SEO News You Can Use: BERT is the Latest Google Algorithm Update and One of the Biggest Ever

Brandon George
Published Oct 28, 2019 by Brandon George in SEO News, SEO News You Can Use
The views of contributors are their own, and not necessarily those of SEOBlog.com

Buckle up, SEOs, because Google is causing major waves again with the largest change to its search engine since the introduction of RankBrain almost five years ago. Google just announced it’s in the process of implementing a huge change to its core search algorithm that could change search results rankings for up to one in 10 queries.

This major change will be referred to as BERT. That’s Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. BERT is Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

Say what? Run that by me again.

Never mind, just know this: BERT helps to better understand what you’re actually looking for when you enter a search query. It’s supposed to better understand the nuances and context of words rather than just focusing on a few keywords in the query.

What this will likely really impact is how you use and target long-tail keywords. Also, this further emphasizes the need for your content to be written for humans rather than for search engines. So, make sure your content provides value and not just keyword appeal.

Google started implementing BERT this week and it should be fully live soon. It’s rolling out for English language queries now before expanding to other languages. Also, featured snippets will be impacted.

Google provided a few examples of how it will impact search queries:

If you search for “can you get medicine for someone pharmacy,” the old algorithm just picked out “medicine” and “pharmacy” from the query and returned local results for nearby drugstores. With BERT, the algorithm will now zero in on “for someone” and determine you’re wanting info about whether you’re allowed to pick up a prescription for someone else.

More examples from Google: If you search “parking on a hill with no curb,” the old algorithm wouldn’t take into account “no” and would tell you how to park on a hill with curbs. But with BERT, it realizes that “no” is relevant and would tell you how to park uphill or downhill with no curb.

If you searched “2019 Brazil traveler to USA need a visa,” the old algorithm ignored “to” and gave you results on U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. BERT recognizes that “to” really matters in the query and returns results for Brazilian travelers to the U.S.

So, Google is getting better at understanding natural language. But optimizing for BERT will be challenging, perhaps even impossible.

Users should really love BERT. But businesses? Well, it could be a problem for you if your rankings drop and your leads start to shrink.

SEO News You Can Use

More SEO News You Can Use

What Google Checks First When Crawling: Google’s John Mueller said last week in a Google Webmaster Hangout that HTTP status codes are the first thing Google checks when crawling a website’s content.

Study Shows Easier to Land Featured Snippet on Desktop: Google showed featured snippets on desktop 86.6% of the time compared to 73.3% on mobile, according to a Rank Ranger 30-day study. So you’re more likely to land a featured snippet on desktop.

Google Weighs in on Link Velocity: Google’s John Mueller also answered a question last week about if someone could get penalized by Google for getting links too fast. So, does link velocity matter to Google?

Screaming Frog With an Update: Search marketing firm Screaming Frog released version 12.0 of SEO Spider tool last week. The Screaming Frog updates include PageSpeed Insights integration, auto-saves for database storage mode, a GUI you can customize and more.

Google to Help SEO Beginners: Google is expanding its YouTube offerings with an animated video series that is targeted to help SEO beginners rather than experienced professionals.

Google My Business Testing New Feature for Replying to Reviews: Google My Business appears to be testing out a new feature to help business owners respond to reviews from customers via Google Maps. Google is auto-suggesting replies for reviews, automatically filling in a response. This isn’t happening for everyone right now, but it appears to be in the testing stage.

How to Use Google Analytics to Breakdown Original and Direct Traffic: Most all of us use Google Analytics to get a better handle on our website traffic and leads. OnlineMetrics.com wants to help you analyze your data even further, providing instruction on how to find out your website original traffic sources and your website direct traffic sources via Google Analytics.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

Written by Brandon George

Brandon George
Brandon George became the editor of SEOblog.com in 2019. He manages all of the website's content, editorial staff and guest contributors. Since February 2019, he's also served as the Digital Marketing Editor for Thrive Internet Marketing Agency. Previously, he spent 23 years as a professional journalist. He was a senior writer for The Dallas Morning News for 18 years, which included covering the Dallas Cowboys for eight seasons.

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