Last week, Google released the BERT update. According to Google, this recent algorithm was designed to help decide what the most important parts in natural language search queries are. They have also said that it can affect every 1 in 10 queries, yet many SEO specialists and tracking tools are yet to see much of an effect in their Google search result rankings.
In a blog post about the algorithm, Google wrote that BERT was designed to understand “longer, more conversational queries,” meaning that tracking tools are unlikely to pick up on any impact.
This is because, for site owners, it’s unlikely that you will track many long-tail queries as it’s the short-tail queries that tend to have higher search volume and thus, send more traffic to your website.
What the experts have to say
Dr Pete Meyers (of Moz SEO) has said that the company’s MozCast tool is better at tracking shorter terms and not the phrases that are likely to require BERT’s natural language processing.
Meanwhile, the team at RankRanger (another SEO tool provider) also agreed with Moz, having reported no significant impact, despite only seeing a short period of increased search ranking fluctuations.
If you look across all of the tracking tools, almost all of them showed less fluctuation on the days that Google rolled BERT out, when compared to what they have shown for algorithm updates in the past.
How can you optimise for BERT?
The truth is you can’t really. The team at Google has already stated that you can’t really optimise your SEO strategies to cater for the latest update, as it was designed to help Google better decipher what users were intending to look for online when searching in natural language and long-tail phrases.
You should continue to produce great written content for your users. Don’t change your marketing to cater for BERT, but instead speak to your users and site searchers directly. If you’re writing for real human beings and writing about what they want to look for on the internet, then you’re already on your way to optimising for BERT.
In short, to best see the effects of BERT, focus on writing your content for real people.