Wildfires take on the BERT algorithm update
Last month the SEO community was hit with a major algorithm update! This new Google update has affected around 1 in 10 of all search queries, with ranking movement being noticed through the week commencing 21st of October. This continued throughout the week and went largely unnoticed but then Google officially confirmed the update, later in October.
What is BERT?
The acronym BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – which is a mouth full! Its purpose along with previous Google algorithms, is to help provide the best results for the user and match search intent more accurately. This is done through machine learning and natural language processing, which improves how Google understands the nuances of certain queries.
For example, in the phrases “nine to six” and “quarter to six,” the word “to” has two different meanings, which is quite obvious to the human eye but less so to search engines. BERT is designed to differentiate between such nuances to facilitate more relevant results.
Currently, the BERT algorithm only affects English search results, with no timeline set on how long it will take to update different languages. Google also confirmed that the BERT algorithm is live for featured snippets in all languages, so expect it to take effect across all languages and their search results, sooner rather than later.
Can you optimise for BERT?
If you have been affected by BERT, I’m sure you’ve read through plenty of articles and social posts from self-professed experts within the seo community, claiming they have the secret formula to solve any problems BERT may have caused. However this is quite clearly false. Firstly, it is far to early to have any concrete SEO strategies regarding how to reverse the effects of this algorithm update (If you’ve seen any major changes at all).
Secondly, BERT along with previous algorithms do not work in silo. Google uses a combination of them all, along with Rank Brain to stop spam and provide the best service as a search engine. If you have taken a hit in traffic and rankings, don’t rush into making any hasty changes. The majority of the time it pays dividends to wait until the dust settles and to assess the situation as a whole.
We believe that regardless of any Google algorithm update, if you continue to put the user first and create unique engaging content, along with matching search intent accurately then you won’t go far wrong. Google continues to improve it’s understanding of more complex search queries, with around 15% of new search terms happening each day! Content is king and Google has reaffirmed this (again) with BERT…