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BERT The Latest Google Algorithm Update: How Will It Affect Search Rankings

Another major Google update has taken stage, the biggest since the landscape changing RankBrain. BERT is another AI update from Google that will change the way how search results appear. The company said this will impact 10% of all the search queries that appear on Google SERPs. So, sit tight folks and get hold of how things might appear with BERT coming into play. But, before you do, make sure you have complete understanding of how RankBrain works.

When it is coming? BERT is already live and has started making affect to all queries in the English language. Don’t worry, It is also going to further its operations to other languages as well. This will also impact featured snippets. Google said BERT is being used to change how featured snippets appear all over the globe.

What is BERT? It is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

To put it simply, BERT is machine learning AI technology that will help the system and computers learn the language and search intent in a similar way as humans. That said, how you provide SEO servicesand website optimization is going to evolve drastically in the coming days.

How and in what context is BERT used? Google said BERT helps better understand the tones and context of words in searches and shows more relevant results in response of those queries. Same goes for the featured snippets.

In one example, As Google puts it, with a search for “2020 Asian traveller to USA need a visa,” the word “to” and its relationship to the other words in query are important for understanding the meaning. Previously, if you consider how Google operated, stop words such as “to”, Google couldn’t comprehend their importance and would show results either someone travelling from USA to Asia or vice versa. Right now, with BERT in play, Google search algorithm will now understand the importance and the intent behind such words and will be able to display more relevant search results.

One more example is this, a search for “do dentists stand a lot at work?”, Google Said it previously would have matched the term “stand-alone” with the word “stand” used in the query. But with BERT, Google will take into account the word “stand” along with the word dentist and how it is a physical demand of the said job.

Example for a featured snippet. Another example of Google showing a more relevant featured snippet for the query “how to tighten the screw with no screw driver”. In the past, a query like this would confuse Google’s systems. Google would ultimately pay more than the required attention on the word tighten and completely ignore the word “no” which would ultimately result in Google not showing a more relevant search results regarding the process. But now with BERT, it is taking into account the importance of no in this search query and will show a more relevant result on the snippet.

RankBrain is working alongside BERT. RankBrain was Google’s first artificial intelligence method for understanding queries in 2015 and become the core part of the Google algorithm such that understanding it and following the pattern set by RankBrain has become a ranking factor.RankBrainlooks at both queries and the content of web pages in Google’s index to comprehend the intent and meaning behind the searches in order to show the right results. You can clearly see a similarity between BERT and RankBrain, that is true, BERT is an additional method for understanding content and queries that works alongside RankBrain in showing more refined searches. For the foreseeable future RankBrain will still be used by Google. But when Google thinks a query can be better understood with the help of BERT, Google will use that. In fact, a single query can force Google to use more methods than one that may include BERT and RankBrain.

How so? Google tells that there are a lot of ways that it can understand what the language and tone in your query means and how it can be used to find a more relatable content in the Google index. For example, if you misspell something, Google’s spelling systems can help find the right word to get you what you need. Similarly Google’s system is also smart enough to identify synonyms of a word in the search query, for example the word affordable in a search query may also show search results with the word cheap. But that will also depend on your search query. BERT is another signal Google uses to understand language. Whatever you search on Google, it will use signals such as BERT and many other to provide you with the most filtered and relevant search results..

Can you optimize for BERT? Yes and No, you cannot do anything in particular to optimize for BERT as it works in the same way as RankBrain. You can only optimize your content keeping in mind a certain search query, you can’t really know clearly the intent behind a user’s search. But what you can do is use a tone in your content and the information that is intended to help the user find what he/she is looking for. The more you are trying to fulfil user intent the more you are optimizing your content for BERT and RankBrain. This is Google’s efforts at better understand the searcher’s query and matching it better to more relevant results.

Why we care. We care, not only because Google said this change is “representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”

But also because 10% of all queries have been impacted by this update. That is a big change. That means, many websites are going to be affected if they are using old and out dated methods and others too if they are slow to react to BERT.

Be wary of your website SEO and how you have used your content on your web pages. Learn more about BERT and recent Google updates and keep your website ranking in complete check. Ignorance may lead to your website going missing from SERPs.

We will be watching this closely and you can expect more content from us on BERT in the future.

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