BERT Explained – Everything You Need to Know About Google’s Biggest Update in 5 Years

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - In The News

Major Google Algorithm Change to Affect 10% of all Search Inquiries

Google’s most significant update in 5 years is here and revolutionizing the way the search engine understands search terms and user intent, leading to more relevant results for users. Described as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search,” Google’s recent major algorithm update, BERT, will affect complicated search queries that depend on context. This is estimated to be around 10% of all queries. Google officially started rolling out BERT the week of October 21 for English-language queries, including featured snippets. The algorithm change will soon expand to include all languages in which Google offers Search, however, there is currently no set timeline for this. https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1187732030399889409

What is BERT and How Does it Work?

BERT – which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – is Google’s most recent development in machine learning. The algorithm includes bidirectional training of language models, resulting in a deeper understanding of language context and flow. This allows Google to process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one.

Source: Giphy

Here’s what Google had to say about it:

“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results. Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.” Overall, BERT improves the way Google understands users’ search inquiries along with intent, allowing them to provide more accurate results and featured snippets in less time. Here is an example of what search results look like both before and after BERT:

Comparing Google search results before and after BERT updateSource: Google

It’s also important to note that the new algorithm will work best for searches that consist of full sentences, encouraging users to come up with clearers, more conversational search terms.

How Will It Affect SEO?

Since the BERT Update was designed to improve how Google understands search queries, there will not be much impact when it comes to SEO. Google has consistently advised marketers to keep the user in mind and create content that satisfies their search intent. And because BERT helps Google to better interpret that intent, providing users with quality content that matches what they are looking for continues to be Google’s main recommendation. This means that it’s more important than ever to concentrate on producing content with strong, clear writing, rather than trying to strike a balance between creating content for your audience and writing for machines. In other words – write for humans, focus on using words in precise ways, and avoid sloppy content.

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

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