By now, everyone must be aware of the latest update rolled out by Google. Google launched the BERT update with a motive to increase the quality of search. It was said to be one of the most significant Google updates of the year. Ever since the launch of this update, the SEO world has been polarized.
BERT affects 10% of search queries officially. It is a very huge number because millions of searches are made on a regular basis. This update was launched by Google initially with a motive to understand natural language processing better. So, what does it imply to your SEO?
Before that, let us understand what exactly is BERT.
For those who have still not heard the news about Google's latest search algorithm update, here is a quick overview of what it is and how it works!
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representation for Transformers. It does sound a bit cryptic and complicated. So, let me break it down for you!
BERT is Google's latest algorithm update that is more focussed on interpreting the intent of search queries better. Instead of looking at the user's query word by word, BERT lets Google understand the entire phrase better to give the searcher more accurate results.
This update is a big step ahead in Google's quest to understand how humans are thinking.
Will Bert Change How We Do SEO?
There is absolutely no need to change the way you do SEO for BERT. You must always make sure to follow best practices and principles all along. There is nothing to worry about if you are having a solid process for your keyword research and content creation.
Although you may come across quite a lot of claims and buzz around the BERT update, nothing changes on the website owners' side. Those who are writing content on the web should shift their focus on high quality and relevant content backed with adequate keyword research.
BERT does change what type of content is served for a query to maintain the quality of search.
How Does Bert Affect SEO?
BERT may affect a few pages in search. So, during monitoring, if you find the performance of your pages dropping, BERT is the reason. You may, however, will have to do some further research on this. Let me take you through an example to give you an idea of how it works.
Suppose you notice traffic to one of your listicles has significantly dropped over the past couple of months. You eventually type the query into Google and find the content ranking on top is now in the form of blog posts.
Any good SEO looking at this will think of repurposing it to reclaim their spot at the top five for the query. That is very much right since BERT may have altered the type of content to be served for this particular query, but the practice of SEO will remain the same!
The likelihood of BERT affecting your pages is negligible, and there is no need to sound the alarms, you need to make sure to monitor your search performance consistently.
Here are some crucial observations from the BERT update to consider.
1. Informational Queries Are Given Great Importance
Informational queries tend to possess more uncertainty to it while compared to navigational or transactional queries. A large part of the update is cracking these uncertainties to provide a more direct answer.
BERT is impacting top-of-the-funnel keywords that are informational related keywords.
Google interprets these informational queries through a process called masking. As you enter a word in the search bar specifying something, in particular, Google examines that word for any missing letter to figure out what the user is actually looking for in the process!
Google will then try to provide you with the right information you were looking for even though there were missing/incorrect letters or words.
2. Laser-Focused Answers Will Make a Difference
Shifting your focus on long-tail keywords and questions is what BERT update wants from you. It is more than just optimizing your content for keyword density. It is more about giving users direct answers to questions and informational queries.
So what you can do is structure your content around specific queries and provide laser-focused answers. When you look for specific answers, you wouldn't want to go through a large piece of content to find what you are looking for on the internet.
You will be looking for a super-focused piece of content that will provide you with direct answers. Although the concept is nothing new to the SEO world, BERT is trying to push it further!
3. Longer Content May Not Work out Every Time
As we get caught up in general statistics, we tend to believe that long content is generally preferred. But, with every new update, this notion is eventually becoming a mere myth.
However, we cannot say that creating shorter, more concise content is a particular fact in SEO. It will all depend on the query. Broad queries like "what are the different LinkedIn Ad types," or "How to execute Facebook ads" will need longer and more thorough content. But simple queries like "What is meta description" or "what is a no-follow link" won't require a long content!
So, the trick here is to provide content that will give searchers an efficient yet solid answer to their query!
Creating quality content with the user in your head has been one of Google's old-age advice. You may have observed longer content getting ranked, but according to the new BERT update, more than the length of your content quality is given more importance.
Content creators should always make sure to keep track of digital marketing updates to bring in the latest specifications regarding the optimization of a page and how to rank better.
If your focus is towards bringing value and knowledge to your target audience, every new update from Google shouldn't be a problem. We can conclude by saying that if you can create remarkable content that provides answers to your target user's pressing questions, then you don't have to optimize for BERT!
Rebecca Hill is the Outreach Coordinator at TechWyse, an SEO agency in Toronto, Canada. While she isn't building relationships with bloggers and influencers in the marketing world, she can be seen rooting for the Blue Jays.