There’s a new algorithm in town. BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, is a recent algorithm used by Google to decipher the context of words in the search queries of users. It is the first bidirectional system for natural language processing (NLP) that is unsupervised.

Natural language processing

Natural language processing is a method of extracting information from unstructured text. BERT observes the content before and after a word to figure out the meaning and relevance of that word. The most crucial aspect of BERT is that it considers the context and relationship of all of the words in a sentence, rather than looking at the words individually or by the order they’re in. The bidirectional (functioning in two directions) component of BERT makes it unique. 

Search Engine Optimization

SEO – search engine optimization – by nature, is about improving your website for search engines. Therefore, any search engine algorithm update will influence the search engine optimization process. While Google says that optimizing for BERT is not possible because there isn’t anything to optimize, there are ways that you can take advantage of the BERT update for SEO.

Write precise and high-quality content

For a long time, Google has aimed to answer the queries of users with the most accurate, direct and reliable information. So, when it comes to BERT and search engine rankings, the quality of your content matters more than the quantity of your content. Many website owners prioritize the technical aspects of their content – like keyword density and length – over making their content engaging, original and succinct. Prioritizing content in such a way would be a huge mistake. 

Your main focus should not be on including keywords or on writing as much content as possible. Rather, you should focus on creating exceptional content. Audiences are looking for content that is compelling. If you have already been creating interesting, helpful and informative content then you do not have to change or modify your content strategy. On the other hand, if your content is low-quality and stuffed with keywords, you probably have already seen – or will see – a drop in traffic. 

BERT notices the nuances of words used in a sentence. In the body of your content, BERT will look at the context of the words you use. The way you write content for your website should be simple and precise.

  • Content should be palatable and easy to understand
  • Try not to use magniloquent, ostentatious or filler words
  • Make your content as straightforward, direct and to-the-point as possible
  • Impart new and practical information that is useful to readers    

Your goal as a creator is to answer the questions of users with content that is thorough and properly formatted so that Google and other search engines can process and index it. BERT helps Google understand your content and connect it to your audience. When you write high-quality content that is straightforward and precise, your efforts will likely be recognized in  Google search results.

Respond to the search intent of users

The BERT update is meant to help Google better understand what users are looking for. The algorithm works for the benefit of users, not websites. That means, as a creator, it is crucial for your content to be specific so that it can answer the questions that your target audience has. You need to make it a priority to rank for queries that are important to your target clients. 

When you start a business, you must address the question: “What do your target clients want?” The most profitable businesses solve the needs of their target clients through their products or services. The same mentality can be applied to content. The best content answers the questions of your target audience and fulfills their needs. 

What is a searcher looking for?

You have to put yourself in a searcher’s position. If you were searching for answers to a question, what words would you type in Google? What search results would you expect or want to see? When we think of what searchers are looking for, we tend to remove stop words (commonly used words like “the” or “but” that search engines are programmed to ignore) from keywords with the idea that this is how users search. We frequently fail to consider long-tail keywords (the three or four keyword phrases which are quite specific to whatever you are selling) and search terms with stop words in between, but those are the things that BERT accounts for.   

Creators can gain an advantage over their competitors by including sections for frequently asked questions (FAQs) that are focused on quality answers. For featured snippets, incorporating FAQs, questions and answers (Q&A) and how-to sections on your pages increases your pages’ chances of being picked up by BERT. 

You have to write content with the user in mind. Thinking of users first for every content decision is the best way to get long-term search results that get better with every algorithm update.