Everyone wants to be number one in Google search results. We work hard to compete in Google SERPs to gain coveted organic traffic and just when we think we may have the formula figured out on how to do so, Google alters their algorithm again. It seems impossible to keep up and to know every little factor that affects online rankings. Regardless, you have to adapt to Google’s requirements if you expect to land on page one. 
The Google BERT algorithm update was rolled out at the end of October and is the newest update from Google…give it a few more days and that may change. The BERT update is being heralded as the “biggest change in search since RankBrain”, so it’s a pretty big deal and is expected to affect about 10% of online searches.
If this is news to you, keep reading and I’ll give you the full story! This update may very well have a major impact on your small business’ ability to compete on search result pages.

What is the Google BERT Update?

Google uses a complex algorithm to determine what results show up (and where they show up) in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google’s ranking algorithm is constantly evolving, they say to deliver the best results possible to the searcher. Currently, there are over 200 factors that inform Google as to what order to put results in, including everything from localization and personalization to domain authority, page authority, page and site performance in SERP traffic, and many more.
Recently, Google added another substantial algorithm update, BERT.
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. In plain English, it means that with this update, Google will be better able to understand how natural language is used and the importance of how words in a query relate to each other. Of course, Google already has systems like this in place, but now it’s even more refined. 
Why does this matter?  Because Google has changed how they rank your result and everyone else’s.  If you don’t know what those rules are and how they affect your result’s ability to rank, you won’t know how to compete to gain space on page one of Google. And page one is where you need to be if you expect to get any organic traffic, conversions, and sales.  

What Does the BERT Algorithm Update Do?

We know that the BERT algorithm update was implemented to help Google better understand the relationship of words in a search query. This update is yet another move by Google to increase the intelligence of its core ranking system and continue to improve on the quality of results it delivers to a searcher. 
The RankBrain Google algorithm update in 2015 was the first step for Google to develop a system to more intelligently understand a query and related content. Google was able to understand a question and match the words in that question with content on the web. BERT is going a step further. 
With Google’s BERT algorithm update, regular results and featured snippets will both be impacted. It’s clear to see that Google is continuing to push quick and relevant answers to search queries in the most efficient way possible. The BERT update focuses more on how the individual words in a search query relate to each other and is better at delivering more specific results for that query. It’s clear that context is more important now than ever before!
By continuing to improve Google’s ability to deliver the best results possible for a search query, searchers will cut down on the number of results they click through. So if you want your result to rank well, it needs to focus on natural language.

How to Optimize for BERT

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do that’ll guarantee you a number one ranking position in Google. But, because the BERT update focuses on context, content, and the use of language, writing your content for readers and human understanding is extremely important. It’s actual people that are typing their questions into Google looking for answers, and your content needs to be written in a way they can understand and that fully answers their question if you expect to rank well.

In Conclusion

You need to be on the lookout for Google’s algorithm changes! Major ranking updates will impact your small business’s ability to rank well in Google SERPs, gain organic traffic, and convert visitors to your site. If you don’t know what the rules of the game are, you can’t play. The BERT algorithm update is a major change you need to pay attention to and understand. This update shows us yet again that content is king!