A Change is Here: BERT


Google has recently released a huge change. In fact, it’s the biggest change in 5 years; BERT. This update is expected to affect 10% of all search queries, so there’s a good chance that your SEO tactics may need analysing and adapting.  

So, what is the Google BERT Update?


This may sound intimidating, but the basic principles are simple. So, without delving into the jargon of neural networks and algorithms, we’re going to explain what BERT means and how you can keep your website ranking highly since the update has been rolled out. 

What this update aims to do is build a fuller understanding of natural language processing, which is the artificial intelligence (AI) that works to recognise and understand human communications better.

Before the update, Google mainly judged search queries by looking at words singularly. Now, it will look at the entire phrase. Sometimes words like for, to, in etc, can really shape the meaning of a sentence. This means that Google now works to understand the context of a search.

Here is an example:


Source: https://www.blog.google/products/search/search-language-understanding-bert


In the search can you get medicine for someone pharmacy, the words “for someone” make all the difference to the search. Before BERT, the search results would display general prescription information. Now, it understands that the query is more specific than that and displays results about getting prescriptions for somebody else. This is the kind of query that BERT focuses on.

When people make searches on Google, they are usually categorised into 1 of 3 query types:




An informational search is when a user is simply searching for information. Perhaps they want to start drinking better coffee at home, they might search for ‘good coffee at home’. The search results may take them to a blog or website that provides information about all the different methods to create barista type coffee at home. 

The next step in this process could be a search for ‘Best coffee pod machines’. This is a Navigational search. The user knows what kind of machine they might need and the search has more focus.

A further search here could be ‘Nespresso Pod Machine’. This kind of search is categorised as Transactional, as the user has a clear intent to make a purchase.

The BERT update concentrates mainly on the informational keywords and phrases so that people get answers to their questions more quickly and efficiently.

How can I keep my website ranking up after BERT? 

To keep your ranking up, you’ll need to get specific with your content. Answer questions. 

Rather than conducting keyword research on just words, focus on the long-tail phrases, and create specific content around one topic. This update means SEO is no longer just about having a huge page with 10,000 words and a range of topics covered. 

Focus on quality, not just quantity. 


Don’t worry

The Google BERT update is a big one, but you should know that it isn’t going to start penalising you for anything new. The objective of BERT is simply to get a better understanding of what people are searching for and why. So you need to have content that gives answers to questions. 

If you would like a more in-depth look at your traffic and SEO rankings, The Graphics Department can analyse and report this, suggest required tweaks and implement updates. Get in touch with us today and we’ll get the ball rolling.

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