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Google's Recent Algorithm Update: What BERT Means for Your Small Business

Last Updated on February 21, 2022

Google aspires to be fair to companies that want consumers to find their websites and to the consumers searching for results that best meet their needs. To achieve these goals, Google updates its algorithms hundreds of times a year. These updates may make searches easier and more efficient for consumers, but they drive business and service sectors to distraction. How to keep your small business’s website ranking well on Google is a question that must be asked weekly, if not daily.

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Google’s BERT Update

A recent major Google update is Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, known as BERT. Google considers this October 2019 release their best update in five years, impacting 1 in 10 searches. Anyone who counts on SEO to increase brand recognition is now grappling with BERT.

According to Search Engine Journal, professional sources report, "BERT is a natural language processing pre-training approach that can be used on a large body of text. It handles tasks such as entity recognition, part of speech tagging, and question-answering among other natural language processes…”

While that may be extremely confusing, in a nutshell, BERT helps Google better understand context of a search.

In February of 2022, Google released a great explainer video that showcases how BERT has improved and continues to improve understanding a searcher's intent.  Check out the video below to see BERT in action:

What BERT Means to You and Your Website

First of all, BERT will not help pages that are poorly written. Readability is still just as an important factor as ever when creating content. While well-written content does not necessarily mean high literary quality, it does mean that your web pages need to read well to your audience, not just to search engines. Simply stuffing pages with keywords won’t do you any favors, and instead, could end up hurting your website’s ranking.

With the BERT algorithm, Google is better able to understand the context around a word. Formerly a search for "rose" would return floral websites. With context to explain that "rose" is a verb, such as "Who rose to the presidency in 2008?,” Google understands "rose" is a verb and can provide presidential results, not gardening pages.

As such, Google is able to better understand the intent of the searcher. The subsequent goal is to deliver more specific, relevant pages to the searcher's query.

As far as action items for BERT, we recommend the following:

  1. Continue (or start!) writing high quality content that is very valuable for your readers.
  2. Ensure your site structure is impeccable and your content is easy to crawl and digest by both readers and search engines.
  3. Look for ways to showcase why you are the expert or authority on the topic. 

Keeping Up with BERT and Other Algorithm Changes

Keeping up with changing algorithms is a necessary, yet time-consuming concern and many small business owners don’t have that time to spare.

At Igniting Business, we offer services that help you keep up with complex algorithm updates and adapt your SEO strategies to help keep your small business’s ranking and traffic up. To learn more about our ongoing SEO services, contact our SEO experts today!

Need Tools to Help With Search Engine Optimization and Algorithm Updates like BERT?

Perhaps you have a solid grasp on SEO, but just need some advice on what tools might make your job a bit easier. The first thing we recommend is subscribing to our free monthly newsletter. We deliver news and tactics on SEO as well as other facets of digital marketing.

Also, it's important to monitor how your site is performing in the search engine results for your target keywords. As such, we have two tools listed below that we like for local SEO monitoring and listing management (BrightLocal) and a robust suite of SEO tools for SEO auditing, content strategy, backlink research, and more (Semrush).  Use either of the links below to try out their SEO platforms.

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