“Hey Alexa, should I optimize my content or it is good to go?”
Don’t be too surprised. Yes, I am talking to Alexa and taking the advice. This is what is going to be up in the market very soon.
Alexa has become a best friend for many. If you have a question or are searching for something or even want to listen to any song, all you do is call ‘Alexa’. It will not be very surprising if in the coming years the next generation is having their day to day conversation with inventions like Alexa.
In the next few years, it is quite possible that if you ask a kid “who are your friends?” He might end up saying, “Alexa, Google, Siri, Cortana,” etc.
Now, if it is really going to get so technically advanced, don’t you think we should keep ourself updated and be with the trend?
And when we talk about following the trend in our world – the digital world, we cannot afford to miss the Google updates. Believe it or not, Google does play a major role in deciding the fate on the Internet.
So, if you want to rule the market, you need to follow Google. Today I am going to dive in about the BERT update of Google. Let us start with the basics.
BERT is Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. That’s just the full form. It actually the latest algorithmic update of Google. It helps Google to understand the natural language in a better way. Specifically, if I explain, it’s an update of Google that helps its algorithms to understand the conversational language rather than just the one-word keywords.
Since more and more search is shifting to voice, Google had to update its way, to give better results to the users. If you are looking for a good restaurant near you, you would simply ask Alexa, “Which is the best restaurant near me?” rather than taking the pain of typing it all.
So, if the search engine has to give you the accurate answer, obviously it has to understand the conversational language.
Though Google has been working on it since 2018, BERT was officially launched in October 2019. According to the stats, this new update is definitely going to impact your organic rankings and featured snippets. The numbers say that BERT will impact 10% of the search query.
If it is about the organic ranking, it is not a change to be taken lightly. Another thing that brings BERT Update in Google in the discussion is? It is not just another Google update. It is also a research paper and machine learning natural language processing framework. The first open-source research project and the academic paper were published in October 2018.
Isn’t it kind of exciting to know that machines will understand and respond to our languages? The growing relation between machine learning ML and the natural language understanding NLU is literally going to change the way search engines work.
According to the experts, BERT is already fed and well trained with the whole of the English Wikipedia. That makes it more than 2,500 million words. If I can say this, BERT Update in Google seems to be more educated than normal humans.
Ok, jokes apart, now the questions that might be pondering your mind are – How it will impact your rankings? How you can deal with it? Will it impact your featured snippets? Etc.
Question are many, but to tell you the truth, the answer is only one. You don’t have to do anything.
Yes, BERT will affect the organic ranking.
Yes, it will impact your featured snippet.
Yes, it is going to change how things work on the SERP.
And still, I would say, No, you do not have to do anything.
Well, this ‘NO’ is only for those who have been following the SEO tactics. With BERT coming into the picture, all you have to do is keep you content as natural as human-like and as conversational as possible.
Gone are the days, when Google interpreted single or complex keywords and showed you the results. In an interview with Danny Sullivan, Search Liason of Google said, “There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.”
If you take a look at some of the search examples provided by Google, you will understand what I am trying to say by- “don’t do anything, just keep it conversational”.
Earlier if you searched for “2019 Brazil traveller to the USA need a visa”, Google would not pay attention to words like ‘to’ in this search. It would only pick up the focus keywords like Brazil, traveller, USA, visa and show results accordingly. However, ‘to’ plays a very important role here. With the introduction of BERT, now Google focuses on the sentence as a whole instead of just the main words.
If you think Google is perfect, wait till it gets better with BERT results. The new Google Algorithm Update will affect both your organic ranking and featured snippets. And if it is impacting the featured snippets, it will, of course, affect the voice results as well.
Now, how does this work?
BERT will help the algorithms understand the natural language more accurately and give you the results that fit best and closest to your query. It will now take into account longer and conversational queries. Unlike earlier, prepositions like, ‘for’, ‘to’ will not be ignored any longer. As these will make true sense to the complete sentence and ultimately to the results.
Now comes the question…
How to optimize for On-Page SEO with BERT?
Like stated earlier, there is nothing much that you need to do, if you are already optimizing your content according to the voice search result, long-tail keywords and conversational tone.
However, if you are not doing it already, some of the things you can do are:
Stuffing your content with one-word keywords is old fashioned now. The new trend is long-tail keywords. Your content should be a conversation focused on natural language as the machine can now understand it. Keep it human-based instead of complicating it and making it machine-based.
If you are still stuck on putting exact match keywords into the sentence, even if it is not making any sense. Knock-knock, time to wake up. Thanks to BERT- Google can now understand the intent of your query even with prepositions in it. So, repeating again, keep it conversational.
Keeping it conversational does not mean you just write as if you are talking to your friend. Obviously, you need to maintain the quality of your content. People do not have time to waste and want very quick and accurate results. And this is the reason the SERP is flooded with rich snippets. BERT is exactly going to do this. So you need to create highly specific and quality content, that comes straight to the point and answers exactly what the user is looking for.
Well, the length of the content does not really matter. More important is, what is required. If the topic requires a lengthy article of 3000 or 8000 words, go for it. But if it can be done in 500 words, then 500 words is the limit. Google does not rank you on the length of your content. It judges your content on its relevance, quality and value.
Now that all the focus is on question-based queries and conversations, your content should also focus on, engaging and valuable answer. As voice search grow the BERT results will also get popular. Most of the conversational queries are question-based so, if you want your content to be ranking, it should be answer based. And not just answer based only, it should be unique and valuable too.
All that we have learned about BERT is, it is going to mark a major transformation in the history of search engines. Nothing to panic about it, every change brings with new opportunities. All you have to do is learn to grab those opportunities and use it to your benefit.
Keep producing quality and conversational content and continue ranking on the SERP’s. In short write content keeping the natural language and humans in mind and not the machines. Because now the machines are also learning the natural language.
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