Google BERT update 2020.
Google is constantly making updates and tweaks to the algorithm that determines how websites are displayed and ranked in the search results. In November 2019, Google released BERT which has been dubbed their biggest update in the past 5 years.
What is Google BERT?
In tech terms, BERT is a Natural Language Processing (NPL) model that helps Google better understand natural human language and conversational queries in order to serve more relevant search results to users. This is a huge leap forward making Google search results more about intent matching rather than pure string matching.
In layman’s terms, BERT means Google will better understand the context of searches in more human terms based on all the words in a search phrase rather than one-by-one, in order.
This way BERT can figure out the full context of a search query bi-directionally, that is, by looking at all words that come before and after.
An example of BERT’s improved understanding
Consider the two simple statements below :
“Where is a picnic spot on a river bank near me?”
“Where is the nearest bank so I can deposit money?”
In the queries above, the word “bank” has very different meanings. The BERT update means Google can now process the words before and after the word “bank” in order to gain a better understanding of the context of the query and, therefore, display more relevant search results.
Why BERT is important to the future of search
BERT has become a necessity for the future of search mainly due to the increase in voice activated (eg, SIRI, Hey Google, Amazing Alexa, etc) and conversational search.
Consider how differently you may interact with Google now compared to a few years ago. In the past, when Google wasn’t as intuitive, we typed simple search terms like “weather Sydney”. Now you may find you’re entering more complex phrases, particularly when using voice search, such as “What will the temperature be in Sydney on Thursday?”.
User intent and how you can benefit from the BERT update
Just as Google needs to understand the intent of people’s searches, so too should any business that relies on Google to attract customers to their website.
First and foremost you need to understand who your customers are and their intent when using the internet in relation to finding your products and services.
Armed with this information, along with keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the correct search phrases, content can then be created and added to your website that caters to your potential customer’s needs and their Google search queries.
Generally, there are 4 types of user intent categories :
- Informational intent : Users are looking for information, advice, how-to guides, etc. For example: “How do I set up Gmail in Outlook?” or “Where are the best ski fields in Japan?”.
- Navigational intent : Users are searching for a specific company website. For example “Sydney Council website” or “Mercedes Benz Australia”.
- Transactional intent : Users intend to purchase something or seek a particular service. For example “Buy Sonos speakers online” or “Mechanic near me”.
- Commercial intent : Users are in the investigative or research phase with the potential intent of purchasing a product or requiring a service in the future. For example “Front loader washing machine comparison” or “The best environmentally friendly nappies”.
Once you understand how your potential customers use the internet throughout the research and purchasing process (that is, you understand their intent), content can be created that provides solutions and answers to their search queries. By doing this at every stage of their journey – even after purchase – your website will be seen as an authority by customers and, very importantly, Google!
The good news is that your website probably already has a lot of great content on there that just needs a few tweaks to make it BERT compliant and take advantage of the changes in our online searching behaviour.
Have you got questions about BERT and how it may affect your business?
If you want more information about how these changes relate to your products and/or services and, specifically, the opportunities it may present, call me direct and we can discuss the unique needs of your business.
Importantly, if your website hasn’t been refreshed for a few years then the BERT update is a great opportunity to revamp any website content, update WordPress and any plugins, ensure your website adheres to Google’s stringent speed tests, and refresh your keywords to ensure you’re still targeting relevant customers.