It feels as if there is a new Google algorithm introduced each week. Just when we get a handle on EAT, BERT comes along and it’s time to re-optimize. Understanding what each algorithm means (and if they’re worth implementing) can be challenging. However, it's always best to cater to the new ways in which Google measures website quality to encourage high rankings. Learn all about Google BERT and how it can help land you on the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs).
What is BERT & How Does it Impact SEO?
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), was open-sourced by Google in 2019 and directly correlates to SEO. Google created this new algorithm to better understand natural language processing (NLP), as BERT is a neural network-based NLP technique. In plain speak, Google is using technology to replicate how people think and what they intend by their searches.
BERT seeks to humanize the search experience and makes for a more user-friendly experience. For instance, if you type "auto loan calculator" into Google, an online auto loan calculator will pop up. Similarly, when you type in a query, Google will try to finish your sentence to anticipate your intent. This isn't just pure luck, but it is really thanks to NLP. BERT is deeply bi-directional, which means it analyzes terms pre-trained on Wikipedia to understand its language better.
If you’re a business looking to improve your organic search ranking, it’s important to know BERT, as it has been proven to help Google better understand one of every 10 searches performed on Google. If you can make it easier for BERT to interpret your page's content, your page should theoretically be more visible to users.
Understand what Users Are Searching
For the sake of BERT, you must first learn the types of queries people make in search engines. Informational queries occur when someone wants to learn the answer to a question. For instance, if a user searches for "the benefits of auto loans," that is considered an informational query. Users also frequently do a navigational search, searching for a product in a specific geographic area, like "CT auto loans." A third type of search is transactional, consisting of an even more specific search, like "current auto loan rates in CT."
To align with BERT, ensure your content includes exact match and variations of what users are searching for in their queries. If your product page is named "Types of auto loans", then the page itself should in fact discuss different types of auto loans. Tiptoeing around the main topic of the content will not be measured by BERT in a positive manner. To guarantee you reach users who will find value from your pages, match your content to their search intent when doing keyword research.
The Simpler the Content, the Better
Typically, when a person posts a novel explaining what they did in a day on social media, users avoid reading it. The idea that quality is greater than quantity is another fact backed up by BERT. High-quality content consists of a page that is straight and to the point, with a clear topic that easily solves what a user is looking for. Make sure that when you write content, you have your target audience in mind. If you make the mistake of trying to write for the search engine, BERT will recognize it as robotic and therefore will penalize the page’s visibility. Methods like keyword stuffing are seen right through by search engines. With each algorithm update, Google becomes more knowledgeable and prioritizes content that helps a user find what he or she is looking for.
In other words, there is no getting around creating quality pages with quality content if you want to have a chance of ranking organically. It’s important to create a naturally written page that encompasses a good flow and site structure that is easy to read through. Write at a level that is simple enough for a user to understand, but direct enough to answer his or her query. While focusing on being more user-oriented, it’s also important to put an emphasis on the content catering to the overall page topic – not just one keyword. Topic clusters offer a sense of authoritativeness to search engines, and prove that you have the necessary knowledge to speak on the surrounding topic.
Ensure Keywords are Specific & Long-Tail
When it comes to keyword research, it's essential to focus on terms that are as specific to your content’s topic as possible. Rather than removing pronouns from keywords, focus on more specific long-tail keywords with stop words (is, at, on, etc.) in between. Local SEO can also help you tailor your content to an audience that would benefit from reading your page. Tools like Google Autocomplete, People Also Ask Box and even related searches can also help you understand how users place their searches on Google. By learning as much about your audience as possible, you will then be able to tailor your content to their searches.
Although BERT is still a relatively new algorithm, it’s important to utilize its guidelines to improve your website’s SEO results. For additional assistance with content marketing and ongoing SEO maintenance, contact us. We are happy to check up on your website to make sure it is up to speed and successfully catering to BERT.