Understanding the new algorithm update

Google BERT is the new algorithm update that’s being rolled out this week for the English language.

Google anticipates it will affect approximately 10% of users’ searches, both text and voice.

So, in this article, I will explain in a very easy way what is Google BERT and what should business owners know about it.

BERT is a difficult acronym, it means Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Technically, Google BERT is a very complex topic to talk about. You can read the technical information in Google’s AI Blog.

This new change will help the machines learn the way humans talk. I find this extremely fascinating.

When we talk, we generally do not just use keywords, but expressions, especially when we do voice search.

Users perform billions of searches on Google every day. According to them, 15% of these are new searches, never been done before. That’s why it’s so important for computers to be able to understand how humans use language. This way they can better understand the types of searches they receive.

Google BERT algorithm update will especially affect the complex queries, the ones that change according to the words that have been used before and after.

Let me give you an example—a couple of examples that Google uses in its press release.

Example 1: “2019 brazil traveller to the USA need a visa

In this first example, before the Google BERT algorithm update, when you do a Google search, prepositions were not given much attention. Google only reads the main words like “2019”, “Brazil”, “traveller”, “USA”, “visa”.

So in the results, you could get different things like “travelling to Brazil” or “travelling to the USA”, which are not specific to what you want.

With the Google BERT algorithm update, however, the search results will be more specific because of the preposition “to”. So you’ll get information about how to get a visa for travel to the USA from Brazilian embassies closest to you, for example.

Example 2: “Can you get medicine for someone pharmacy

Another example they gave is when you search for an informative query or one that is answerable by yes or no, like, “Can I buy a medicine for a person in a pharmacy?”.

Before the Google BERT change, Google would only read, “Buy medicine person pharmacy”. So, you would have gotten a list of results of pharmacies closest to you or a list of medicines you could get from a pharmacy. The search results become irrelevant to what you are actually looking for.

Now, instead, after the Google BERT update, Google search is able to understand that you are trying to find out if you can buy medicine from a pharmacy “for the person” or “for someone”. This changes completely from previous results before the update.

With Google BERT, prepositions are now given much attention to serving better results to Google search users.

So, what are the consequences of Google BERT algorithm update for a business and website owner?

Google does changes like these to always try and serve its users the most relevant search results. Their mission is to give the Google search user, you and I, the best type of User Experience by serving the best types of results.

This is the second change that they’ve done to the algorithm regarding the way keywords are used in the search results. The one they did before was called Hummingbird, and it was in 2013, six years ago. Hummingbird helped Google detect the context of the search. Thereafter, instead of keywords, we started talking about “entities” of meaning in search. Synonyms and related keywords create the “entities of meaning”, and they need to be present on a page in order to reinforce its semantic meaning.



Having worked as an SEO Specialist for a decade, I have seen all of the major algorithm updates, starting from the Panda and Penguin, that were so disruptive at the time.

Google BERT doesn’t change the way we should think of our SEO strategy.

Indeed, we should always start with a question at the back of your mind:

“What is the user looking for? What’s their search intent?  How can I best serve their needs with my content? And how can I make sure that my content is the best for them?”

Do your research. Find out what your prospective reader wants and needs.

Then, focus on creating content that gives them the best answers in the best way (more enjoyable, comprehensive and informative).

With this plan in mind, Google BERT can only positively affect your website.

If you’d like to have a consultation on how can I help you optimise your website so that it can be found on Google as well as possible, for your ideal target client, feel free to ask me for a quick consultation. Here is a list of some of the SEO Services I can perform and here are some testimonials of clients who’ve been working with me so far.

Here’s a video version of this article: