How Google BERT Is Affecting Content Marketing?
If you are a content marketer or an SEO professional, you probably heard the latest Google search algorithm update called BERT. As an SEO expert, it is very important to maintain in-depth knowledge of any Google updates. Moreover, Google BERT was a major update that impacted your websites.
In this post, I will give you a complete overview of what Google BERT update is, how it works and how it assists the previous Google algorithm “RankBrain”. After that, I will explain to you how you can optimize your website for RankBrain and BERT. Lastly, I will show you a complete picture of where content marketing is headed in the future. After reading this article, you can rank your website more easily on Google.
Now, let’s talk about what BERT is.
What Is Google BERT?
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It’s a neural network-based pre-training technique for natural language processing (NLP) developed by Google. These technical terms are very difficult to understand. Don’t worry! I am explaining it in plain English.
Google has improved its human language understanding capabilities with the BERT update. Now Google can process a search query more contextually by processing words concerning other words in a sentence. If you don’t understand completely, don’t panic. In the “How BERT works” section, I’ve given more than one example. After reading that section, I believe your concept will be clear. But before that, I would like to give you an idea of “RankBrain”, which is Google’s search engine algorithm since 2015.
What Is RankBrain?
In October 2015, Google launched RankBrain, a machine learning-based search engine algorithm. This was the first AI-based search query interpretation mechanism. RankBrain figures out which search engine queries returned the most relevant results. To better grasp the meaning of words, it examines user queries and the content of web pages. RankBrain analyzes the current query and previous results regarding the same queries. Even if your query doesn’t match word by word, RankBrain can show the relevant results. Let me give an example. If you search “Height of the landmark in Paris” on Google, you will see some results of Eiffel Tower. The reason behind it, Google understands that you are looking for something about the Eiffel Tower. This is the magic of RankBrain.
How BERT Works And How It Assists Rankbrain
As I have mentioned earlier, Google BERT improves the understanding of search queries and shows better results. But how does it work? In this section, you will get a general overview of BERT’s working principle and the relation between RankBrain and BERT. But before that, let’s look at some examples of how BERT changes the Google search results.
Let’s say you are interested to know the visa of a Brazilian citizen to visit in the USA and type “2022 brazil traveler to USA need a visa” in Google. Before BERT, Google showed some results related to how US citizens can travel to Brazil without a visa, which was not appropriate. You didn’t want to learn about US citizens traveling to Brazil. Right? After introducing BERT by Google, this picture has been changed. Now you can see Google shows accurate results which is some US travel-visa-related information for Brazilian citizens. So, why did Google show the wrong results earlier? The reason behind this, before BERT, Google didn’t take the prepositions and less important words (according to Google) into account. But these words are important to understand the context of search queries.
So, how does BERT solve this problem?
Well, the working mechanism of BERT is very complex. We don’t need to understand all the technical jargon for the content marketing and SEO industry. I am giving a general overview of BERT’s working mechanism, which is more than enough for the SEO industry.
First, BERT takes a query from the user. Then BERT breaks the query word by word. After that, BERT bidirectionally matches all the possible relationships between the words. After looking at relationships, BERT builds a bidirectional map outlining the relationship between the words. Lastly, develop the contextual meaning of that search query.
I hope you get a basic idea of Google BERT and its working process. Now let’s look at another example of Google BERT in search results.
Search query – “Can you get medicine for someone at the pharmacy”.
As you can see from the picture, results after BERT are more accurate than before.
As we already know, RankBrain has been the searching algorithm for Google since 2015. Now the question is, does BERT replace RankBrain?
In short, the answer is “NO”. BERT does not replace RankBrain but supplements it. It works in tandem with RankBrain to get better search results. Basically, to understand a query, Google uses a variety of methods. It uses BERT, RankBrain, and other algorithms depending on the user search intent phrase.
