If one of your marketing goals is to increase your website traffic, one of the best tactics you can invest in is strategic blogging for your business. Regularly updating your website with new content tells search engines like Google that your site is current – and worth visiting regularly to find new pages to index.

But it’s not just a matter of posting any new content; an effective content marketing strategy relies on well-written, quality blog posts that provide internet users with the best, most accurate information. Google specifically has always tried to serve the best possible answers to user search queries.

Over the years, Google’s algorithm has been updated to learn better ways to answer users’ questions and detect which content is well-written. This isn’t new. However, Google recently announced a change to its algorithm that is new: BERT.

What Is BERT?

Graphic of search bar with various arms pointing at it and "What is BERT?" in the search windowHere’s what you need to know about Google’s new algorithm.

BERT, which stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers,” helps Google process language better to understand queries more accurately and thereby find more appropriate answers for users. As Content Marketing Institute explains, “BERT is used to teach Google’s search function to interpret the nuances and context of search queries.”

With the old Google algorithm, the search engine would look at the words in the query individually and try to find pages that match. With BERT, Google can understand the importance of certain words in their given context (Brazil traveler to USA vs. USA traveler to Brazil) as well as synonyms to search for beyond the words in the query (coffee vs. espresso).

One example Google provides is the search term, “Math practice books for adults.” As a human, you understand that the user is looking for books that will help a grown person increase their math skills. The old Google algorithm, however, would look at the words individually and return generic math practice books for young adults, not understanding the importance of the word “young” in the pages’ descriptions. With BERT, the algorithm understands the user is looking specifically for resources for grownups.

Screenshot of "math practice books for adults" with results using Googles old algorithm vs. BERT

How BERT Affects Blogging As Part Of Your Content Marketing Strategy

The good news is, if you’re already creating quality articles for your blog (which you should be!), BERT won’t make a big difference for your content marketing strategy; it’s designed to provide users with the best answers to their questions.

Although well-placed keywords may be part of your approach to blogging, you should already be writing each post with your target consumer in mind, so when Google brings them to your website, you provide helpful information to answer their question(s) and showcase your expertise.

Still, there are a few ways you can refine your blogging strategy with BERT in mind:

Blog concept top view with black and white workstationFollow these tips to optimize your blogging efforts for BERT.

  • Focus on well-written content. Yes, it’s still a good idea to know your main keywords and include them in your blog posts, but don’t bend over backwards trying to add those key terms into sentences in which they don’t naturally flow.
  • Expand your vocabulary. Because BERT will be looking for articles about whatever topic the user is searching for, it knows to look for common synonyms. Instead of ensuring you use the exact same keyword or phrase over and over again, switch it up with other relevant language. In addition to showing BERT the post is about the same topic, it will be more interesting to your readers.
  • Include insight from in-house experts. If you have a subject matter expert with insight internet users will want, ask them for details you can include in your articles. This will provide more helpful information to consumers and give your content more authority as BERT looks for the best answers to user queries.
  • Answer questions. Search engine users are seeking information. Anticipate the questions they’re asking and answer them.