Google introduced the Bert Update impacting 10% of search enquiries. This might not sound like a lot but companies like the New York Times is already seeing significant rank drops on the Google search engine from this update. So what is BERT and how will it impact SEO?
What is BERT?
Bert stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or, put simply, improving Google’s understanding of conversational language queries put into the search bar. For example, Google is now placing more emphasis on prepositions and smaller words. For example, the previous Google algorithm would have placed too much emphasis on the word ‘curb’ and not enough emphasis on the word ‘no’ in the search ‘parking on a hill with no curb’. BERT effectively brings more relevant search results for the user.
But how does all this affect SEO?
This update has significant implications on how people are conducting their Google searches. Google suggests this will affect 10% of search enquiries but this percentage can expect to increase overtime. How? Although most people type short phrases in Google, as the algorithm becomes smarter, more people are likely to type longer tail queries in the search engine. Consider how convenient it would be to find the exact answer to a long question as opposed to searching multiple short tail queries.
The new update will help websites with good content. Websites that have very specific content that is relevant to the title and search queries will perform better. This means an emphasis on importance, clear structures and internal linking may lead to better rankings. However, specific does not mean longer-form content ranks better on Google as the algorithm focuses on quality over quantity. This means less focus on keyword density and more focus on creating content that is useful and compelling.
Drop in traffic can be a good sign
Consider an individual that searches ‘how to lose weight without diet pills’ and lands on your page which sells diet pills. They’re going to click the back button and increase your bounce rate due to the search being irrelevant. This means the new updates results in more relevant searches for the user and brings you more relevant customers that will more likely make a conversion. Drops in traffic should accompany a better bounce rate for your website.