Google new algorithm update is called BERT. How does it impact small business websites?

Google BERT rolls out with a puff

The recent core update to Google’s algorithm is called BERT. BERT was met with a lot of fanfare and a bit of an anti-climax. The algorithm update seems to have had little to no impact on our client’s websites, with it seemingly being business as usual for small to medium businesses. In fact if you aren’t a digital marketer or web designer you would be forgiven for having no idea what this is all about.

Core updates to the Google algorithm are not designed to be a bad thing, though bad things have happened to websites that have been built using bad practices. The Penguin and Panda updates shook the online world and it was almost as if the digital equivalent of a natural catastrophe had occurred. Websites that had ranked highly on Google literally disappeared over night, putting an enormous amount of businesses at the time in jeopardy. Websites built with dubious practices were caught out and many sites disappeared into to the digital ether.

Panda core update – This targeted those that had “dodgy” keyword stuffed content

Penguin core update – This targeted those that had manipulated “dodgy” back links

The reality is Google is not intentionally attempting to punish bad Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) behaviour, rather rewarding those that behave themselves. It’s all about delivering the best results for users. Google’s priority is to give users the most suitable results for their search query.

Don’t underestimate the impact of BERT. Just because BERT didn’t hit like a digital tsunami similar to the Panda and Penguin core updates doesn’t mean it’s any less significant.

BERT is all about search moving forward. It’s to do with natural search, particularly from voice activated devices. And the groundswell is only getting bigger.

A study conducted in 2018 had voice activated search running at 57% and this is increasing rapidly.


What BERT means for you as a small to medium business owner with a website is that content is king, and content marketing is more important than ever. BERT focuses on long tail search key words, i.e. instead of searches like “plumbers Ballarat”, it may focus on more natural longer keyword searches that people may ask a device. “I need a plumber to install an Aquamax hot water system in North Ballarat”

Two key areas for consideration:

Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about sharing relevant, interesting information to your website, typically via blogging. Content marketing allows you to have information on your website that naturally answers more long tail search queries.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQs enable you to put answers on your website that answer these genuine frequently asked questions that are relevant and specific to your industry or area of expertise.

At Goop Digital we have a Google Home in the boardroom for the exact purpose of testing the results of our efforts. Voice search is becoming increasingly important and the release of the BERT core update to the Google algorithm is testament to the importance that web designers and digital marketers such as ourselves need to place on quality content for voice search.

Search Engine optimisation (SEO) was developed to get your business results to rank highly in Google. This was originally done for your desktop and laptop computer. This evolved into mobile devices and Google has now officially flagged with us (via BERT) that we are now going “Where no man has gone before,” the new frontier – voice search.

If you would like any help optimising your website for voice search or want to find out more about how we can help with your overall Search Engine Optimisation, please contact us today.

What does BERT mean?

Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformers. I.e. Helps Google understand / translate what the hell you are actually talking about or asking.



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