Let’s talk about BERT. No, not Bert and Ernie, but the Google update.
What is it, why is it important and what do you have to do?
Well, Google BERT was actually a pretty big update affecting 1 out of 10 searches.
Before we dive into the implications for SEO, let’s dig into this update.
What was Google’s BERT update?
Bert stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.
What the fuck does that mean, right?
Google essentially tweaked its algorithm to better understand natural language processing.
For example, when you enter your flight number into Google, the flight status is displayed. Or a calculator will pop up when you enter a math equation. Or if you insert a stock symbol, you get a stock chart.
A simpler example is when you start typing in google. The autocomplete feature determines what you are looking for before you finish typing.
But Google found out all of this before BERT. So let’s look at some examples of Bert in action.
Examples of Google BERT in search results
For example, suppose you are searching for “Brazil travelers to the US need a visa”.
Before BERT, the best outcome would be how US citizens can travel to Brazil without a visa. But look carefully at the search query – it’s a small difference, but it has a big impact.
The search was not about US people going to Brazil, but about people from Brazil going to the US.
The result after the BERT update is much more relevant.
Google now takes prepositions such as “for” or “to” into account, which can have many meanings for the search query.
Here is another example … “Do beauticians stand a lot at work” …
Google used to match terms. For example, their system used to think “stand” is the same as “stand-alone”.
Now they understand that the word “stand” has the context of physical demand. In other words, is the job exhausting and do you have to be on your feet a lot?
Another: “Can you get medicine for a pharmacy?”
As you can see in the before and after picture, the new result is more relevant.
The same applies to this book about “Math exercise books for adults” …
What other changes has Google BERT brought?
With the introduction of BERT, Google also changed the presented snippets.
For example, if you searched for “parking on a hill with no curbs,” Google over-emphasized the word “curb” and under-emphasized the word “no”.
That’s a big difference.
How to determine if Google BERT has affected your website
Have you noticed a decrease in traffic after BERT?
Sign in to the Search Console, click Search Results, then click the Date button.
Then click “Compare” and select the dates when your traffic dropped and compare them to the period before BERT went online in October 2019.
Then select “Queries” and sort by the greatest difference.
You need to look for longer term searches as these are the easiest to troubleshoot. And if you’re not sure what to fix, just search Google for the terms that have been deleted and check out the top competitors.
Comparing their site to yours will give you some insight.
How Google BERT affects content marketing
The BERT update made search results much more relevant to searchers and created a better experience for all Google users.
But how does BERT affect your content marketing strategy? Here are some things you need to know about the impact of the Google BERT update.
1. Google BERT affects the top-of-the-funnel terms
BERT mainly affects top-of-the-funnel keywords, which are informational keywords.
As you may know, there are main types of search queries:
An information query is like someone who wants to lose weight. Not sure how to look to lose weight.
Once they do the search, they may find a solution such as: B. Different diets. From there, they can search for a solution using a navigation query such as “Atkins Diet”.
Once someone has figured out the exact solution, they can run a transaction search query, e.g. B. the “Atkins Diet Cookbook”.
If you want to not only maintain your leaderboards, but also gobble up your competition’s leaderboards, then you should describe your content very carefully.
When creating content that is the easiest way to rank informational keywords, SEOs will usually tell you to create super long content.
2. Focus on quality, not length of content
Yes, you may see that a lot of the content does well in longer forms on Google, but their algorithm does not focus on the number of words, it focuses on the quality.
The context of the tweet from Google’s liaison officer Danny Sullivan is that SEOs should focus on creating content that is great, unique, useful, and compelling from the ground up.
So, when using tools like Ubersuggest to find new topics, you need to make sure that your content is very specific.
For example, if you have a fitness business and blog about “How to Lose Weight Without Taking Pills,” your content shouldn’t focus on diet shakes or supplements or anything like diet pills. Instead, all alternative diet methods should be discussed.
BERT helps Google better understand what people are really looking for. Hence, SEOs should focus on creating great content rather than looking for a magic optimization key.
3. Stop worrying about keyword density
Yes, a lot of SEOs have moved away from that, but I get a handful of emails every day asking me about keyword density.
Keyword density is even less important according to BERT as Google better understands the context of the content you are writing.
4. Long-term keywords are more important than ever
BERT (and changes like passage indexing) make it easier than ever for Google to understand the context of a page. This means that long-tail keywords are vital.
They help Google (and users) better understand what your page is actually about.
Google BERT content marketing opportunities
How can you get the most out of BERT and other AI Google updates? Here are some strategies to implement.
Create highly specific content
To get the most out of BERT, you need to create highly specific content on a topic.
It’s not necessarily about creating a really long page that talks about 50 different things that are 10,000 words long. It’s more about answering a seeker’s question as quickly as possible and offering as much value as possible compared to the competition.
Just like looking for “What’s it like to be in the Olympics?” You will see a list of results that look something like this:
Although the first result is entitled “What it’s like to go to the Olympics”, the article describes not what it’s like to go as a participant, but what it’s like to go as an athlete. Just as a searcher would expect based on the query.
BERT was able to figure this out clearly, although the title could have gone either way. The article itself is not that long: it only has 311 words.
If you want to do well on ranking for informative keywords, be very specific and answer the question better than your competitors. Do whatever it takes for a better experience, from videos and pictures to audio.
Focus on long-tail key terms
Does BERT mean long form content will no longer work?
Not at all. It’s just that all SEO is already focused on long-form content. You seek general headline terms that can be interpreted in 100 different ways, and therefore the content can be long and thorough.
In other words, focus more on long-tail terms.
It might seem obvious, but let’s look at the data.
Everything starts with Ubersuggest. If you haven’t used it before, you can enter a keyword like “marketing” and see the search volume. Plus, you get thousands (if not millions) of keyword variations.
In the last 30 days, 4,721,534 keyword queries were performed on Ubersuggest by 694,284 marketers. These 4,721,534 search queries resulted in 1,674,841,398 keyword recommendations.
Sure, SEOs could type in headings to find more long-tail phrases, but when we look at which keywords are selected and exported in Ubersuggest, 84% of marketers focus on 1 or 2 word search terms.
Only 1.7% of marketers focus on search terms that are five or more words long.
The strategy of creating content with very specific long-tail phrases is so effective that Google’s websites like Quora generate 60,428,999 visitors a month in the US alone.
And a lot of their content isn’t particularly detailed with 10,000 word answers. They just focus on answering very specific questions that people have.
Also, if Google BERT has affected your traffic or ranking, this is a good thing.
I know this sounds crazy, but think this way – if anyone searched for “How to Lose Weight Without Diet Pills” and landed on your article about how amazing diet pills are, they’ll just hit the back button and go back to Google.
In other words, the traffic is unlikely to be turned into a conversion.
Sure, you may lose some traffic from this update, but that traffic has ruined your user metrics and increased your bounce rate.
Also, this is your opportunity to create content that is very specific. If you’ve lost traffic, take a look at the dropped pages and searches that you are no longer ranking and customize your content or create new content that answers the questions people are looking for.
What do you think of BERT? Did this affect your website when it was first launched?