It is no secret that in today’s digital age, the online space is a powerful and valuable asset. Nowadays, gadgets have become something of a necessity, making it normal to see everyone carrying a smartphone wherever they go. Likewise, the Internet has evolved into a top source of information, which billions of users browse through daily to learn about various things. With the level of advancement that technology has achieved in the present day, it is no surprise that businesses are capitalizing on it to further grow and scale their operations.


Harnessing the capabilities of search engines can prove to be useful, especially for businesses. Having an established digital presence can attract a larger customer base and ultimately generate more leads and sales. Thus, strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) have become essential in any marketing plan. SEO is now a household name for every business and marketer as it is the ultimate cornerstone to solidifying your online presence.


When using SEO, it is important to stay updated and well-informed about Google’s algorithms to ensure that your site ranks high in search engine results pages (SERPs). Back in 2019, Google launched a major algorithm update known as BERT to better understand how people use language. As one of the biggest changes to Google’s algorithms in the past five years, many questions are now being raised on how SEO strategies can be refined to optimize for BERT.

What is BERT?


BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and is a natural language processing pre-training that aims to understand the nuances in language. It was designed to help the Google search engine understand how people communicate. When users search for information online, they expect to get accurate answers to their queries. BERT was developed to address this need and better process search queries to understand the intent behind them.


With BERT, search engines can better understand what users mean when they search for particular things. Thus, the smallest nuances, such as the use of prepositions, can affect the entries that appear in the SERPs. With this update, the search process is expected to be much more helpful, providing users with accurate answers to their questions.


BERT Emphasizes Natural Language


Keyword research is one of the essential aspects of SEO. However, BERT prioritizes natural language and writing since it tries to understand how people communicate and write queries. The term bidirectional in BERT means that Google reads searches from left to right or right to left, allowing the search engine to process queries more comprehensively.


For example, the search query is “do RV dealers offer online payment options.” Before the BERT update, Google would have shown search results with keywords like RV dealers or online payment. However, with BERT, Google would show results that directly answer the query. As such, RV dealerships must optimize their content to answer the common questions that first-time buyers may have, especially since the online buying process is still new to many.


Overall, the main point is that BERT can detect search intent even without matching keywords. Thus, your content need not force keywords or jam them together if it makes the language sound unnatural. While using keywords will still be helpful, it should not be the top priority. Instead, more focus should be placed on writing naturally and in a way that is easy for any person to understand. By doing this, Google can better understand the meaning behind your words.


BERT Understands Long-Tail Keywords


Another important thing to note about BERT is that the model understands the intent behind long-tail keywords. Long queries have been relatively tricky to deal with in the past, especially since longer keywords require an understanding of the context.


Fortunately, BERT uses a feature called attention scores, which involves going through each word in a sentence and comparing it to one another. The attention score helps Google understand the influence that each word has in a sentence. It is particularly effective in dissecting ambiguous words, allowing the search engine to recognize what words have heavier weight in the user’s search intent.


One significant change would be the use of prepositions, which BERT can understand to identify intent more accurately. For example, if you are searching for “RV rentals to city,” then BERT will pay more attention to the use of “to.” Back then, your SERPs would likely have shown entries on RV rentals, but they would not have been focused on those that are catered to a particular city. However, BERT understands the purpose of including the preposition in the query and will thus show you rentals that can go to the city.


Overall, BERT can be particularly beneficial for longer search queries since the update can better understand the context in searches. Thus, it may be a good opportunity to polish your long-tail strategy. In refining your content, make sure your headings answer your title and keywords directly. Since BERT is designed to understand natural language, it is also effective for voice search optimization, which tends to use more long-tail keywords.


BERT Checks for Inaccuracies


With the BERT update, Google is set to provide more reliable and accurate content to users. Back in 2016, the search engine released a fact-checking mechanism by comparing an article to other similar articles and content pieces. However, BERT was designed to enhance this feature by using the model’s understanding of language and context to create more accurate matches and expose inaccuracies more effectively.


Essentially, BERT performs fact-checking the same way it processes search queries to understand the intent behind them. Thus, it is best to go over your content once more and use fact-checking tools like Google’s Fact Check Tools to ensure your article is not rendered inaccurate.

BERT Improves One in 10 Searches


The new Google algorithm is said to affect one in 10 searches in the US in English to improve search results quality and match results to intent more accurately. According to Google, the BERT algorithm is so complex that it can only be used for a limited number of searches. However, even with this limitation, the changes will still be evident and visible, especially with the billions of searches made by users every day.


