Understanding Google’s BERT and the Importance of User-Focused Optimization

15 Jan, 2020 Content Optimization

Each day, Google sees billions of searches on a myriad of topics come through its engine. Users search with incomplete sentences, misspellings, and grammatical errors–Google is tasked with interpreting what information would be the most helpful for each query. With each update that it implements to their search algorithm, Google strives to more accurately interpret the language of its users. “BERT” comes as the most recent update to Google’s interpretation algorithm.

BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations for Transformers, aims to give Google a better grasp of natural language. Focusing on natural language processing allows for the search engine to understand conversational-style searches, tailoring search results to the intent of the search rather than taking the words at face-value. In theory, BERT will provide users with more relevant and higher quality results.

What Impact Does BERT Have on SEO Strategy?

Every time Google releases an update, SEO strategists work quickly to understand how the update might impact their optimization approach–BERT is no exception. Since its release at the end of 2019, Google insiders have insisted that BERT is impervious to optimization tactics. However, understanding the nuance changes that BERT brings to Google searching can help the SEO industry master it.

Building Content Around Natural Questions and Answers

The B in BERT stands for “Bidirectional,” which means that Google not only analyzes the words used in searches, but also their positioning within the search phrase. By examining the context of each word, Google can decipher any missing words, gather the intent of the search, and provide accurate information in response.

In light of this, optimal content should mimic natural question and answer language. This requires a slight change in the traditional view of SEO strategy, shifting from a focus on keyword density and expansive content creation to a hyper-focused informational approach. Providing searchers with efficient access to the answers to their questions will now become priority in order to claim the top spot on the SERP.

User-Targeted Featured Snippets

Google’s featured snippets tool will display the most pertinent information to the searcher’s query right away, propelling that site to the top of the page:

Without having to make a single click, information is made available to searchers. Sites with high-quality and natural-sounding content will be chosen for featured snippets. Featured snippets will provide only the core information that is relevant to the search, so overly lengthy and vague pages of content are less likely to be included. While the BERT update does not change the way that pages are judged by rating them positively or negatively, it provides sites that have higher-quality content a greater opportunity to be viewed by searchers.

BERT is Learning and Changing

BERT’s structure as an artificial intelligence system means that the software becomes more intelligent with every Google search it encounters. By gathering more information about grammar, vocabulary, and usage, BERT improves Google’s understanding of human language with each day that it operates. This means that optimizing for BERT is an ever-changing process that can only truly be mastered by the consistent creation of specific and natural-sounding content.

At BluShark Digital, we work closely with lawyers at each of our client firms to gather important information about their practice, in their own words. We take the time to create distinctive content that will set your website apart from the rest — our testimonials speak for themselves. If your business is looking to expand its client base, Google is a critical tool for reaching your highest potential. Having experts in search engine optimization by your side can help you understand the best way to reach that potential through every phase of Google’s search engine updates. Contact us today to find out how BluShark could help you and your business.