Back in late October, Google introduced us to BERT. This was not to be a yellow puppet with a nasally voice and a shock of black hair — this was to be a revolution in how search queries are understood. In fact, Google has touted BERT as its most significant update in FIVE years. 

Stressed? Scared? Intimidated? Don’t be. BERT won’t hurt your traffic or earnings as long as your content is natural, authentic, and is written for people first and not just search engines. On the contrary; BERT will help you in the long run. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, which is really just a fancy way to say that it interprets each word in a search query in relation to its neighbors (i.e. bidirectionally). In other words, BERT strives to put context to language by considering all the words in a phrase, much like a human would in conversation. 

What BERT Means for Searchers

If you have a very specific question you want to ask Google, BERT will help answer it more accurately. If your search terms include slang, colloquialisms, or words with double-meanings, BERT will use cues from elsewhere in your query to determine what you actually mean. Long-tail search queries, or those that are three or more words, will not bog BERT down. They’ll actually help cater highly relevant and useful content directly to your fingertips.

Right now, BERT only affects 1 out of 10 organic searches in U.S. English. However, BERT is internationally active when it comes to Google’s featured snippets (the boxed-off excerpts from an especially relevant website at the top of search results) — in two dozen other languages, in fact.

search query entry field

What BERT Means for Website Content

As it evolves, BERT should actually empower content creators. Because you won’t be focusing on keywords as much, the overarching topics and ideas of your work will be allowed to capture the limelight. Also, since BERT can better comprehend long-tail search queries, you can get much more specific and niche with what you write about. That may cut down on the overall quantity of traffic, but the quality of that traffic should be much higher — and better converting. 

If you have been using keyword research to guide your content, not to worry. As long as that content is well-written and pertinent to your readership, there are no penalties to suffer. 

What BERT Means for SEO

BERT doesn’t mean keywords and keyword research are dead — focused, organized, and compelling on-page content is still going to be rewarded through better engagement and conversions. It just means Google is taking a backseat to the user in terms of your intended audience. Believe it or not, Google has even admitted that it wants it that way. Write naturally and conversationally, not in“Keyword-ese.”

That being said, other elements of SEO such as alt tags, meta descriptions, URL and file names are still important, especially on pages that emphasize media elements over written content. All these things help communicate to Google what you’re looking for. The more honed in on that it becomes, the more all will benefit.

women with laptops searching the web

Attract the right audience with Search Engine Optimization Services from Epic Web Studios

BERT or no BERT, content development and SEO strategy work hand in hand. Fill your website with content people want to see and read, and Google will make sure it finds its way to their screens. To get your website in front of more faces, contact Epic Web Studios today.

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