• SEO and Content Writing in the Times of BERT [Google's search algorithm]

SEO and Content Writing in the Times of BERT [Google’s search algorithm]

BERT is Google’s latest search algorithm. It is a neural network-based technique aimed to get a much thorough understanding of natural language.

Rolled out in 2019, BERT is the single biggest change in search since RankBrain.

BERT is here to search the web even further and ever wider for all queries, especially long-tail keywords that often give out vague results. It’s also here to make keyword stuffing obsolete, along with many other spammy approaches that have worked in SEO in the past.

Out With the Old Tricks

Long gone are the days when using a keyword in every single paragraph would guarantee you a spot on the first page in search (Thank you, Hummingbird!), but keyword stuffing has remained a sensitive topic in SEO over the years. While the meaning of what makes for keyword stuffing has changed drastically over the years, the long tail conundrum has drawn lines in the SEO community.

If you want to rank for a keyword, you have to use it on the page quite a bit, and you should have it in the title, the first paragraph, in some headlines, the last paragraph, and it should be evenly distributed throughout the text, not to mention the “metas.” This is more or less the generally-accepted “basic recipe” of writing for SEO.

Content writers have struggled to abide by it, and they’ve racked their brains trying to come up with ways to use keywords in these designated places in the article that would get the job done, all while sounding natural (Yeah, thank you, Hummingbird!).

How awesome would it be to be able to use natural language instead of keyword stencils? Every single content writer who attempted writing for SEO must have thought this, and it seems Google has heard their calling. With BERT, Google will understand natural language, synonyms, informal language, and most importantly, the nuances and context of the content, which will grant content writers their wish.

And Along Came BERT

BERT will make for better content, surely, but it will require a holistic approach to SEO and marketing. Why? Because every single piece of content associated with a brand will influence rankings. SEOs should prepare to further their knowledge. Taking marketing courses will be paramount for what 2021 brings. SEO will be about customer engagement on the full spectrum of channels. Google search will remain on top, but the SERPs are going to change even further.

As Rand Fishkin pointed out, the number of zero-click searches will continue to increase as Google extends further into many other markets. Featured snippets will become more and more complex, and they will take more and more space in the SERPs, making organic search results infinitely more competitive.

A year after BERT was rolled out, in October 2020, this algorithm update promises to revolutionize rankings by changing the process altogether. Up until now, Google ranked a page with a keyword. Via BERT, Google will roll out Passage Raking, and it will rank and show a specific passage of the page for that keyword.

In 2019, BERT was used for 10% of queries, but one year later, it powers almost all the queries in the English language. Undoubtedly, 2021 will see BERT expand through many other languages and change the face of Google search as we know it.


Can You Optimize for BERT?

According to Google, SEO’s cannot optimize for RankBrain. Fortunately, what this means is that Google is also getting better at understanding natural language patterns.

However, when this change was effected on the algorithm, most tracking tools did not detect this. BERT was harder to detect because most tracking tools in use primarily track short search engine queries.

What Problems Does BERT Attempt to Resolve?

BERT is designed to help with natural language tasks such as:

  • Named entity determination
  • Coreference resolution
  • Question answering
  • Textual entailment next sentence prediction
  • Word sense disambiguation
  • Automatic summarization
  • Polysemy resolution

Machines process words differently than humans do. This is largely due to context. Essentially, by foregoing short sentences and optimizing them, BERT will help resolve ambiguous phrases and sentences with multiple meanings. This is useful because words mean nothing without the correct context.

So, What Does This Mean for SEO and Content Writing?

While the specifics are yet to unfold, the general message is that SEO and content writing is about to become even more competitive in 2021. If ranking per page was hard enough, now comes the age of Passage Indexing, which promises more accuracy for the user and more volatility in the SERPs. The days of evergreen content are coming to an end. Content will have to keep up with the times…in real-time! Content writers will worry less about rigid keyword usage but more about the content. Is it insightful enough? Does it help solve a problem?

Writing good content will only be the beginning because keeping it updated and fresh will not be a. Content research will become even more difficult, and there will be no space for fluff. Why? Because fluff will not get any rankings and content length will not help articles get ahead anymore. Every single passage of the article will have to address its own subtopic, and it will have to do so better than every other article on the subject.

You should prepare for major changes in optimization and monitoring because every passage counts! SEO will be less about the search engines and more about the users, which makes SEO more about marketing than ever before. The technical part of SEO, on the other hand, remains as important as always.

Sites will need to be as crawlable as ever to get good rankings.

Final thoughts

All in all, content remains king in SEO, maybe now more than ever. BERT will change the face of search, and it will gain even more space for Google and zero-click searches, but at the end of the day, the users will receive information that will be more accurate than ever before.

This takes content back to writing for people, not for machines.


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Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for advice from a trained professional. By using this website, you agree that DesignFreeLogoOnline cannot and will not be held liable for any action taken as a result of using the information in this article.

2020-11-21T09:29:21+00:00Comments Off on SEO and Content Writing in the Times of BERT [Google’s search algorithm]

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