Google’s latest algorithm update, BERT, is supposedly one of the search engine’s biggest updates yet. BERT was rolled out at the end of 2019, and it has already made significant changes in search rankings. In order to maintain or improve your website’s ranking, you should understand what BERT is, how it affects search results, and what you can do to optimize your website for the update.
What Is BERT?
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a natural language processing algorithm that allows a machine to understand what words mean in context.
BERT works by encoding sentences in both directions simultaneously rather than reading the words from left to right. Then, it encodes each word in the sentence based on its relative position. This helps it understand the nuances of natural language better than previous algorithms have been able to. Some words can have different meanings depending on their context, so BERT attempts to understand each word in a search query contextually.
How BERT Affects Search Rankings
Currently, BERT only analyzes search queries, not websites. However, the update may have a major impact on how your site ranks for certain keywords. Because the algorithm is better able to understand the specific meaning of each word in a search, the top results will be closely related to the intent behind the search.
This means that web pages with a weak focus will probably not rank highly. Google’s algorithm can now understand what people are really asking in a search query, so the results it offers to the searcher will be highly relevant, specific, and helpful. Sites that offer vague, unfocused information are much less likely to appear on the first page of Google results.
How to Improve Your Rankings After the BERT Update
Google’s team says that there is no way to optimize for BERT. While it is true that there is probably no way to manipulate the algorithm to your advantage, you can always improve the quality of your website to boost your search rankings. Here are three ways you can maintain or improve your rankings after the BERT update:
Speed up your website.
Google wants to provide users with relevant content from sites that work well. Speeding up your site can be a great way to improve your ranking and provide a better user experience. One option is to use accelerated mobile pages, or AMPs, which speed up websites for mobile users. Another option is to increase your page speed with a static site generator and a content delivery network.
Create relevant content.
Informative, relevant content has always been important for SEO, and it may be more important than ever with the BERT update. Your web pages should aim to answer specific questions or explain specific topics to your readers, so Google will recognize their value for answering common search queries. Vague or unfocused text will not rank well, even if it uses plenty of relevant keywords.
Don’t try to trick the algorithm.
As always, trying to trick Google’s algorithm will do more harm than good. Keyword stuffing, buying links, using invisible text, and other black hat SEO tactics will result in penalties from Google. With each update, Google’s algorithm gets better and better at recognizing which sites truly answer users’ queries and which sites are using unethical practices. The best way to rank well is to provide authentic, helpful information that reads naturally.