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Everything SMB’s Need To Know About Google’s BERT Update

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Google has recently published its newest update to their search algorithm now titled Bert.

The update was rolled out publicly in November 2019 and tweaks how Google responds to search engine results and their SERP rankings. This change has been dubbed their biggest update to the search engine result page in the past 5 years.

Now the big question on everyone’s mind is whether this new update is something to pay attention to? How does it affect the search engine results for small businesses, if at all? Well, we’re in luck! The short answer is:

Small Businesses have nothing to worry about with the Bert update.

This new update won’t affect the result pages that a user already uses to find a business. Unfortunately, it’s never that simple.

I should clarify that a business has nothing to worry about IF they have been doing good SEO practices. If their website is using black hat SEO or keyword stuffing, then they may suffer in the google search rankings.

Let’s dive deep into what the Bert update is, and how small businesses can capitalize on the new search engine update.

What Is Bert?

Bert stands for, Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

Yikes, the definition even sounds intimidating and technical, but it doesn’t tell you much about what Bert actually is. In short, the Bert update helps Google decipher more clearly the context a search query has as a whole, rather than word per word.

Google has provided great examples that can help explain this concept a bit better.

To best showcase Bert, let’s look at a search result for “2019 Brazil traveler to USA need a visa”.

Before Bret, you can see that the search result is almost what was needed. The top result shows a result from a US citizens perspective not from a brazil travelers perspective.

After the Bret update, you can see that the search algorithm was able to decipher the context of “brazil traveler” as people traveling from Brazil to the USA. This means that Google is now putting an emphasis on words such as “to” and “from” to better make sense of a sentence.

A Better Emphasis On Words

One of the biggest changes from the Bert update takes into account the words before and after certain words that have a different meaning. This change will give the search algorithm better context to give the user a more accurate result.

Consider these two statements below:

“Where can I find fresh apples and oranges?” “Where is the nearest Apple store?”

The word “apple” is the same word in both sentences but has two different meanings. Before the Bert update, Google would search based on every word causing the search result for “apple” to not have proper context.

Now the update will take the words before and after the sentence to help find context. In the first sentence, Google will look at the words next to “apple” such as “fresh apples and oranges” to figure out that the word being searched is a fruit, not a store.

How Does The New Update Effect Small Business

It’s calculated that the Bert update will affect 1 in 10 searches, which means there’s a chance that searches for your business can be affected.

Now if your business was being found using keywords that naturally fit the service offered not much will change.

Those businesses that have created content made for humans, not the algorithm, have seen a boost in their search results

Having good content that accurately showcases your product or service is all that matters. Those businesses that have created content made for humans, not the algorithm, have seen a boost in their search results.

Some businesses may see a drop off in search results in the beginning. This can be due to google ranking your business for irrelevant terms. The traffic you lost would have originally come from those users who were searching for something completely different than what your business provides.

How Should Small Businesses Respond?

There isn’t a real way to optimize for Bert. The search algorithm is always changing to find better results based on what users are searching for. By following good SEO practices and writing content that is tailored for humans, then this new update will help find users to your website.

There’s a good tweet by Danny Sullivan, a google employee, that best explains the mentality that business owners should have towards the new update.

There’s no secret on what Google wants to accomplish with this update. By providing the exact answers users are asking for your website will be prioritized and its rankings will go up.

The goal is to figure out the type of questions and search inquiries your users are searching your business for, and be able to give them the best answers. This is the closest way a business can optimize for the Bert update.

Small Businesses can make sure to:

  • Have their websites provide solutions and answers
  • Provide content that is accurate to their product or service
  • Get rid of any black hat SEO or keyword stuffing
  • Engage with your users online more often

In conclusion, many businesses shouldn’t be worried about the new Bert update. It was created to help users find the answers they’re looking for. This gives businesses more accurate traffic to their website, and in turn, more users for potential clients.

Going forward, Google will begin implementing new ways to have users find the best answers the quickest and with the most accuracy. Companies that can provide the best answers will have nothing to worry about with future updates. These practices will be the best way to future-proof your website and company.

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