When the announcement of Google BERT update took place, the entire SEO community was rocked … pretty bad. Shocked, most of the SEO practitioners call this the biggest SEO update in history.
This makes sense since Google BERT update is affected to affect 10% of the search results. According to the release, Google says that this is the latest Google algorithm update will affect 10% of queries, which means this is one of the biggest Google updates of the last 5 years!
In other words, 1 out of 10 websites is affected in one way or another, thanks to this Google update. If you are a website owner, I recommend you to read this post real close.
What is BERT and how will it impact SEO?
The easiest way to describe Google BERT update is “interpreting the intent of search queries better.”
Do you know that one of the most common misunderstanding done by bloggers (including myself in the past) is that Google Search is a super duper smart AI system?
We used to talk a lot about finding long tail keywords and how it help us to rank faster on Google. While there is no denial that long tail keywords are powerful SEO method, this is often overrated.
Hard fact: Google still takes time to discover the true meaning of a specific search term.
Instead of looking at the user’s search query on a word by word basis, BERT allows Google to interpret the entire phrase better to give the searcher more accurate results.
Changing a word (or two), doing slight modifications or even adding/removing words in a search query can dramatically alter the search intent.
All in all, this Google BERT update is focused in being better at interpreting what the users are truly looking for when they are doing online searching.
Here are some cool comparison shared by Google.
In this example, Google shows how the search results change when interpreting when a user is looking for information about traveling to the US vs. from the US.
Here’s another example by Google.
Google previously identified the word “stand” and matched it with “stand-alone” which was the incorrect version of the word for this query. Instead, the searcher is focused on the physical demands of the job, so with Google BERT, Google interprets the query more accurately.
With both the examples above, it is clear that Google BERT update is focused on better interpretation of what the searcher is actually looking for.
As a result, the searcher will receive higher accuracy search results.
As scary as it seems, there isn’t much work you can do right now—except to wait.
The biggest thing to look for is if there are any changes in your traffic in the next coming days and weeks.
Here’s the good side of this Google BERT Update. This update is not focused in penalizing anyone (directly) as it is geared towards better understanding the end user query and search intent.
On the other hand, the downside of this Google update is that there are some possibilities that you might lose some traffic.
The best way to counter this Google update is to ensure that your content has all the answers to the common questions commonly asked by your target audience.
If you are seeing any traffic drop (within this week or last few days), I recommend you NOT to panic.
As a matter of fact, it is common to see traffic increases and decreases during the early days of any Google update rollouts.
With that said, if your website is dropping traffic, losing view counts in the weeks to come, there are a few things you can do:
Here’s how it is done.
Head over to Search console > Performance > Search results > Date range > Compare > Last 7 days and run a comparison report (as seen below):
Do not that the image above is taken with Filters and not Compare tab.
Next, click on queries and look at which you had lost traffic for:
What you will see is a list of search queries you should investigate. Depending on your needs, you can tweak based on either Clicks or Impressions, or both.
Personally, I focus more on Impressions because the more impression I get, the better chances I get for the clicks.
This Google algorithm update is interesting because it focuses a lot in search intent and quality of the content (content that answers questions will rank higher).
Therefore, if your website is focused heavily in creating great content and solving problems for others, you will most likely see an increase in traffic, search ranking, clicks and impressions.
Personally, I somewhat find this SEO method useful with every Google update (not just Google BERT update).
Search the queries in Google and see what types of content are ranking now.
What you are looking for are hints such as:
This method requires you to think out of the box—after all, no idea is a bad idea.
By doing any of the above would give you some ideas for your next SEO approach.
You can start by tweaking your content to match the content that is now ranking, or create new content that matches.
Always remember that Google is keen of showing what it wants—you just need to reverse engineer and you will start ranking on the top of Google.
As a recap, people in the SEO industry are saying that the new Google BERT update may be one of the biggest updates of the last 5 years of SEO.
As big as it sounds, I still believe that there is nothing to worry about. Google BERT update is not focused on any sort of penalization. Instead, it’s focused on understanding search intent better.
The next few days and weeks would be crucial as you need to start keeping an eye on your search results. If you see an increase in search traffic, you are pretty much on the right track.
If you are seeing a traffic drop, I highly recommend you to use the methods above to start improving your search results and SEO.
Here’s a little shamless pug: If you would like some help with your SEO, you can always contact me here!
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Young at heart and a deep passion for entrepreneurial success, Reginald is devoted to share everything he had learned about online marketing with the public. Follow him for more awesome postings.