What is Google BERT & How Will it Affect Your Business?

Google BERT is an algorithm update that has been designed to better understand the questions that you type into Google. This helps you get exactly the answer you were looking for.

You know, the answer that you actually want, not that Google thinks that you want.

Because we’ve all been there.

You do a search online, you hit that enter key then you pull up a list of results that seem to have ZERO connection to what you wanted to know. It feels like you’re talking to a robot.

So you find yourself racking your brains trying to think of the best way to phrase the question to make this computer robot work for you.

Google BERT aims to put an end to all of that.

By using clever data science, looking at the way people really people speak and including nuance and context, it should help you get better results when you search and help your target audience find you much more easily.

Keep reading to find out more about how Google BERT works, how it could affect your business, and what you could do to make the most of the improvements.

(It’s all positive stuff and certainly nothing to panic about.)

How does Google BERT work?

One of the ways that Google BERT works is by focussing more closely at the parts of language that help ‘stick together’ a sentence.

By taking into account these smaller words such as ‘of’, ‘at’, ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘over’, ‘under’, ‘off’, and other markers of context or negation (for example, the words ‘not’ and ‘non’) the computer can better understand how real human speech works.

This is a huge step forward in terms of technological advancements.

Not just when it comes to the performance of search engines but also when it comes to how humans and machines interact.

You see, human language has always been notoriously difficult for machines to understand.

According to Artificial Intelligence magazine Becoming Human;

While humans can easily master a language, the ambiguity and imprecise characteristics of the natural languages are what make NLP (natural language processing) difficult for machines to implement.”

This means that Google BERT and the natural language processing techniques it uses also opens up the possibility for further advancements in foreign language translation, personal assistant apps, word processing tools and can help improve our general understanding of language.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is exciting stuff for the future.

What does Google BERT look like in practice?

There’s a great example that Google features on its website to explain what this looks like in action.

This is the search term ‘2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa’.

In the days before the BERT update, Google would have ignored the words ‘a’ and ‘to’ and presumed that you were referring to a traveller going to Brazil.
However, the query that the person wrote actually meant the opposite! If you were that Brazilian struggling to find out if they needed a visa to visit the USA, you’d be very disappointed indeed.

The difference between the results comes down to just a word or two of different. But as you’ll see from the screenshot below, the difference when it comes to results is huge.

Here’s a great screenshot to explain.

Will Google BERT affect your business?

Yes. Google BERT will certainly affect your business.  But probably not in the way that you might imagine.

If you have high-quality content written by a pro that provides maximum value to your audience, you’ll be fine.

You’re certainly not going to have to rewrite a ton of your content or risk seeing a huge dip in your website rankings.

Create blog posts that are based on actual questions that you get asked regularly by customers or readers and write in a reader-friendly, colloquial way, and you might actually find that your organic traffic increases.

See? Told you that it was all good! 

How BERT will affect your copywriting

With the above in mind, you should be able to keep on doing what you always have- providing maximum value for your readers. Here are a few extra tips if you’re creating content.

  • Use clear language that is easier to understand. Just as it might confuse a human, it could confuse Google too and your rankings could suffer.
  • Use keywords sparingly. Continue to target keywords, but make sure they’re used naturally. If in doubt, try to say the sentence out loud. If it sounds odd then get rid of it.
  • Offer high-quality information that provides your readers with real value. It will keep them coming back, help grow your brand and improve your rankings.
  • Write conversationally. This helps your reader and the search engines understand your content quicker so it can be enjoyed.
  • Hire a pro copywriter. A good copywriter should know their grammar, understand BERT so they can create content that gets results.

What else should you do if you’re running a business?

Just because Google BERT might not spell disaster for your business and ruin your rankings, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax.

There are several steps you can take to make sure your ranking stays high and perhaps even improve:

  1. Track your organic traffic closely to see if BERT affects you.
  2. Continue to create user-friendly content.
  3. Hire a copywriter to help improve your website copy and blog posts.
  4. Make an annotation in Google Analytics to mark when BERT was launched.


Google BERT is an exciting update for 2019 which looks set to transform the way that computers interact with humans and vice versa.

By using cutting-edge natural language processing techniques, we should finally get better search results that better match our queries and provide our customers with exactly what they want. It’s not something to be afraid of. 🙂

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