BERT aims to make the search process more user-friendly and helpful. Thus, for content creators, the main task will be to understand what their target audience is searching for. Only then will they be able to provide reliable and relevant answers to their questions.


BERT May Impact Featured Snippets


BERT may affect featured snippets, though in a more indirect way. Technically, BERT is merely focused on natural language processing and trying to understand what users are looking for in their queries. However, similar to how the model will affect what appears in SERPs, it will also likely affect what appears in featured snippets. The bidirectional reading mechanism, attention scores, and understanding of prepositions can all change the snippets returned by Google.


With that said, the update should not be a cause for alarm or concern since it essentially tries to cater more to how humans naturally speak.


What Does the Update Mean for Marketers and Content Creators?


After Google rolled out BERT, many marketers, web makers, and content creators became wary about how the update will affect their existing website and strategy. However, the primary objective of BERT is to provide more accurate results to users’ search queries by understanding their intent. Thus, if your content has already been written to cater to your users, you need not do anything differently. The main takeaway is that you must write content for readers and not for search engines.


If anything, the most important change to remember with BERT is that you can now write more naturally, similar to how the human language works. If you are unsure about this aspect, you can perform a content audit to look back at your existing articles and see whether you can make some improvements.


Understanding how BERT works and how it affects your website is crucial to ranking high and appearing on the right SERPs. Whether you are new to SEO practices or more familiar and experienced with the strategies, it is essential to examine your content and see if it will be effective in the age of BERT.

Top BERT-Friendly Practices for Vehicle Dealers


Technology has indeed transformed the business world and workplace in more ways than one. Industries that were once focused on face-to-face selling are now starting to diversify into the online space. This is particularly true for vehicle dealerships as the majority of customers begin their research online and prefer to do most of the buying online as well.


The big question now is: How can dealerships create effective websites and content, especially with the BERT update? Take note of these important practices to help you optimize your content successfully.


Understand Your Audience

Knowing your target audience is perhaps one of the most significant steps to take now that BERT is underway. Since this new update aims to deliver more accurate and relevant results to users, the first thing you must do is identify who your audience is. Know who they are, what answers they want, and how they make search queries. This way, you can create content that answers their questions directly.


There are various ways to better understand your audience. One of these would be to create personas to identify the types of audience that your site attracts. You can check your site analytics to know more about your visitors and learn about their behavior or how they engage with your content.


Focus on Context in Keywords

Keywords have long been an important part of SEO as they help Google determine what entries to include in a user’s SERP. However, BERT is more focused on search intent, so it processes queries by examining the nuances in the language to understand the context. Due to this update, you must now shift your emphasis from the traditional way of viewing keywords as exact match terms that will show up in SERPs.


Now, it is important to look at the context surrounding your keywords and positioning them in your sentences appropriately. For example, if you want to use a keyword like “RV dealers,” it would help to include points related to RVs, such as camping, traveling, and the like. Using related keywords will also be useful as it helps BERT recognize your content as inclusive.


Sound More Conversational

BERT emphasizes the idea of writing with your readers in mind, so your content must sound more conversational and organic. One of the biggest reasons explaining this would be the growing popularity of voice searches. Since these sound more natural than textual searches, Google is working to deliver more accurate results to users. Focus on being straightforward and concise, and avoid using too many filler words.


Use Long-Tail Keywords

With search intent now a top priority for Google, you can better capitalize on your long-tail keyword strategy. Voice searches tend to be longer in nature since people word their queries differently when speaking, so you can tap into the potential of using long-tail keywords while still sounding natural.


It is important to take note that the BERT update does not mean you must optimize purely for long-tail keywords. Your main focus must still be on keyword quality and tying this into the context of your content, rather than keyword length. However, the purpose of bringing up long-tail keywords is to mention how BERT can better recognize the intent behind longer queries, giving you more room to work with them.


It is worth noting that there is nothing to optimize specifically for BERT. However, it is useful to know how this update affects your content to know what practices you can better work on and refine. That said, if you have already been creating content that answers your audience’s queries and using natural language, you need not worry about your site getting affected by BERT.



BERT is revolutionizing the search process to better account for natural language and the different contexts and nuances in words. The changes brought about by this Google update have led to deeper transfer learning in natural language processing, making it one of the top machine learning contributions in 2019.