When it comes to SEO, everyone always has one eye on Google’s latest updates and changes to its algorithm. Not only do these new developments directly affect SEO best practices – but they also give valuable insight into future trends and the qualities Google is prioritizing when it comes to its search engine rankings. One of the latest updates is one that’s also flown somewhat under the radar – in spite of its importance and outsize implications for SEO. We’re talking about the BERT Algorithm update.
What Is BERT?
BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – is a deep learning algorithm and linguistic model centred around understanding natural language processing. Sounds complicated? Well, the theory behind it is. The concept itself was first published by researchers from Google’s Artificial Intelligence Language department in 2018. What BERT represents, in simple terms, is a giant leap forward in terms of how algorithms interpret language and use context. BERT’s advanced model is able to effectively handle complex sentence level tasks such as natural language and paraphrasing, as well as being able to perform token level tasks such as entity recognition and question answering.
What Does This Mean For Search Engines?
This will have a profound impact when it comes to how Google deals with search queries. As we have all encountered – there are words and phrases with multiple meanings or that lean on contextual clues that can be impossible to search for – Google’s BERT update intends to help clarify these phrases. It also has implications when it comes to conversationally phrased questions – which will now be more effective. It’s estimated that in total, this will affect 10% of all search queries.
It’s still uncertain as to how much BERT will impact SEO. However, it’s essential to look at the reasons why this is the case. If BERT is genuinely able to make these queries more effective, it would indicate a new avenue for SEO marketers to explore. This is especially true when considering the rise of voice-activated searches. As devices like Alexa become more and more common, SEO agencies need to be able to target the more conversational searches that happen using those devices. In order to optimize for this update, SEO marketers should lean on content marketing – something Google has been putting a heavy emphasis on in recent times. This content should focus clearly on search intent and move away from keyword matching – as now more than ever Google is looking to move away from matching specific search words to trying to match what the user is searching for. Something that the BERT updates contextual understanding will help to enable.
If you believe you could have been affected by the recent algorithm update or require any SEO advice, please contact our team.