Google: BERT used on almost every English query

Oct 15, 2020 | Search Engine Optimization News

Google announced at the Search on 2020 event that now BERT powers almost every single English based query done on Google Search.

When Google first added BERT to Google Search, it was used on 10% of English queries. Now it is used in almost 100% of English based queries.

In December 2019, Google expanded BERT to over 70 languages.

You should note, this wouldn’t impact a site’s ranking exactly, in fact, you cannot optimize for BERT. BERT just better helps understands your query to the content on web pages.

To learn more about BERT, see our deep dive on Google BERT.

Google also explained that it has improved results on “specific searches” by 7%. Google did this through different AI and machine learning techniques. Google also improved search results and answers on more “broader searches.”

More improvements. Here is a quick summary of what Google announced:

  • New advancements in language understanding are making Google Search work much better for you. Made possible through advancements in AI, including a new spelling algorithm, the ability to index specific individual passages from web pages, and new techniques to help people find a wider range of results.
  • Improvements in Google Maps that help you navigate your world and get things done. From an expansion of live busyness information to millions more places, to details about the health and safety precautions businesses are taking during COVID-19, to the upcoming ability for people to see helpful information about a restaurant, store or business directly in Live View using AR.
  • The ability to now hum, whistle or sing a melody to Google to solve your earworm. On your mobile device, tap the mic icon in the Google search bar and say “what’s this song?” or click “Search a song,” and start humming for 10-15 seconds. On Google Assistant, simply say, “Hey Google, what’s this song?” and then hum the tune.
  • New Lens and AR features in Google Search that help you learn and shop. Lens is making it easier for people to discover (and even style) products as they browse online and with augmented reality, we can now bring the showroom to you if you can’t be there in person.
  • Finally, Duplex technology is now calling businesses to automatically update handy details like store hours and takeout options on Search and Maps. This year, we’ve used Duplex to make more than 3 million updates to businesses like pharmacies, restaurants and grocery stores that have been seen over 20 billion times in Maps and Search. 

Here are some tweets explaining some of these improvements.

Google also showed off the “in this video” feature and how it will be expanded:

Google also added the ability to “hum to search” so you can find that song stuck in your head. Google said people search 100 million times per month to detect a song.

The announcement. Here is the full announcement and also the video to watch the full announcement.

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Why we care. Here are some things you, as SEOs and marketers, can work on to get more relevant traffic to your site. Some of these new features may drive more traffic to your site. Some you need to optimize for, and some you just might benefit from without doing anything to your site.

For the searcher, these mostly seem like big wins.

About The Author

google-bert-used-on-almost-every-english-query Google: BERT used on almost every English query
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.


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