The impact of Google’s BERT on your customer acquisition
This week is all about the B word – and for once, I don’t mean Brexit. If your business is producing content marketing – and let’s face it, who’s isn’t? – then Google’s BERT update is relevant to you.
Firstly, if you’re struggling to keep up with Google’s algorithms, don’t worry; BERT is your friend. In fact, if you are already doing a good job of your content marketing, there is nothing you need to do differently. BERT, officially known as Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (yikes), will optimise your content for you.
So, how can you make sure BERT is on your side?
Write for real people – or better still, a person
Gone are the days of writing for machines (let’s leave manipulation to the political campaigns!). This is your chance to start a conversation with a potential customer, so make it personal and direct. What is it that you can offer them as an individual? They want to know the answers to their questions and for you to solve their problems. BERT is about understanding conversational language, enabling online users to ask a question as they would naturally ask, rather than in keyword phrases. This has become even more relevant as more people turn to Voice Search. 65% of 25-49 year olds now speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once a day.
Takeaway – Use ‘You’ or ‘Your’ as much as possible to directly address your reader and answer their questions. If the question is natural, make the answer natural.
Be the best answer
You may have built your business on offering a product or service for your target audience, but how do they know you are the solution to their problem? Think about what is driving your content marketing editorial calendar. If it’s generic information about your business, you are relying on potential customers to find you and work out what’s in it for them. If you are providing an answer or advice on an issue that concerns them, your content is instantly more searchable, relatable, and as a result, optimised (thanks, BERT).
Takeaway – Put on your secret shopper hat and be your own customer. This way, you will better understand the mindset and intent behind your customers’ queries. Ask yourself, how can your content marketing effectively answer your customers’ questions?
Google’s BERT model is part of one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search. It processes words in relation to others in a sentence, identifying the full context of a word by understanding the words that come before and after it.
Take your time
Did you know, the average blog post takes three hours and 57 minutes to produce? It seems a long time, right? Time spent on researching, writing, editing, proofing and producing infographics is actually up by 65% since 2014. And why shouldn’t it be? You wouldn’t question this amount of time spent at a networking event. Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. If you want to engage with your target market – spending time on your content marketing is a good investment.
Takeaway – Don’t rush your content marketing. As Google explains in its blog post; the BERT update is to understand and support ‘longer, more conversational queries’.
Whether it is on a blog post or landing page on your website, think about the best way to structure your content. We all know someone who goes off on a tangent with their conversations (sorry, Mum), so have this person in mind when producing your content to remind you what not to do. Instead, keep information to the point, structured and easy to digest but also maintain engagement. Short paragraphs, lists, bullet points, subheadings and visuals are all effective ways to structure your content marketing and work wonders for ranking and featured snippets, something that BERT supports. One of our more technical clients swears by the motto “keep it simple, stupid”…and judging from their success, it works!
Takeaway – There will be some readers who just take in the headings and visuals and others who read in detail. Structure your content in a way that helps your customers easily find the information they are after.
At TWI, we are huge advocates of content marketing. For many of our clients, it’s their greatest customer acquisition tool. We’re excited to see such a significant development in Search and look forward to seeing the BERT update support our clients’ page one Google rankings.