Google Rolls Out BERT, Its Biggest Search Update Yet
On October 25th 2019 Google made a very important change to its search algorithm.
Called BERT, this algorithm update is said to be the search giant’s biggest since rolling out RankBrain almost five years ago. If you sell products/services or promote your brand online, this is one of the most important SEO ranking factors you should pay close attention to as it could have a significant effect on the search ranking and performance of your website.
What is Google’s BERT Update?
BERT is the acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.
It is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. In layman’s terms, what it does is to help computers better understand language the way humans do.
The search giant started rolling out BERT on October 25th. Affecting 1 in 10 of search queries, the new search algorithm update is expected to be in full effect this week. As of now, BERT only affects English language queries. However, Google said its capabilities will be expanded to other languages and will also impact featured snippets in the future.
What does BERT affect?
Depending on how they are used, words can differ in meaning. According to Google, BERT is designed to provide users with even better and more relevant search results by understanding the nuances and context of words in search queries.
Using the search query “2019 brazil traveller to USA need a visa” as an example, Google explained that the word “to” and its relationship to the other words in the search phrase are essential to understanding its full meaning. Before, Google couldn’t understand this and would simply return results about Americans travelling to Brazil.
With the implementation of BERT, the tech giant said Google Search can now better understand the nuance and meaning of the search phrase above and the very common word “to” won’t simply be discarded. As a result, Google can now offer a more accurate and relevant search result.
Google also clarified that BERT won’t replace RankBrain, its first artificial intelligence method for understanding search queries. Instead, it will be used to supplement RankBrain. If there are queries that Google thinks it can better understand with BERT, then it will use the new search algorithm. Otherwise, it will continue using RankBrain for some queries. Google also pointed out that it can use multiple methods for understanding searches, which means it can use BERT and RankBrain at the same time.
Why Should You Care?
SEO experts and website owners should care because according to Google, BERT represents the “biggest leap forward in the past five years and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.” Also, it affects 10% of all search queries and there have been several websites reporting changes in their search rankings after Google rolled out its latest update.
BERT’s Impact on Google Ranks So Far
Whilst Google said the latest update was a massive one, tracking tools and chatter amongst SEO experts early this week showed that BERT’s impact was not as significant as the effects of previous core updates and other Google-related updates. However, this could change in a few weeks or so when it becomes fully live.
Optimising your site’s SEO for BERT
As in the case of RankBrain, Google revealed that you cannot optimise for BERT. However, despite Google getting better at understanding how humans use words to communicate and express intent, there are ways to ensure that your website will perform well with the new search algorithm update.
1. Write for humans
As always, write for humans, not for Google’s search bots. Create content that is relevant and appealing to your audience. You may write posts that aren’t about your product, service, or brand from time to time. However, you must ensure that they are at least related to the industry you are in and designed to help your target market.
2. Use relevant keywords
Use relevant keywords and phrases in your headlines and throughout your content. This will help both Google and your audience know what your content is all about. However, make sure you use keywords sparingly and naturally. Peppering your content with too many keywords could turn your audience off.
3. Create interesting headlines
Your headlines are the first thing your audience sees when viewing your content so make sure you create a good first impression. Write clear yet catchy headlines to attract your audience’s interest. Also, don’t forget to include keywords to make them SEO-friendly.
4. Structure your content appropriately
Make your content look more organised and much easier to read and digest by structuring your post. No matter how well written an article or blog post is, it won’t do you any good if they are presented in walls of text. Back-end organisation is also important. Use proper tag hierarchy to ensure that your content is well-structured.
5. Make your content shareable
Promote your posts and/or encourage your audience to share them on social media. This will help you gain more exposure and attract more visits to your site.
As Google’s search algorithm becomes more sophisticated, it is up to you to use the necessary strategies to make your content both SEO and user-friendly.
You should also work to constantly improve your craft since you can never predict when exactly the search giant will release its next big update.
Because the Internet is constantly evolving, you should stay vigilant and be on the lookout for new strategies that work.
Have your site’s ranks been affected by this Google algorithm update?
Or do you need further help in understanding this update?
Speak to our team at Springhill Marketing, we’ve brought many sites back up to high ranks after they were affected by a Google update, plus we know how to practice safe SEO which pleases the Google Gods.
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