Google BERT: How it's Changing the SEO Landscape for the BETTER

Updated: Feb 8


The BERT update of Google will soon change the way search engines respond to naturally phrased search queries. The update is designed in a way that it handles the nuance queries that earlier it was unable to understand properly.


What does BERT understand for and how is it related to Google search?


BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers is an algorithm that will help Google understand natural language in a better way. The update is meant to apply machine learning to the complete body of text, here the text body is the Google search query. As per Google, this is the largest update when it comes to search in the last five years. Earlier, the largest update for the search algorithm was the RankBrain update which was applied in 2015.

After this update, the algorithm will process the words of the search query in relation to each other rather than processing each word in order one by one, which also means that the algorithm will now understand the context of the conversational language which includes prepositions and other words. For better results, the BERT algorithm will be applied to both ranking and featured snippets. Google claimed that this update will affect at least one in every ten searches in the US. he update works by first masking some of the words mentioned in the search query and then the BERT algorithm understands the words bidirectionally. This way it will come up with better results since it will deduct the meaning of each word better avoiding confusion with the synonymous words.

This BERT update will process the meaning of the keywords by cross-referencing queries for the data of training text, here the reference source is Wikipedia. With the data of the training text, the algorithm will better understand the text it had never seen before. While announcing the BERT update, Pandu Nayak, the fellow, and Vice-President of the search, explained how BERT update will respond to specific queries, he also explained an example “2019 brazil traveler to the USA need a visa”.


The previous search algorithm would not have taken into account “to” but after the BERT update, the algorithm will understand the search queries more specifically. With this example, he demonstrated how this update will understand and respond better to search queries.

What role does Google’s BERT update play in SEO?

Will the BERT update affect the SEO?

It is likely to affect search engine optimization much because it is mainly intended for search queries. The update can impact on Google ranking. The update fills the gaps present in Google’s language understanding abilities, and makes it more human like.

The update is somewhat similar in intent to the RankBrain, so the optimization for ranking remains the same as earlier, which simply means writing the content that users are looking for. Google added that the SEO optimization should now be more accurate, authoritative, and audience-focused.

The traditional SEO was focused on meta descriptions, keyword density, backlinks, etc. However, the BERT update focuses more on audience needs and sees that the audience gets the right search results. With updates, the topic-focused content will be better than the keyword-focused content. The web pages that witness a drop in clicks can assume that their content does not match the search queries. Focusing on the surrounding context of the keywords is a way to perform better with this update. The content should be topic-focused and the quality of it should always be a priority for the website owner.

The BERT algorithm also focuses on rich snippets, so the content writing with these snippets should be given importance. Although there is no way for a featured snippet appearance on search results, however, structured content, helpful headings that aim to answer queries will improve the odds.

The goal of Google was to make the search more accurate and with this update, the search algorithm has got a better understanding of the language with NLP or natural language processing model.

Originally published in Social Media Marketing Newsletter by The-Socializers.com

The-Socializers.com is a leading digital marketing agency specialising in Google Ads and FB Ads and policy.

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