A couple of months ago, Google introduced its BERT algorithm update, which significantly affects how Google responds to natural language, synonyms, and more. At the time, it was estimated that up to 10 percent of searches would be affected by this latest algorithm update. This week, Google announced that they were ready to begin rolling out the BERT algorithm update to websites and services across the net.
BERT improves how Google understands search queries. If using BERT allows Google to understand a query better, then Google can direct organic search traffic to the most appropriate web pages.
According to a Dec. 9th post from the Google Search Liaison, “BERT, our new way for Google Search to better understand language, is now rolling out to over 70 languages worldwide. It initially launched in Oct. for US English. You can read more about BERT below & a full list of languages is in this thread.”
The thread Google mentioned sends the user to a product page that explains what BERT is and how it will be implemented going forward. For example, the newest expansion will see BERT applied to more than 72 languages.
Many users may notice that featured snippets are affected by BERT. Users can expect to see an increase or improvement in international featured snippets in the languages where featured snippets are available.
This dynamic can be seen by the recent push for more carousel results for the articles found on Google News. Earlier this week, users began to notice that Google is now using BERT models, along with other machine learning techniques, to group related news articles together in carousels. In theory, these new BERT-generated carousels will appear in the top stories section of Google Search. They’re designed to help people quickly find the best articles related to a particular news story.
Google’s Duncan Osborn, a product manager of Search, explained in an announcement, “When you’re searching for information on a timely topic–a recent sports upset or the latest scientific breakthrough–you see a carousel of articles at the top of your Search results highlighting relevant news. Now, when there are multiple stories related to your search, we’ll also organize the results by story, so it’s easier to understand what’s most relevant, and you can make a more informed decision on which specific articles to explore.”
Similarly, Google’s new top stories carousels will surface other content that will help provide more context and perspective to a given story. Google also offered a little insight into how all of this will work.
Going back to the announcement about Google News searches, we’re told, “To power this new experience, we developed a new story-understanding technology to map the people, places, and things involved in a news story, and then draw connections between them. This technology allows us to create distinct groups of news articles. To generate these groups, we use a variety of machine learning techniques, including BERT models, to examine the related articles and determine where one story ends, and another begins.”
These updates are available starting today on mobile devices in US English search results, and rolling out to more languages and locations in the coming months.
For more news about the way Google updates and changes could affect SEO, read this article on the latest Google SEO news.