Google hailed a big leap in search tech earlier this month after rolling out something called BERT, an algorithm designed to improve the user experience in a number of ways. Here are a few things you need to know moving forward.
Natural language processing
BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. You can expect to see the more catchy acronym being used extensively during the next 12 months as Google looks to improve search by interpreting the nuances and context of queries more clearly.
Write content for users
Google’s Danny Sullivan said that BERT will not “change the fundamentals” of SEO and that brands should “write content for users”. This long-standing advice will continue to ring true. There is no need to make wholesale changes if you have been publishing high-quality, organic content. That should be the aim first and foremost.
BERT is mainly for the user side as it aims to make it easier for people to navigate through search more naturally and receive more relevant results and content by perceiving words and phrases like a human rather than a robot.
One in ten
Google said that BERT will only affect one in 10 searches in US English for now, so its impact will be limited in the short term, though there are plans to increase its usage after a testing period. Meanwhile, BERT tech is already being deployed for featured snippets in 24 countries.
Context comes to the fore
Google wants search to have a better grasp of words and how they relate to each other. The company’s AI tech was largely focused on how individual words were interpreted in the past, but it now wants to move away from meaning in isolation to the context of the whole. Google will look at how each word relates to each other to improve results.
Prepositions are key
Prepositions such as ‘to’ and ‘for’ are key to unlocking the nuance of a query, and BERT will be focusing on these to provide more relevant listings. The good news for content creators is that easy-to-understand, natural web copy will win big here as the human element of creation will be rewarded.