Google’s primary focus is to understand better what it is that searchers are actually searching for, and in the process, it’s rolled out the BERT algorithm. When Google describes BERT as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search,” they say they are making a significant claim. The underlying goal is to bolster Search’s ability to organically discern which information a user is seeking and to parlay that into results that make sense from the user’s perspective
Google shares that, with the implementation of BERT, about 1 in 10 Google Searches will reap greater user rewards based on its capabilities, which can help you enhance your brand right out of the gate. While this currently applies only to those searches made in English in the United States, more countries and languages will be included over time.
BERT: What’s It All About?
BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and it’s a neural network-based technique for pre-training natural language processing. In layman’s terms, this means that BERT helps Google get a better feel for the context behind users’ search queries. Google’s rollout began the week of October 21, 2019, and its intention is to improve the way the search engine captures the meaning of search queries that are longer and more conversational – the ones where prepositions play a major role. This means that many of the searches that come more naturally to most users will now play well with Google Search. For example, Google shares a search for “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa.” The context of the preposition “to” in this query is especially important to its underlying meaning. In this search phrase, we have a user looking for information about traveling to the U.S. (not a user looking for information about traveling to Brazil). Before BERT, the critical and nuanced nature of the “to” in this search phrase would have stymied Search and led to less relevant results.
Put most simply, neural networks refer to algorithms that are designed to recognize patterns, and they have a variety of important real-world applications, that include:
- Image content categorization
- Handwriting recognition
- Financial market predictions
Neural networks also have highly specific applications for search queries, including click models.
Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of artificial intelligence that deals with linguistics, and it focuses on doing exactly what it says – processing the way people naturally communicate through language. NLP helps our computers glean what it is we mean when we type a query using language that comes naturally to us – rather than altering our searches to better suit the way a computer processes words. NLP is not new to the scene, but ongoing advancements make it increasingly relevant. Examples include social listening tools that help you track information across social media platforms and word suggestions provided courtesy of your smartphone. BERT’s take on NLP incorporates the advancement known as bidirectional training.
Bidirectional training refers to the ability to train language models in relation to all the words included in a query – rather than on the ordered sequence of those words. Behold the genius of BERT. Instead of a language model that learns context based solely on the word that comes before or after, BERT supports a more organic approach that incorporates all the surrounding search words.
BERT vs. RankBrain
Like BERT, Google’s RankBrain is an artificial intelligence tool for processing queries, but each represents a distinct algorithm. RankBrain runs parallel to ranking algorithms that search organically, and it adjusts the results accordingly. RankBrain takes related queries – current and past – and tweaks results based on what it finds. In addition, RankBrain aids in interpreting search queries that may not contain exact words. For example, the first hit for a query of “faces on the monument” provides the names of the four Presidents carved into Mount Rushmore – despite the fact that the query doesn’t include the words “Mount Rushmore.”
BERT, on the other hand, works very differently. BERT focuses on all the words in any given search – and on their interrelationship to one another. This is an example of BERT’s bidirectionality, and it represents a critical NLP enhancement – exactly because the language we use to communicate is not only naturally complex and nuanced but also hinges on context. When layered together, RankBrain and BERT complement one another and lead to more useful search results. Google isn’t looking to replace the tools in its arsenal but instead to mix and match as needed to achieve optimal results.
When it comes to BERT, you don’t need to do a darn thing to optimize your results. This one is on Google. In other words, there’s no rethinking necessary. Google’s fundamental goal of rewarding stellar content remains the name of the game. When it comes to improving your ranking, Google continues to advise that you should strive to keep your users in mind and to create quality content that satisfies their search intentions. As a content provider, your job – now more than ever – is to focus on creating concise, compelling content and not on compromising quality in an effort to placate a machine’s demands for linear phrase-construction. BERT helps eliminate the need to Frankenstein your content out of parts that feed searches more than they serve your potential customers’ content needs.
We Have the Digital Marketing Savvy to Help You Dominate Your Target Market
The digital marketing specialists at The Web Guys have been helping clients like you carve out market share since 2005. No matter what kind of business you’re growing, your online presence matters now more than ever. Helping you better understand where your business and potential-customer searches intersect is our business, and putting that information to work is key. Your content marketing is a dynamic experience – not a static thing – and our energized and creative digital marketing team is committed to helping you breathe vibrancy into yours. To find out more about us or our services, contact us at 317-805-4933 today!