What is the Google BERT Update?
In this article, we will be discussing a topic on every SEO’s mind around the world, which is the latest Google BERT update. BERT stands for Bi-directional Encoding Representation from Transformers. SEO’s are more used to terms such as Panda, Penguin and all the other Animal Kingdom updates that Google has released. BERT is a very important update, what we have seen is that rankings and traffic haven’t been impacted too much. So before we go into the nitty gritty and at the end of the article I will tell you what you need to do as an SEO with the new BERT update.
Google Updates – Past and Present
Let me give you a little historical context on where Google is right now and where BERT came to be. You have to understand that Google started in the late 1990s but the mass adoption of or the traction that Google, as a search engine started getting was in the early 2000s. Google was built on a really simple algorithm, which was on links and PageRank. For example, if two sites are linking to one site and that site which let’s call it site A is popular. That means that site A because Site B and C see are linking to site A, site A will get all the page rank and all the link juice. By that premise, site A is going to rank higher because more sites are linking to it. So over time, SEOs started abusing that system. Fast forward to 2007, we started seeing a lot of social media platforms that came to be like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and many others. Google then had to build in some of the social signals as part of their search algorithm. After the social signals update, there were other updates like the Google Panda and Google Penguin update. All these updates we’re actually going in the same direction, which was to reduce spend, and increase the usability from a user point of view. So that way it was not just based on links, but keywords and other factors.
NLP – Natural Language Processing Machine?
In the past three or four years, we have seen a big focus in artificial intelligence or machine learning. What that has done is it has helped Google build on top of the page which is the at the links. Natural language processing machine which is an NLP. What is natural language processing? NLP is as a user, meaning you can speak into a phone, can type in and we can just type in our normal everyday language. What Google then does is go through the NLPs and other various technicalities to figure out what you are actually searching for. For Example, in Gmail NLP’s have already been rolled out where you’re typing an email and it will actually go in and actually fill out the subject line for you.
That NLP is very much now in the search engines. In search engines with NLP what you see is the snippets or the answers, those are the things that’s been processed from Google’s natural language processing. PAA’s or People Also Ask, these are all powered by Google’s new NLP which is the natural language processing machine on top of machine learning platform.
SEO Takeaways – Action Plan for SEO’s
So SEO’s don’t panic. It’s not going to mess up the rankings, it’s not really going to have a major impact on analytics. The things SEO’s need to do is create content not just for the search engines but for the users. Gone are the days where you see all of these cottage industries of content writers are emailing us and everyone else that we write five blog posts for $250 or ten blog posts for $400 dollars. This type of cottage industry is going to get wiped out. What does this mean for SEO? SEO’s need to work with their content writers, and subject matter experts to create content which is deep, topical and focused. Think of how much a user will gain after reading each article you publish. Don’t write articles solely for the search engine. Long form content is going to benefit a lot more from this BERT update.
That means SEO’s, work with your internal Subject Matter Experts (SME). Create the deep broad, type of content then do your on page optimization, distribute the content and just basically go back to what content is for, to give great information to your users. Links are not going away, link building is always going to be a critical part of SEO, as long as Google is in its current state. The content which is useful, beneficial and long form is going to go a long way. The biggest beneficiary of the BERT update and the NLP is going to the search snippets. For SEO’s and for websites who write this beautiful long form topical content you will see that the search snippet of the traffic from such a snippet is going to increase. Traffic from PAA’s which is the People Also Ask will increase as well. So these are the main areas that people should focus on when it comes to the BERT update.
Here’s the official post from Google on BERT update: