Google has announced a major change to the ranking algorithm. According to Google, it’s “a significant improvement to how [Google understands] queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.
What is new?
Google is applying BERT models to Search. BERT stands for ‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers’. BERT is an open-source project for natural language processing. BERT helps computers understand language like humans do.
BERT models consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it—particularly useful for understanding the intent behind search queries.
What’s the impact of the change?
BERT will impact one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and Google will bring this to more languages and locales over time.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like ‘for’ and ‘to’ matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words.
For featured snippets, Google is using a BERT model to improve featured snippets in the two dozen countries where this feature is available.
Do you have to change your website?
BERT is just the latest addition to Google’s existing algorithms. It complements other algorithms such as RankBrain. You cannot optimize your website for BERT but you can optimize your website for Google’s overall algorithm. Make sure that your web pages have good content and good links: