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With the massive number of websites and the great volume of information on them, it would be almost impossible for us to find the content we are looking for if it wasn’t for the search engines. Search engines employ sophisticated algorithms to first of all, understand what the information is about and then rank the pages in their SERP (search engine results page). Although it may seem simple and quick to us, it takes Google a lot of work to find the requested information and show it from the most meaningful and relevant to the least. One of the major algorithms Google uses for doing that is BERT.

What is Google BERT Algorithm?

Everyday, people search various things on Google, and for sure, some parts of these searches are new. According to Google, 15 percent of the queries they face are totally new. Then, how exactly do they anticipate what users may search?

It is all about understanding human language. All the time, Google tries to improve the ability of the robots or crawlers they employ to comprehend human language better than before. In the year 2018, Google introduced Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or BERT in short. By this new advancement, the crawlers will be able to process and get the meaning of one word based on the words before and after it.

Contextual analysis was a big breakthrough, especially for understanding the intent behind the search queries. When users have misspellings, grammatical mistakes or when they write incomplete sentences, this algorithm tries to get the main intent of the search and lead the user to the most relevant webpage.

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One other application of BERT is for ranking the pages on the internet. Relevant keywords and helpful information are the things this algorithm is looking for. BERT tries to give weight to the pages according to keywords pertinent to queries and give them a position in SERP.

Google has also enabled BERT to understand different languages across the world. It is also capable of applying learnings from one language to another. It helps improve other languages on the basis of the rich experience it has gained for English.

Myths about BERT Algorithm

1- BERT Replaced Rank Brain

Rank Brain was introduced in 2015 with the main focus to understand search intent and keyword analysis. The purpose of the Rank Brain was a lot similar to that of BERT: analyzing web content as well as search intent. However, BERT was not meant to replace its predecessor, it was complementary to it. It is Google that decides on what occasions to use which one or to combine both.

2- You Need to Optimize Your Website for BERT

As Google’s public Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan clearly stated on his twitter: “There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT, not anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.” Therefore, the website owners do not need to make special changes to the previous contents, the golden rule is still in place: “content is king.”

3- You Need to Optimize for Long-Tail Content

BERT is able to understand natural language, but some people believe that their content needs to be longer to be ranked higher on Google. Or they think they have to overhaul and lengthen the previous contents on their sites. It is not true! BERT understands the general meaning of the existing information you have online. Basically, you don’t have to worry if your content is informative enough.

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4- BERT Update is Insignificant

Some believe that this update is not very significant. But it’s not true, because BERT’s main purpose is solving the problems with language. When Google cannot understand the meaning of a query, BERT comes to help. So, although the percentage of its application may be around 10 percent according to Google, that 10 percent is a lot, when it comes to tackling the problems.

How BERT Affects Content Marketing and SEO

As mentioned before, BERT is about three key concepts: the content itself, the context and the search intent user have. Content has always been a decisive component for content marketing and SEO: Relevance and quality are its most prominent factors.

Previously, the algorithms were only able to work on one sentence at a time. With the emergence of BERT, the “next sentence prediction” algorithm enabled Google to predict and recognize the entire context and it was a vital assistance for getting the gist of the texts.

Users by searching the internet are looking either for information or need to make a purchase. The search engine must understand the intention of the users and guide them to the most appropriate page.

There are a couple of facts every agency providing content marketing services must take into account before producing contents:

1- Use Main Keywords in Title Tag

Include your main keyword in the title. It will help Google understand the main topic of the content and match the queries with the results in the best way possible.

2- Use Main Keywords in the Headings

Not only this helps the readers navigate more smoothly through your content, it also aids the search engines understand its the main framework.

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3- Use of LSI Keywords

It was explained above that BERT understands context. LSI keywords are the ones synonym or related to the main keywords and will help the search engines get a wholistic picture of what it is about. Contents with richer LSI keywords sure will be more successful.

4- Longer Content is not Always More Attention

It may stand true that for informative posts, longer contents can be more optimal. But it is not always the case. There are plenty of pages with short content that rank the highest on Google. Other factors are at work beyond the length of the content, like relevance, keywords, etc.

Shabbir Ahmad

Shabbir Ahmad is a freelance enthusiastic blogger & SEO expert. He is the founder of Shifted Magazine & Shifted News. He contributes to many authority blogs including porch, hackernoon & techcrunch.