Understanding BERT: Google's Big Update ... Yes, it Affects You!



BERT is the Biggest Change to Google's Algorithm in 5 Years




How big is this biggest change? Well, Google has been quoted as saying BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, will impact roughly 1 out of every 10 search queries.


There are a lot of articles about BERT, and I decided to write this one in point form with high-level notes so that those who want to understand but don't have the time to give the topic their full attention are able to at the very least have a grasp of the fundamentals.


And. Here. We. Go ...


  • BERT is NOW LIVE for all English searches.

  • In Q1 2020, the rollout will be live for all languages.

  • BERT is Google's neural network-based technique for natural language processing. Basically, BERT recognizes full sentences, syntax, context, verbs, nouns, and compound sentences. Meaning, when you type, "Where is a good dentist in Winnipeg," BERT will recognize all of the information. Before BERT, Google recognized dentist and Winnipeg. Now Google will take into account reviews because you used the word good, and proximity within Winnipeg because you asked where. Context matters, yay! To sum this up, Google is now more human-like.

  • Featured snippets are affected largely, and are affected the most. Don't know what a featured snippet is? Click here.

  • RankBrain was the previous big change by Google prior to BERT. The new update does not kill RankBrain, it simply enhances it. Imagine it like this: BERT is the right side of the brain, while RankBrain is the left side.

  • Action is NEEDED. Every time Google releases an update you need to pay attention. Procrastinating or letting it slide will only continue to hurt your brand. Updating for Google's algorithm changes should be treated like changing your logo and updating all signage, graphics, etc. Sure, you could not update the info, but eventually, no one's going to be able to find you.

  • To find out what pages are most directly affected, run a scan of your pages now, and 30-days from now. The pages that drop dramatically in the rankings are the ones you need to focus on today.


And there you have it ... BERT in a nutshell. Need help with BERT or SEO in general? Let's talk!