Google Update: BERT

Google Update: BERT

Pandua Nayak, a Google Fellow and Vice President of Search, states that “search is about understanding language. It is 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.” 

The latest Google Core Update is estimated to affect one in 10 search queries in the hopes to understand natural language in better terms. This update is nothing new because Google has been working on it since 2018.  

Each and every day, billions of searches are conducted on Google and 15 percent of those are the ones that have not been noticed before which creates a challenge for Google to keep content relevant based on search queries. 

Another shocking statistic is that, Aherfs states that over 90 percent of websites and web pages will never be crawled by Google! With billions of new searches conducted, how is Google going to stay on top of search queries? 

One word: BERT. 

Who is BERT? 

BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. BERT is a deep learning algorithm that relates to natural language processing and understanding natural language on Google. This helps to understand what words in a sentence mean. A great example of BERT is from Neil Patel. 

Image source 

Notice the slight difference in the search results that show for the same query from before BERT to after. The example on the left shows the difference between two similar fields, but the one on the right shows the correct result for the search query. What does this mean? This means BERT is honing in on language and learning fast. 

One of the biggest updates was Hummingbird then RankBrain and neither of these changed results like this. Another change? Featured snippets. What is this preparing for? As local SEO Miami experts, our SEOs estimate that it deals with 50 percent of search and will be conducted with voice technology in 2020. 

This update is one of the largest since RankBrain and some SEOs are considering it the Possum 2.0. 

What were the significances of RankBrain and Possum? 


RankBrain is the only Artificial Intelligence (AI) that Google uses in their search engines, until BERT. RankBrain paved the way for BERT to be released as one of the largest Core Algorithm Updates to date. 

RankBrain processes and determines the most relevant and appropriate results based on the search query. As time goes on, RankBrain starts to show results based on a person, place or common searches in Google. 

If a person was to search for local SEO Miami in 2015, it would bring up results that show for that specific search query, but local SEO Miami entails a number of things and it could mean organic or paid. This might not be the best example to use, but imagine this when it comes to an even broader question that is asked. 

Were searchers getting the information that was relevant to their queries? Yes and no, this means that Google needed to step up their game. It Google start to learn what searchers queries really meant and it gave them the best options dependent on calculating patterns based on machine learning that the machine had noticed in behavior from thousands to millions searchers. 


This update was not playing dead when it was released in 2016. This Core Update affected local search quite considerably. The main point behind Possum was to expand and diversify the local results that would show when a searcher typed into Google, “best sushi in Miami” 

Instead of showing restaurants that were not related to sushi or Japanese food, this would narrow down the options to provide the best search query. This helps to diversify the number of restaurants that would populate as well to give a bit of a competition. 

It is estimated that Possum affected 64 percent of Google's local results. One year after the hit of RankBrain, Possum was playing dead to affect local search results for better or worse and for both companies and businesses.

This update helped companies and businesses who were bordering states and major cities to show up on both states and cities. This helped a number of businesses and companies show up in local search results, and it made SEOs start to work harder on local keywords. 

The chatter from the SEO community is that after BERT, companies and businesses are noticing a change with their local ranking. Google My Business accounts are closer to the proximity of the searcher were ranking higher than others, and this raised concerned for some SEOs, but Google has not confirmed an update at this moment. 

Should you be worried? 

Every local SEO Miami expert is worried after a Core Algorithm Update due to the lack of understanding of how that change will affect ranking, but do not worry. As of now, there is little data and experts in the industry finding a drastic change in ranking.

Britney Muller from Moz says not to over-hype this Google Core Update. This is because, as of right now, BERT is in the learning stages of adapting and modifying search queries based on 11 natural languages. 

If a company is following Google Guidelines, they are doing fine at the moment, but those who are not writing great content that is fulfilling those search queries will falter. 

So, write quality content that answers the search query as precisely as possible. If there are any changes, this blog will be updated on steps moving forward.

The long tail keywords with “in” the phrase are a start to SEO in 2020! Now is the perfect time for a company to update their SEO strategy or start one! For more information, please contact OceanFront Media Group, your leading local SEO Miami company.

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