Why The Latest Google Update, BERT, Should Not Trouble SEO UK Companies
If you’re one of those SEO UK companies or a site owner that already has a right-minded SEO strategy, then the good news is that Google’s latest update, nicknamed BERT, shouldn’t cause you a minute’s worry. Unlike some past updates that have seen websites plunge dramatically down the search engine results, the effects of BERT are much more subtle. The result, as Google seems to be saying, is ‘Nothing to see here, move along!’.
But because good SEO companies like to keep updated on what’s happening and how it might affect the sites we look after – or for companies, maintain ourselves, it’s worth exploring what BERT is and what its effects are likely to be. Google is on a mission to make life as easy for web users as possible. It wants any internet user to find search engine results that are as useful and relevant to their query as possible, and as easily and quickly as possible. That means divining what the typical searcher means when they enter their search terms into a browser. BERT is an algorithm that’s designed to better understand the motive behind a query that’s phrased in natural, conversational language. That’s the difference, for example, between someone searching for ‘late opening dentist Bradford’ and ‘where can I find a dentist that’s open till 7pm in Bradford?’. SEO companies – and the tools they use to track rankings for SEO – are far more likely to focus on short-tail queries like ‘late opening dentist Bradford’. It’s virtually impossible for any single site owner or even the top SEO companies UK wide to optimise a website for every possible permutation of language a user might use when asking a query.
Luckily, there’s no need to despair and give SEO up as an impossible task. Although Google estimates that with BERT, as many as one in ten queries will be affected, SEO commentators who have tracked the effects of BERT’s introduction in mid-October confidently state that they’ve seen little to no impact on rankings to date. That’s a whole different story to the huge effects the Panda and Penguin updates had on websites. Then, national and local SEO services alike had to raise their game to cope with the changes those algorithms introduced. So do SEO UK companies need to do anything at all? Alternatively, if you’re the owner of a website and handle your own SEO in-house, must you make changes to your SEO policy? The answer is no, provided you’re doing what Google has been recommending all along. And that’s writing engaging, informative content that really focuses on what your target audiences want to know. Don’t get hung up on the number of times you mention a certain key phrase on your webpage – instead, really think about the products or services you’re trying to sell to customers or the information you want your users to have.
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. But it actually means ‘helping you find useful information faster, no matter how you word your search, by better understanding your intent when you enter search terms’. We think you’ll agree that the more conversational, second explanation of BERT is a lot more meaningful than the expansion of the acronym. And for SEO UK companies and website owners alike, that’s very much the message: write for real people, not technical geniuses or machines!