Google is taking a giant leap towards AI-driven search algorithms. In Google’s own words it is the biggest and most comprehensive change made to their search system since 2015 when the company introduced its first AI-based algorithm.
According to Google estimates, BERT will impact nearly 10% of all the searches made on Google. The company has started to roll out BERT slowly since last week and expects it to be fully operational shortly.
Now, these new updates bring with it a great opportunity for businesses, and they must leverage it to the fullest by incorporating it into the digital marketing strategy.
Why BERT Is Significant
According to Google – BERT is the most comprehensive AI-based algorithmic update. Google in their own words said; “representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”
To understand the sheer size of the impact this update has, we have to look at the numbers. The projections say that every 1 out of 10 searches will be affected by this core update. To say this is a significant development would be an understatement. This Google update completely changes the entire digital marketing strategy for many companies.
What Is BERT?
BERT or the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers is the latest update made by Google to its core search algorithm. BERT is a neural-net based method for Natural Language Processing (NLP). What that essentially means, is that BERT helps computer systems to recognize and utilize language, more like humans do.
With this update, Google Search becomes better in understanding human language just like humans do. This development offers both a challenge and an opportunity for SEO executives, and to take full advantage of BERT, we need to understand how does SEO work on Google.
How BERT Works?
BERT is a neural network-based AI algorithm created to better understand the intricate nuances of human language. One fundamental aspect of BERT is its contextual perception of words used in a search. Rather than focusing on particular keywords, BERT would give more attention to the context they are used in. This makes LSI Keywords more important for getting a first page ranking on Google.
To demonstrate the improvements made to its search systems made by BERT Google shared an example:
- Let’s say somebody searches, “2019 brazil traveler to usa need visa”. Now the word “to” and its contextual relationship to the other words in the search sentence is important to understand for the search to make sense. Earlier, Google couldn’t understand the significance of this contextual connection and would show the results of U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil.
Google search which is now able to understand small nuances like this is pretty fundamental. Hence this development should be the focus of the marketing plan of businesses and digital marketers alike.
How Will BERT Impact SEO
BERT isn’t SEO heavy update thus you can expect that it would only have a limited about of impact on your current SEO marketing strategy. But this information must be taken with a grain of salt as there is no official word from Google’s side.
One aspect of SEO that we are certain will be impacted by BERT is content. Businesses creating content for better brand credibility and organic SEO will need to better utilize LSI Keywords and renew their focus on providing quality content for their users.
Older Updates Still Matter
Businesses mustn’t forget about the old while adapting their digital marketing strategy for the new. RankBrain which was Google’s first AI-based method to better understand human queries was released back in 2015. RankBrain took both at the query and the relative context of Google indexed web pages into consideration.
Google made it clear that BERT isn’t here to replace RankBrain, rather it is here to strength it. They explained that BERT is an additional method of sorting out relevant results along with RankBrain. It is on Google’s description which algorithmic method they would use to assess a particular search query.
This puts businesses in a tough spot trying to optimize their website for a certain type of algorithm. The only way forward now it seems is to merge different solutions and work on a digital marketing action plan that works on both algorithms.
How Optimizable is BERT?
Due to BERT being an AI-based NLP algorithm like RankBrain, there is very little room for SEO optimization. If our experience with RankBrain is any indication, then the only way you will be able to optimize your website is by developing a faster UX.
But the lack of optimization is not necessarily a bad thing. Another positive to look at the lack of core updates to the current system is that your pre-existing marketing plan can work wonders with a little collaborative effort with SEO & PPC.
With the advent of AI-driven algorithms, the search environment is going to progress for the better. As search engines become better at understanding natural human language, the pressure on businesses to sync their different marketing strategies would be lessened.
But this is not to say that different types of pressure won’t mount. As search becomes more streamlined, another avenue of digital marketing that still gives businesses a headache is social media marketing. Thus credible social media marketing agencies who are experts in SMO are the need of the hour for businesses.