Last week, Google announced its biggest algorithm update in 5 years.
The BERT update is said to impact 10% of search queries - namely, longer keyword phrases that rely on context for meaning.
As with any update to Google's search algorithm, this one aims to understand the user's intent behind the query and serve them with the most useful content possible. The BERT update in particular pays attention to the words before and after each word in a search query, taking into account the context of each word when deciding how to rank web pages in search.
What is the BERT update?
In their words, this is what the new BERT update means:
By applying BERT models to both ranking and featured snippets in Search, we’re able to do a much better job helping you find useful information. In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.
In other words, Google is catering to search queries that use more natural, conversational language and endeavoring to deliver search results that more closely match it. To do so, the algorithm needs to be able to decipher between multiple meanings that a phrase could have, for example the one below:
Example via Google.
What does the BERT update mean for your website?
If you're worried about the impact BERT might have on your website, don't be.
Google's search algorithm is constantly being improved to bring users better search results for their queries - that's always the #1 goal. It's not trying to punish certain websites
So if your website is full of quality content that can help plenty of people out there, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Hopefully your Melbourne SEO agency is already doing a great job at optimising your content and is aware of this new update.
It's also important to remember that sometimes after these Google updates, a website can experience sudden drops in the search rankings, but then within a couple months it bounces back. THIS IS NORMAL. Always wait a few months after an update while Google works on the kinks and makes minor tweaks to it (as they always do). If after a few months your site still hasn't bounced back, it might be time to re-optimise your website so that it starts showing up higher on Google search.