Definition: BERT

What Does BERT mean?

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

BERT is used as part of Google’s search algorithm introduced in 2019 in order to understand what people actually mean in searches. It is essentially an update which helps Google understand context when you search.


BERT Example

Here is the example Google gave when introducing BERT:

Here’s a search for “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa.” The word “to” and its relationship to the other words in the query are particularly important to understanding the meaning. It’s about a Brazilian traveling to the U.S., and not the other way around. Previously, our algorithms wouldn’t understand the importance of this connection, and we returned results about U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. With BERT, Search is able to grasp this nuance and know that the very common word “to” actually matters a lot here, and we can provide a much more relevant result for this query.

Google's BERT example


Top Tip

There is really nothing you can do to optimise for BERT. Its simply improves SERPs relevance to queries, and the relevance of your content to queries should already be a given when you are working on SEO!


7 Things To Know About BERT

  1. BERT is a neural-network-based technique used for Natual Language Processing. This basically means that BERT is learning how people talk (or at least, how they search) and using that information to improve search results.
  2. According to Google, BERT has changed the results shown from about 1 in 10 search queries, making them far more accurate.
  3. While BERT has had a huge impact on search, there isn’t actually much to be done in terms of SEO for it, as it’s simply improving Google’s understanding of what people are searching for.
  4. BERT is a ranking signal in amongst hundreds of ranking signals. While it’s important, it’s certainly not the only thing informing how webpages are ranked in Google search.
  5. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (although knowing this will almost certainly not help you to understand why it’s important, or what it does!)
  6. BERT was introduced in October 2019 and was the largest change to Google’s search algorithm since RankBrain.
  7. If BERT hurt your search rankings, then you were probably ranking for the wrong things anyway!



BERT Definition

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