The BERT update is the biggest update in search since the last 5 years, as well as the most influential step in the efforts of search. However, the announcements and impact in the SEO industry is comparatively little.
Still, it’s not perfectly clear how the SEO environment will react due to the Google’s BERT update. However, let’s talk the exact influence SEO professionals are dealing with after the update.
What is Google BERT targeting?
The primary question stays with what the user wants to find out in the search query. There are plenty of examples explaining the changes that BERT made.
Search Engine Journal has provided an understanding of the BERT update through “how to catch a cow fishing”. Expectedly, the phrase has nothing to do with the image that might have popped up in your mind, but everything with a unique sense of “cow” related to fishing, indicating a large striped bass.
By associating the BERT update with both rankings and featured snippets in Search, Google does a much better job in aiding users find more relevant information. Apparently, the improvements in search results will come in more languages and locales with time.
Moreover, longer, more conversational searches containing instances like to, for, etc. will be specifically catered to better comprehend the meaning of the search query. The entire idea is to help users conduct their search in a natural, personalized way.
How BERT affects SEO?
Yes, the BERT update does have an effect on the SEO environment.
The answer to this question lies in how you would optimize your brand or website in accord with the update. Frankly speaking, according to Google’s public Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, the effect is nothing new. What Danny actually says that continue doing what you must have been until now: write quality content for users.
Evidently, this is nothing new that digital marketers and content creators aren’t aware of, Google has been insisting on quality content for quite some time now and also affecting numerous websites worldwide.
However, it’s important to understand the position of SEO with respect to this BERT update. There are a couple of considerations to be taken into account to understand the influence.
Identify and optimize for the relevant users’ search intent
During the BERT training process, the model acquires two sentences as input and understands how to predict if the latter sentence in the pair is really the consequent sentence in the document. In other words, the algorithm is walking the extra mile to understand the user’s intent through prediction and chances of occurrence.
Do remember that search intent is the reason why people conduct a particular search. And what are they trying to do with the search is the responsibility of BERT update to answer. Are they trying to navigate to a particular website or just need a query answered?
Optimize for featured snippets
According to Google, the update is related to the user’s natural language and comprehending lengthier queries. While the emphasis on the optimization for featured snippets is to increase the speed of answering the user’s intent.
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In short, the search engine wasn’t understanding the importance of appropriately acknowledging and responding to the word. Hence, the search results came out as “parking on a hill with curb”. The update has seemingly fixed this issue and made a huge effort is genuinely understanding the true query and its context.