Does Google’s BERT sound the death knell for SEO?

In the third week of October, Google quietly took a giant leap by launching its machine learning algorithm. It is BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. In which the company claims as to the single biggest change in the last five years. It might even be the biggest change ever for the company. The purpose of launching BERT is to help Google understand search queries better. That is so essential for providing the most relevant results. BERT can understand the context of a full word by looking at the preceding and the following word. It helps to discover search intent more accurately. The algorithm can identify search queries where prepositions like ‘to’ and ‘for’ are critical to understanding the purpose behind the search. Google supported its claim about the capabilities of BERT by providing some real-life examples.

For featured snippets

To begin with, Google has used BERT for featured snippets in English language searches globally. That will apply it to all other languages in the future. BERT will have its place alongside RankBrain. The machine learning algorithm launched in 2015 for providing better and more relevant search results. Google expects that BERT will impact 10% search queries, which raises the question about what it would mean for search marketers.

The BERT effects

Marketers should know that BERT will affect traffic, and some pages will experience more traffic while there will be a dropin traffic for some other pages. Still, overall, it should be a good thing provided the technology works as envisaged.  More traffic to pages would likely make those pages more relevant to search queries and would perform better by aligning with the search intent. The reverse would happen for pages that see fall in traffic and perform below par.

It seems that BERT would have no impact on content optimization, and nothing needs to be done. Optimizing content for users would automatically take care of BERT just as it had happened during RankBrain.

The future of SEO

It had happened earlier and is happening once again with the launch of BERT. Google’s technological advancements have always sparked debate about the future of SEO, and it has resurfaced again. With Google increased fervor for embracing the natural language, the voice of SEO sceptics who had long professed its death will now grow louder. It might no longer be necessary to optimize content for search engines when search engines have a better understanding of search queries like humans. But this does not mean that marketers can sit tight doing nothing.

Update content for new SEO

As Google keeps improving in understanding natural language, marketers would find some reason to update content that they had created before the launch of BERT. This will be necessary to present the old content in a new way for better human consumption.

However, marketers and businesses must understand well what the audience wants and continue creating content that strikes the right chord with the audience. It had been this way and will not change, and so also keyword research and link building, which will remain critical to SEO regardless of Google’s technological advancements.

 

 

 

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