Using Google’s BERT To Your Advantage

Melissa Brodsky
Nov 21, 2019 · 3 min read

BERT is a mouthful of an acronym standing for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and it’s a doozy.

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Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

By now you may know about Google’s latest algorithm update. It’s the biggest once since RankBrain and it’s called BERT. BERT is a mouthful of an acronym standing for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and it’s a doozy.

Digital marketers, particularly those that work with SEO in any capacity, are figuring out how to keep their client’s sites from losing page ranking. Because BERT has negatively impacted 1 in every 10 websites, it’s important to get a handle on best practices quickly.

What is BERT?

Quite simply, Google has found a way to understand user intent. For example, if your search parameters included “for” and “and” BERT is able to understand the context of that entire string of words typed into the search bar. Prior to this algorithm update, only strong keywords were picked up so your search results may have included information not pertinent to your search.

It’s a big deal for users. And, it’s a big deal for marketers because we need to have a deeper insight into who our users are and what exactly they are looking for.

Dealing With Humans

Traffic is going to go up on some website pages, and others will plummet. To keep your ship afloat, so to speak, content is really going to be the captain of that ship.

What that means to digital marketers is this: high-quality content on your web pages through your blog. Keyword stuffing is, even more, a thing of the past. Now it’s all about longtail keywords of 5 words or more. Natural language recognition, with natural speech patterns.

Topics thoroughly covered in human speech is going to be even more imperative. Luckily, there are sites like Answer the Public that can help formulate posts based on questions users are asking on every single topic. Sure, you’re going to still pull keywords from your typical tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and the like. But now, it’s super important to make sure those words flow seamlessly into sentences without sounding SEO’ish. Otherwise, Google will penalize that page, and it will barely see any traffic. Without website traffic, businesses will suffer.

Don’t Dump The Old Content

There’s no reason to unpublish old content, especially those that were heavy hitters prior to the algorithm update. When auditing website content, focus specifically on whether the content is well written, useful, compelling, and unique.

There is absolutely no need to worry about keyword density moving forward, Google doesn’t care about that anymore. Now, it’s all about the words on the page and how well the information is explaining the topic.

Word Length Sweet Spot

Right now, it doesn’t appear to look like Google is weighing heavily on the length of articles. Before, the keystroke sweet spot was somewhere close to 1,500 words or longer. Now, just compelling, well-written, informative content is key. Whether it’s 300 words or 3,000 words, as long as it’s a deep dive into that topic. The more specific and helpful the information is the better chance the article or web page has of doing well in search engine results (SERPs).

Don’t Panic, This Is A Good Thing!

Having a great writer who is highly knowledgeable in SEO will help your company’s website and your clients. Excellent writing will rise to the top of the pile, narrowing the competition with all the junk that litters the high ranking search results.

How humans interact with their computing devices is transforming, and Google is constantly evolving user intent and natural speech pattern recognition into their platforms. The role of the digital marketer has to understand the impact of the changing landscape in order to successfully keep content fresh and relevant to the desired user base.

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Melissa Brodsky

Written by

Writer. Content Marketer. Content Strategist. SEO Dabbler. Mom. Wife. Blogger. Not necessarily in that order.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Melissa Brodsky

Written by

Writer. Content Marketer. Content Strategist. SEO Dabbler. Mom. Wife. Blogger. Not necessarily in that order.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

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