Google search algorithms are constantly being updated and changed, and through it all, those relentless adjustments have become one of the biggest challenges of SEO. For most website owners, these continuing updates make it difficult to keep up to date with the latest SEO best practices and trends.
But those updates are designed to make search results more useful to your target audience and to eliminate sites that use manipulative methods to increase their search rankings. This means that it’s uber-important for site owners to keep themselves informed about all of the updates, no matter how challenging that may be.
With that in mind, here are some important facts (and their impacts) of the latest Google algorithm update – BERT.
What is BERT?
Google has just finished rolling out its latest batch of algorithm updates, which include its most significant Google algorithm update since RankBrain in 2015. The latest update is called the Bi-directional Encoder Representations from Transformers update, or BERT. While its technical details are pretty complex, it can simply be defined as a deep learning algorithm that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to relate to natural language processing.
In a nutshell, it helps a machine to comprehend what words in a sentence mean, including all the distinctions of context. This allows Google to put more emphasis on the keywords featured in the query, and understand the context of how those keywords relate to one another. This is all for the sole purpose of delivering better results for users. And since this latest update could adversely affect your SEO strategy, here’s some actions you should take to ensure you stay on top of your SEO game.
1. Examine how BERT affects your traffic
Before you embark on any new twists and turns in your SEO strategy, you need to examine how BERT affects your traffic first. This should help you identify shifts on a larger scale, which will then help you identify which areas BERT has affected that need attention in the future. This is also essentially the best way to analyse which SEO tactic will work best post-BERT – including what types of keywords experience less traffic.
BERT was only rolled out on 13 January, so there’s no point in reviewing any of your traffic data before that date, as it won’t have been impacted by the new BERT algorithm. But from 13 January onwards, you might notice dramatic shifts in your site’s traffic due to the greater emphasis given by BERT on natural language and context when queries are processed. You’ll gain the required insights that will guide you through your efforts in optimising your website by identifying page level and overall shifts in your site’s traffic.
2. Improve your focus on long-tail keywords
To get BERT working for you rather than against you, and potentially also boosting your voice search traffic, it’s time to improve your focus on long-tail keywords, because AI assistants favour content that uses patterns with natural language. Utilise keyword research tools as well as your own website’s intelligence to identify keywords you should be integrating, and the queries that your target audience are looking for answers to. From there, you can create content that will answer those queries. Remember – it’s always, always about the content.
To be on top of SERPs and be able to build brand authority, your site needs to deliver engaging, informative, relevant, and helpful content. Also, questions in and of themselves, work as excellent as long-tail keywords. You can organically integrate them into titles, body copy, and metadata.
Here’s an example from SEO marketing expert Neil Patel. In his blog, he explained the difference in the results before and after BERT. Before BERT, when someone typed “2019 Brazil traveller to the USA need a visa”, Google showed results discussing how Americans can travel to Brazil without a visa when in fact, the search was about Brazilians travelling to the US.
After BERT, there’s a slight difference but more relevant results for the same query, including a resource from the US embassy explaining the requirements for Brazilians to travel to America, which is exactly the answer that the user was looking for. It’s because BERT can easily understand the nuances of natural language so it can interpret the true intent of the question, and in turn deliver far more relevant results for the queries. But focussing on the questions your audience may ask in a search query is only the beginning – you need to continue the conversation with your audience so keep an eye out for follow up questions.
3. Always create valuable content
When creating content, always focus on the value. It always has been and always will be about value, and with BERT now rolled out, it’s the only way to optimise your website and content. If your target audience doesn’t find value in your content, you’ll never be on top of searches, it’s as simple as that. Your content must be able to answer your audience’s questions and deliver the solutions organically. This also includes being able to identify the latest trends so that you can implement your SEO strategy appropriately. One important thing to remember is that BERT rates the value of your content and not how many times a keyword is used so the old school keyword magic just will not work anymore.
Get it working for you!
These are the basic but important facts about the latest Google algorithm update BERT. We really are deep into the digital age, with AI’s and machine learning making all the latest algorithms more and more technical each time they’re released.
We know how difficult it can be to keep up if SEO isn’t your core business but here at Broadcast SEO, we can assure you that your content will always be up to date with any latest Google algorithm updates, and our team of experts are ready, willing and able to help you.
You can check out some of our work here and we’d love to hear from you. Just contact us for a chat about our cost-effective services and how we can use the power of BERT to improve your search results.