The Google algorithm that determines which are pages and articles are deemed important enough for the front page is something of a mystery. For a while, it was enough for people to game the system by stuffing keywords into every square inch of the page. However, that has changed over the last few years, slowly moving towards a system where it is the content that matters most. However, we’re going to examine the newest changes to the algorithm, so you can see what you need on your page to get ranked.
Google Bert Update and Rollout
The first major update that occurred within the last few months was certainly the BERT update and rollout. This started in October and ended in December, so the effects of this system have already started to reverberate throughout the larger SEO industry.
BERT stands for bidirectional encoder representations from transformers, which is a process by which Google understands the meaning of a word based on the context in which it is placed, often relative to the word before and after it.
Basically, the BERT system is refining the way that queries and searches are understood and processed by Google. Specifically, the searches that are getting the greatest amount of attention from this system are those with prepositions that can change the overall meaning of the query.
The system has been rolled out and put into action already. Right now, the system is limited as it is being used in a testing phase. Thus, you can expect this to impact about ten percent of all the searches that you perform on the search engine. This is already a large change, and it’s only going to grow. It’s going to affect everything so that more useful, direct information is provided.
Google Core Algorithm Update
Google was also spotted working on their core algorithm in recent months. Specifically, they performed a moderate update in early 2020, sometime in the first two weeks of January.
Anyone that knows about the core algorithm updates, in general, realize that this is a significant event, even if it is not the largest of the core updates to come out in recent member. While this one was smaller, it has changed whether many industries that are searched within Google are found.
Google describes these core updates as being ‘designed to ensure that overall, we’re delivering on our mission to present relevant and authoritative content to searchers.”
While doing this update is certainly going to change many elements of the core algorithm, the fact remains that some industries were getting hit a lot harder than others. According to early results, many of the changes occurred in areas such as health, internet communications, vehicles, government, and finances. As a result, some sites saw their page traffic shrink with this latest update. That appears to be the only core update that is expected at this time.
Snippet Dupe Correction
The other significant area of change for Google in the last month has been on the SERP, which is the search engine results page that comes up when you input something into Google. The thing that was happening in the past is that the URL for the position zero is no longer going to be duplicated on the SERP.
To break that down, when a company was the first search response on a page, you would often see it displayed twice. It would be the first item that you see on the page, which is supposed to display the most correct answer for the query according to Google’s algorithm. Directly after that, there would be the search page’s other results. This would include that same article from position one again, and then the site would list all the other important results that have come up as a result of the page.
Now, there has been a duplicate correction. Instead of being able to have the top site displayed twice, it is only displayed on the website once. That ultimately cuts down on the amount of exposure that a certain topic will get when it is on a search result. Some businesses have cried foul, that the SERP will make people go for the first business under the top listing because that one appears to be “recommended” by Google, and they want to find their own company. Yet, it’s just another move that Google has made in order to ensure that they can list more informative search results for every query that comes across their search engine.
The mysterious algorithm has undergone some serious updates in the last six months. As we’ve shown, the introduction of BERT in recent months along with core update and snippet work. These are not an indication that anything completely different has changed with regards to SEO. However, they do show that Google is constantly refining its methodology and that anyone hoping to perform well with regard to SEO needs to understand the changes.