In late October last year, Google announced that it would make the biggest upgrade to its search engine in five years. About five years ago Google introduced RackBrain, which caused the content world go crazy when it came to their SEO paradigms (insert the meme with the Joker saying “Google Introduces an Upgrade, and Everybody Loses Their Minds…”), and now it looks like Google is at it again, tinkering with its search engine. The new upgrade is called BERT and it stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.
That’s all well and good, but as my mom always asked, “What’s the upshot on this?”
What Exactly IS BERT? (Besides a cute acronym?)
BERT is a form of Artificial Intelligence that was developed to decipher our language the way that humans already do. Not surprisingly, there are nuances in language that we mere mortals get that even the savviest AI would scratch its head over, if it had a head and fingers to scratch. Think of BERT as an NPL or a Natural Language Processing AI. What that means, in layperson’s terms, is that the AI doesn’t just look at the words and context of the words, but actually tries to decipher the intent of the user.
What’s Novel about BERT?
Like Data from Star Trek, BERT uses a neural network architecture to decipher our meanings. It is bidirectional in the way it processes our language. Google gives the example of how the word, “bank,” may be used. Depending on how it is used, you would interpret it as either a financial institution or as the dry sides of a watercourse. If I were to say, “We visited the bank. We saw elk there,” you would probably infer I was talking about a river bank and not the financial institution. Also, if I were to say, “I went to the bank, and I withdrew ten dollars,” you’d probably think I was talking about where I had a checking account. For a unidirectional NPL Artificial Intelligence, those two statements would probably be confusing, and it might actually get the context wrong. What BERT does is not only consider the statements from front to back but also from back to front, thus applying context in both directions. Just like we do.
So How Does this Affect Content?
At first, you may decide that this really doesn’t affect your content strategy, and if you have a good strategy, chances are it’ll just keep your rankings the same, or may actually improve them. Good content strategies have long-tail keywords, but you’ll need more than that, if you want your content at the forefront. Your content needs to provide an answer to the question the keywords are presenting, because BERT is aimed at providing the right information to the person searching. Google knows that people are looking for answers to questions, and the content that provides the answer is what’s going to come out on top. In fact, the length of your content isn’t as important as to whether BERT thinks you’ve answered the question sufficiently and succinctly or not.
How to Improve Your SEO Now that BERT is Here
For the user, BERT makes the whole search just that much easier, but for those who have just been relying on keywords to get their content on the top page, BERT may become a nightmare. After all, if you’re not producing great content that answers the person’s search question, all the keywords in the world are unlikely to get you first page status with BERT. BERT is smart enough to know when you’re just stringing keywords along. You’ve got to have a decent answer to the implied or explicit question the searcher entered. Not surprisingly, good content comes from good writers who understand that there’s more to SEO than just stringing keywords together (long-tailed or short-tailed). A good content writer can write excellent content that can get your company on the first page when posed with certain search queries. They can cut through the verbiage and give your readers the answers they’re looking for.
At WriterAccess, our team of writers know what it takes to write quality content, regardless of length. Check us out today and see how we can write quality content that even BERT and my mom likes.
Maggie B. is a professional, multiple award-winning writer and editor of more than 30 books and more than a thousand articles. She earned her Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Denver. She has written articles on science, pets, sustainability, hunting, technology, outdoors and recreation, food, writing, publishing, careers, and other topics. She is the publisher for Sky Warrior Books and Garnet Mountain Press.