The search engine giant, Google, recently rolled out a new core update, dubbing it the ‘BERT’ update. BERT, which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers, is a neural network-based method for natural language processing. This means the new update allows Google to better understand a user’s intent based on the context in which they search.
As Google is a fan of constantly updating their algorithms, it may be difficult to keep up. That’s why we’ve dissected how this BERT update will affect your SEO and also amassed a few critical elements to consider for your upcoming SEO strategies.
What the BERT Algorithm Means for Your SEO
As any marketer knows, there isn’t just one way people are searching for something. If there was, we’d have no reason for an abundance of keywords or search terms to optimize for. For instance, some users may search for ‘tacos near me’ while others may type ‘where are tacos near me?’ Google search hasn’t always made such a distinction between the two, so each search would elicit different results on the SERPs. With the BERT update, Google is able to distinguish between the nuances and return more relevant results.
Furthermore, this core update could actually be more helpful to users based on Natural Language Recognition (NLR). Machines do not understand the nuances and contextual indications of a search the way humans would—that is until Google’s BERT algorithm. While Google search cannot completely fill in the gaps, so to speak, they are doing a better job of it using the semantic field, or related terms that fall within the context of a search. On that note, we’ll move onto the next emerging SEO trend of 2020.
Because the new BERT algorithm is aligned with Google’s neverending mission to be user-focused, it’s more important than ever for marketers to get their strategies right. Marketers need to begin developing content that answers questions based on where a user is in their buyer’s journey. Understanding your intended buyer goes beyond developing demographic cohorts.
The main focus should be on how users are discussing their issues and needs at every part of the journey. Your efforts should not be solely focused on creating transactional content, especially if your users are not ready to make a purchase. Rather, there should be content that offers support and thought leadership, allowing users to make informed decisions on a product or service. This helps you build a community and keeps users knowledgeable with relevant information when they decide to make a purchase. Customers become savvier as the days go by and relevancy is the most valuable tool marketers can offer.
Pro Tip: When mentioning your products in a blog article, be sure to link back to relevant product pages or other related points of interest on your site.
Technical SEO and User Experience
Possibly one of the biggest emerging SEO trends of 2020 is user experience (UX). UX guides the first interaction your potential customers have with your brand, as well as the lasting impression it gives them. This includes everything from your site’s speed to how responsive it is. The latter refers to your website’s behavior on mobile or tablets, which is continuing to be more important as users prefer to browse the web on their smartphones.
We mentioned site speed, but it’s also important for SEOs to consider individual page speed as well. Not every page on your website will have as much traffic as the others but each page should be well optimized, easy to navigate, and up to par with Google’s speed recommendations .
While some companies are still heeding advice from past years, the most successful businesses have taken action on expert advice by developing a mobile-first approach. Instead of building a mobile site based on your existing desktop site, reverse the approach. When you build your mobile site first and then optimize for desktop users, you don’t have to optimize for speed after launch.
Google began rolling out their mobile-first indexing two years ago. The predictive text on our phones uses GPS to offer up results based on location. Such as our ‘tacos near me’ example earlier. This is a great indicator that users are predominantly searching for results from a mobile device, so their first interaction with your site will be from a smartphone.
While the BERT update has done some heavy-lifting to allow machines to understand context, marketers must remember that search algorithms aren’t human. By structuring data in a certain way, search engines can better understand the content on a page. Furthermore, it helps them identify the most relevant information to send back to users.
By offering structured data that helps Google deliver the most relevant results as they’re related to a user’s intent, any channel you market on will rank higher in the SERPs. Be it chatbots, blog posts, or any other medium you use to interact with and reach customers.
As Google and other search engines continue to release core updates, SEO marketing becomes more challenging for novice SEOs. Before machine learning was at the helm of navigating the web, many businesses had a good shot at ranking. Nowadays, it takes a dedicated team of SEO experts to manage even the simplest campaigns.
To ensure you’re investing time and money on the right marketing projects, give WebRealSimple a call. Our dedicated team understands these emerging SEO trends and can help audit your existing practices and offer recommendations on how to continue driving organic traffic to your business.