How to Optimize Your Content for Google BERT
In the last quarter of 2019, Google announced an update on its search algorithm termed as Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers—or simply BERT. It is a new technology utilizing natural language processing (NLP) that will help the search engine better understand search queries.
What does this mean for marketers? And how can you optimize your content for Google BERT?
What Is Google BERT?
Google BERT is a deep learning algorithm that will help search engine bots process words in relation to the context of the other words used in a query rather than in a one-by-one order.
As mentioned, Google BERT makes it easier for search engines to understand search intent, context, and language nuances—ultimately improving the overall user experience when one makes a search on Google. One example of Google BERT in the works is that prepositions such as “to” and “for” will gain more meaning, and thus, Google can provide more relevant results to a query.
Image from Google
Another case is when certain words change meaning depending on the context. For example, in the search query “how to catch a cow fishing,” the word “cow” in this context pertains to a fish (a cow-striped bass). Search Engine Journal reported that before Google BERT, the search results presented content relating to cows and cattle. After the update was in effect, the search algorithm took into account the word “fishing” and thus delivered more relevant results.
Ways to Optimize Your Content for Google BERT
The introduction of Google BERT raises the question, how does this affect SEO? Can marketers optimize content for BERT?
Google search engine liaison Danny Sullivan answers: “There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT,” adding that BERT doesn’t really change the fundamentals of how Google ranks content.
He does emphasize, however, that we can instead simply optimize content for users, which equates to basically the same thing. Here are ways to further optimize your content so that BERT can better match your content to search queries:
1. Write content for people, not bots
Marketers should not lose sight of the essence of content creation: offering valuable content that resonates with audiences. What BERT does is to help search engine bots understand the questions inputted by users; it is our job to provide content that is relevant to the search query. This means writing content with substantial information that is helpful to users.
In doing so, target keywords should flow naturally, not laden with grammatically incorrect sentences just so the keywords are included in the text. The narrative should also be easy to read as if you were talking to that person, not overly formal or flowery.
2. Get to know your audience
The key to writing relevant content is to know the needs and wants of your audience. While using keyword tools are extra handy, it is far better to really get into the world of your target audience and find out more about them: What are their pain points? What questions are they likely to ask? What would make their lives easier and better?
Listen in to their conversations online—on social media, online forums, etc. Ask them questions directly through surveys. Or if resources permit, invite them for a focused peer group interview. The important thing is to probe more on who they are and what they need.
3. Simplify your language
One thing to remember when writing content for online users is that not everyone is on the same page in terms of language proficiency. What this means is that overly formal, technical, and flowery phrases won’t sit well with everyone. This is why simplifying your language is crucial for content optimization.
As previously mentioned, keep your tone conversational. Use natural, everyday language and commonly used words. For SEO, use semantically related keywords—words that are most commonly related to the target search phrase. For example, if you’re targetting for “best tacos in Texas,” you could use keywords such as “handmade tortillas,” “guacamole,” and “vegan salsa.”
4. Don’t forget on-page SEO
With all that’s been said, it’s also important to work on the basic on-page SEO elements:
- Title tags should ideally be under 60 characters
- Meta descriptions should be under 160 characters and should have a call to action
- H1 and H2 tags should be descriptive and should include the target keywords
- URL structures should be customized with the keywords, not generic (e.g., https://recipewebsite.com/vegan-salsa-recipe vs. https://recipewebsite.com/?p=123)
- Images and videos should also be optimized with ALT texts, a descriptive title, as well as a reasonable file size
Need help with your SEO and content marketing efforts?
Optimizing your content requires careful planning and a good strategy so that search engines can easily understand it, and thus have it ranked in search results. If you need any help with your SEO and content marketing efforts, give us a call at 888-420-5115, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tags: content marketing, content optimization, Google BERT, natural language processing, SEO
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