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All You Need To Know About Google BERT Update

Posted By Gaurav | 07-Dec-2023 | Google Updates
Google constantly tries to improve its users’ experiences by introducing new updates to its algorithms. One such update is the BERT update, which was launched by Google in 2019, a year after the introduction of BERT. Although the update is four years old now, it still holds utmost importance in Google Search.

Google’s algorithms are now highly advanced. Using modern technologies like machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, etc, Google has empowered its algorithms to provide the most relevant results to the users. Whether you work with an SEO services company or optimize your website content on your own, you need to understand all important Google algorithm updates in order to keep your website updated and relevant. 

BERT, which is a deep learning model introduced by Google for natural language processing, plays a significant role in understanding search queries and showing relevant results to the users. The model was introduced by Google in 2018. A year after its launch, i.e. in 2019, Google came up with the BERT algorithm update, which is one of Google’s 25 unforgettable updates so far. We will help you understand Google BERT update further in this article:

What is BERT?

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is a Machine Learning model or more precisely, we can say it is a deep learning model for natural language processing. It can perform a wide variety of tasks. Google developed this model in October 2018 to understand the context of unlabeled textual data. 

You would have seen text prediction while writing an email, which is sometimes so accurate that you don’t even need to write the complete sentences yourself. This is what BERT does. Apart from this, it can help determine positive or negative reviews, help chatbots in answering questions, summarize long legal documents, etc. 

As ML models cannot work with words, BERT first converts words into numbers and then uses these numbers as inputs. The reason why BERT is called bi-directional is because it looks for the words before and after entities to understand their contextual meaning in a sentence. 

The most significant reason behind launching BERT was to understand the context of Google search queries. In BERT, transformers refer to the models that process words with respect to all other words present in the sentence in order to understand their right context. One word can have multiple meanings depending on how they have been used in a word. Without a proper understanding of the context, it may be difficult for NLP models to draw correct conclusions. This is where BERT becomes extremely helpful.

Google’s BERT Update

In 2019, Google introduced the BERT update and called it one of the most important updates in the history of Search. As per Google, the update was going to impact the top 10% of search queries that depend on the context. The reason why BERT is only being used for 1 in 10 searches is because of its complexity. As per some experts, it may have a negative impact on poorly written websites.

With this update, Google targeted natural language or conversation-based queries in order to better understand their context with the help of BERT. For example, propositions like ‘to’ and ‘for’ matter a lot in terms of the context of a sentence. By enabling Google search to understand the context of words, BERT allows users to search for queries in any way they are comfortable with.

Laos, Google is using the BERT model to improve featured snippet results in all the countries where these are available. The model went through several stages of testing before implementation. Google says that the testing was done to ensure that the changed results are more helpful to the users. During testing, Google found that its algorithms were now better at understanding the context of a search query which they couldn't do before BERT.

Though Google did not clearly say anything about to which extent these changes are going to impact Google search engine rankings, it may be expected that websites with poorly written content may experience a negative effect on rankings. With this update, Google aims to better understand the search queries and show more relevant results to the users.

Relationship Between BERT & On-Page SEO

BERT is a powerful deep learning model that can outperform 11 of the most common NLP tasks, says Google. As per some experts, it is even beating human understanding as linguists may spend hours arguing over the meaning of a word in a particular sentence. But what can BERT do when the website page itself doesn’t have a clear focus? If the context doesn’t accompany a word with multiple possible meanings, the word means simply nothing.

When it comes to optimizing your website for BERT, you can’t directly do that. The only way to improve and maintain the rankings of your website is by writing high-quality content where the context of words can be understood by looking at the words around it. Therefore, the only thing you can do with on-page optimization is to ensure that words in your web page content are used precisely.

Summing Up

Although it is not clear that website rankings may be affected by Google BERT updates, it may be concluded that websites with poorly written content may see a drop in rankings. Along with the keyword density and other on-page SEO factors, it is important to focus on the quality of your website content and ensure that the context of words is clear. 

Being a reputed SEO services company, we at MadHawks advise all website owners to regularly check and revise their web pages’ content in order to ensure that it remains relevant for the users. For more such updates, stay tuned!


1. What is the BERT algorithm update?

Ans. With the BERT algorithm update of 2019, Google announced that it will be using BERT to better understand search queries and provide more relevant results to the users. Although it is not used for all search queries but for 10% of queries that are more conversational and context-based. 

2. Is Google still using BERT?

Ans. Yes, Google is still using BERT in 2023 and the algorithm continues to play a significant role in Google Search.

3. How does Google BERT work?

Ans. Google BERT is a bi-directional natural language processing model. It is called bi-directional because it looks for the words before and after a particular word in order to understand its context in the sentence. 

4. Why is BERT so popular?

Ans. BERT became so popular soon after its launch because it provided Google’s algorithm with the ability to understand the context of words used in a sentence. Google Search wasn’t able to do this before BERT.

5. Is chatbot better than BERT?

Ans. Chatbots are better than BERT in terms of customization as one can customize chatbots as per their requirements. However, you must be aware of the fact that many popular chatbots use BERT to converse better. Therefore, BERT can be considered more powerful.


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Gaurav Yadav
SEO expert

Gaurav Yadav is a skilled SEO expert with over 8 years of experience in digital marketing. He specializes in technical SEO, content strategy, and link building, and has a proven track record of driving organic traffic growth for a diverse range of clients. With his expertise in various verticals, he can execute industry-specific SEO strategies for SAAS, BFSI, healthcare, lifestyle, and education.