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An exciting change is coming to Google’s search algorithm. Recently, the search engine announced it will be updating its search algorithm in a major way. This could potentially change the results ranking for 10% of all queries on Google. As marketers, it’s important to understand exactly what this update means—and how it’s going to affect your search results rankings.

To put it simply, the update will allow Google’s search algorithm to better understand the way humans speak and search. In the past, the algorithm has looked at each search as a “bag of words,” picking out the most important words from the search to find meaningful results on Google. Unfortunately, it sometimes leaves out important words like “you,” “is,” or “a.” As a result, nuance in the search may be missed by the algorithm, leading to less-than-helpful search results.

So, what’s this change going to look like?

Better Keyword Understanding with BERT

This huge update is thanks in part to Google’s bidirectional encoder representations from transformers, (BERT). Put as simply as possible, BERT uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimize natural language processing. It uses a huge data set to deliver results that more closely answer the question these search queries are really asking.

Basically, BERT helps the Google algorithm better understand what humans are really asking for in their searches. This update is going to be a major benefit to Google users everywhere, who are likely to receive better results from their searches. But what about businesses that rely on ranking on Google’s first page for relevant searches?

Search Rankings May Drop

There’s no way around it: your search rankings may drop as a result of this update. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because the search algorithm update is better answering users’ queries, it’s likely that your new rankings will be a better indicator of potential customers that need your product or services.

In addition, only 10% of search queries will be affected by this update. So if you’re a wholesale pear distributor in Kansas City, searches for “wholesale pears kansas city” will still likely return your business in the search results (assuming you have a solid SEO strategy already in place.)

The update is meant to help users return more accurate results that provide the information they're actually looking for. For example, if a user searches “can you get medicine for someone pharmacy.” Clearly, the word “you” is an important part of the search because it implies that the user needs to pick up a prescription for someone who is not them. However, Google’s old search algorithm would ignore the word “you,” thereby returning results that didn’t answer the user’s question.

The update includes the nuances of human speak, allowing the search algorithm to more clearly understand what humans mean in their searches. After all, Google wants to provide its users with the best information that matches their search query.

Advice to Businesses

There’s no reason to panic right now. If you’re worried about your search results changing, the best thing is to just keep a close eye on your SEO strategy. Whenever Google rolls out a major update like this one, you should work with your team to implement an updated SEO strategy.

If you rely on Google SEO traffic to deliver qualified customers to your site, you have to make sure you’re keeping up with Google’s updates. This update is a good thing—both for users and businesses alike. Happy searching!

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