Google BERT affects one out of ten search queries.? BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. You may be wondering, what!? Let’s just stick to BERT. I will do my best to help you understand this update from Google. 

If you haven’t heard of Google’s BERT update, you’re in a good place. Google’s BERT update means the search engine can understand queries better than ever before. Their goal is to fine-tune the search process, so people will be able to get the best, natural results.

One thing to keep in mind is that the English language, and all languages for that matter, are evolving. Dictionaries are adding new terms every year based on how we speak to one another. There are “slang” terms that are becoming natural. With BERT, Google is now smart enough to depict the meaning of these slang terms.

When you know what Google’s natural language processing does and how it works, you’ll see that fixing your content is a right now issue rather than a wait it out type of play. Continue reading this article to get all the information you need about the Google BERT update.

Search is About Understanding Language

When you go to Google to type in a query, you don’t always have the right spelling or context for what you’re searching for. If you don’t know how to spell something or what words to use in your query, you might get some pretty interesting results.

Google put the BERT update into place to be able to return results even when the search query didn’t make total sense to the search engine. Now instead of processing words one by one, when you search in Google, it is going to take all words in the sentence into account.

The name of the game is giving searchers the best result for their query. This sounds great for people using the search engines, but what does it mean for your business? Are your website and content performing well, and will it continue to perform well now that BERT is rolling out?

What About New “Natural” Language? 

One thing to keep in mind is that the English language, and all languages for that matter, are evolving. Dictionaries are adding new terms every year based on how we speak to one another. There are “slang” terms that are becoming natural. With BERT, Google is now smart enough to depict the meaning of these slang terms. 

Brian Robben, CEO, and founder of Robben Media said, “We’ve shifted our writing tone to be more conversational than formal. We’re still keeping our writing focused and organized. Though in that classic argument is it better to write for Google web crawlers or humans, we’re shading more toward humans. This update is another confirmation that if we do right by searchers, we will rise to the top of Google rankings. Plus, when the algorithm is smarter with its natural language processing to better understand context clues, you can get away with using sarcasm and more slang to connect with your readers.”

While the tools you use to write might read these as being a spelling mistake or error, Google won’t. One tip I can give is to write naturally as you would speak to someone today. With Google’s latest core algorithm updates obviously they won’t say what the update entailed, but John Mueller has warned sites to make sure that their content is up to par. 

With BERT, you can decipher that a bit. Google wants to rank good, trusted content and the way to do that is with good, longer-form content that is written in natural language (today’s speak). The days of keyword stuffing have been dead, but they are buried even deeper now!

What You Can Do to Be BERT-Friendly

BERT sounds like a very helpful new update, but most companies and websites aren’t ready for it. Content is king, but you have to use the right content, which is content Google can understand — to truly be king. Google is not caught up with the times, so pretend you are speaking to someone as you write. We offer content marketing and content creation as a service and I know based on my experience with clients that writing it for SEO purposes can be confusing to some, but Google is aiming to make it simple. There is still thought that needs to go into topic generation and keyword targeting, but the writing should come naturally. 

To be BERT-friendly, you need to start thinking about Google more like a human now. When you’re creating content, you have to retrain your brain — and fingers — to develop content that will give searchers straight to the point answers to their questions. The more straight to the point you can be to answer a question, the better.

The founder of Ardent Growth, Skyler Reeves, told us, “There’s nothing you can really do to optimize for BERT specifically beyond writing your content in a normal way that’s easy for readers to understand. BERT has nothing to do with web pages and more to do with how Google understands the content and what people are looking for. Additionally, BERT only affects about 10% of queries right now, so your time is really best spent to just write naturally in such a way that will satisfy real people.”

While you do still want to create long-form and thorough content, you don’t want to beat around the bush and confuse people before giving them the answer. Answer the question quickly, and then you can go in-depth and give them further information about the topic.

What are Other Sites Doing to Combat the Google BERT Update?

I polled some other website owners and asked them what they are doing to deal with the Google BERT update. The resounding response was about making sure that the content on a page flows naturally, but you also include keyword synonyms, longtail keywords, and answer questions that users may be asking. 

Here is what some of those other site owners said:

Jason Boyd, copywriter, formal journalist, and editor in chief of the site fictionphile.com said,  “We’ve started including a lot more entities in our articles. For instance, in an article about the Avengers, we might have not even bothered to list all the Avengers in the past. Now, we try to work in as many as possible, as well as the actors who played the roles. This all helps assure Google that the article is about what you say it’s about.”

Alice Bedward, a Digital Marketing Specialist at Flyparks said, “Although the fundamentals of our content strategy – creating the best content for our users, has not changed, the BERT update was a good reminder that we also needed to focus on answering very specific questions that people have about products and services in our industry. In part this involves creating content that is super-specific, but primarily it means focusing on the longer-term search queries that can and have brought visitors to our website. BERT actually made this easier for our team, as our content writers can now worry less about forcing awkward phrases and keywords in their writing for the sake of Google.”

Scott Jones is the owner, bloggers and chief dog trainer at: pupsterpassion.com and he said,  “We are writing out content differently since the BERT update. We now use the Google Natural Language Tool to supply us with words that they see as related to our topic. We tidy up the list, delete anything that doesn’t make sense and then send it over to our content creators with their usual brief. Our goal is not to stuff new content with words and phrases, but to use the NLP suggestions to inform the content that we create. We prioritize our readers while keeping Google rankings as an important secondary consideration. I hope this helps, if you need a more detailed response please just let me know.”

Working Alongside Google Natural Language Processing

Now you know more about the Google natural language process than most other business owners. Now that you understand more about this process, you can make the necessary adjustments to rank well in the search engine.

Do you need help with your website and tweaking your site, so you’re able to rank? We are more than happy to help you understand further and implement best practices for this new update. Contact us today, and we will help you get the results you need for your company.