevent your site from being negatively affected.

As a specialist SEO agency, we can help with all of your SEO requirements, so contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

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