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Google BERT: How Will It Affect Your Small Business?

By October 30, 2019October 31st, 2019No Comments

Google BERT was recently announced as part of the newest Google update and, as a small business owner, it’s important for you to know how this new search query handling technique is going to affect your small business.

Google BERT: How Will It Affect Your Small Business?

What is Google BERT?

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and it’s the newest method introduced by Google for handling search queries. A type of artificial intelligence, BERT was developed to help Google to return more accurate search results for users who are searching the web for long-tailed and complex search terms. BERT does this by helping Google to understand the relationships between the individual parts of a searched term. Google’s blog provides an excellent example of how this works:

Previously, when searching “do estheticians stand a lot at work?”, your search results would likely have pointed in the general direction of estheticians, for example, the difference between the work demands on a medical esthetician versus a spa esthetician.

With BERT in play, Google now better understands the search term because it is better able to understand the association between the words being searched and the intention of the searcher. This means that the same search as above would provide you with links to content that directly address the physical demands on an esthetician.

Why Is Google BERT Just Now Being Released?

Since Google BERT is being touted as the biggest leap forward for online search queries in the past five years, why is it just now being released? Perhaps the biggest driving force behind this new release is the increasing use of voice to text searches. Since when we use voice to text we speak in sentences rather than in fractured words, it’s important for search engines to be able to comprehend those sentences and provide us with relevant search data.

Surely, it’s not all about voice to text use though, is it? Well, no. The time, research, and development that went into the development of BERT were done in the name of search engine advancement. The quest for the ultimate search engine, if you will.

But What About Small Businesses?

What does BERT mean for small businesses and small business owners like you and me? There certainly doesn’t seem to be as much fanfare as I would expect from local SEO businesses, but I do believe that BERT will change the SEO scene significantly in the relatively short future.

According to Google, BERT will impact one in ten searches made by internet users and it will impact searches that return snippets in search results for any language that supports snippets. This means that where searchers would previously have been directed to your webpage because their search met a general topic or a specialized area of a general topic, this may no longer be the case. Unless your website content explicitly addresses the topic being searched – not necessarily the exact search term, but the same niche and the same “intent” as the searcher, then you stand a chance of losing that traffic.

Is it all bad news?


If you target your SEO terms properly, if you do your research (or have an SEO expert do it for you), you can greatly increase the relevant traffic to your business website by simply targeting long-tail key terms that are specific to your product, your service, or your business.

Additionally, the content that you already have on your business website is likely to get much more exposure to organic traffic.

Is It Possible to Manipulate BERT to Get More Traffic to My Website?

The biggest question for most small business owners aside from “how will BERT affect my business website?” is “how can I take advantage of BERT to get more traffic to my website?” The answer is that there really isn’t a way to take advantage of BERT. The reason for this is because BERT has been developed to better understand search queries that are being given by web users. There is no way to manipulate what web users are searching for and so there is no way to manipulate BERT to your advantage. Simply put, BERT is not serving you as a web search result, it is serving the web surfer to provide more accurate search results for their specific queries.

Does this mean that there is nothing you can do to help your business with BERT in play? Not necessarily. But it just so happens that the things that you can implement to help your business with BERT in play are the same things that you should be doing already to maintain a steady flow of traffic to your website and that…well that mostly boils down to content.

Does Content Really Matter?

Content is, and generally always will be “king”. The quality of the keywords used in your content is what will hook that traffic – even more so now! The quality of the content itself is what will keep your website visitors on your page and convince them that you know what you’re talking about, that your product or service can be trusted with their business. The frequency of unique content…well, that’s what makes you stand apart from the others and it’s what claims those various plots of real estate in Google search results. The more plots of land you have occupied, the more traffic you are going to see and, to come full circle, the better you advertise those plots of land with highly targeted keywords, the more visitors you will get to the businesses on those plots of land.

Need Help Optimizing Your Small Business Website For Search Engines?

If you need a hand optimizing your small business website to improve your search engine standing, Online Presence Manager can help. For your free consultation to find out how just call us today at 727-475-6460.

OPM John

Author OPM John

I've been digital marketing since the Commodore 64. I specialize in providing fully managed digital marketing and local SEO services for businesses. When I'm not managing a SMB presence, I post reputation, SEO, and social media management tips for business owners.

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