Each time Google unleashes an algorithm, panic sets in among business leaders and marketers globally. They are forced to ponder over the update’s impact on their SERPs and the response strategies. The same story unfolded yet again when Google unleashed Bert on 25th October.
Bert is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Sounds like tech jargon, isn’t it? Per Google, Bert is a neural network-based method to get the gist of natural language. The algorithm allows for intuitive online searches, as Google will be able to interpret the context of words in a trail of word sequences. Still confused? Let’s dive deeper.
What exactly is Bert?
The Google Bert update is all about delivering accurate results for longer, complex, confusing, more conversational and context-driven search queries. The update operates on a Natural Language Processing (NLP) Model. The processing model is open-source, pre-trained and works bi-directionally. That’s in contrast to conventional models working left to right or vice-versa
The model is well equipped to understand how words work together in a sentence. It analyses the sentence in entirety and derives the meaning of transformer words (such as “for,” “in” and “to”) in relation to the surrounding words. That translates into fine-grained results for even the most complicated of queries. Before Bert, the search engine’s only focus was the keywords. The transformer words and their effect on the meaning of the query were ignored outright.
How Bert makes all the difference?
Previously, the search engine perceived your search query as keywords. It indexed pages exclusively for the keywords you inputted. The search engine looked at the query in chronological order, either from left to right, or right to left. The important words were considered as keywords. The method left much to be desired. Often the results for a specific query contained the keywords you entered but in an entirely different context.
The latest Google Bert update aims to overcome the issue. Thanks to the ‘self-attention mechanism’, the search engine can now look at the query as a complete sentence. It can weigh up each word separately and make sense of it a sentence. While traditional models were unidirectional, Bert is bi-directional. It looks at a query randomly, not sequentially. The net result: the context of the query is interpreted and results are populated accordingly.
Google’s ‘before and after’ example;
Take, for instance, the ‘before and after’ example that Google offered to explain the Bert mechanism. Here, the query is “2019 Brazil traveller to the USA needs a visa.” Pre Bert, the search engine neglected the transformer word “to” and got the result all wrong. It was confused whether the query relates to someone in the USA travelling to Brazil or the other way round. Post Bert, the search engine takes into account “to” and delivers results for both possibilities. Next time you get more useful and accurate results for your queries, you know who to thank.
The Google Bert Update Impact on SERPs
Worried how Bert will impact your SERPs? Take heart, you are not alone. From SEO services in Delhi to business leaders, everyone shares your concern. Let’s discuss what to expect post-Bert.
- Informational searches:
Bert will be detrimental if you have been going cheap on informational searches. For starters, informational searches are a category of searches that ask for particular info. These searches contain transformer words aplenty, making them prone to Bert. So, it’s time to make your content informational search-ready or lose your rankings to your more prepared competitors.
- Content relevance:
If a chunk of your traffic comes via searches irrelevant to your content, Bert might hit you bad. The update allows the search engine to discern between relevant and irrelevant content in the context of the query. It’s in your best interest to focus on creating relevant content and promoting it vigorously. That’ll improve both, your traffic inflow and conversion rates.
- Keyword density:
In the early days of SEO, overstuffing content with keywords was the norm. In the wake of Google updates, notably Panda, the trend faded out but not completely. Still many turn to keyword stuffing. If you are one of them, Bert may downgrade your SERPs. To avoid repercussions, ensure informative, authentic and useful content with an optimal keyword density.