Meet BERT, Google's Latest Search Algorithm

Ray Wang

Google is making the biggest change to its search engine since RankBrain which occurred approximately five years ago.

It is expected that one out of 10 queries will be impacted in terms of the results that appear for those queries.

BERT rolled out in October and will be fully live shortly. It has rolled out for English language queries and will expand to other languages in the near future.

What is BERT exactly? BERT standards for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training.

BERT helps computers such as search engines understand language like how humans do.

BERT helps Google search algorithm better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results.

For example, the “to” in the search “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa,” indicates a relationship between Brazil traveler and USA and it is important for a search engine to understand the meaning of the keyword “to” and fully comprehend the query. Google wasn’t able to understand this connection and return more relevant search results. Previously, Google search engine would return results about U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil.

“With BERT, Search is able to grasp this nuance and know that the very common word “to” actually matters a lot here, and we can provide a much more relevant result for this query,” Google explained.

Google BERT

In another example, Google would previously match the keyword “stand” as “stand-alone” in the search query “do aestheticians stand a lot at work”. With BERT, Google can understand that “stand” is related to the physical demands of an aestheticians and serve more relevant results.

Google BERT - 2

In the example below, Google can understand a query more like a human to show a more relevant result on a search for “Can you get medicine for someone pharmacy.”

Google BERT - 3

The introduction of BERT means that Google has a better understanding of users search intent and serve results that are more relevant to the queries.

For marketers and business owners, this change means that your content needs to be more focused towards users' needs as opposed to stuffing keywords in your content and attempting to rank for different types of search queries.

If you have any questions about BERT or SEO, please contact us at raywang@rwdigital.ca or form below.

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