Google’s BERT algorithm update impacts the world, like Bert from Sesame Street affected children, positively.
November 07, 2019
Google’s “BERT” update coincides with Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary.
by Maureen McCabe
Google named their algorithm update after my beloved Muppet, Bert, from Sesame Street. Choosing this world-renown name shows that Google has a sense of humour. They timed its release just before the TV show’s 50th anniversary, which premiered on November 10, 1969.
Launched on October 28, 2019, BERT impacts 1 in 10 searches, plus organic rankings and featured snippets. SEO companies are going to make big bucks to tell you what you need to do to your site to boost your online presence. Save your money and use common sense. Things you should know about BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers).
1. Google dramatically changed its algorithm, which affects 10% of searches. It’s their biggest change since RankBrain launched in 2015.
2. BERT interprets a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP), particularly in conversational search.
In plain English, Google does a much better job of helping you find useful information.
3. BERT use prepositions (AKA connector words) to make your search more relevant. Frequently we don’t use prepositions (of, to, for, with, on and at), but they matter a lot to the meaning to your search query. You get more relevant search results because of the context and nuances of the words you used.
6. My search queries
Let’s say you’re planning a vacation. Like me, you’ve probably seen many commercials about travelling abroad and what happens if you don’t get vaccinated. On Thanksgiving (Canadian!) I Googled the following:
“2020 Canadian traveller jamaica need hep shots”
After the two ads on Google, what was the top result? Health Information for Travelers
For fun, I searched on October 31, after BERT launched using the identical phrase. Here’s the top result: Travel Vaccines and Advice for Jamaica
Both results linked to a Canadian government website. On the health information page, I had to click three times to get to a page about vaccines. Bravo BERT! I wanted information about vaccinations in Jamaica and in particular the hepatitis shots. Now, I can book a flight to the island.
7. BERT impacts snippets
BERT impacts more than the search; it has a strong effect on snippets, which are brief answers to your query. These are typically seen after the organic search; you’ll see “People also ask.” Here’s what I saw:
- Do you need shots to go to Jamaica from Canada?
- Should I get vaccinated before going to Jamaica?
- How many weeks before travelling do I need vaccinations?
- What shots do you need to leave the country?
The bottom line:
Google’s VP Pandu Nayak said, “It’s our job to figure out what you’re searching for and surface helpful information from the web, no matter how you spell or combine the words in your query.”
Google “Bert Sesame Street” – YouTube videos are first, enjoy Bert dancing To Doin’ The Pigeon. Up next is Wikipedia, where you can learn about the Muppets the show has aired in over 140 countries. Over 86 million Americans have watched my beloved Muppets.
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