BERT is Google’s newest Algorithm update. Algorithm’s are the complicated calculations Google uses to determine how it ranks the search results when people search Google. According to Google it is the first of many updates to come. Google is changing the way they are ranking search results! In the past key words were everything, people would enter their Key words in Meta tags and Google would use these meta tags to determine where the site should be placed. It has been a long time now (about a decade) that Google no longer uses Meta Tag Key words and instead looked for the Key words within the content and could evaluate the content based on how relevant it was to the search. But now Google is taking it a step further then key words and content, Google is looking at what did the searcher “MEAN” by that question? For example, if a person searches “nine to five” and “a quarter to five”, Google now will understand what the searcher means by this instead of the exact wording (referred to as National Language Processing is understanding how humans speak) and looks at the context of the entire question. This is called Systematic Searching, when context is evaluated deeper.
Google tells us that BERT will affect 10% of search results so it may affect your organic placement and traffic. Does this mean you need to re-write all your content? No not necessarily, if your content is written about a topic using key words, it is still good. It is BERT will evaluate the full meaning of the search so the results will be more accurate. If your content answers the question the searcher is asking, it will more likely be displayed whether you have the same key words or not. I have talked quite a bit in other posts about the importance of CONTENT on a website to answer the question people are wanting to know. Google is getting smarter and smarter, and are no longer being fooled by people having tons of key words in their footer, or key words splatter over the site. It wants to know you are providing valuable content for the reader. Their goal is that the first result from a search will provide the reader with the exact answer to the question. Which is really amazing for all of us, a search engine that is very effective!
An example in the real estate market is if a searcher is looking for a “Big Cottages for Rent”, before BERT, Google may have turn back results about either Big Cottages or Cottages for Rent, but traditionally the Googles Algorithm’s would look at the contact before the main word or after the main word but not the entire sentence together. But now Google is looking a the full context of the question to understand the searcher is looking for not only big cottages but also cottages for rent. So the first result will be exactly what you are looking for so as a result as a website owner this may change where you placed before and where you place now.
Google Provided this example if someone used to search “Math Practice books for Adults”, it would give results not necessarily looking at all the words in the sentence to understand the full question, resulting on additional searches and scrolling through examples, but not anymore.
When will BERT have the biggest effect? When the searches are longer and written more in a sentence with multiple ideas?
So as website owner, you may ask yourself, can I optimize my website for BERT? Google says no. BERT is evaluating the question better to provide the best answers. So simply provide valuable content to your target market and Google will display your site when the search quires are most relevant. I have always suggested that Real Estate Agents provide lots of information about neighbourhoods, home and property types they sell and what types of life situations may bring someone to make such a search. For example now if someone searches “big homes for growing family” may want to find content that talks about they types of homes that are ideal for larger families but also all the information one would want if they are moving because their family is expanding, such as schools, parks, family activities, inlaw suites…and neighbourhood and cost averages for this type of home.
KEY MESSAGE – Know your target market and provide them all the information you have been telling them over the years on your website, so they find you online!