Google announced the biggest update in five years. The BERT update affects 10% of search queries. What is BERT and how will it affect SEO? BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.
Google is making the biggest change to its search system since it launched RankBrain nearly five years ago. The company said this will affect 1 in 10 queries in terms of changing the results that are ranked for those queries.
BERT is an important update from Google
BERT is Google’s neural network-based technology for pre-natural language processing (NLP) training.
According to Google, this update affects complicated, context-sensitive searches.
This is what Google said:
“These enhancements are aimed at improving language understanding, especially for natural / conversational language searches, as BERT Search can help better understand the nuances and context of words in search queries and better match those searches with useful results.
Google can understand the context of the words in your search query, especially in the case of longer or long-tail queries that are more conversational or where prepositions such as “for” and “to” have a large meaning for the meaning. You can search in a way that “feels natural to you”.
What is the BERT algorithm?
The expert for patent search algorithms Bill Slawski described the Bert algorithm as follows:
“Bert is a pre-training approach to natural language processing that can be used in large text. It takes on tasks such as entity recognition, part of language labeling and question-and-answer among other natural language processes. Bert helps Google understand natural language texts on the web. Google opened this technology and others created variations of BERT.
The BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a deep learning algorithm that relates to natural language processing. It helps a machine understand what the words in a sentence mean, but with all the nuances of context.
BERT improves understanding of search queries
Google’s BERT update improves the way Google understands search queries. BERT analyzes search queries, not websites. Now SEO becomes more important when it comes to using words precisely. The Google BERT update may not help if content is not maintained.
It is already used: BERT went live this week and will be available shortly. It is currently being developed for advice in English and will be expanded to other languages in the future.
Look out for highlighted snippets: This also affects highlighted snippets. Google said that BERT is used in featured snippets in all languages worldwide.
When does Google use BERT?
Google said that BERT helps better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results. Also used for featured snippets, as described above.
RankBrain is not dead
RankBrain was Google’s first artificial intelligence method to understand queries in 2015. It examines both queries and the content of web pages in the Google index to better understand the meaning of words.
BERT is not a replacement for RankBrain, but an additional method for understanding content and queries. It’s an addition to the Google ranking system. RankBrain can and will continue to be used for some queries.
But if Google thinks a query can be better understood with the help of BERT, it will use this one. In fact, a single query can use multiple methods, including BERT, to understand the query.
How is that?
Google explained that there are many ways to understand what query language means and how it relates to content on the web. For example, if you misspell something, Google’s spelling systems can help you find the right word to get what you need.
And / or if you use a word that is synonymous with the actual word in the relevant documents, Google can match it.
BERT is another signal that Google uses to understand speech. Depending on what you’re looking for, any or a combination of these signals can be better used to understand your query and deliver a relevant result.
Can it be optimized for BERT?
It’s unlikely at the moment. Google told us that SEOs can’t really optimize for RankBrain. But it does mean Google understands natural language better.
All you have to do is write content for users as always. It’s about Google’s efforts to better understand the search query and better associate it with the most relevant results.
Why do we care. We’re not just interested in this because Google said the change was “the biggest leap forward in five years and one of the biggest advances in search history.”
We are also interested that 10% of all requests were affected by this update. That’s a big change. There were unconfirmed reports of algorithm updates mid-week and earlier this week that may be related to this change.