Google will be rolling out an update known as BERT. In all, BERT will have an effect on 1 in 10 search queries. Still, that should not be considered a small update. After all, it is the biggest update that Google has implemented since they released RankBrain.
Knowing the impact that RankBrain had, there’s a pretty good chance that BERT will have an impact on your site at some point in time. And even if it won’t currently impact your site, as traffic continues to grow, BERT will eventually affect your website.
Before going further, it is important to know just what BERT is.
What is BERT?
It actually stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. That doesn’t really make anything clearer, does it? In essence, Google has adjusted its algorithm to better understand what is natural language processing.
As of right now, Google can simplify a lot of different things for the user. For instance, if you put a flight number into the Google search, it will typically show you the status of your flight. Or if you type in a math equation, it will pull up a calculator.
So, what will BERT actually do?
Basically, Google takes into account prepositions like “to” or “for” that can have a huge impact on the meanings to different search queries. Being able to recognize the difference between something like “stand” and “stand-alone” can make a substantial impact.
What other changes can impact roofers?
The featured snippets will also be seeing a change. There is a change to the algorithm that will make it much more relevant to searchers and will create a much better experience overall. Google will do a more efficient job of finding relevant searches for you and matching those up on a more consistent basis.
This, of course, means that you will have to change your overall SEO strategy. As it stands, there are three general types of queries that people will usually make when they are performing a search. Those three are informational, navigational, and transactional.
For an informational query, think of something like performing a search looking to lose weight. Searching something like “how to lose weight” is generally what someone will search, leading them to a solution that will eventually narrow down their search.
Once the search has been narrowed down pretty substantially, the user has found what they were looking for. BERT will have an impact on the top-of-the-funnel keywords, which are what informational related keywords are.
BERT will improve search query understanding
The BERT update will improve how Google understands search queries. When a search is queried, BERT searches those queries, not the web page. With this, on-page SEO becomes more important when it comes to using words in a more precise way. Any sloppy content might not be helped when the Google BERT update goes into effect.
Essentially, Google takes context into account when generating a search. Instead of focusing on a specific keyword, it will put emphasis on the context and understand the human lexicon much better. Where Google might have displayed irrelevant search results before, it does a much better job of understanding the human context and adjusting the search results accordingly.
Updates, like the core updates or Panda/Penguin and others, are designed specifically to improve the overall quality of searching and to go after methods that will try to abuse search quality. For instance, Penguin went after link manipulation while Panda went after content manipulation. The core updates, meanwhile, looked at overall quality issues.
BERT is more about understanding longer tail, more natural language queries. Those longer tail queries are generally queries that most SEOs don’t end up targeting in nearly as heavy a way. Those longer tail queries will send less overall traffic to sites when compared to traditional short-tail queries and the SEOs generally will track them less often.
If you find yourself dropping in the rankings for a long-tail query that gets you, say, 10 visits per day from Google searches, it’s far less noticeable than it would be for dropping in the rankings of a short-tail query that would send you 1,000 visits per day from Google searches.
What does this mean for roofing companies?
Essentially, this means that it will refine searches to find the context and provide more relevant results for that search. Instead of focusing on a specific keyword, it will look at the context, the location, and other factors to provide more accurate search results for that specific query. While it can’t be specifically optimized for, you can expect roofing SEO to focus more on quality content.
This allows your website to get at more of those queries that may have been missed originally. Google is always after the most relevant possible searches when it comes to their SEO rankings. They are looking to find a way to cut out those abusers of keywords, links, and other factors that might have worked previously. Essentially, it is a refinement in the way that Google works to find the most relevant search results each and every time.
While this might not have an initial impact – again, this is meant to impact around 10% of search queries overall – it could wind up having an impact on your website if you have enough traffic currently or if you are beginning to see an uptick in traffic that is sizable.
With the BERT update, Google is looking for a way to drive those relevant searches to the right websites. If your website is one of those websites, you could see a substantial uptick in traffic which could lead to those all-important leads which could then lead to sales that make up the revenue for your business.
It is important to focus on those shorter keyword queries, but looking more towards longer string queries can have a huge impact now thanks to BERT. Slightly refining the way that you optimize your SEO searches can really have a beneficial impact on your overall search rankings. When you can improve those, you find yourself closer to the top of the search rankings, which has a substantial impact on your business overall.