Google’s John Mueller answered whether BERT is making exact match keywords less important. Mueller explained the purpose of BERT and how it could affect keyword usage over the long term.
Question about the influence of BERT on keywords
The question was asked as part of a Google Office Hours hangout. The person asked if BERT is creating exact match keywords in less important content.
Here is the question:
“If BERT comes out, will the importance of exact keyword and exact match keyword decrease?”
Google’s John Mueller first noticed that BERT has been used for some time and that it is not “coming out” as if it was being rolled out.
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“I think BERT has been working in different ways for a long time.”
John next offered background information on BERT:
“So BERT is essentially a machine learning facility. Basically, I believe to understand the content a bit better.
The queries people enter understand them better and understand the content of your pages a little better.
And with all of these … machine learning approaches, we’re trying to figure out what these pages are actually about, what the query is actually looking for, and we’re trying to match that a bit better. “
Mueller confirms the direction of the impact on keyword usage
John next highlights what many in the SEO community have seen over the years in terms of exact matching keywords in content.
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One example is the case of misspellings. In the past it was useful to season a page with common misspellings. This allowed a low quality affiliate site to rank above authoritative sites, sites that would never knowingly add misspellings to their pages.
This is no longer the case. Google can rate authoritative websites for misspelled keywords in search queries.
Mueller’s answer confirms that Google is moving towards less reliance on exact match keywords, highlighting misspellings for exact matches and variations on singular / plural keywords as an example.
Here is Mueller’s explanation:
“In my view, all of these changes that have been made over the years mean that you no longer need to have the exact keywords on your pages.
And that’s something I think SEOs may have subconsciously seen over the years too, where they realize you don’t need to have singular and plural versions on your side. You don’t have to have all the common misspellings on your part.
All of these things are less critical on your pages as long as they really match what the user is actually looking for. “
Google is not deliberately moving away from exact match keywords
Mueller clarified that the less important direction of exact match keywords is not the purpose of BERT and other algorithms.
He explained that the real purposes and objectives of these algorithms were to find useful answers to search queries.
“With that in mind, it could be said that this is going in the direction of reducing the importance of exact matches for your keywords in your content.
But that is not the goal of these algorithms. Rather, our goal is to understand the large amount of content a little better so that we can show users the correct versions upon request. “
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SEO and keywords for BERT
John Mueller made it clear that Google is (unintentionally and unintentionally) moving in the direction that exact match keywords are becoming less important.
But he didn’t directly say that exact keywords were less important.
It’s probably safe to say that, as has always been the case, it remains a best practice to write content that is topic-related and easy to understand. If using a keyword is important to understanding what its content is about, then it makes sense to keep using it.