What is BERT and how can it affect your ranking?

What is BERT and how can it affect your ranking

Efficiency is in improving the little things that make a difference. And Google’s latest search algorithm BERT has been built on this thought process. One of the biggest advancements in search algorithms, BERT tries to understand how humans communicate. Whether a search query includes broken language or languages influenced by local culture, BERT ensures that now users will get to see more relevant Google search results. For marketers, it can mean that your content marketing efforts will now pay off.

What is Google BERT?

BERT stands for ‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is an open-sourced neural network-based technology that supports Natural Language Processing (NLP) pre-training. In layman’s terms, Google BERT understands your search queries better and helps you with answers based on the way you would want to be understood.

How does BERT work?

BERT tries to understand the context of the query by evaluating the words used in the search query by a user. For example, the usage of prepositions such as “to” and “for” can mean different things to different people.

According to Google, it represents “the biggest leap forward in the past five years and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search,” and they say it will affect 1 in 10 English-language searches as well as searches returning Featured Snippets for any language that supports snippets.

Why was BERT introduced?

Billions of search queries from across the world are entered by diverse people expecting specific results. However, these queries can be incomplete or might involve complex conversational queries which sometimes confuse the search algorithms. This lack of understanding by search algorithms lead to results that did not provide value to users. To make conversations with search engines more meaningful, BERT was introduced.

 How does it affect SEO?

The quality of content in SEO efforts will impact SEO performance. To rank higher in BERT-enabled search queries, the SEO content should be meaningful and within the right context.

Does Google BERT affect Content Marketing?       

BERT has been tested and fine-tuned to understand the intent of the search user for typing the query. Now, content marketers will have to focus on using keywords with content that fits the context of the keyword phrases.

For marketers and business owners, BERT can improve your organic search rankings. If you have a lot of valuable content on your website which did not receive much traction earlier, there is a possibility that your organic search results will have a positive impact. On the other hand, if your competitor has better information on their website, then you will have to buckle up and improve the relevance of the SEO content on your pages.

Will BERT impact featured snippets?

Yes, featured snippets will be affected by the introduction of BERT. Snippets that can answer the search queries accurately are likely to rank higher in search engines.

What’s the difference between BERT and RankBrain?

RankBrain reviews historic data of the search queries and tries to interpret the meaning of the search queries for providing relevant results. BERT examines the word that’s present before and after each word in a search query to present relevant results.

Before and After Search result examples

Earlier, search algorithms used to feature results without understanding the relation between the words used by a user. Now,BERT evaluates the meaning of each word and connects the information to present the relevant results to search users. Here’s an example of a search query after the introduction of BERT:


BERT is an important update that affects page rankings. This update will be a welcome change for search users who used to get frustrated with incorrect search results earlier. The BERT update may not always provide correct answers now. It is still an ongoing project to understand languages and create models for providing better search results across languages.

For now, the BERT algorithm will be used on a limited number of English language queries in the US which includes featured snippets. We can expect more information about BERT in future updates by Google.

What do you think about the BERT update? 

Jitendra Raulo

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