Google Search BERT and Analytics: Week 42 in SEO

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Week 42 has been one of the most engaging in 2020, with important updates from Google regarding BERT, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics 4.

Google Search BERT is covering almost 100% of searches

Google announced that has almost finished implementing BERT in all English queries.

“Today we’re excited to share that BERT is now used in almost every query in English, helping you get higher quality results for your questions.”Google
google bert example from google
Credits: Google

What is Google BERT?

BERT is a natural language processing AI tool that makes Google understand words better, taking into account their context.

Compared to the end of 2019, when BERT was covering 10% of searches, now the AI tool is almost at 100%.

A new spelling algorithm

Additionally to this deployment, Google shared that a new spelling algorithm will be introduced, minimizing English query errors and minimizing irrelevant search results.

How will BERT affect currently indexed pages?

In principle, because BERT is able to perform language contextualization, the web pages will be indexed based on parts (passages), not as a whole page, as it is done today.

Web page crawling will probably be performed the same as now, but indexing will differ significantly.

Due to mobile-first indexing, we should see changes in ranking for up to 7% of search queries especially on mobile browsers, and their SERPs may differ significantly vs. desktop SERPs.

“We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages. By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for. This technology will improve 7 percent of search queries across all languages as we roll it out globally.”Google

From topics to subtopics

Superior contextualization of language also increases the possibility for Google to satisfy a broader but still relevant user search intent, which currently is performed by analyzing an entire page.

For Content Managers, planning keyphrases will be more important than ever, meaning that they will have to cover also subtopics.

“We’ve applied neural nets to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when you search for something broad. As an example, if you search for “home exercise equipment,” we can now understand relevant subtopics, such as budget equipment, premium picks, or small space ideas, and show a wider range of content for you on the search results page. We’ll start rolling this out by the end of this year.” Google

Video Indexing

We’ve already seen on mobile video chapters – once fully deployed, BERT will be able to identify video parts automatically, creating an interactive structure of each video.

Using a new AI-driven approach, we’re now able to understand the deep semantics of a video and automatically identify key moments. This lets us tag those moments in the video, so you can navigate them like chapters in a book.Google

Read more about BERT on Google:

Request Indexing feature disabled in Google Search Console

Bad news for all those of you that like to submit manually pages to Google index via Google Search Console.

The Request Indexing feature is now disabled due to Google’s indexing structural changes, but probably also due to the officially admitted indexing bugs that happened during the past few weeks.

google search console submit url disabled

According to Google Webmasters:

We have disabled the “Request Indexing” feature of the URL Inspection Tool, in order to make some infrastructure changes. We expect it will return in the coming weeks. We continue to find & index content through our regular methods, as covered here:

Four new great features in Google Analytics 4

Google announced to all Analytics users a new version of its almighty performance measurement tool.

The four new features are supposed to make Analytics more intelligent and focused on ROI:

  • Stronger integration with Google Ads
    • This update lets the users create audiences that can improve ROI
    • Now the system can measure interactions in web and apps altogether, YouTube conversions, revenue from paid channels (not only Google!)
  • More user segmentation
    • Analytics should now help us to find marketing insights based on the stage the customer is in his/her journey: traction channels in acquisition report, engagement, and retention reports, but also (very interesting!) post-converting activity.
  • More data controllers
    • Google Analytics 4 now allows users more granular control, especially in a very valuable area – customer data that can be used (or not!) to optimize Google Ads.
  • Machine-learning algorithm to discover helpful data insights (e.g. cross-channel churn probability, but more to come)