Google recently announced what they called the most important update in five years. The BERT update, or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, impacts 10% of search queries.
Like other updates, this one is meant to deliver the most relevant organic search results for the user.
This is good news for web writers, because it’s more focused on the reader than ever before as it is designed to improve context.
But, what is BERT and how will it impact SEO?
This is what Google said:
“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.”
The BERT algorithm is a deep learning algorithm related to natural language processing. It helps a machine to understand what words in a sentence mean, but with all the nuances of context.
If you’ve ever written web content with random keywords – something like “cheap multi-functional Dubai Amps” – then you know it can be tricky to write a web page that sounds natural and includes this exact term.
Fortunately, the BERT update encourages web writers to incorporate a term like this in a more natural way, just as you would if you were talking to a person.
In fact, you know how people tend to type in longer queries when they’re looking for something specific? As in, “Can I pick up someone else’s prescription at the pharmacy?”
If you asked this of another person, they’d know you were wondering if you could stop at the pharmacy and pick up a prescription for someone else. However, Google didn’t understand the specificity of this intent a few months ago. In the result shown from Neil Patel’s blog, if you’d typed it in, it would return search results for Medline Encyclopedia.
In other words, it would have returned info on what a prescription is and probably local pharmacies.
You’d be left without your question answered.
That’s where BERT comes in. It’s designed to pick up the type of nuances people understand. Prepositions like “to” and “for” are small words that pack a punch. They indicate a user intent that’s close to purchase and “user intent” is a big part of search engine optimization, or SEO.
How copywriters can incorporate BERT while optimizing blog posts
BERT is a win for web writers, because it rewards clear, organic and conversational writing.
Every site is still going to need its core pages, but now you can write them in a more user-centric way. There’s also an opportunity to provide even more value to your clients’ visitors by answering highly searched, longer-tail queries. These queries can make good blog content and may even give you ideas for new products or services.