Google updates its algorithms on a daily basis, but most of these updates are too small to mention. However, on the 25th of October last year, Google announced its biggest update of the past five years: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT. This algorithm is built to generate better results for the more complicated search queries. The algorithm can interpret a word better and consider the full context of a search query by looking at the words that come before and after it, which is particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries. It allows Google to show searchers better results when it comes to complex search queries.

How does BERT work?

The new algorithm uses an AI language model that understands search queries better than the previous models do. BERT is a so-called natural language processing (NLP) algorithm. It took Google years to develop this algorithm in such a way that it can understand natural language. BERT can grasp the meaning of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it. This allows Google to understand search queries better than before when every word in a search query was interpreted separately.

Take, for example, the question “Does a Dutch traveler to the USA need a visa?” The word “to” and its relationship to the other words in the search query are particularly important to understand the meaning of the query. It’s about a Dutch citizen traveling to the United States, and not the other way around. Previously, Google’s algorithms didn’t understand the importance of this connection, and search results on American citizens traveling to the Netherlands would be presented. The BERT algorithm now understands that the word “to” is very important in this sentence. Thus, much more relevant search results for this search query are shown.

What does BERT mean for your SEO?

If you’re an online marketer with a focus on SEO, you know by now that search engine optimization is a continuous process that never really ends. There are new updates you have to take into account, and you have to publish new content regularly to keep up your ranking in the search results. BERT is one of those updates that can have a major effect on your ranking. It will give websites with good and natural content a higher ranking compared to those with automated and copied content. This added value to your website will therefore become even more important than it has been in recent years.

When it comes to SEO, the following things are important to pay extra attention to when it comes to the BERT update:

  1. Clear structures. For the BERT update, it seems to be even more important that your website has a clear structure. This is because the new algorithm allows Google to look at the context of a search query and therefore also at the context of your content. If the structure of your website is clear, it will be easier for Google to determine what your website is about and in what context your content can be indexed.
  2. Unique content and answers to questions. You probably know this one by now, but the content on your website needs to be unique. And you need to keep posting high-quality, unique content regularly. If possible, this content should answer the questions your target audience have. This is not only important for the BERT update but also because voice search is becoming increasingly popular.
  3. Fast-loading webpages. Users and Google both don’t like it much when they have to wait a while for your website to load. With the BERT update, Google dislikes this even more. To have the BERT update function at its full potential, the speed of your website becomes increasingly important.
  4. Internal links. For the BERT update, it’s important that the internal links on your website are clear and relevant. This allows Google to link the right pages to each other and determine if your website answers the question the searcher has.

How Textmetrics can help you improve your SEO for the BERT update

The technique behind BERT is special because it uses AI models that understand the relationship of the words in a search query. In ten percent of all search queries, the BERT update will already lead to better search results, and this number is bound to improve in the coming months and years.

At Textmetrics, we use AI to enable you to create specific and unique target group content. Our tools are based on scientifically proven algorithms and help you monitor the quality of your content. They also help you create valuable and unique SEO content—precisely the type of high-quality content you need to write for the BERT update to work in your favor.

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