Google’s BERT Update: How This Affects Your Digital Marketing

By William Glade, AVB Marketing

Move over Sesame Street, there’s a new Bert in town. Google’s BERT algorithm update rocked the SEO world at the end of October. This impacts our digital marketing efforts in several ways, but first things first: what does BERT even stand for?

B-E-R-T is an acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It’s OK, at one time I didn’t understand a thing I just wrote either. Simply put, it’s a natural language processing algorithm that helps Google better understand what people mean when they type words into its search bar.

As Pandu Nayak, Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, explained in a company blog, “This breakthrough was the result of Google research on transformers: models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. BERT models can therefore consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it —particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.”

Examples of how this has impacted search results can be found in Nayak’s post. Most important, how does this impact you, the members, and us here at AVB Marketing?

A few things:

  1. It is important to understand what BERT doesn’t mean and what myths are flying around.
  2. This update confirms the efforts of businesses that have focused on high-performing content.

A full list of myths can be found in Roger Montti’s post on Search Engine Journal (SEJ); however, the bottom line is this: BERT is one of the biggest algorithm updates (although not THE biggest) and there is nothing publishers need to worry about except continuing to creating awesome content.

Businesses should be wary of SEO services that try to sell them on Google BERT optimization packages. Before you pay for any services, do some research on what exactly is being offered and see if the current website content is up to date and helps customers learn about the products being sold. If this is the case, there’s nothing to worry about. If not, then it would be more worthwhile to invest in fresh content than a “BERT optimization” package.

Regarding point No. 2, companies that have been focused on creating high-quality content should see a benefit as a result of this update. Creating content that is beneficial to your customers should always be the primary focus of any content marketing strategy – and the BERT update confirms that creating content geared towards people rather than machines is a long-term investment that will pay you dividends.

All-in-all, the BERT update is great news for businesses that have been doing things right. Companies that haven’t included a content marketing plan in their marketing repertoire of tools should consider investing in one. It is hard work, but it pays off in the long term.

William Glade is SEO Manager at AVB Marketing, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.