Launched in October 2019, this update had an effect on roughly 10% of all search queries. No wonder Google said it was its biggest update in over 5 years! The update uses a language processing technology called BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) which can understand the more intricate nuances of a searchers intent. This will have a major impact on the ‘longtail’ keywords that a lot of websites look to target and also include more featured snippets to more adequately answer a question.
This is one update that Google has said that there is no way to optimise for, you will just have to focus on writing better content and focus more on satisfying the intent, experience and motivation of your targeted user.
Why did Google create the update?
Google’s BERT Update was rolled out in order to improve how Google understands a search query. One stand out feature of this algorithm is that is analyses search queries, not the web pages themselves. The overall goal is to help their users find more relevant answers, especially with conversational and voice search.
In April 2020 Google announced that the algorithm will be rolling out globally in over 80 different languages.
The BERT Algorithm
BERT is a natural language processing NLP framework produced by Google. It is now open-source, and through an API, developers are able to analyse vast volumes of text to ensure it is easily readable and understandable to both humans and machines. The video below is a great webinar from Search Engine Journal that goes into it with a lot more detail: