If you have ever shown any slight interest in search engine technicalities, then you may have had an inbox full of news about the latest “BERT” update from Google.

It stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”, it’s pitched as the biggest update in the last five years, and already there are experts jumping on the bandwagon and explaining how you can make the most of it, exploit it, beat it, take it for lunch or whatever.

I mean, you can tell how important it is, it’s in the Financial Times for chuff’s sake:

What the heck is it?

In short, you don’t have to worry about what it is.

You’re probably already using it.

All it is, is that Google is getting better at understanding sentences and the nuances that come about when people change a sentence’s meaning by adding small words.

Here’s an actual example from Google (so it must be true).

Interesting, eh?

What’s happened in the first example is that Google has just taken the keywords out and found the best match to them, or more likely, the most popular match to them.

In the second one, it’s realised that this isn’t just about the USA, it’s someone wanting to go to the USA, so the results should be very different.

That’s cleverish.

Many people are touting that it’s all about artificial intelligence and neural network learning and all that, but it’s more likely just about frequency of words and the order they’re in.

We don’t have to worry about the rise of the robots just yet.

Why is this happening?

We often don’t type in single keyword searches anymore.

In fact, we often don’t type, we use Alexa or Siri or Google Home or somesuch other tools where all we have to do is bark out a question, but the important thing is, we tend to use these tools using our natural language as if talking to a human being.

So do I need to do anything to my website?




Leave it alone.

If you have been doing content right all these years and simply creating good articles that answer the questions your customers might have, then there’s literally nothing to do.

But I’ve been bad and my articles are just keyword-stuffed nonsense!

Well, that’s your lookout, I told you not to do it, didn’t I?