October 2019 Google Algorithm Updates
It was quite the busy month for google late September going into October – let’s take a look:
Late September – Google Core Update (Might have rolled into October)
The September 2019 Google Core Update rolled out in Late September. Google announced this update, which typically only happens with larger core updates. This time, Google told us that there is no direct fix to this if your website fell in rankings – but gave some advice on how to regain ranking. Here is an article on Webmaster Cental blog about this. We suspect that this update is mainly due to the content on websites. This update seemed to roll out slowly as people did not see this hit immediately after the announcement.
Bert Update – October 22, 2019
BERT is an update to the RankBrain algorithm. This is an update that uses artificial intelligence to sort out search results and tries to make a more intuitive experience for searches. It uses machine learning to determine what keywords are similar. This way, if websites that don’t necessarily have the exact keywords the search has, but the content is similar, it can show up on searches. In short, the algorithm interprets what you are searching for instead of just using those exact words to find results.
BERT is an enhancement to this algorithm. It tries to understand a search query at a deeper level based on context. Search Engine Journal has a great example of this:
An Example of Context and BERT
The phrase was “how to catch a cow fishing?”
In New England, the word “cow” in the context of fishing means a large striped bass.
A striped bass is a popular saltwater game fish that millions of anglers fish for on the Atlantic coast.
So earlier this month, during the course of research for a PubCon Vegas presentation, I typed the phrase, “how to catch a cow fishing” and Google provided results related to livestock, to cows.
Even though I had purposely used the word “fishing” to provide context, Google ignored that context and provided results related to cows. That was on October 1, 2019.
Today, October 25, 2019 the same query results in search results that are full of striped bass and fishing related results.
The BERT algorithm appeared to have understood the context of the word “fishing” as important and changed the search results to focus on fishing related web pages.
This deeper understanding of the intent of the search will help google display more relevant searches.
Our Interpretation of what BERT will do to Our Client’s Websites:
Because Google is trying to create a deeper understanding of searches, we believe that if the content on each page is centralized around one concept and is easily readable, rankings should improve here. The only time we will see rankings potentially going down is if a search term that did not relate to the site is finally dropping off. For example, if we have a client who has “Enterprise” in their business name, we will likely see traffic fall off (and rankings fall) from searches related to “enterprise rent-a-car” because the intent of the searcher is now understood.
We believe this update has a lot to do with voice search or google assistant searches. Voice searches tend to be longer than searches that are typed out, so google needs to learn how to interpret these searches and the intent a little better. We anticipate more updates of this style.
October in a Nutshell
It’s all about content that is targeted and intentional. Know your subject matter and target audience & create pages for each different topic.