How BERT Affects SEO and How You Can Optimize For It
Google’s BERT roll-out caused a massive sensation in the SEO industry as it was deemed “the most important update in five years.”A specific update, dubbed BERT, affects 10% of search queries officially. That’s already a huge number because millions of searches are made every day. So what exactly is the BERT update, how is it going to affect the SEO environment, and how can we better manage our websites as webmasters and SEOs to change this algorithm?
What is BERT?
Bert stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a neural network-based technique for Natural Language Processing (NLP) that was open-sourced by Google last year.
The Google BERT Update
BERT is not necessarily updated to the current algorithms of Google, but it is a technique for improving NLP. It allows Google to process search query words in relation to all the other words in the query – unlike the word-by-word process Google used before.
Therefore, hopefully, through this process, Google can understand the entire context of a word in the search query. This model applied by Google allows them to do a better job of helping users find useful information. The primary target for this model is “longer, more conversational questions” where words like “about” and “about” have a major impact on the query’s context – in my understanding, these are, more often than not, long-tail keywords.
It only affects 10% of U.S. searches and is generally only available in other languages to the featured excerpts.
For example, if you searched for “parking on a hill with no curb”, Google used to place too much emphasis on the word “curb” and not enough emphasis on the word “no”.
How You Can Optimize for BERT
Google says it’s impossible to customize this because there’s “nothing to optimize.”Nevertheless, SEOs always have ways to understand a creative and unique algorithm change that helps us to come up with tactics that will help our site navigate through the ever-changing algorithms of Google. Having said that, here are some (simple) strategies that can help you with the recent update of BERT.
Be Specific with the Keywords or Queries You Target
One of BERT’s major challenges for SEOs is that this change is not about how Google defines website content but is about a better understanding of what exactly a user is looking for. To SEOs, this means that the trick here is to be more precise about the queries or questions that your content seeks to address.
It’s like starting a business. You should think of a company that meets needs when you’re an entrepreneur because these are the forms of business that are profitable. The same is true of material. The best content is those that respond to users ‘ needs and fulfill them.
Place yourself in the shoes of a searcher. If you’re looking for a laptop, what exactly are the words you’d be looking for? What results do you expect to see from the search? The thing is, we often remove stop words or pronouns from the keywords that we focus on thinking that this is how people search. We sometimes forget long-tail keywords, search phrases full of occasional stop words, but that’s just what BERT is trying to achieve.
BERT is not a massive surprise because Google has regularly published updates relating to a much better user search experience. Their recent updates concentrate on one thing: providing users with useful, insightful, reliable, informed, and correct information/answers.
Keep in mind that, apart from the featured snippet cards, BERT is not yet applicable to international search markets. Nevertheless, as time goes by, Google has no excuse not to extend it to search markets in foreign languages.