The only constant is change with Google. Even if this most recent update, BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) isn’t as wide-spread as some others, only 10% of US English searches are affected, if you are 1 of the 10 you may see a downward or upward trend in your search engine placement results for your website. 

If you are seeing an upward trend, congratulations.  We are speaking to the website owners who have seen their SERPs and site traffic take a nose-dive since the October 25th, 2019 release of BERT. 

Have you figured out why? 

According to Google 

“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.

Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.”

In laymen’s terms – Google can now better understand the natural search queries people actually use when looking for something on the web.  If your site visits have gone down sinse the latest update, chances are your site is not doing a good job in terms of copy and explaing what it is that a searcher would find on your site that is a solution to their query. 

If you have been “writing copy for the search engines”, sorry but you’ll need to have a rewrite.  Keyword stuffing has been problematic for years, blackhat link building too, and now SEO friendly copy is not so friendly anymore.

You still need structured data,and  especially where your page doesn’t have a lot of text. internal linking and good naming conventions and meta data for images are super important. What you really need to focus on for your copy, however, is answering the question “what’s this page about?”. If your response would be vague or you’re confused about the purpose of a page on your own website, you have to rewrite the copy.  

Google is trying to steer away from guessing what you mean and using context to nail down the intent of the enquiry and the result page; presenting a more useful result to the end user.