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Home > Digital Marketing Blog > What is Google BERT Update And How Will It Affect Your Website Rankings?

What is Google BERT Update And How Will It Affect Your Website Rankings?

What is Google BERT Update And How Will It Affect Your Website Rankings?
November 7, 2019

What is Google BERT Update And How Will It Affect Your Website Rankings?

Nov 07, 2019
Surya S. Das
Surya S. Das is a budding Digital Marketer with great dreams

You might have already heard about this new update by Google named BERT. So you might be wondering if this is really worth your attention now!

Well, I would say it’s really important for you if you are a blogger or your website is relatively new to the internet and you are struggling for some organic traffic. Not just that, even established players might have already gained benefit out of it or can utilize this new algorithm to see some really great results in terms of SEO.

Here we are going to discuss the details of this new update by Google and also see how we can turn tables to make the update profitable for us. 

To begin with, let’s first understand what Google has to say about this update and what are the changes that we can expect. 

What is Google’s new update, BERT?

If you expand BERT then it translates into ‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers’. That’s obviously a really long and confusing name, maybe that’s why BERT sounds perfect and cute given the image we already have in our minds of the puppet from Sesame Street.

For our knowledge it’s important to understand this new algorithm. The ‘Bidirectional Encoder’ in BERT is important because it has changed the way the search queries will be looked upon by Google from now on.

Earlier the search queries were taken as keywords and Google would look for pages having the keywords that you entered. The bots behind the search would take the queries and look at them in a sequential manner which is ‘front to back’ or ‘back to front’ and they would take the keywords that are important and have weightage. Because of this method, in most cases when you enter a sentence in the search box, then the results that pop up contain the keywords but context of the article or the page might be completely different. This is simply because Google couldn’t understand the context of your query. 

To tackle this problem, Google has come up with the BERT update that helps them understand the context of the sentence or the search query. With this new update the bots use the ‘self-attention mechanism’ which helps them compare each and every word in the sentence and assign some weightage to every word. And this mechanism is not sequential by nature rather it can compare the words from a sentence in any random manner, which they call deeply bidirectional and so the name, this algorithm eventually helps decipher the context of the search query. Thereby making the results more accurate and useful.

In the image below released by Google you can see how BERT actually functions. 

googles new algorithm update bert

BERT is the only one that can read the sentence in a very unique way which is not possible in case of other algorithms shown. Bidirectionality helps BERT compare each word with every other word and find out the relation and context of the words in a complete sentence and that in itself is wonderful. 

Apart from that Google has pre-trained this algorithm on plain text corpus which includes text from Wikipedia(2.5 Billion words) and BookCorpus(800 Million words). So imagine the rigorous training that BERT had to go through to make itself perfect for us.

Leaving aside the technicalities, if we focus on the basic message then we notice that Google is now even more smarter when it comes to dealing with long tail keywords. It can now better understand queries and give search results that are more accurate and useful to the user. And this is a really great moment for Google because this makes them more user friendly and futuristic.

You might be surprised to know that BERT has outperformed Humans and other previous tools in terms of understanding context!

google bert update accuracy

93.1% accuracy is what BERT achieved whereas a human from Stanford University stood at only 91.2%. So just imagine how big this update is!


Should I be concerned because of BERT?

Many people might say that it’s not concerning but the truth is, it concerns us all. Google has itself confirmed that this update is massive and is a big step forward in the last 5 years. So do you still think this isn’t worth your time? 

You might not have experienced any significant drop in your rankings or traffic for now, but still you can’t ignore this update simply because this is a futuristic approach and has not revealed itself completely yet. Apart from that, the tools that we usually use to track our rankings take into consideration the short tail keywords mostly and tend to ignore the long tail keywords. But BERT is all about long tail keywords and that might be a reason why you haven’t seen any change in your rankings. 

As said by Google, the algorithm is not yet applied for all languages and locations and it is continuously learning and improving everyday. With every search you make on Google this algorithm will become better and better. That indicates why there’s minor impact today and also hints that the future of searches might change in the near future.

