BERT Goes Out on His Own

On no! BERT without Ernie! What gives?

Well, it’s not THAT Bert!

What is BERT?

It’s Google’s latest major search algorithm update released on October 25, 2019. BERT stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”.  Huh?!  (More on that below.)

Here’s a link to the Google press release announcing BERT: “Understanding searches better than ever before

And here’s the quote from that release that freaked out everyone who depends on Google search results delivering potential clients to their Web sites:

“With the latest advancements from our research team in the science of language understanding–made possible by machine learning–we’re making a significant improvement to how we understand queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.” (bolding mine.)

With that intro to BERT from the Google Search gurus, I think it’s incumbent on us to find out what affect BERT will have on OUR search results! 

So What Does BERT Do?

According to Google the big breakthrough centered on “transformers – models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order.”

And to freak us out even more, the Google release continues:

“So that’s a lot of technical details, but what does it all mean for you? Well, by applying BERT models to both ranking and featured snippets in Search, we’re able to do a much better job helping you find useful information. In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.” (again bolding mine)

Impact on Digital Marketing

In general, I think BERT will be very good news for businesses selling highly technical products to other businesses IF those businesses have taken the time to fully explain their technical product offerings in well written Web pages.

What do I mean by “well written Web pages”?

First, GET TO THE POINT!  In particular, review your technical product Web pages and make sure the KEY points about those products appear at the BEGINNING of the Web page

Preferably, put those key points in BULLETS.

Finally, make sure you write the body of the Web page in CONVERSATIONAL ENGLISH.

The overriding message about BERT is that Google is getting better and better at understanding the CONTEXT of our search inquiries and providing the best search results for those inquiries.  This is a golden opportunity for businesses selling technical products because many of the search inquiries about those products are already LONG TAIL search inquires (3, 4 or more keyword search phrases).

Final suggestions to those businesses: 1) Be sure you provide ON-SITE SEARCH on your Website, 2) review the search terms your existing and potential customers use to find products on your site, particularly the Long Tail searches, and then 3) enter those same search terms into Google search to see if your products are on page one of the Google SERP (search results page).

Reminder: clear the Google Search History in your browser BEFORE entering your search terms in Google search.

In both instances, make sure the Web page you want those inquiries to find is in fact the correct Web page.  If not, follow the tips above to OPTIMIZE THE CORRECT WEB PAGE!

What’s Next?

I think BERT shows that Google is racing to prepare for the day when the majority of the search inquiries they receive are VERBAL search inquiries.

And if that in fact is Google’s next search advance, I hope they find a way to make the acronym for it “ERNIE”!