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Google BERT and the Future Mix of Content Localization

In this article, we discuss the recent changes introduced by Google BERT and how they impact the Search Quality and Content of your Websites.

Author: Fred Visnevsky

Google BERT + SEO + Website Localization + Content Quality - The Future Mix of Content Localization

Search engines are the primary source of traffic for any website, as, without them, the modern web would be close to impossible to navigate. They provide search functions for millions of users across the globe in various languages. That's why it's in every business's best interest to meet the criteria search engines set for becoming visible on their search results.

Recently, changes to Google Search have set new criteria for the Quality of your content, regardless of your content language. Those changes are here to stay and will influence everything your business does on the Web. That's why it will be crucial to offer your content to the public in its best shape and quality regardless if it's available only in one language or several. The Quality of your content and its localization will become essential.

Global Search Engine Arena

As of 1 January 2020, there were 1,744,517,326 websites, up from 906,616,188 in January 2016. The growth of the web is snowballing. That's why search engines provide the fundamental function of allowing us, the users, to find relevant data on the internet that match our search queries. Without them, you would be lost in a vast sea of websites, with no real way of reaching them.

You can speculate about what the web would look like if there were no search engines. In the most likely scenario, there would be several well-known websites (platforms) with tremendous amounts of traffic and publicity. Meanwhile, smaller websites would be crushed by them and have close to zero chance of getting any traffic or publicity at all.

The threat of such a scenario is why Search Engines play a crucial role in the modern ecosystem of the internet.

The absolute dominant player on the search engine market is Google, which has over 92.54% of the whole market share.

Here's the full breakdown:

Search Engine Global Market Share Breakdown

Search Engine Global Market Share
1. Google 92.54%
2. Bing 2.44%
3. Yahoo! 1.64%
4. Baidu 1.08%
5. Yandex 0.54%
6. DuckDuckGo 0.45%
7. Sogou 0.44%
8. Ecosia 0.14%
9. Shenma 0.08%
10. Naver 0.07%

Google was first out there and is still a highly popular platform, as it provides the most relevant data to its users.
All of us may have heard the term "Let me Google this” once or twice. This term has become synonymous with "search for something on the internet”.

As a result, if you wish to be discovered on Google, you have to play by the rules that Google dictates (no democracy in this case guys), as it has the dominant position.

Google BERT update

The search engine arena is a very dynamic sector, as it covers the whole Web. Google (and other Search Engines) have to tweak, implement new technologies, and adapt continuously. This effort is crucial to stay in touch with the reality of the modern-day internet in order to keep their Search Engine solutions relevant.

Google has recently rolled out its newest update - BERT.

BERT - Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers - in its essence, BERT is a natural language processing technology based on Neural Networks.

"With the latest advancements from our research team in the science of language understanding--made possible by machine learning - --we’re making a significant improvement to how we understand queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search."

Pandu Nayak - Vice President, Google Search

BERT takes the entire Search Engine game to a whole new level. BERT analyzes the language used, the context of words within sentences, and the overall syntax of the text.

Another critical feature of BERT is that you can't (gasp) optimize for it.

"There's nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged."

Danny Sullivan - Google Search representative

What does this mean? Is this the death of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

Not at all, this will lead to the rapid death of Black Hat Marketing (which is already at this point not what it used to be). A brief reminder about what Black hat marketing is:

Black hat marketing is the use of unethical (and sometimes, but not always, illegal) strategies to promote online business. In contrast to the ethical “white hat” strategies, black hat strategies use deception and manipulation to accomplish their objectives.

The goal of SEO and Marketing is to gain publicity for your business; the core difference between black hat marketing and its white hat counterpart is the means of achieving that end goal.

All of the classic White Hat marketing techniques will continue to work. However, one core element will become crucial in this chain: the quality of your content. To take a deep dive into SEO and how it works with Localization and benefits your business, you can check out our recent article

Importance of Content Quality, Translation, and Localization

The Quality of your content will be even more essential for the success of your business on the web (and not only this). A poorly written piece of content will provide less SEO value; meanwhile, well-written content will continue to gain benefits over time. