Nope, this isn’t a lead into a dreadful Sesame Street pun. Instead, BERT is the name of Google’s new search algorithm. As consultants who provide SEO in Vancouver, the latest and greatest update from the search engine is part of an ongoing effort to understand the intent behind your search queries, and for web stores, this one could be a game-changer.
BERT Algorithm for SEO
Google’s Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) is an open-source algorithm that works to process each word in relation to other words. While that probably sounds clear as mud, what it means is that the search engine is trying to understand how the words relate to each other in your search terms. For example, if you were to query a term like SEO in Vancouver, what you’re likely looking for is an SEO consultant who lives in Vancouver—or a company who can provide SEO services in Vancouver. But to get the right results, Google needs to understand the preposition—how the word “in” functions.
The update seems becomes significant once you understand that the engine assessed the previously determined the importance of words in the order they appeared. BERT does a better job of assessing how prepositions work.
Google helpfully included some examples in their explanation. For example, if you had previously Googled the query “2019 brazil traveler to USA need a visa,” Google would have churned out organic listing relevant for both U.S. and Brazil visas. It didn’t understand the importance of the preposition “to.” With the new algorithm, results displayed will only be relevant for travelers going to the USA.
BERT will not replaceRankBrain, which was the 2015 update also meant to flesh out a searcher’s intent. Rather, it will be applied simultaneously to help bring additional meaning to why searchers are using the Google engine, thereby delivering results that are more fine-tuned and relevant.
Further, Google’s organic search results will now work better for long-queries and more complex snippets, which are a common feature for ecommerce websites i.e. “baby clothes from Korea.”
Better SEO for Ecommerce Websites
Product pages have always tended to rank better for long-tail queries. That’s because most people know what they’re shopping for when they come to Google and tend to use extremely specific terms when conducting searches. For that reason, BERT hold immense potential for product driven websites—if they use the right keywords and are properly optimized for search engines.
Prepositions are particularly important when considering item descriptions. Colour, size, material—all these play a role when describing materials. For example, imagine shopping for finely made Korean baby clothes. Queries might look something like:
- baby romper in blue with matching hat
- baby clothes from Korea
- baby clothes for girls from Korea
Now a delightfully written product description is not only helpful to potential buyers, with BERT in play, there are also opportunities to optimize best-selling items and services with unique keyword content.
To truly leverage your ecommerce website and take advantage of the new BERT algorithm, remember to include product attributes in page descriptions. For example, to dominate a search like “baby clothes from Korea,” a website should clearly state in strategic areas that its merchandise comes from Korea. Additionally, rather than listing swatches or colour names, remember to write out the whole phrase—Baby jumper from Korea – blue or Baby jumper from Korea-Pink.
It’s true thatGoogle’s new search engine algorithm still doesn’t account for all the nuances of language, but BERT is a significant step forward when it comes to interpreting intent. For e-commerce websites, this is an opportunity to drive sales and increase relevant traffic with exacting descriptions, making you much easier to find than say, a Snuffleupagus.