Throughout the year, Google tweaks its search algorithm which rarely makes news outside SEO circles. However, this headline has made global headlines and you may be curious to know what it’s about.
Google BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is an advancement in Google’s understanding of natural language. As we see more searches for longer terms and or or questions, so Google needs to better process these nuances. (see the official announcement.)
The BERT update provides Google with a better understanding of the context to these longer search requests. Where previously Google would ignore ‘stop’ words like to, from, in.. they will now use them to better understand the context of a search.
An example they provide includes, “2019 Brazil traveler to USA need a visa”. Previously they would have ignored the ‘to’ and deliver results about U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. Now it will harness the word ‘to’ and provide a more relevant, contextual search result with a very different meaning.
It could become relevant if you were creating content like, ‘candles to help calm anxiety’ or similar long phrases.
This update is big news because it could affect 1 in 10 search results. With an average of 63,000 searches per second or 2 trillion a year – 10% becomes a big number!
As an SEO Consultancy, it is our job to watch for these algorithm changes and ensure our strategies and actions are best suited to these changes.