Google rolled out an algorithm update over this past week. There is a name for it – they called it the Google BERT update. BERT stands for this mouthful – Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

Google estimates that this update will impact 10% of search inquiries which makes it a very major update.

At it’s core this new update’s primary mission is to interpret the INTENT of search queries better than before.

So instead of looking at a search phrase on a word by word basis, BERT gives Google the ability to interpret the entire phrase so that the results delivered are more accurate to the intention of the search.

I smell prepositions!

In the announcement Google used an example of a search phrase:

2019 brazil traveler to US needs a visa.

Previously Google would return results about US citizens traveling to Brazil – totally overlooking that the searcher’s intent was to find information for someone who was NOT a US citizen coming to the US.

screenshot of before and after BERT update

So what does this mean for your business?

The good news is that this is algorithm is NOT one that penalizes anyone – it’s meant to instead better understand the user query and search intent.

The best way to make sure you win with this update is to have content that answers the questions of your target audience.

The type of site that we expect to be the winners of this update are those that have lots of content in the form of well-written, long-form content. Not short post updates that might be better on social media.

So the thing to do right now is to keep an eye on your traffic. And try not to panic right away if you see a sudden drop. I know it’s hard but once they roll out an update they tweak it ever so slightly to make sure that they don’t catch dolphins in the with the tuna.

Login into your Google Search Console and run a comparative report comparing this week to last week or the previous week.

Click on the queries on the list (those are the search phrases that brought traffic/clicks) and see which if any are bringing in less traffic than before.

If you notice any, go over to Google and search that phrase to see what IS ranking for that phrase. Inner pages with long content? More Q & A formatted content?

Then go back to your content and explore how you can make it more like the content that is currently ranking or create new content that is more inline with what is ranking now.

Google will show you what you need to do. It just takes the time to go and look at it.

If you’re having any trouble or need someone to evaluate your Google search console data, give us a call or reach out with your question.