How To Optimize Website For RankBrain and BERT
Here comes the main part of this article that you have been waiting for. How to optimize your website for the latest update of Google, BERT as well as RankBrain? The simple answer is, you can’t, or you need not do it. As BERT is an artificial intelligence framework, it gets better with the new piece of information it receives. Even BERT’s engineers are unable to predict BERT’s decisions. So, there is no way to optimize your content, particularly for the BERT and RankBrain duo. The only thing that you can do to produce human-friendly content. Since Google is now smart enough to understand human intent, it ranks content that is written for humans, not for robots. Now the question is,
How to write content that is human-friendly?
It is not a hard job. Just follow the below points.
Write quality content, not unnecessary lengthy content only
The conventional technique was writing long content and increasing keyword density to rank Google. But this technique is not working after the BERT update. Yes, you’ll notice that many longer-form articles rank well on Google, but their strategy prioritizes quality over quantity. Here is the tweet of Danny Sullivan, who is Google’s search liaison.
As you can see from the tweet, Danny Sullivan emphasizes quality not the number of words of articles. A good article can be 300 words or 3000 words. Hence, write super-specific content that meets your reader’s intent.
For example, if you have a business about solar panels and you want to write a blog post about “solar incentives in Canada”, your content shouldn’t focus on the solar potential in Canada or supplements or anything similar to Solar energy in Canada. Instead, you should discuss all of the incentives which are available in Canada for solar panel users. When you write the content, just ask yourself, is this the content that my readers are looking for when they type that phrase into a search engine?
Write super-specific articles for keywords
You must generate extremely focused articles around a topic to get the most out of BERT. It’s not necessary to write a 10,000-word article that discusses 50 distinct topics. It’s more about quickly answering a searcher’s question and giving as much value as possible in comparison to the competition.
For example, when you type “can you get medicine for someone pharmacy” in the Google search bar, you see the results.
As you can see this website provides specific information that you want to know though these articles are only 500 words.
Don’t worry about keyword density
I don’t want to say, keyword density is not needed at all, but I want to say, it is not the only factor to rank on Google. After the BERT update, Google does not depend only on keywords. Now, Google can understand human intent more accurately than ever before. So, don’t only rely on keyword density. Just focus on the article quality and try to make your readers desire.
Give value to readers.
No. You don’t write content for bots. Do you? You write content for humans. That’s why try to give actual value to your readers. It is not a good practice if you fill the article with just some irrelevant keywords and unnecessary words. Instead, you should focus on the values that your reader can get from your article. After the BERT update of Google, it is crucial to satisfy your readers. So, try to give authentic information and values to your readers.
Optimize Your Website For Google’s RankBrain Algorithm
RankBrain uses Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Google released this algorithm or component of the algorithm in 2015.
There is a question about can we do RankBrain SEO or can we optimize specifically for this algorithm?
In this part of the content, we will be going to talk about how RankBrain works so we can have a broad overview and how to optimize it. Also, we will discuss why optimization for rankbrain is probably the wrong way to frame it.
For now, here is the funny thing:
Google asked its Engineers to rank the results for a query and RankBrain as well. And the craziest thing is that RankBrain was 10% more accurate.
Hence, RankBrain works more accurately than humans.
So, what does rankbrain do?
Google is one of the biggest search engines in the world with estimated 63,000 search queries every second. Hence, it is vital for Google to show results accurately even if the query was never seen before.
Google used to show search results if they contained the exact keyword someone searched for but 15% of the search queries have never been seen.
Thus, it was important to resolve such a problem and they introduced Rankbrain.
RankBrain has basically two major works, first, it understands the search queries and second, user’s satisfaction with the results.
1 – Search Queries – Before & After RankBrain
Let’s say, you searched “Who is the Best SEO Company in the World”. Now, Google would look all the websites which cover the keywords like “SEO”, “Company”, “World”, “Best”, “SEO Company,” Best SEO Company” and much more to share accurate search results.
