Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big fan of changing their algorithm, to make it smarter, faster, better in every way, and more intuitive so a person searching spends less time with poor results. The trouble is the ripple effect this has on every site connected to it.

Do you know BERT?

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One in every ten searches are being affected by BERT, which is the single largest change since RankBrain – which people still recall the impacts of. It’s important to stay abreast of the changes at Google so you can adapt quickly to them to maximize your efforts.

Huge Changes to Search

Introductions are in Order

Alright – so who or what is BERT? BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Admittedly, BERT is easier on the tongue and the expanded title does little to explain what it actually does.

The short version is that BERT can help a computer ‘understand’ language the way a person does by utilizing things like nuances, and context.

Open-sourced last year, and rolled out last week – BERT will be live everywhere soon. It has already been released in many places for English, and impacts featured snippets globally, across all languages. If featured snippets aren’t part of your arsenal, it may be the perfect time to consider it.

BERT understands in so many more rich ways than search functioned before, that Google can now tell the difference between many variations of a word like the word stand, which may return results related to standing up, a stand to hold a variety of things/a prop, a standing ovation image, and perhaps a variety of other things, whereas now – BERT knows based upon the entire sentence as a whole, rather than specific keywords, what a person is looking for to a fine degree.

BERT is not RankBrain II

RankBrain has not been replaced. It was Google’s first real AI method toward understanding queries back in 2015 which matches content to queries via site indexing. Think of RankBrain as Ernie, with BERT a live-in roommate. These two coexist to produce a dynamic and rich search experience with better matched results.

Optimization with BERT?

SEO underwent its largest change with the rollout of RankBrain in 2015. There became no way to optimize with RankBrain, the only thing which mattered was the quality of the content to Google’s Web crawler. While irritating, those producing quality, reliable content had nothing to fear, as time would give them the authority they may not have had in the SEO days. BERT is likewise not able to be optimized for, because it’s even ‘smarter’ than RankBrain – though it may be better to say it is more intuitive.

Check Your Analytics!

This week is perfect timing to track recent analytics across a company’s website, social media sites and more, to see how the business has been affected by this huge change. If there has been no effect, keep an eye on it. If there has, and many will have been affected, find out which pages were affected and for what reasons so they can be resolved before BERT begins sending in the crowd.