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Google has consistently been updating its Search Algorithms by prioritizing users’ persona over a few years. This year early in September, they officially announced the launch of the new Google Search Console. In no less than 50 days, another Search Algorithm update the Google BERT update is flashed up into the market.

If you are wondering if this revision is just like Penguin or Hummingbird, then the answer is No. This new BERT update is considered to be one of the most significant search algorithm updates after the 2015 RankBrain.

In this article, we have focused on providing you information about:

  • What is BERT update?
  • What are its features?
  • When is it used?
  • How it affects your search?
  • Should you optimize accordingly?
  • What are the Pros and cons?

All you must need to know about the update:

You probably must be wondering what this BERT is? Well, it is an abbreviation for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Now, what is this? It is what we are about to tell you.

Last year Google launched an open-sourced neural network-based approach for Natural Language Processing (NLP). This technique is called BERT. This technology is used to facilitates anyone to create their own state-of-the-art question and answer system.

That means, it is not always necessary that you or I will always search using grammatically constructed sentences. A lot of people browse using a string of words related to their query.

Source: Google Search

But Google already has autocomplete feature to figure out what your query is about, then what is this update for? Let’s see what is this about.

No matter how many updates have been made in the breakthroughs, still the results of the inquiry mismatch in case of complex queries. Hence, The new update is about improving the understanding of the inquiries made and providing the user with related information.

However, this revision is the result of Google research on transformers: models which process words that are in relation to all the other words in a given sentence of search, rather than one-by-one in sequence.

Now, let us glance at the features of the revised algorithm.

What are the Features of BERT?

The revisions in the search algorithm have not been confined to updates in software alone. There were new hardware advancements too. For the first time, Cloud TPU’s have been used in breakthroughs.

The cloud TPU’s usually power Google products like Translate, Photos, Search, Assistant, and G-Mail. The TPU,s, or Tensor Processing Units have been linked up with search algorithms to serve search results and provide users with the most relevant information.

However, this update is only confined to US English and shall be implemented in other languages over time.

Let us understand it’s usage in detail.

When is BERT used?

BERT usually comes into consideration for understanding the search queries in a better way and give relevant results. This revision is also applicable for snippets.

However, this doesn’t mean the update has replaced RankBrain. This BERT Google NLP update is an additional support for a clear understanding of your query and to provide you with relevant results.

Let us now understand how this update affects our search.

How does BERT affect search?

According to Google, the BERT update will affect 1 in 10 of the search queries of the US.

For example, if you are searching for “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa”. Your results before BERT Update and after BERT update are as follows.

Source: Google Blog

Earlier, the search results were more focused on how the USA citizens can travel to Brazil. Later, search results are optimized and refined to how Brazilians can get a visa of the USA.

The search algorithm is now taking prepositions like “for” or “to” into account while performing a search to the search query.

Another example, if you wanted to know “do estheticians stand a lot at work.” Your results before BERT Update and after BERT update would be:

Source: Google Blog

Hence it can be observed that Google is now able to understand the meaning of “stand” as a different word rather than matching it with “stand-alone.”

However, this change is not limited to text alone. It is globally live for snippets too. In the case of snippets, the results would be:

Source: Google Blog

You can see the difference for yourself. Isn’t it huge?

So, it is observed that the update is now able to understand the usage of each preposition and provide us with results accordingly.

Now a big question for all the digital marketers is, should they optimize accordingly or not?

Should you optimize you SEO accordingly?

Google says that

“It’s our job to figure out what you are searching for and surface helpful information from the web, irrespective of how you spell or combine the words in your query ”

So, this is an effort by Google for a better understanding of the searcher’s query and to match it with more relevant results. However, this algorithm update is not intended to penalize any site.

Hence, instead of focusing on optimization, focus on writing content for users, like you usually do. However, we suggest you to keep a check on search traffic and optimize according to the search trends.

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    Phil Carson

    24 days ago #

    Great article. There's definitely some value in recognising the changes introduced by the BERT update and tweaking your optimisations accordingly. For instance, I'm now formatting my blog articles similar to this one about MozCon 2019 - https://kwasi.com/15-seo-questions-mozcon/ - with internal jump links. This helps Google to jump straight to relevant content on the page.

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