Most people not in the industry aren’t keeping track of all the changes that Google makes to its algorithms…but this is a big one. Five years ago, they released an update called RankBrain, which was their attempt to “better understand queries.” In short, Google is always trying to get a better grasp on what we’re saying and typing, and their newest update – BERT – is nothing short of a modern marvel.
More Accurate Answers and Less Frustration
We’ve all experienced the frustration of trying to search for something in Google and having the search results come up far from what we intended. Machines don’t always translate our typed questions correctly. Fortunately for all of us, then: Google’s most recent search algorithm takes search to a whole new level.
BERT (which stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”) provides a much-needed update to the trials and tribulations of searching in Google. “It helps a machine to understand what words in a sentence mean, but with all the nuances of context.”
(Photo courtesy of Search Engine Land.)
This is just one of the examples provided by the company to illustrate the change. Put simply: it’s a smarter search. BERT provides more accurate results based on your search, and is less likely to focus on the wrong words within your query than before. It’s said that BERT will impact one in ten searches, which is nothing to sneeze at. It may impact your own analytics from here on, since it’s now fully live.
If you’ve searched for something before and seen an answer provided in a box at the top of search results without your having to click through to page, then you’ve seen a featured snippet. BERT impacts those, too! Phrases that once seemed to confuse the algorithm are now understood more clearly, and more accurate search results are provided as a result.
As a clarification: this update doesn’t replace the previous update RankBrain, but instead builds on it to strengthen the system’s ability to understand our language. It will be used in conjunction with BERT – sometimes for different queries, and sometimes for the same one – to produce more accurate and helpful results.
Wondering if there’s a way to specifically optimize your posts and pages to help BERT out? There isn’t, really. “Just write content for users, like you always do.” If you’re producing content that is accurate and relevant for your users and for your target keywords, then you’re going to see better results than ever without having to do anything at all. A representative for Google did say, though, that “on page SEO becomes more important in terms of using words in precise ways. Sloppy content may not be helped by the Google BERT update.” You might want to do a content evaluation to ensure you’re still on track!
This may not seem like a big deal, but the BERT update is…well, actually a big deal! The technology itself is a huge leap forward, but because it impacts so many search results, it’s important as a rule.
As you look to your future dealings with the search engine giant, don’t forget that though Google is getting smarter, it’s not a mind-reader. You want to include as much detail and context in your search queries as possible in order to see the best results. While this effort may not have produced your desired answers in the past, it’s much more likely to do that now.
If you want to learn more about implementing search engine optimization and content and inbound marketing strategies, and ensuring your pages and posts are in tip-top shape to function well with the BERT update, then get in touch with Eyler Creative today!