The benefits Google’s BERT update could bring for your ecommerce store’s product pages

Piranha Designs - Thursday, October 31, 2019

It may be easy to become overwhelmed by the abundance of acronyms in the world of SEO (‘SEO’ itself being just one of them), but that doesn’t mean Google’s recently released BERT algorithm should be ignored.

Indeed, this particular open-source update – its letters standing for the rather catchy Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – could be a particularly significant one for your ecommerce site’s product pages, given its focus on better understanding the intent of search queries.

So, what does BERT actually do?

Reading the above, you may wonder whether BERT is the replacement for RankBrain, which was Google’s 2015 effort to understand searcher intent. As it happens, it isn’t a replacement, with the two instead working simultaneously to decode what a user means when they perform a particular search, and giving them more relevant results accordingly.

While it isn’t the only thing that BERT does, a particular strength of the update compared to previous ones is the more sophisticated way it evaluates prepositions like “to” and “with”.

Among the examples Google provided of how BERT makes a difference was the query “2019 brazil traveller to usa needs visa”.

As human readers, we can easily understand that the person performing this search was probably someone from Brazil enquiring about how to obtain a visa to the United States. However, search results pre-BERT would also provide pages for US citizens interested in travelling to Brazil, which would obviously not meet the requirements of this specific searcher.

What should all of this mean for your ecommerce site?

Such an improved understanding of prepositions could have real positive implications for an ecommerce store wishing to attract more targeted traffic through long-tail queries.

After all, users looking for particular products online often include many specific details in their queries. Searches that use lots of such details and prepositions – for example, “red record player with speakers” or “basswood window shutters with green finish” – are likely to yield a higher proportion of truly relevant results now that BERT has arrived.

Now is the time, then, to consider how you can adjust your ecommerce site’s SEO to make the most of BERT. This should be the case across not only the product detail pages themselves, but also the filtered product grids that arise on your site due to the wealth of product attributes, such as colour, size and material, that you allow shoppers to toggle between when searching.

By citing a greater number of more specific attributes on your product pages and elsewhere around your site, you can help to put your ecommerce store in a strong position to tap into the power of BERT as you look to the busy festive shopping season and beyond.

In fact, why not have a more detailed discussion about this and other aspects of your site’s SEO with our search marketing professionals here at Piranha Designs today? It’s easy to contact us via our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices, and it could help to make a big difference to the effectiveness of your brand’s online presence in the months and years ahead.

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