After RankBrain, Google starts to understand the actual intention behind the search query to provide 100% accurate search results.
A query comes into Google and RankBrain is essentially going to be a query interpretation model, it will look at the words in that particular query and possibly look at things like location, personalization, user’s intent, previous search queries and more.
Another thing is that if you search Today ” such as, “Best Movies In Hollywood”, “What Are The Good Hollywood Movies”, “Good Hollywood Movies” or “Top Hollywood Movies”.
You can notice a pattern in above search queries. These are essentially asking for the very same thing.
These queries could be more centric to either romantic, treasures movies or best movies in 2022 but these 4 queries are essentially for “what are the best movies in Hollywood”.
Now, RankBrain is going to help Google understand each of these queries, despite the fact that they use slightly different words and phrases. They should all be answered by the same content or same kinds of content by selecting ranking signals to match the best search results.
In other words, it goes beyond the simple keyword-matching.
2 – How Does RankBrain Figure out Satisfaction Level.
RankBrain does all the things on its own with the help of AI and ML but how does it calculate whether the given search results are satisfying or not.
Well, here are a few things that RankBrain figured out to observe the customers’ satisfaction level towards the search results.
Google shares a bunch of search results, if users love a particular search result, it will boost its ranking otherwise drop the ranking.
And this thing repeats every time with all queries and search results.
What is RankBrain observing exactly?
- Keyword Matching (-): Since RankBrain has been introduced, keyword matching is not much important.
- Link Diversity (-/+): Link diversity does not play a significant role but quality links do matter.
- Organic Click-Through-Rate (CTR) (++)
- Dwell Time (++)
- Anchor Text (-/+): Anchor text of the backlinks is not as important as it used to be but if you create backlinks on particular keywords then it will surely hurt your ranking.
- Freshness (+++): Freshness of the content is very important because Google has seen patterns before. Let’s suppose, someone wants to know “Olympic events’ date” where intent is for the latest Olympics’ events but if your content has content related to previous Olympic event list then Google will not show you in search results. Hence, fresh content is important.
- Bounce Rate (+++)
- Related Topic (++)
- In Depth Content (++)
Let’s understand all the above points as an example.
You want to purchase a web hosting for your small business. So, you searched “Best Hosting For Small Business” on Google.
As most of the users, you clicked on the first result, unfortunately you found no genuine content and returned to the search results.
And visited the second result, where you found that the pricing of that web hosting company is higher than your budget.
Thus, you clicked the “go back button” and checked out the 3rd result.
Where the content was informative and you found that the pricing is what you were expecting.
Hence, instead of going back, you spend a few minutes on that website.
User spent time because content on the third search result was relevant to his query, bounce rate & dwell time is good.
Boom! This indicates that the 3rd search result is relevant for your search query. Hence, google will improve ranking.
Now, the main question is how to optimize your content to get higher ranking.
- Website’s Reputation
- Medium Tail Keywords
- Optimize Titles and Description Tags
- In Depth-Content
1 – Website Reputation
We have clearly discussed that Organic CTR is one of the key points in sight of RankBrain and Brand awareness improves CTR by up to 342% because of trust flow.
So, how can you improve your website’s reputation?
a) Guest Posting
It is vital to run your own blog to attract users but when you post content on different websites, it creates a complete bond among websites.
b) Innovative Infographics
People love sharing informative information on their social media platforms, and websites. Creating shareable infographics help you to get more engagement. Also, According to a study, our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than plain text and 94% of blog posts with visuals get more engagement.
c) Run Paid Campaigns
Running social media or search engine paid campaigns may not convert your visitors into customers but it will surely put your brand in front of lots of eyeballs.
Thus, next time whenever they see your website/brand, they will likely click your result.
d) Free samples
People love free stuff. If you are providing a service then provide them a free trial so you can enhance your brand value.
For instance, SEMrush gives 7-days free trial.
