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What does Google’s Bert Update Mean for Content Marketing?

Google’s Bert

As far as updates go, Google’s newest, Bert (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, to be exact) is quantum in scale. Predicted to impact up to 10% of ALL searches and already having an impact on featured snippets globally, this algorithm update will drastically change how your content is understood by search engines.

How Bert Works

Bert is an update that changes the way Google reads your content. Bert itself is “Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training”. Essentially, it helps computers understand human language.

Now, more than ever before, conversational text written to answer search queries in a natural, engaging way is hyper relevant. Also, for the first time ever, grammatical elements such as prepositions will be used by the crawlers to understand context. Your content will no longer lean on strategic keyword use, the sum of all its parts will matter. Bert is looking for natural language sequencing, making this a truly unique and exciting update.

Born from an open sourced project, Bert was announced last year and put into effect this past week. It’s been on the horizon for a while, with RankBrain (helping Google better relate pages to concepts) rolling out in 2016 and Neural matching (helping Google better relate words to searches) coming out in 2018, Bert was a natural next step.

Context Counts

Bert can pick up on nuances in copy to decipher words that may have multiple interpretations. For example, in the instance below, Bert can pick up on the word “stand” as being in relation to the physically demanding elements of a job. Google has never been able to translate context in this way before.

Bert understands context

By understanding context, Google will know more about user intent and with this knowledge, be better able to serve searchers with the most appropriate content to answer their queries.

Your Business, Bert and Beyond

If you have been following Google’s changes over the past few years, your strategy is likely already well on its way towards being a Google golden child. Unfortunately, you cannot directly optimise for Bert, as there is no one formulaic approach. As a first step, what you can do is create conversational content that serves as a natural next step for search queries. Unlike typical penalty type algorithm updates, Bert has not left a drastic overnight impact, and these changes are likely to gain traction over time.

Unsure if your content strategy is Bert friendly?

Now more than ever, your content strategy needs to be fine-tuned to match Google’s new understandings. These leaps in its AI capabilities mean your content can be even more approachable, less keywords focused, and more specifically tailored to your audiences. Rather than serving as a catch all and refining your targets further down the funnel, this update allows marketers to better reach audiences from the first point of contact.

Questions about Bert or anything content related? We love to chat. Reach out to us anytime for a consultation or review of your existing strategy.

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