Recently, Google introduced a new update to its search ranking system, the latest since releasing RankBrain almost 5 years ago.
The update involves language processing technology called BERT, which gives Google a more nuanced understanding of a searcher’s intent and can evaluate the way words in a search query associate with each other.
So what is BERT?
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. In short, it can help computers understand human language better, allowing a search query to be answered more correlated, finding more useful information.
BERT In more depth
- Google has improved its understanding of the natural language
- BERT will impact 1 in 10 of all search queries – the biggest change in search since Google released RankBrain 5 years ago
- The ‘query understanding’ update means that Google has got better at identifying nuances and context of words in searches (natural language and conversational based) and better matches those queries with more relevant results
- Google reported they tested BERT largely and the company is seeing significant advantages using it
- It does not replace RankBrain or other language algorithms, it can be used in conjunction with them
- It also impacts featured snippets, and not just for English language featured snippets like with core search but with multiple different languages
- Google said this is its biggest step forward for search in the past 5 years!
An example of BERT
To see more examples produced by Google please click here
What does BERT mean for my SEO?
You can’t optimise for the BERT update. But there are a few things you can do:
- Focus on satisfying the specific need of the consumer
- Re-structure your content to respond to the intent of a searcher
- Concentrate on producing engaging, informative content for your consumers
It’s worth keeping an eye on your SEO performance and keeping aware of:
- Longtail keyword ranking performance
- Organic traffic
- Positive competitor amendments
Even though industry experts have said the impact of BERT has been minimal it’s always worth checking your performance (it’s better to be safe than sorry).