Google recently announced a significant core algorithm update that they are referring to as, "BERT" and here at ALYKY, we're giving a bunch of high-fives. Why the high-fives? Because we've been writing content the way BERT says we're supposed to for years. And that means, as long we're your content firm, you're in a good spot. So what is Bert all about? Let's dive in.
BERT is a Big Deal
While Google updates its algorithms many times throughout the year- most of those updates are small. We watch them all, of course, and will save announcing them for updates just like BERT, PANDA, or MEDIC (that one hurt the medical community especially hard).
The BERT update will have the biggest effect of search queries where context matters. Here's what Google said,
"These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT can help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like "for" and "to" matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you."
What Exactly Does BERT Do To SEO?
In geek speak, BERT stands for, "Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers." In ordinary people speak, BERT is a processing algorithm that helps with deep and contextual learning. It helps a machine take context into account when people are putting in their search queries.
Previously, Google would take the keyword from a search query and put those words in a virtual "bag" of sorts and pick out what it deemed as the most important words.
One example from Google's announcement: Say you enter the search phrase, "can you get medicine for someone pharmacy?"
The old algorithm picked out "medicine" and "pharmacy" and returned local results under the assumption you are looking for a nearby drugstore.
Google's new algorithm notices "for someone" and determines you're looking for information about whether you're allowed to pick up someone else's prescription for them.
Much better, yes?
How Will BERT Affect Your Online Presence?
From Googles Dawn Anderson, "it won't help websites that are poorly written." If you haven't updated the content of your website or if it's poorly written, you're going to drop in rankings and lose traffic.
Again, Dawn from Google emphasized that this update is colossal when she said, "Huge… It's like a quantum leap huge."
How To Protect Your Website From BERT
If you have always followed these practices, well done. You're safe. However, if you haven't, here are a few things you can do (immediately too):
- Check the targeted keywords each page is trying to rank for and make that a complete sentence.
- Add that context back in (don't overdo it).
- Rewrite the content for that page around the new key phrase.
- Check all pages for grammatical errors, typos, and syntax issues.
Don't forget; we offer full website audits and services (white label too!) to fix any issues we see. If you read this blog and decide you need a website audit- mention this blog for 10% off any new order.
To order your audit please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.