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How do I write great content following Google's BERT update ?

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

If you're short on time, the simple answer to this question is, you don't. At least, you can't really optimise content for this update as its designed to better understand search intent, but what you can do is improve the content on your website, in your blog and on social media so it genuinely gives away your knowledge and expertise, adding real value.

If you want more traffic to your site, I recommend you change your strategy and intent to focus on helping people.

For most small and medium sized organisations, the drive to get onto page 1 of Google and stay there is an ongoing battle. Marketing and SEO Consultants do their best to stay on top of the latest updates from Google and for many business owners and marketing leaders, its often a source of frustration.

We all know that our customers will often turn to their search engine (probably Google) when they need something, and we know that we should be on page one if their search query relates to our business or industry. Its these queries that result in website visits, that lead to more customer leads and result in revenue growth.

So what is the latest update from Google all about?

In simple terms, the BERT algorithm goes beyond understanding what each word in a sentence means and actually understands the context of your customers search intent. It also understands the nuances of the language used and the words they write in their search query.

Its pretty amazing really, another step forwards for what's possible with a deep learning search algorithm and natural language processing.

So what does this mean for small and medium business owners?

It means you need to write content that is genuinely useful, adds value to your customers, answers their search queries, resolves their frustrations and gives expertise away in language they can understand.

It means the better you write content to answer the questions your customers are asking, the more likely you are to rank on page one and get found by your customers.

The problem is, how do you know if you’re writing great content?

Here’s my 3 tips to help you get it right:

1. Don’t just assume you know what your customers search queries are. Collect the data to validate. Ask your front-line people what questions your customers are asking them… sales, delivery, practitioners, customer service, consultants etc. Whoever is dealing with your current customers on a day to day basis.

These people are hearing the frustrations, the questions, the hopes, dreams, fears, complaints and more. Put a system in place to capture this information and feed it into your content strategy.

2. Look where your customers tend to hang out online (ask them if you’re not sure!)

Linked In groups and forums for example. What questions are being asked? What issues are being discussed? In particular, questions that relate to your industry.

Again, put a system in place to capture this information and feed it into your content strategy, write blogs and create social media content that answers these questions.

3. Leverage technology to give you insights that would otherwise take you weeks of research to identify. As Google’s ability to understand the specific intent of a search becomes more sophisticated, so do the tools available to help you write great content.

Now these tools come with a price tag, but if you have a marketing team in house, they can really augment their role and make them far more accurate and efficient and that translates into higher Google rankings, more client enquiries and (if your sales team are closing deals), more revenue!

Here are some of the SEO tools that can help you gain a better understanding of your customers search intent and write more structured and relevant content:

- Act-On

- SEMrush

- SE Ranking

- Serpstat

- SpyFu

- Moz Pro

Share this with your marketing team and insist on having a content strategy for your website, blog and social media that uses the right language to answer your clients search queries and ultimately adds value.

Our tools can tell you exactly what your customers are asking and how to write content they will love.

So what does BERT stand for?

BERT - Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

BERT enables bidirectional understanding of a search result, or in other words, it can determine the relevant meaning of a word by looking at the words that come before and after.

In many ways, its enabled Google to become more efficient at understanding human vocabulary that humans, because we are likely to debate the nuances of language and the implied meaning.

Bonus tip:

BERT will also impact the quality of results that appear in "featured snippets" or "answer boxes"; these are the results that appear at the top of Googles organic search result, above the ads. They aim to answer the search query immediately.

If you can write relevant content that gets featured as a snippet, you're very likely to drive more traffic to your website. Consider how well your copywriters are capturing snippets of information that answer your customers queries, are they clear, concise and valuable? Are they able to transfer learning in a short paragraph?


One Zebra uses storytelling and artificial intelligence tools to help you get more customers, close more sales and ignite revenue growth.

Check out the video below to hear what Tyler, a previous customer had to say about working with us:

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