What is BERT Algorithm and How It Works ?

BERT Algorithm

BERT Algorithm – A major Google update!

In late 2019, Google announced its major update in five years with the BERT algorithm. According to Google, BERT would have impacts on 10% of the search results. Learn all about Google’s BERT algorithm, what it means in the searching world, and why should we care about this update?

What is the Google update?

Google made the biggest change since RankBrain, and according to this update, it will impact 1 in 10 search queries, and thus impacting the search results.

Rolling out – BERT is rolling out for the English language queries and slowly in the future, it will expand to other languages.

Featured Snippet – This Google update will also impact globally in all languages on featured snippets.

What is Bert Algorithm?

BERT(Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is Googles’s neural network-based technique. A major Google update, which is a deep learning algorithm, associated with NLP(natural language processing) and pre-training. In short, BERT is artificial intelligence that would help the systems understand the language, just like humans do.

Also known as Google BERT, it would help the search engine understand nuances, connecting words, the context of the sentence to result, and return a better search page. For better understanding an example from Search Engine, that explains how Google BERT works:


 Search Query- “Brazil traveler to USA needs a visa”

Results before BERT Update – 

 Here “to” is the important connection which Google wouldn’t understand and result in webpages like these:

Search Result – U.S Citizens can travel to Brazil without the red tape of VISA. 

This is not relevant to the user search, thus by implementing BERT, “to” is understood and a more relevant search page would be fetched for the user.

 Results after BERT Update – 

Search Result – U.S Embassy and Consulate in Brazil

Now that you know how the BERT update works, how is it different from the previous AI method?

RankBrain vs BERT – Google’s AI methods

RankBrain vs BERTWhat is RankBrain?

RankBrain was google’s first AI method for understanding search queries in 2015. It is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system, which verifies and researches into both queries and webpages in Google’s web index to understand the meaning of each word in the query. If there was any word or phrase that the system didn’t understand, it would assume what that particular phrase meant and filter the results accordingly.

Did BERT Replace RankBrain?

Saying all this, that BERT is better and the outputs are relevant to search queries, doesn’t mean that the older AI method – RankBrain is dead. BERT doesn’t replace RankBrain, but an additional improvement to the understanding process by the system. BERT amplifies the understanding process of the search queries and content. However, if the Google system sees a better way to understand the search query, it will use that method. A search query can be used by multiple AI methods, and altogether the best search results are shown to the user.

How the Google machine-learning or AI works?

There are many ways Google understands the language in the search query. For example, if there is a spelling mistake in a query, Google’s spelling system autocorrects and gets the relevant search results. Another example of using synonyms in search queries, the AI method gets the search results matching the exact word of the synonym. BERT is one of the AI methods, which help in better understanding the language. And depending on the search query, one or a combination of AI methods are used for searching, and fetching the best result for the query.

How does BERT update impact website content?

Google BERT update has made search results more relevant for the user, and on the whole, creating a better experience for the user using Google. In such a scenario, how does it impact the content marketing industry? Here are some of the things to know how BERT impacts content marketing:

BERT algorithm affects top-the-funnel keywords and that is informational-related keywords. For example, when someone is looking for “How to lose weight”. The only solution would be to focus on super-long content with keyword-specific words, using synonyms, and not keyword stuffing.

Focus on content quality – It seems like lengthy content goes up the ranking, but it is not gonna work anymore. Content quality is very important. Along with content length, be more specific, offer unique, useful, and compelling content.

The ranking is not dependent on keyword density anymore. Many understood it well before the BERT update, however, keyword density is even less important now after the BERT update. So don’t stuff keyword, it’s not gonna help.

Focus on long-term keywords – Long-term keywords are critical after the BERT update, this helps Google understand the context of the page.

Has BERT affected my site?

Check if the website traffic has dropped. Log onto Google Search Console, then click on “Search Results”, and sort the result with respect to “dates”. Compare the results with dates before and after the BERT update, that is October 2019. As BERT update affects the search queries, click on “Queries”, select the “Difference” to sort the results.

This should let you know if the BERT update has affected your site or not. Start working with long-term search queries fix, and slowly compare your page with competitor’s webpage and fix the search queries!

If BERT has affected your site, it is good in one way, you could fix the search queries, and this will help in the future!

Take Away

BERT algorithm is a major update, and it also offers better results to Google users. This would affect the queries and ranking, so as a website owner, focus on the below points:

Create specific and quality content – Don’t create content for machines and just stuff words. Create user-specific content, focus on better and relevant content to what the user wants. BERT affects information-related pages, so be specific and give the exact answer to the user.

Focus on long-term keywords – When the keyword is long-term along with specific content, the chances of ranking improve.

BERT update focuses on delivering informative, useful, expertly curated, and accurate information as search results. Focus on specific content and long-term keywords and keep monitoring the website for changes in ranking.

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