You might have already heard a fair bit about the recent Google algorithm update, BERT, since its end-of-2019 rollout. The acronym stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – but of much greater importance are the implications it could have for your brand’s fortunes in the search engine rankings.

BERT: what does it all mean?

In short, BERT is all about Google developing its algorithm’s ability to understand what words mean in context. It’s an update, then, that acknowledges the nuances of natural language better than previous Google algorithm updates have been able to.

As BERT enables the Google algorithm to better understand what each word in a search query means in the context of the words surrounding it, your site’s rankings for certain keywords may have already been significantly affected by BERT.

In particular, web pages that are more generic, vague and weakly focused are likely to lose out to pages that answer the kind of very specific questions human users actually tend to search for.

So with that in mind, here are a few ways in which you might be able to protect or improve your own brand’s search engine rankings in a post-BERT world:

  1. Make sure your website loads quickly. Speeding up your website to boost its SEO performance definitely isn’t of sole relevance to BERT – it’s good practice regardless. Google wants to give its users information that is trustworthy, relevant and useful, but it also wants users to be able to access that information quickly – so don’t neglect this aspect of your site. Accelerated mobile pages, or AMPs, could be one way of boosting your site speeds for smartphone users.
  2. Produce content that is relevant to searchers’ needs. Again, this is something that has always been important for SEO, but it has almost certainly become even more so with the arrival of BERT. So, consider the specific questions that your own target audience is likely to ask, and address them specifically – vague and unfocused content is unlikely to rank highly.
  3. Don’t try to ‘play’ the algorithm. It’s been a long time since attempting to ‘trick’ the Google algorithm – through the use of unethical methods like keyword stuffing or the use of invisible text – was something was brought much prospect of SEO success. And with each and every update, Google’s algorithm is getting better at identifying these practices and penalising them. So, it’s never been more important to provide authentic and useful information that reads as if it was written by a human rather than a robot.

Would you like to learn more about what Jumping Spider Media’s own SEO expertise could do for your brand in 2020, as BERT continues to make its influence felt? If so, it couldn’t be easier to get in touch with us.