For a business person in today’s world of online marketing, you know there’s a lot to learn about getting your business higher on Google’s search engine results. Between dealing with the current pandemic and trying to keep your doors open, keeping up with the latest Google updates and how they rank those search engine results can get by you at the end of your long days.
What is absolutely necessary to know about some of the latest changes? Should you hire a specialist—or replace the one you have—to sharpen up your rankings? And what is BERT?
You do need to know the basics of Google’s algorithms; then once you know what you don’t know, you can decide if your business is ready to hire a well-qualified search engine optimization (SEO) specialist. Let’s start by gathering some knowledge about Google and all those algorithms.
Google and Algorithm Updates
Here are the bare-bone basics: A Google algorithm is a procedure for solving a specific problem using logic and a step-by-step process. These algorithms are designed to do one thing: put the most relevant results in front of someone searching online.
For example, how exactly do people express their need to find a store that sells a high-end racing road bike? What words do they put in that white search box? What words were used most often by most of those people? That brings us to what Google does with all that data.
Google uses them to synthesize the information and then they return better results for similar searches in the future. There is a reason Google is the #1 search engine in existence. They’ve done the best job of crunching all that data and giving potential customers a workable list of stores that sell racing bikes. And, if you are that bike shop, you want your business in the top spot or at least on the first page of those search results.
How Frequently Are Updates Made?
A logical question to ask here is how often does Google find a new and better way to crunch the data?
Right after Google was introduced in 1998, the company issued updates infrequently. Over time, though, the number grew. Now there are thousands of updates every year. Even during a pandemic. Keeping up with the large number is difficult for any business, much less knowing which updates are important. And those changes are needed because both people and society change over time.
Technology changes to adapt to what users are doing online. Think back even ten years ago: Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or even Facebook weren’t used to drive business to websites. Even five years ago, mobile phones were not a significant source of internet searches. Today, social media platforms and mobile phones are where the majority of internet searches originate.
As technology changes, the habits of users change, and Google has to keep up with it all—40,000 internet searches per second, in fact–in order to remain relevant. And what Google does matters to your business. Their search results determine, in large part, how many of those people searching end up on your website.
Some Google algorithm updates are core updates that have huge impacts. One fairly recent one you should know about was a major change and one that can impact all users and their search results. It’s called BERT.
What is BERT?
It stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and it is one of the most recent—and significant—Google updates. If we zero in on the word encoder in the acronym, we’re on the way to understanding why BERT is so important to your business.
Your customer who wants that fancy racing bike can help. It’s a good bet they have been searching online for weeks, gathering information about the bike’s performance, equipment, cost, and what business has that bike in stock or can get it quickly.
What words did they use to search each time? Prior to BERT, the results from one of those searches might give him phone numbers for businesses that sell kids’ bikes, adaptive bikes, or beach cruisers. Not useful for someone who races.
Words often have multiple meanings, like fly or top or run. When we use words in conversation, we put them in a particular context that zeros in on the correct meaning. In speaking to one another, we understand this based on the situation and the larger conversation, but computer programs aren’t there yet.
All those hundreds of algorithms, big and small, that Google has released didn’t have a way of giving context to words or phrases entered into a search box. Now that gap has been closed with BERT.
BERT encodes the words and phrases generated by searches by converting them into meaningful language within some context. Words and phrases have shades of meaning, and BERT is changing the way Google interprets a search query. One reason for this is that those searches are coming in the form of longer questions instead of single words or short phrases.
Instead of racing bikes, the potential customer may enter something like What type of Aero bike comes equipped with caliper brakes?
BERT’s program picks up some context from this question, such as this person probably isn’t in the market for a kid’s bike. Not with caliper brakes. So, those bikes and anything related to them will not be included in the search results.
How BERT Affects SEO Efforts
At this point, you may be wondering if this BERT update changes anything about how your business should carry out its online marketing?
Yes, it does, especially if you have been following the older models of online marketing. The use of—and sometimes, overuse of—keywords should give way to more conversational language in the content you add to your site, whether that is the web page content itself, or additional articles and blogs. And all of that content should be unique and dense, meaning it should be written (and updated often) with an eye to providing valuable information with longer pieces (2,000 words is ideal).
BERT has made Google searches more intuitive so your content must engage visitors who come to your site. The good thing is you do have control over these tactics. Plus, now that you know how BERT (and algorithms in general) work, you can affect how your business will rank during Google searches. If your competition doesn’t have that understanding yet, you can beat them in search rankings. And that means more business for you.
Keeping Up With Google Will Help People Find You
It can be overwhelming dealing with Google’s updates while trying to run your business, especially during times of disruption. There are thousands of updates happening behind the scenes of the Google logo, but many are small tweaks that need little attention, if any. The big ones, and BERT is the biggest update lately, must be studied and incorporated into your business with one goal in mind: Getting your brand at the top of the list of search results.
An SEO specialist, like you’ll find with My KPI, can do this for you. They can take the burden off your shoulders so you can do what you do best: Sell your brand.
By keeping up with the updates and optimizing your pages, digital marketing specialists can help you make sure your bottom line continues to grow.