People are crazy about the internet and have less focus on the offline world. Thus, you can grab this opportunity to have offline attention.
2 – Medium Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are not important these days as they used to be, they are obsolete. Google used to show results based on exact match keywords but RankBrain understood the keywords. Hence, RankBrain knows that “Best Movies In Hollywood”, “Good Hollywood Movies” and “Top Hollywood Movies” are almost the same.
Also, medium tail keywords have more traffic than those of long tail with no insane competition.
3 – Optimize Titles and Description Tags
According to Google, meta and description tags play a vital role with your rankings.
Hence, it is worth it to optimize them.
Title Tag Optimization
a) Title tag is the crucial on-page SEO factor and gives a high-level weightage to the search engine, what your webpage is about.
The close the keyword is in the title tag, the more beneficial it becomes in SERP. Additionally, UX research shows that people more often see first two words of a title.
Hence, avoid titles such as;
Brand Name | Product Category | Name of The Product
b) Using tons of keywords will never boost your ranking on paper but surely in the real world (personal experience) but it varies country to country, industry to industry, competition to competition and more.
You do not have to be the best when you are doing SEO, just do better than others.
To make your title tag attractive and get higher CTR, you will have to avoid overdo.
For instance, it is wrong to create a title tag like;
BERT, What Is BERT, How To Optimize BERT, How Does BERT Work
But the following title could be a better choice.
Google BERT – A Complete Guide On BERT [With Case Study]
c) Use Title Tag Modifiers
Using a title tag modifier like “best”, “Complete”, “Guide”, “fast”, “Free”, “Paid” can help you increase CTR. It can help you rank high on long tail keywords.
d) Use Brackets & Numbers
You can use numbers and brackets even if your post is not related to the list just like we have done.
Description Tag Optimization
Google’s SEO starter guide says, “Adding description meta tags to each of your pages is always a good practice”.
Even Google’s John Mueller suggested not to leave the description area blank.
Using description tag is important because it helps to boost organic CTR and there are following things to consider while making a description.
1 – Maximum 155 characters
2 – Add call-to-action in SERP
3 – Focus on keyword(s) , especially the long tail.
4 – Must match to the content
5 – Make it unique & avoid repetition
6 – No hard (tough) language
At last, this will surely give you a CTR bump.
I hope, you got the idea 🙂
4 – In Depth-Content
There are a few steps that I generally follow.
#1 – Do Research
Most of the beginners do not focus on research work, they pick the topic and start writing. It hurts while writing the content. Just because of a lack of ideas, words, or information about the topic, one cannot write content.
So, how can you do the research?
You can start with keywords research on the topics, it helps you to figure out the points or questions you can cover in your content.
Let’s say, you are going to write on “off-page SEO” and you have completely no idea about SEO or off-page SEO.
You can simply start with keyword research using a keyword research tool.
I searched “off-page SEO” on “SEMrush” and found the following search results.
Now, I know points that I can cover. For instance, “What Is off-page SEO?”, On-page VS off-page SEO, off-page techniques, off-page SEO tools, “How to do off-page SEO”.
The more points you find the more you can write.
#2 – Make a Template
Create a basic template; Introduction, Body and Conclusion to arrange the TOC.
You might need to make changes into your TOC because we are considering that you don’t know anything about SEO.
#3 – Search Points On Search Engine
I will explain this point by the example.
Let’s say, you searched “On-page VS off-page SEO” and found articles. Start reading them and make short notes so you can write your content properly.
Search every point one by one and make simple notes.
#4 – Use Images
There is a saying, a picture says a thousand words. In fact, an article with images get 94% more views than without images. The reason behind the same is that visuals are processed faster in the brain than text.
One study shows, a user retains 65% of visual information after 3 days, on the other hand, he retains only 10-20% of written or spoken information.
In short, images help in user engagement.
#5 – Spend Time
Quality content takes time and getting millions of visitors on quality content is better than 100 visitors on 10 cheap posts.
