Tune in as SEO Leverage's Gert Mellak shares some insight on this recent change in SEO.
James: James Schramko here, chatting to Gert from SEOLeverage.com. And today, I want to ask you, Gert. Tell me about the recent Google update, BERT. And I’m not making this up like, this literally is. It’s an update. It’s called BERT and it’s an important one for us to know about. And you’re going to tell us why.
Gert: Absolutely, it was a fun day when I heard this came out. I even have an article about it, Gert about BERT, because it’s just so funny. At least, we had a laugh at the team.
BERT is an acronym that stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It really doesn’t matter for anybody running a website. What the important part is that with this update, Google started to understand a lot better what is the meaning of a single word in an article. So if you think about the word “bank”, for example, it could be a riverbank, it could be a bank where you make a deposit. Google didn’t really know before based on the single word. But now what they do is to take the context before and after word into account to really figure out the meaning.
And this basically puts an end, I believe, to every article spinning software or very cheap €2, $2-article you can get (or even cheaper) on the internet. And really puts a huge emphasis on copywriting. Texts now need to make sense. They need to be cohesive, they need to be coherent. They need to be adjusted to the reader’s experience level. So absolutely, if you’re writing content for SEO, make sure you have a very good copywriter on the team or leverage other sources. But definitely make sure your copywriting is absolutely with the right foundation in place. And also make sure you maybe cite references or cite the author even because Google is taking more and more care about who is writing something. There’s just so much content so it’s a problem for Google to figure out what’s legit. So if you have any means of proving that you are serving the space, you’ve written a book, you have certificates, you’re an author. Especially in the health and money-related spaces, it’s more and more important. Google, with their human evaluator’s team is putting a lot of emphasis on this. And definitely make sure your article is written well.
James: So, I used to think that was sort of covered by LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) where they look to see other words in an article nearby, the proximity, to see if it’s got contextual relevance. Is this similar or different?
Gert: It’s an interesting point you’re bringing up. Comparing LSI with BERT is like comparing a bicycle with a Ferrari, right?
James: So, it’s a very advanced version of it.
Gert: I think LSI was created in the 80s before the internet was really a thing. We still refer to LSI when we look for similar keywords we might want to add into an article.
James: Right like pasta, bolognese, tomatoes.
Gert: Exactly, exactly. It’s very important to provide similar topics and LSI tools are still helpful. But LSI is not a ranking factor. It’s not an algorithm. There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there. But definitely, LSI was one intent to check out the quality of a text but this was before the internet. Now, BERT is the Ferrari we need to take care of and definitely prepare our website for this.
James: And when you say copywriting, are you talking about the traditional agency or editorial style of word copywriting, which is like writing words for the content? Or are you talking about the sales copywriter, the one that writes compelling sales messages?
Gert: I think it really depends on each case. So whatever search you want to rank for, you definitely need a different type of copywriter. There are copywriters especially specialized on sales pages and services pages maybe.
James: They’re the ones we hear about a lot in my world.
Gert: Exactly, exactly. There are really geniuses out there.
James: There are words, you know? There’s written words. And then there’s written words that compel people to buy. And we like those ones a lot.
Gert: Absolutely, you can compare two texts written by me, for example, I’m not a good copywriter and written by a professional. And there is absolutely no point of comparison, right? And Google and their human evaluators also pick up this difference. So they know this is a professional text, this is absolutely on topic, on spot for the user that is going to consume it. And that’s, at the end of the day, what really counts – to provide the best user experience possible.
James: Nice. Thank you so much for that update, Gert.
We just found out about BERT, and it is the Ferrari of contextual relevance. So make sure you’re passing that Google filter. And at the end of the day, you know, if Google wants to have a great outcome for their customer. Isn’t that what we want, as well, for our customers to have the best possible experience on our website? So it’s worth paying attention to and investing to get good quality content.
Gert from SEOLeverage.com. If you need a hand with SEO, look him up.
Gert: Thank you very much.
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