Monitoring the number of updates Google makes to its algorithms is challenging to say the least, particularly as Google refrains from explaining why it makes frequent changes to the way it regulates its Search Engine Results Pages. Generally speaking, the full-flowing stream of updates are made to maximize the relevance and accuracy of the content that is displayed on SERPs. Websites that generate unique and engaging content benefit greatly from these updates because the higher the relevance the higher the Google ranking.
So, let’s take a look at the most recent updates made to Google’s algorithms and how Search Engine Optimization and digital advertising is impacted by these changes.
Google’s natural language processing technology – BERT
When it comes to SERPs and SEO, BERT is somewhat a key influencer. BERT or Bidirectional Encoder Representations for Transformers began its work on filtering through search queries in October 2019.
Google’s Vice President for Search, Pandu Nayak, in an article entitled Understanding searches better than ever before explains:
‘Last year, we introduced and open-sourced a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or as we call it–BERT, for short. This technology enables anyone to train their own state-of-the-art question answering system.’
‘So that’s a lot of technical details, but what does it all mean for you? Well, by applying BERT models to both ranking and featured snippets in Search, we’re able to do a much better job helping you find useful information. In fact, when it comes to ranking results, BERT will help Search better understand one in 10 searches in the U.S. in English, and we’ll bring this to more languages and locales over time.’
So, what exactly is BERT and how important is it for organic searches and keywords?
Simply put, BERT gives Google a better sense of how keywords are used in search queries.
As Google’s algorithm updates roll out and technology continues to evolve the way we conduct search queries is shifting more towards voice search. For this reason, the syntax and choice of keywords used in search queries are becoming more conversational. Google’s initial reaction to voice search as a growing trend was witnessed in 2013 with its Hummingbird update. BERT changes the way Google understands and deals with words used in search queries.
BERT is a technique that Google’s algorithm uses to get a better understanding of how humans communicate and how to decipher voice searches in order to increase the accuracy and relevance of the SERPs.
How do I optimize my site for BERT?
The best way to optimize for BERT is by generating content that is unique, engaging and relevant. If you noticed that your site traffic took a nosedive after the update rolled out then it means that it was most likely low-quality traffic, and the search queries were not relevant to your keywords.
November brings an undisclosed local algorithm update…
This is the type of algorithm update that gets the most attention because Google doesn’t confirm whether it made the changes or not. These types of updates are commonly known as ‘unconfirmed updates’ and put people on edge as speculations run wild.
What do we know so far about the recent ‘unconfirmed update’? What impact will it have on local SEO? These are some of the questions you may be asking yourself, so let’s dive right in.
What is the ‘unconfirmed update’ that affects Google’s local algorithms?
First of all, a local algorithm update is designed to increase the relevance of search result pages depending on the keywords used in the local search queries. The last time something like this happened was three years ago when Google unleashed its local algorithm update known as Possum, which changed search results by giving businesses that fell outside the city parameters their percentage of the local search pile.
Local search has been stuck in a rut ever since, but luckily that’s not the case anymore with November’s update changing the search landscape as we know it.
The important thing to bear in mind when it comes to local search is proximity. The sites that lost the most traffic after the Possum update were the ones that were outside the proximity of their users’ IP addresses.
This month’s local algorithm update also focuses on proximity; websites that were nearer to the user performed better than the sites that were farther away.
What is the best way to optimize after local algorithm updates?
Using Facebook and Google Ads to target local traffic with accurate geotargeting, more and higher bidding for keywords and ad placements, local and native ads, using split testing to find out what type of content and creative appeal to your local target audience.
What is Geo-targeting?
Commonly known as local Pay-Per-Click (PPC), geo-targeting is a method of delivering content to a target audience depending on the geographic locations.
How does it work?
Goe-targeting works by detecting your target audience’s location and delivers content depending on that location. The type of content that you send could be adverts or promotional SMS messages, emails and push notifications. The advantage of using geo-targeting as a marketing strategy is that it has great potential to become tailored to the needs of your consumers. With geo-targeting, you can access user data that could give you an in-depth insight into their preferences and search history.
Google’s algorithm updates: what does it all boil down to?
Google updates its algorithms regularly so it can maximize the relevance of its SERPs and ensure that search enquiries are accurately provided with the right information and resources.
There is no set of concrete rules when it comes to responding to algorithm updates; instead, the best approach to take is to keep up-to-date with developments in technology, growing trends like voice search and geo-fencing, and to keep optimizing your site for better SEO, Google rankings on SERPs.
However, when it comes to increasing relevance and user engagement, the most effective thing you can do is to create unique and relevant content that meets the demands of your target audience. Google updates its algorithms in order to filter the most relevant content for its users.
Don’t forget that SEO and content optimization are not a 100-meter sprint; it’s a marathon that requires constant tweaking and hard work.