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What Is Google’s Bert Update and How will it affect Content Marketing?
A few weeks ago Google released an update for their algorithm called BERT. As expected, this update has created a lot of buzz within the marketing world. SEO experts and business owners alike are talking about the recent update which some consider to be the most major update within the last five or so years.
Already we are seeing and feeling the results of BERT. So what is BERT exactly? Well, BERT is short for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”. But that translation gets us nowhere right? Well, don’t worry. We are here to explain to you what BERT is and how it will affect your content marketing efforts since it is considered as the biggest update since the RankBrain update.
According to the “experts”, 1 out of every 10 search queries will be affected by this update. There are about 3.5 billion searches made per day so you can guess how much will be affected.
Here in this post, we will be getting into what BERT is and how it will affect the digital marketing platform. So let’s get into it:
What Is The Google BERT Update?
BERT is an update on their Natural Language Processing aspect of the algorithm. Google has always stayed true to its roots. They have been dedicated to making search results more accurate ever since their creation. BERT is supposed to be the icing on the cake.
In the past, for you to find something specific you would have needed to search specifically for it. Now you can simply type a conversational text and Google will be able to show you exactly what you need.
Now you could say the autocomplete option used to do that before, but it was only suggestive. With BERT the results are more concise and to the point. Meaning, what you search for will be exactly what you get rather than results based on what you might be trying to find. In a nutshell, Bert will make your results much more accurate.
What Is The BERT Specialty?
The Google BERT update is designed to detect conversational queries that can be found in everyday language. Hence, the term Natural Language Processing comes.
Before BERT Google search results did not fully take into account prepositions like “for” or “to”. These prepositions can make a huge difference in search intentions.
Now the Google search engine will be able to discern between the two and help you find results more accurately. Words like “stand” was considered relevant to “stand-alone” which it is not. Now the search engine can determine whether you are talking about physical stand or something else. This is a huge shift in understanding user context which is the ultimate goal of Google.
Everything Is Contextual With BERT
The BERT update from Google is not limited to specific wording or non specific wording. The entire update is about understanding on a deeper level the user’s context. With the new BERT update, Google is able to provide a much better result on snippets as well.
When considering the Snippet results in the past, Google used to focus on nouns. This is why the results that came, while related, was not entirely accurate. Now Google is able to focus on words like “no”, “with” and others like this.
This way Google understands the context of the query and what you get are more accurate results.
How Does BERT Affect SEO and Content Marketing?
As you already know, search queries can be categorized into 3 different types. They are Informational queries, Navigational queries, Transactional queries.
This comes in stages as well. So first someone might do an informational query to find out about something. After that, they might perform a search on specific details gathered from the informational query.
This is known as a navigational query. Then when that same person searches on how to obtain what he found on the navigational search query. This is your transactional query.
In the recent reports, we have been seeing that top-of-the-funnel keywords are the ones most affected. These are usually informative keywords. This means that for you to sustain your rankings you need to provide “to the point” information.
This way you will maintain your rankings while beating your competition. Typically SEO experts will tell you that you need to create super long content to rank for informational keywords. However, now with BERT, that premise has been completely changed.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need long-format content, you do. But the Google algorithm isn’t really focused on word count but the quality of the content.
The purpose of this update from Google was that it encourages people and businesses to create more great, unique, useful, and compelling content. Within the coming year, you can definitely expect BERT to get more sophisticated.
This means that when someone searches for something your content should be able to provide solutions specific to the query rather than focusing one single aspect of the available solutions.
This update from Google marks its journey to better understand the human conversational context. This means if you were too focused on keyword density before then you should move on.
Now with BERT being able to understand and identify the conversational language the focus on keyword is very less and the focus is more on the information provided.
In the near future, Google will be able to understand the context and that moment keyword-based content will be suffering to rank if there is a lack of information.
So What To Do Now?
As I said already now the platform has shifted towards highly specific content around a topic and is not focused on long-format content. Before if you created a 4-8 thousand word content answering 8 different sorts of queries around a topic then you should change that process.
Now you should be focused on creating 4-8 different queries around the topic. This will allow you to focus more on specific queries which is what BERT is looking for.
Now it’s about how fast you can answer your customer’s queries and how fast you can solve a customer’s problem. The faster you are the more value it creates for your website making it rank higher.
If you put in a query right now you will see that BERT provides you with results perfectly suited to the query. And you will see that the content ranking high is not super long but small and precise.
The length is determined by the topic. For some queries, you will see content with even 300-word count and a low keyword density ranking on the top page.
Your Approach Now
Try integrating more long-tail keywords rather than short 1 word or 2-word keywords. Only a fraction of people are focusing on long-tail keywords but you should know that BERT loves them.
Ranking higher is now more about information. So do whatever you need to do use images, videos, specified answers to question. Use everything to create a better customer experience and your SEO and Content Marketing efforts will bear sweeter and more bountiful harvest.
So as you can see it’s not really about long content. Websites like Quora generates more than 60 million visitors from Google only within the US. But it does not have any long-format content.
So you see it’s always about quality now even more so. So start creating and adjusting your content and make it more specific to the context of the search query.
Make the changes see the results and recalibrate. The future is about context and BERT is just the starting. With that, I will bring this to a close. Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on this big Google update!