To provide more relevant answers to user queries, Google needs to understand what people type in the search bar as accurately as possible. The BERT update launched in October 2019 is a significant step in this direction.
BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a Google algorithm update to help the search engine understand the intent behind a user query rather than just the words that people type. In simple words, the BERT update has made user intent more important than ever.
So, what does this update mean for marketers? How will it impact the marketing agencies? Here are a few changes that marketers could expect from the BERT update-
1. Organic Search will Continue to Diversify
In the official BERT update, Google has clearly mentioned that the update will help the search engine algorithms understand long search queries, especially ones that are ‘conversational’ in nature. The statement points towards the increasing popularity of voice-enabled devices such as Alexa and Siri.
As such devices will continue to grow in popularity, even the way in which users demand information will continue diversifying. With BERT, Google wants to make information retrieval smarter by integrating granularity at a scale like never before. Conversational AI will drive this transformation, simultaneously diversifying organic search.
2. Intent-Based PPC
PPC ads have mostly been keyword-based in the past. But with the BERT update, marketers now also need to focus on the intent of the ads. With BERT, Google now uses encoders and decoders to analyze the contextual relationship between all the words in both the directions of a sentence.
So, apart from setting PPC goals, budget, and other metrics, marketers now also need to set the right intent for each ad. Only ads that are relevant to a search query will get higher rankings.
3. Creating Helpful and Detailed Content
Even with regards to content, keywords have lost their significance. While they still play a crucial role in how Google ranks your website, marketers need to focus more on long-tail keywords and creating helpful and detailed content. The old technique of increasing the word count and stuffing keywords will not work anymore.
Marketers should first understand their target audience and what type of queries they generally type in the search bar before creating content that is relevant and specific to the queries.
How Does BERT Help Marketers?
BERT is nothing like most past algorithm updates like Panda or Penguin. The new update does not affect how Google judges a web page and rates it positive or negative. In other words, a website cannot be optimized for BERT. It has changed the core algorithm of Google to help it better understand user queries.
But while there are no direct implications of BERT, it again reinforces the primary message of Google that is to create relevant content, in every possible format, which the target audience finds useful and valuable.
Digital Marketing in Post-BERT Era
The only way in which BERT can impact you negatively is if you resort to the unethical techniques of stuffing irrelevant keywords for ranking higher. For improved ranking in the post-BERT era, content creators and SEO specialists need to work together and take an approach that is user-centric and not search engine-centric.
Here are a few tips for marketers-
- Target the top of your funnel acquisitions by creating content that answers questions that are highly relevant to your brand, products, or services with as much clarity as possible
- For targeting the bottom of the funnel, make sure that your target audience is not required to visit any other source for finding information with regards to your brand, product, or services
The BERT update is definitely great news for the entire search landscape as it adds more relevancy to search results. While ranking higher in the post-BERT era could be a time, resource, and effort-consuming affair, as long as you are following the best practices, you are sure to succeed.