#6 – Use Longer Headlines
A study shows that blog posts with long headlines got 76.7% more than shorter ones.
#7 – Powerful Introduction
First, let your readers know exactly what you will be going to cover in your post. So, your readers know that they are in the right place.
Second, show your readings that you know about the topic better than anyone.
Last, use your introduction in points instead of large paragraphs.
#6 – Conclusion
Most of the people write summaries or use throw away conclusions like ‘I hope you liked my post!’ But professional bloggers know that conclusion is crucial to engage your visitors into your content. So, it’s time to ask your readers a simple question such as ‘Did I miss something? Let me know in the comment section’, ‘Could you please correct me if I am wrong somewhere?’, ‘what is your strategy to write a perfect content?’, and so on.
Note – Do not ask one-word answer questions.
#7 – Optimize Your Post For SEO
This could be a whole topic but here are three things to keep in mind while optimizing your post.
- Target your keywords
- Use short descriptive URL
- Add internal links to your post
Where You See Content, Marketing Headed In The Future
Google changed the game
The tech giant Google conducted a study called Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) in 2011. It found that 88% of customers research before buying a product. This researching period is called the Zero Moment of Truth. The ZMOT survey of Google changed the game of product marketing. Company owners understand the importance of content marketing. The ZMOT study emphasized the need for good Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Ranking for relevant keywords on search engines has become a requirement for enhancing a company’s online presence. It helps to catch consumer’s attention during the Zero Moments of Truth.
At that time, people did ‘Keyword stuffing’, repetitively using some specific keywords, to rank their web pages in Google. But Google changed its algorithm to discourage this practice. Since that time, Google continuously tries to provide high-quality and meaningful content to users by updating its algorithm.
In 2014, Google published a document named Google Search Quality Guidelines. In this document, Google defines the considering factors of high and low-quality content. The concept of E-A-T comes from this documentation and has become an important factor of SEO. Since then, E-A-T has become the common ranking factor behind almost all recent Google algorithm updates. The elaborative form of E-A-T is Expertise, Authority, and Trust. According to Google, E-A-T is:
“Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the creator of the main content, the main content itself, as well as the website.”
There is no doubt that following E-A-T is extremely important in modern content marketing. But the question is, how to create content that satisfies E-A-T? In this question, Google doesn’t want to provide much info. However, I have mentioned some points that SEO experts suggest to meet E-A-T:
Provide the author’s information.
Provide links to authentic websites
Support the author’s claim by providing evidence
Update article regularly
Modern SEO experts emphasize writing unique, user-beneficial, and easy-to-read content to meet Google’s E-A-T.
How Google BERT Impacts Content Marketing
BERT is a major update of Google. Google insiders tell us that there is no need to change anything, only create high-quality content. However, we may see some changes in content marketing strategies. First, informational queries would take the spotlight. BERT is mostly influencing search queries that are top of the funnel – or informational queries. As informational queries are more ambiguous compared to navigational or transactional queries, people cannot put the exact searching phrase when they search on Google. After the BERT update, Google shows accurate results even for inaccurate searching phrases. Second, focused articles would replace lengthy and keyword-dense articles. And last but not least, quality and well-written articles would be prioritized more than ever before.
Ok! That’s all for today. I hope you get a brief overview of Google BERT and its impact on content marketing. There is no alternative to producing high-quality content after this update.
Forget about the length and keyword density of an article. These things don’t help you anymore. Focus on creating content that can meet your reader’s intent.
So, what do you think about the BERT update?
I want to hear what I have missed here.
Please write your words in the comment section.
Author Bio.: With over 6 years of experience as a leader in digital marketing, Ravi Kumar is Managing Director at XplorMedia. Ravi has a uniquely wry voice that shines in his newest collection. He writes on Digital Marketing, AI, Web Hosting, and Other Technical niches. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
March 22, 2023
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