10 percent of English language search queries, that is. This makes Google BERT the most significant Google upgrade since the launch of RankBrain, Google’s third most important ranking signal.
SEO experts, go ahead and grab a pen and notepad, as you’ll probably want to consider changing your SEO strategies, like… now.
Have you recently updated your content and think this update won’t affect your site? In short, it will, especially as traffic begins to grow.
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, that is. But he prefers to go by his less intimidating nickname, BERT.
BERT’s a unique fella because he’s able to do what other Google upgrades haven’t been able to master in the past: better understand natural language processing.
He comes equipped with a search algorithm that uses neutral networking techniques that can interpret your search before you can even complete your sentence.
But wait, there’s more! Bert now allows Google to take prepositions like “for” or “to” into account. This is a HUGE deal in the SEO community. We’re basically dealing with an autocomplete feature on steroids.
BERT in Action
To give you a visual, just imagine yourself the week before Thanksgiving. You’re anticipating the long weekend, and are patiently waiting to reunite with your family and eat loads of comfort food. Heck, you’ve even caught yourself replacing the “love,” to Rihanna’s “Love on The Brain,” with “turkey.” Then suddenly, you remember that you promised your family that you would cook the 15-pound turkey this year. The only problem is that you don’t know how to cook a turkey, let alone a 15-pound turkey. This is usually the moment where one would panic, but not anymore.
At one point in time, it was difficult to type into Google’s search engine “how to cook a 15-pound turkey” because it struggled to account for that natural language. Prior to BERT, Google would present you with pages stocked with turkey recipes or cook times that would generally miss “15-pound,” the most important part of the phrase.
Now, Google will be able to assess an entire query by taking prepositions into account.
Your Groceries Aren’t the Only Thing Going Organic Here
So will your organic search results, but that’s only if you revamp your SEO strategy by creating specific content that answers the questions that people are looking for.
Don’t let this update scare you into thinking that your site has to incorporate longer tail queries. In this case, it’s quality over quantity, and your priority should be on whatever queries drive a significant amount of traffic to your site.
The best part about this update is that sites won’t be penalized. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t lose search traffic. How much traffic you lose all depends on the quality of your existing and future content.
In order to determine whether you’ll sink or swim in this new world of SEO, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Am I creating unique content?
2) Is my content answering ONE specific question, as opposed to rambling for paragraphs on end?
3) Are my keywords using conversational language that are Voice Search-friendly?
If this is already part of your SEO strategy, then your site will work for you. But if you’re not, then I strongly encourage you to ditch those vague keywords, and/or phrases, and follow our advice.
If you find yourself still losing search traffic from this update, don’t panic. This just means that your content wasn’t relevant enough to the search query. Sure, you’ll receive less traffic, but that just means that Google’s weeding out unqualified traffic.
Don’t Work for BERT, Make BERT Work for you
Remember, it’s not about having the longest piece of content, it’s having the most unique piece of content. Take this as an opportunity to tailor your content by answering that one specific question that people are in search of, while using natural, conversational queries.