Marketers and SEO experts can’t ignore search engine algorithm updates that can impact their search rankings in minutes. So, we are always curious to know what the new Google search algorithm update brings.
In Oct 2019, Google rolled out its algorithm BERT. And, like always, it sent shivers down the spines of every SEO specialist and they are still struggling to find out how to optimize for BERT. But, practically, if you understand BERT comprehensively, you can relax as it will not be necessary to optimize for BERT if you have been practicing SEO the right way.
Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) is not a challenge for marketers who are accustomed to writing sensible and useful content. It was expected for Google to incorporate ranking based on text logic and relevance, as that is what the user is looking for when using Google search.
So, prepare yourself to perform for BERT, by understanding BERT better! Here are the core features of BERT that will guide you on what type of content you should create to rank better in Google.
1. Natural Text
Natural language processing is the key to cracking BERT. If you can optimize your content for an algorithm trained for neuro-linguistic programming, you have done your best to optimize for the BERT algorithm.
BERT processes search results based on how users search. It deciphers the natural flow of the language of users, matches it with the website content, and ranks the sites that have the most relevant matches.
So, if you want to optimize for BERT, publish logical, meaningful content in a natural language. Make sure that the grammar is correct, and you aren’t using jargon or word-play. You are writing for business, so the content should be more useful and factual than creative!
“You are writing for business, so the content should be more useful and factual than creative!”
2. Relevant Content
Though it is a common misconception that long-form content drives more traffic, BERT clears the myth now. No matter how long your content is, if it is not relevant to the search query, you can’t expect to rank.
On the contrary, if you are publishing a thousand word blog post answering a particular topic or question, it will rank because of relevance to the search context. You can also easily repurpose your content by creating infographics or presentations
This does NOT mean that you should stop using long-form content. If someone wants to know everything about blockchain, your article that describes blockchain qualitatively and in detail will rank for that query.
But, BERT will not reward writers who write out of context. So, avoid extremely long content, and never include vague, incorrect, or half-baked information about a variety of information.
By removing out of context results, Google is making search more effective for users. And as a result, it will ensure quality traffic to the marketers. You have to win your share of the pie just by being relevant!
3. Focus on User Intent
The user is looking for some information on a search engine and the search engine wants the user to be able to find this information easily. So, the BERT update is strongly focused on the search intent of the user. For example, if the user searches “how to bake an apple pie,” he doesn’t want to know where to buy the best apple pie near him.
In the example above, when you are searching for a recipe, irrespective of whether you are using the word recipe or not, BERT will lead you to the recipe of apple pie. The algorithm has decoded what the user wants, regardless of whether he has used that exact word or not.
However, someone looking for a recipe is not expected to buy your apple pie no matter if it is the best apple pie you can find in that location. So the search doesn’t rank content such as, “best apple pie near me,” as it is irrelevant to the user’s search intent.
Ultimately, an algorithm focused on user intent will filter only the relevant search traffic to you. Though some are experiencing a reduction in traffic after BERT, they will begin to realize that the relevant traffic has increased, and only such traffic leads to conversion!
4. Simple Conversational Keywords
Keyword stuffing is the most useless SEO tactic practiced by some amateur content writers who believe that it helps in Google rankings. BERT has finally cleared all myths around the excessive use of keywords, and the use of the same keyword multiple times in a write-up.
So, how do you inject keywords into your content that can please BERT? It’s simple, design your keywords in sync with how people converse naturally. Simple keywords are used in day to day conversations and long-tail specific keyword sequences make excellent material for SEO as they cater to voice queries.
Also, base your content in the form of questions or specific answers to queries; most of the time, when a user uses a voice search, he is looking for answers!
5. Words that Matter
Now, if you are looking for that incredible apple pie and want to try something other than what you have already tried, you will use the word except, or but, etc. in your search query. The previous algorithms were silent to these words and stop words.
However, the new BERT algorithm gives importance to the words such as but, except, not, from, to, in, about, etc. Previously these were ignored. So, you can expect a cleaner search with BERT.
To go further, it is clear that now the use of correct language will enhance your search rankings. So when creating content, be specific, accurate, and relevant!
Who Will Gain From BERT?
The experienced and professional marketers are aware of the importance of natural content in search engine optimization. So, those who are aware of the user’s search intentions, and Google’s user-centric approach always produce high-quality and meaningful content relevant to the user.
But, if you are blindly following your competitors without evaluating how your past SEO strategies have performed, Google will push you down the search results.
The user is at the focus of Google search. Only user-centered content that caters to user intent will rank. Those who are accustomed to black-hat optimization techniques are at a loss. Ultimately all the tactics for fooling Google will be fruitless, and quality content wins, yet again!
The top SEO service providers already know the value of natural content and much of their tactics do not have to change. BERT, a machine-learning-based algorithm, will learn and improve every day. It's not too late. Start writing natural, relevant, and quality content today and you won’t have to make any extra efforts to rank in search engines.
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Jin Markov is a Content Writer with GoodFirms, a research firm in the USA. He loves reading about SEO updates while sipping his favorite cup of coffee.