Is Google BERT affecting your SEO?

The recent Google "BERT" update is the biggest search engine optimisation update launched in the past 5 years. This is why we are deep-diving into the impacts it would have on your company website's visibility going forward into 2020 in this blog.

Trishia Mariano
Digital Marketing Manager

Is BERT Affecting Your SEO?

There’s been a lot of hype over Google’s new algorithm update. What actually is BERT, how does it work, and why does it matter in terms of your SEO?

Another Google algorithm update? I know what you’re thinking... Does this update really matter? 

It’s becoming nearly impossible to keep up with Google’s constantly-changing ranking factors. 

Did you know that every single year there’s at least 500-600 Google algorithm updates? That’s almost two times per day!

Recently, Google rolled out a new update called BERT. 

To better understand the concept, let’s go back in time a bit.

Decoding Human Language

Computers can store texts, users can enter texts, but the mere understanding of language has always been incredibly difficult for computers. And so enter natural language processing (NPL). NPL is the technology used to aid computers to understand the human’s natural language. Its ultimate objective is to read, understand, decipher and make sense of the human languages in a manner that is valuable. One of the most ground-breaking developments in the field of NLP was marked by the release of BERT.

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. 

Big words right? 

How BERT Read and Understand Your Search Queries

Google calls BERT “deeply bidirectional” because the contextual representations of words start “from the very bottom of a deep neural network.” In other words, BERT can be used to help Google better recognise the context of words in search queries and better interpret the meaning of each individual word.

Let me give you a wider context as to how BERT works.

Let’s say you search for “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa.”

Image resource: Google

Previously, Google’s algorithm would not understand the relationship of each word in the query and returned results about US citizens traveling to Brazil. In this query, the preposition “to” can carry a lot of meaning. With BERT, Search is able to grasp this nuance and is able to demonstrate its ability to understand the intent behind the search. 

Here’s another prime example of BERT. 

Image resource: Google

The query “math practice books for adults” previously returned listings for children’s books. With BERT applied, Google surfaces a listing for a book titled “Maths for Grownups”. A search result change like the one above reflects the new understanding of the query using BERT. 

With the new algorithm update, there is a mapping element where words are compared and grouped with other words in the sentence. The intention to relate words and phrases to the rest of the sentence can now be deduced.

BERT creates a better experience for you and me and everyone else who uses Google. But how does it affect your SEO?

Moving Forward, How Will BERT Impact Your Search?

Search queries come in different flavours. There are three types of queries people usually make when performing a search.

Take this as an example:

Say someone wants to lose weight.

First, they may do an informational query and search for “how to lose weight.” Once they perform the search, they may find a solution such as different types of diets. From there, they may search for a solution using a navigational query such as “Keto diet”. They then may perform a transactional query, such as “Keto diet recipe book”.

BERT is mainly impacting informational related keywords. Therefore if you want to maintain your organic ranking, the best way to do it is to keep producing and outputting quality content.

If you have been optimising your on-page SEO using voice search, then BERT is going to give you a great outcome. Voice search requires a conversational content structure which is perfect for this new Google update.

But if you’ve been using outdated techniques for optimising your keywords, chances are you’ll run into trouble. If you notice that your traffic has been affected since BERT was announced, then you should probably audit your content.

Discuss your SEO strategy with one of our experts. 

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