On October 25th, 2019 Google announced its latest update to it's search algorithm. Google describes BERT as its biggest move forward in the past five years and one of the biggest in the history of search.
Google has stated that 1 in every 10 searches are going to be effected by BERT, so the big question is what does that actually mean for your business?
Google has been working on Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), Transformers are the part to focus on.
Transformers: models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. BERT models can therefore consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.Source: Google blog post Understanding searches better than ever before
Before BERT Google would look at the search query, determine which words were important and then return pages relevent to those keywords. With BERT Google will now look at all of the words in the search query and then try to figure out the purpose of the search and return pages relevent to that intent.
Google has provided examples of how this has effected search results. The query "can you get medicine for someone pharmacy" would, pre BERT, have returned pages relating to how to fill a perscription, after BERT, the same query returns pages which specifically mention having someone pick up a perscription for you.
What does that mean for you? If you have written your web pages by stuffing keywords you believe people will be searching for throughout each page then you will probably start to see a drop in your rankings and organic traffic. The winners with BERT are going to be those websites who have written good quality content with users in mind not search engines.
If you are concerned about how BERT is going to effect your rankings or need to improve your performance on Google check out our Search Engine Optimization services to see how we can improve your online visibility!