Welcoming BERT

8 November 2019

SEO is an essential part of digital marketing as it helps your webpage rank higher for relevant searches – raising the amount of traffic and potential clients you’ll receive.

Search engines employ algorithms that search for certain keywords in webpages to bring the user the best possible match for what they’re looking for.

With Google being the largest and most popular search engine in the world – we thought we’d shine a little light on some newly released algorithm changes – BERT.

What is BERT?

BERT is Google’s most recent search algorithm update – as well as the largest update that the company has made since they introduced RankBrain in 2014. BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) will affect a staggering 10% of all searches – impacting one in ten queries.

Essentially, BERT will process the natural language that we use every day more effectively and help the machine understand its context. For the moment, it is only available in English in the U.S – but will be available for other countries and languages in the near future.

How does BERT work?

Google introduced a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. This was BERT. Google also made it open source which enabled anyone to use it and train their own question answering system. Essentially, BERT is a smarter A.I system.

BERT’s biggest impact on how we use Google is that it has a more updated and comprehensive understanding of prepositions such as for and to.

Before BERT came onto the scene, Google had trouble relating these two words to the rest of the sentence as well as understanding the context that we’d type them in.

If we – as humans – look at a question that is missing a couple of prepositions, then we’re generally able to still understand what the question is. A machine – on the other hand – was unable to do so effectively. According to Google, that has now changed.

Using neural networking techniques, BERT is able to better understand search queries and the intentions and context behind them – bringing the user more helpful and relevant results.

It considers the full context of a word in relation to the sentence by looking at what words follow and precede it – as opposed to what the word means on its own and out of context.

BERT’s impact on SEO

The impact that BERT will have on SEO is difficult to see as Google’s Public Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, went on twitter to confirm that you essentially cannot optimise with BERT.

BERT will reward websites with relevant and concise content – regardless of the word count. Essentially, quality over quantity.

Improvements to featured snippets

Featured snippets are also being altered and improved with BERT. Featured snippets are the text boxes that appear above organic search results – but below ads – and aim to directly answer questions you have asked Google.

Sometimes they can be very helpful and sometimes they fall short of the mark a little and it’s not quite what you’re looking for.

Seeing as that BERT’s primary function is to improve the way it understands the natural flow and context of our language it’s no surprise that featured snippets are meant to be getting better.

Contact our digital agency in Melbourne.

It’s not easy building an effective website with a presence in the digital space. That’s where AWD Digital can help. Our Melbourne-based digital agency will guarantee you effective branding as well as a quality website and the digital content/plan to go with it.

We also offer SEO strategy services to help get your business out there and to the top of Google – even if BERT is in control.

If you’re looking for a digital agency in Melbourne, then please do not hesitate to reach out by calling +61 3 9001 6255. You can also fill out the contact form on our website.