In current world, we search using keywords or frame a compact sentence that is easily comprehended by Google. We do not use the same language as we do while asking something to a human. But with BERT update the search patterns of users might change in the future. People might start making searches with long sentences or long tail keywords for accurate and correct results. And we are the one who needs to be prepared for everything on our way. 

To give you a better understanding of what has changed with this update, here are some examples of search results:

google bert update search results examples

 

google bert update examples

It is clearly visible how the search results have become more accurate with BERT update in picture. The search queries are now better understood and it helps users reach the right content more easily.

Is BERT helpful or harmful for SEO?

Having understood the features and uses of the new algorithm it becomes easy to answer this question, you can even make a guess for this while I’ll explain it in detail. 

With BERT we see more focus is given on Long tail keywords and that too in a meaningful and useful way. The users get exactly what they want if they type in a long query string. So I think this is going to be helpful from SEO point of view because it will reduce the bounce rate.

Earlier for long tail queries the results would not be so related and accurate and so people who got into these blogs or websites would leave it soon after realising it’s not what they were looking for. But now with BERT the search results are expected to be accurate enough for users and so the bounce rate would be low for us and also the traffic that comes in would be of very high quality and intent.

This update by Google is trying to understand the context of long tail keywords to return results that are related and this gives us an opportunity to focus more and more on our content rather than on keywords. As always said, content is the king and this is proved even again with BERT. You can focus on high quality content and topics that are super related to your niche of the website and that will definitely help. 

If you focus on a specific niche and focus on long tail keywords then it might bring you great results in the future. For now I would suggest you to make your content more user friendly and informative and this will definitely help you in the long run because the ultimate goal of Google has always been a better experience for users. They are striving hard everyday to achieve the best experience for users and so if you start doing the same then this will help you win.

If you are a new blog writer or someone who has started a new website then targeting short tail keywords for ranking is always very difficult, rather you can try for long tail keywords as they have low competition and high intent. 

To sum things up I would say this is the right time to leverage the benefits of the update named BERT. Start focusing on Long tail keywords for traffic and always create content that is of high quality and informative because that is what the users and Google is looking for always. With every update that comes up the search bots are becoming smarter and efficient enough to understand what’s best for their users. They always give high priority to high quality and related content. So to make the best use of Google you will have to focus more on your content. 

Any changes suggested to tackle BERT update?

The answer to this question may vary based upon the site in concern but the gist remains the same. Websites that are poorly written or have conflicting content may suffer because of this update. So to fix this you need to improve your content in all respect. When I say in all respects, it means you need to take care of your relatedness to the niche, grammar, context, everything. 

BERT is designed to understand the difference between “Alex likes to eat date everyday” and “Alex likes to go on a date everyday”. The keywords include the word ‘date’ which is used in different contexts and Google will be efficient enough to understand that.

So you cannot fool Google by keeping the keywords in your content and losing the relatedness in your content. You cannot also expect some random traffic coming your way by using broad keywords that have several context or meaning. And with time you can expect this algorithm to go live on Google bots too and other products as well. If that happens then Google will start understanding and judging your content better than humans and that can be a real threat to websites with low quality content.

So the best trick to tackle BRET update is to focus more on good quality content and always keep your message clear and strong. Make sure that your language is correct universally because if you are targeting the global market then you cannot write content using the local slang or words that are locally recognised. 

If you follow the simple ideas of genuineness, strong content and always write for the betterment of your readers then no update can ever stop you from ranking high.

Conclusion

BRET is Google’s step forward to better search results and better user experience. If you look closely then you will notice that every update that Google comes up with is always focused on making the user experience better. So you too can focus on the same and rule the world of internet. 

And with this new update Google has opened up a whole new set of opportunities which we are going to witness soon in future. This new algorithm is now implemented to understand the search queries only but once it proves it’s worth then it might be useful in different applications which would change the way we interact with machines. So be prepared for changes to come and always strive to make yourself and your content better because that’s the ultimate key. 

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