What is Google BERT? – what Google’s latest algorithm update means for SEO

What is Google BERT

What does Google’s latest algorithm update mean for SEO?

There’s been a lot of chatter about the latest addition to Google’s search algorithm, and the potential impact it could have on SEO campaigns…

What is it?

Google’s latest algorithm update is called BERT. It stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

What does it do?

BERT enables Google to use an advanced technique for Natural Language Processing (NLP). This is what helps Google understand the way we search for things, such as questions, and various differently worded sentences. NLP is a focus point for all SEO consultants as it helps us optimise a client’s content with both users and Google in mind.

For example: in the search term “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa,” the word “to” is essential to understanding that somebody is moving from Brazil to the USA, and the word “need” separates the rest of the sentence into a separate question i.e. ‘do I need a visa’? This is the type of query that Google would previously have been unable to understand.

BERT started rolling out late last week. Google has said that it will impact 1 in 10 of all search queries – it’s the biggest change in search since Google released RankBrain, an earlier machine-learning program that helped with NLP.

What should you do to optimise the content on your site with BERT in mind?


Keep creating well-written, informative content

Strong content an essential element of an SEO strategy. The content on your site should communicate to users that you are the authority in your field.

Keep using common synonyms, and alternative phrases

Flesh out your tracked keywords to include alternate phrases that relate to them, because Google understands that these also contribute to the meaning of a page. Remember not to stuff these in, however, and keep your content readable.

Directly answer the questions that your visitors search for, concisely, and precisely

Just as you shouldn’t force keyword mentions into your content, you also shouldn’t include endless text content just to bulk up your page with information. It’s not good for users, especially those on mobile devices, who want to get answers as quickly as possible.

Have you noticed any changes since the BERT update? 

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