What’s with Google’s BERT Algorithm Update? Tech Talk Simplified

The world’s largest search engine is always looking for ways to improve its user experience. We know that it’s Google’s incredible commitment and strong embrace of change drives that its continuous algorithm updates— but let’s be honest— there seems to be a new update like every freaking week.

It’s hard to keep up with the ever-evolving landscape of Google; marketers and SEOs simply don’t have time to scour the internet trying to research the latest news on SERP changes.

But Google’s BERT update is what some are considering “the biggest change to Google’s algorithm in five years.” And since this algorithm update is projected to affect one in ten search queries, it’s probably worth knowing a thing or two about!

Here’s the skinny on papa BERT:

What’s Big Ol’ BERT All About?

Google announced late October 2019 that it’ll now be applying BERT models to search. For some SEOs, it was the first time they heard this mysterious term.

I’m sorry, but WTF is BERT?

Spoiler alert: It’s not our yellow muppet friend from Sesame Street.

BERT is an acronym for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.” Now, we get this also probably doesn’t answer your question, because that’s just a lot of big-word nonsense to the average searcher.

BERT is what Google calls, a “neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP).”

Remember how in James Cameron’s AVATAR movie the blue creatures communicated with this vast network of souls through this magical tree?

Well it’s kind of a lot like that— or at least that’s the image we’re conjuring here to help you understand the analogy! Google taps into its massive neural network to decode the intent behind what you’re searching.

The world’s largest search engine has started using a thing called transformers, or “models that process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence” to discern what a search really means.

BERT in Action

Search Engine Journal and Income School demonstrate a great example of BERT’s new smartypants deep learning algorithm.

Recommended For You Webcast, November 27th: Why Podcasting is the Ultimate ABM Strategy
Register Now


In the above linked videos and articles, they demonstrate how a search query for “how to catch a cow fishing” might sound ridiculous to some. And in the past, the world’s largest search engine was equally confused, serving images of cows and a few fishing lines.

In light of the late 2019 BERT update, Google understands the user was actually asking about a “cowfish,” a glorious yellow sea creature and not a moo-ing, four-legged land animal.

Since Google can now comprehend that “fishing” was associated with “cow,” (vs. just two seemingly unrelated terms) the search engine could now serve a more accurate result page— providing links to the intended fish instead of farm life.

With the incredible algorithm update, Google’s come a long way from earlier years— where SEOs highlighted it’s trouble with decoding intent time and time again.


It’s… it’s ALIVE!

Okay, well not really. But here’s the catch: this algorithm is capable of learning.

Over time and with multiple refined queries, BERT develops and understanding of different associations. This natural language processing (NLP) has incredible power is sure to only improve search results in the future.

Google’s even allowed open sourcing on this technology, stating, “With this release, anyone in the world can train their own state-of-the-art question answering system (or a variety of other models) in about 30 minutes on a single Cloud TPU, or in a few hours using a single GPU.”

Sharing the wealth? Sounds a lot like Google: sticking to the search engine’s core value of improving the online experience for all— not just them.

What to Change in Light of BERT

For the SEOs dedicated to providing a sensational user experience by creating informative, helpful content, we have wonderful news! You will not need to modify your content strategy to stay up-to-date with the BERT algorithm change.

Google’s own Danny Sullivan agrees, tweeting, “There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.”

But if you are not utilizing the power of pillar pages and topic clusters, you might have some work cut out for you. Check out our linked article to help Google understand the semantic relationship between your topics and target keywords, and come up for multiple intent-based queries on the SERPs.

Start Ranking with Irresistible Content

Google’s recent algorithm update just supports the search engine’s effort to serve valuable content to its searchers. Are you creating content that your audience actually wants and needs or just a bunch of marketing fluff?

In our playful “cookbook,” we’ll discuss eight tactics for creating better content, delicious, steaming content that Google won’t be able to resist serving on its SERP menu.

Download our free Google Ranking Casserole ebook today!


Find Out More

Marketing Tips You Need

Keep In Touch

Quick Subscribe

Client Reviews Tell The Tale.

If you are looking for professional video production for your business, Dan and his team at Appture are the best.John CullensDecember 29, 2022
We used Appture to build a lodging website, and they were awesome! Dan went above and beyond to show us the functions and make all of our changes. Appture is our go to for web design from now on!Abigail HaleOctober 26, 2022
Dan did a fantastic job making me feel comfortable while shooting. He also made me look great! I don't photograph well, so I am very pleased with the results and speed at which I got the final product.Lily GostinSeptember 13, 2022
Appture knows their business and will go the extra mile for their customers. They do high quality work and provide great ongoing support.Chris McCorkindaleMay 24, 2022
Anita CauthornMay 24, 2022
It’s so rare in these times to find one man with so much wow factor and more rare to find men with similar interest and passion in their life journey as myself . Dan Elliott has been introduced to many in what is now considered as the Terror Dome , a place where many dreams are not deferred they are detoured to routes that lead to dead ends , he comes in full of optimism so infectious that he, maybe with out knowing is energizing those who have ventured where others would fear going with just the right jolt to forge on in the way of helping fallen humanity … His various fields of expertise has helped many in my region and I can only imagine the number he has effected beyond those I know … from day one I knew “ this was a man of kindred spirit “ Dan Elliott is a Gem and adds glimmer to things he touches … I’m a Witness ….and eternally grateful….L.Rashaan RichMay 21, 2022
Dan and his group are highly capable and knowledgeable. They work fast and get the job done. I highly recommend Appture.Justin FrankMarch 26, 2022
They are highly specialized in their work and constantly seek innovation.Ismail YenigulMarch 14, 2022
Dan is a marketing wizard. Honest, Experienced and a read deal. I am blessed to have him in my journey online :) Highly recommended.Sabbir HasanMarch 7, 2022
Incredible talent so much experience and always innovativeAppture SoftwareAugust 10, 2021
So much to say. Creative, Intelligent, Talented, Limitless, Affordable. It's amazing what these guys can do.Hack mackMay 17, 2019
We found Appture from their website, and immediately started work on a website, custom SMS marketing and social media. We got leads the FIRST DAY! And it keeps getting better and better.HawkDFW SecurityMay 17, 2019
We'd used some other agencies before, but man, they simply knocked us all over. After being in business for 30 years, I wonder how much more business we'd be doing if we'd hired them earlier.Rebecca HoneaMay 17, 2019
Hide picture