The week of October 25th Google released another update that they say is the biggest leap forward in search in the last 5 years! So, let’s talk about what it’s all about and what it means to us as marketers that want to be visible on Google’s first page.
BERT Understands Human Like Queries Better
BERT actually stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers which is something Google wrote about last year. this algorithm according to google affected 10 percent of queries however so far, the impact of this update on SEO has been minimal. So, the question is why is that and what can we learn from what Google is after? This new algorithm is much like Rank Brain in that it is machine learning designed to better understand content and queries.
What BERT is supposed to do is to better understand human-like queries as well as content that is written in a conversational form. It then matches the best content with the query. It is supposed to be able to pick up on the context and nuances in content. The current thought is SEO’s did not feel this as much because most queries that are conversational and more human-like are long-tail search queries or ones that are being created by actual voice search using Google Assistant. this makes the search more natural since we are conversing with the search engine to go find us the desired result.
Big Google Update Minimal SEO Impact
- This update has affected 10 percent of search queries, but it seems the impact was felt more on long-tail informational searches.
- It’s an algorithm that is supposed to be able to pick up on the meaning and context of content as well as any nuances in it
- Google says much like Rank Brain you cannot optimize for BERT
- BERT is not replacing Rank Brain but rather it works with it
- According to Google so far, they are seeing big benefits from this new algorithm
What Can We Learn From BERT?
Well like all things Google we should be able to learn something from this update. Updates like this give us a glimpse into what this search engine is after and wants to see in the way of content. It also lets us know that content is still king! Long-tail searches are becoming bigger and bigger especially the conversational type and Google is working harder and harder towards machine learning that can understand how we as humans search as well as understand content.
Can You Optimize For BERT?
According to Google, you cannot optimize for BERT however I think you can! Maybe not directly but by doing what they have been saying all along. Create great content designed for the end user and not the search engine. Well if you have done any kind of search engine optimization you know that the whole build it and they will come mentality is not exactly how it works which is why SEO experts exist! However great content that is easily understood by the user is the foundation stone of any good organic ranking campaign So understanding what type of content Google wants to see is an important part of natural rankings in the long run.
How To Optimize For Google’s BERT Algorithm
- Write quality content that is made for humans
- Optimize that content in ways that do not interfere with its readability
- Keep in mind how people would search if they were talking to the search engine.
- Keep semantics in mind when creating content
- Make sure you’re not writing fluff or purely to rank but rather think of quality content and ranking that content second.
This is really not anything new but what you should be doing and have been doing all along. Now it just has become more important. As machine learning gets better and better about understanding content as it relates to our searches writing content that has substance is becoming more and more important!