What is the Google Bert Update?

What is the Google Bert Update


Google recently released the Bert algorithm update, or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. This is the latest in a string of algorithm updates.  This is the most significant algorithm update Google has released in five years.

The focus of the Bert Update is for the search engines to understanding natural language search queries.  In particular, Google wants to recognize the nuances of human language.

This update was created is in response to Google's intention to allows users to use Google Search by speaking your question on a mobile phone, then the voice activated software responding to your query.


What is the Bert Update?

Google says the BERT update (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), which impacts about 10% of search queries, is designed to improve search results and improve the user experience.

Can You Optimize for the Bert Algorithm Update

With most Google updates, you can optimize your affected keywords and content, which will improve your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPS).

You can’t optimize your content for BERT.  What can you do if you are hit?

    • First, focus on writing better content.
    • Next,  write for humans and not for search engines.
    • Third,  write the way you speak, with long tail keyword phrases that sound like natural human language.
    • Finally, improve the user experience for your audience.


With the rise of people using cell phone apps like Siri,  that rely on voice recognition to conduct Google searches instead of manually typing the query into the search engine, this has significantly changed how search works.  Google is actually putting more emphasis on voice search, as compared to manually keying in a query into the search engine.

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Affiliate marketers and bloggers need to put significant focus on voice search, especially so people can find your content by any search method.


Google's voice search technology is not new.  They have been working on perfecting voice search since 2011.

When people search for something using their computer, the query very succinct, such as Black Iphone 8 price.  In voice search, the query is generally longer, and more conversational.  Voice search must also understand context of the words.  For example, how do you fight a cold in the winter?  Google search must understand language, as well as, the correct context for the words "fight" and "cold."

Most algorithm updates affect specific keywords or market segments, such as health sites, technology sites, content farms etc.  The Bert update is targeting long tail phrases or more complex long form phrases.


What are long tail keywords?

A long tail keyword is a 3 to 4 word keyword phrase that includes the exact match keyword you want to rank for.  When exact match keywords get several thousands of monthly searches, you need to reduce the competitiveness for the keyword so you can more easily rank for it.

As you add a word to the keyword phrase, it changes from generic to more specific.  You may want to find a long tail keyword tool, to help you find the keywords Google is looking for.  This also tends to reduce the competitiveness since specific queries generally have fewer queries, and are also referred to as "buyer keywords."

An example of a long tail keyword phrase is "how to play guitar for beginners."  Play guitar is the exact match keyword.

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How to Overcome Bert

The most important thing you can do to not be affected by this update is to write for humans and not for computers.  When you write for humans, you're writing has natural language, nuance, context, and complex sentence structures.  When writing for computers, the text seems to be keyword focused, difficult to read, has poor sentence structure.

Danny Sullivan of Google Search Team says, " There's nothing to optimize for with BERT. There isn't anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of seeking and rewarding great content remain unchanged.


Image result for bert update


If you see a dramatic change in your traffic after the Bert update, the drop may be due to people traveling for the holidays.  It is recommended to do nothing under the second week of January.

If you see low traffic after the first week of January 2020, check Google analytics to see when your traffic dropped.  Compare keywords before the drop and after the drop.  Your goal should be to improve the natural language of your content.

Will the Bert Update Affect Content Marketing?

Neil Patel confirms the Bert Update is the most significant algorithm update in 5 years.  Patel says, "there is a really good chance that this impacts your site. And if it doesn’t, as your traffic grows, it will eventually affect your site."  Neil Patel

You will need to create highly specific content around a specific topic.  For example, your content should be answering the questions people are searching for in their voice search queries.

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This also provides an opportunity to go back to your older content that is already indexed, and update it to more specific around the topic, and not necessarily writing longer content.

Focus on improving your content that has lost traffic before creating new content.  This is a major shift in on-page SEO.


Did the Bert Update Lead to Drop in Traffic?

We're you getting a lot of traffic, but few conversions?  That means people are coming to your site, and possibly clicking away.  This can lead to a high bounce rate.

You need to find your content that was most affected by the Bert algorithm update.

To do this, follow these steps:

  • log into Search Console.
  • Next, click on “search results”
  • and finally click on the date button.
  • Look at the graph and not the date your traffic dropped.
  • Next, click on compare and select the dates where your traffic dropped and compare it to the previous periods.
  • Then select “Queries” and sort by the biggest difference.
  • Search for the terms in Google Search Console that dropped.
  • Compare to your top ranking competitors.
  • Compare their page with yours.  This will provide some insights, and what you need to fix.




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