How many times has Google updated its search engine algorithm since the beginning of the year? If you’ll forgive a somewhat classic reference, you might as well ask how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, because the world will probably never know.
Google updates its processes thousands of times each year. In 2018, there were an average of nine updates every day. And no one but Google keeps up with all the details — the search engine doesn’t even communicate about most of the updates because they’re internal tweaks that make minimal difference on their own to online marketers.
So, when Google makes it a point to announce an update — even calling it the biggest update in half a decade — you should pay attention. That’s what happened in late 2019 when Google unleased the BERT update. Here are three things home improvement businesses need to know about BERT’s impact on SEO:
1. Good Content Still Wins
The ultimate message from BERT, as it is from most Google updates, is that high-quality content is critical to long-term SEO success. Certainly, content doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and a comprehensive marketing approach is required to compete online.
But if you don’t have a foundation of excellent content that’s well-written and appropriately answers the intent of searchers, you’re building a castle in the sand. You know what happens to those when the first waves hit.
2. Search Is More Natural Than Ever
The big news with BERT is that the machines behind search are better at parsing natural language than ever before.
It’s complicated and involves a lot of technical jargon about natural language processing and AI, but the “TL;DR” comes down to this: Google’s AI can now understand both the intent of the searcher and the intent of your content almost as well as a human being.
Prepositions, pronouns, and ambiguous phrases have been problematic for some searches in the past, which meant unrelated pages were more likely to creep in if the computer couldn’t tell exactly what someone meant. BERT makes that less likely. It also puts the onus on home improvement marketers to create content with a clear and understood purpose that matches searcher intent.
3. BERT Could Be a Signal for Future Updates
Most experts agree that we’ll see more of this type of update from Google in the future. The search engine is constantly making improvements to provide searchers exactly what they’re looking for — which means home improvement marketers should be doing the same thing with their content.