Effect of BERT Update on Google SERPs

Digital marketing allows you to make an indelible mark in the digital world while reaching new customers every day. Digital marketing relies on your business’ presence in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) presented upon a search query. Needless to say, your search engine’s search algorithm plays the most crucial role in this exercise. If this algorithm changes, so should your digital marketing strategy.

What drives the differences in SERPs?

It is interesting to note that two searches conducted using the exact same keywords may still generate different SERPs. What makes the SERPs unique is the combination of location, preferences and search history associated with the user. Add to this the linguistic nuances of different users – words that are not typically considered as keywords.

Language can be complex in its structure and highly contextual in its usage. Incorporating such esoteric features in artificial intelligence is even more complicated. Recently, Google’s search algorithm was updated in the form of Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT). BERT is supposed to better understand the complexities and subtleties in natural languages. This understanding can help design a more customised user experience.

How deep is the effect of BERT?

User-generated queries can be informational, navigational or transactional. Informational queries answer your basic questions like ‘how to’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘who’. Navigational queries constitute the second level of the funnel. This is when users get more specific and want to navigate further in-depth once their informational queries are answered. Transactional queries get more specialised as users focus on purchasing a specific item or performing a specific action online.

The BERT update truly only affects the SERPs at the informational level of search queries. With BERT, the users will now get much more relevant SERPs for any query. BERT picks up the nuances of the language used in your searches. For instance, the contextual meaning associated with prepositions and verbs used in a query will be incorporated in the SERPs. Similarly, words that precede or succeed a noun can dramatically alter the meaning of a query.

BERT will intelligently pick up on these subtle differences and choose the results that are the most significant for you. This update comes to you not only in English but in other languages as well. As of December 2019, Google’s BERT algorithm has been implemented in 70 different languages. It is being updated every day to incorporate more languages and more locations.

How would BERT affect digital marketing?

This is all well and good. However, will your digital marketing strategy be affected by the SERPs generated after the BERT update? Google says that this update would affect 10% of all Google search queries. The hope is that your business features in those 10% because the impact can be moulded to be positive. If it does not yet, an increase in the traffic to your organisation’s website will surely cause an impact.

The point is that no matter where your business stands, you will be affected by this update. How do you ensure that you still maintain your website’s or business’ rank and traffic? Businesses dependent on search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital marketing must modify their strategies.

How to use BERT to your benefit?

The first thing to do in the wake of this update is to get more specific in your website’s articles. As SERPs get more relevant, ensure that your articles get more relevant too. Instead of writing long articles on a variety of topics, write about one specific unique thing that highlights your business. This is because BERT will ensure that superfluous and non-specific searches are removed from the SERPs presented to the users.

Choose relevant long-tail keywords that are more likely to match the exact search phrase used by your target consumers. The topics you choose for your SEO-friendly articles should now be longer and more dedicated to these long-tail keywords. As context has become very powerful with the BERT update, avoid using keywords that may mean more than one thing. Such modifications to your marketing strategy would help you use BERT to your benefit.


Artificial intelligence is getting more and more intelligent as we speak. Are you keeping up as your search engine gets smarter by the day? Now is the time to do so. Boost your business today with the online tools that OKdot provides and get yourself a well-designed digital marketing campaign.


33 Napier Street
Fitzroy VIC
3141, Australia


27 Grallina St
5032, Australia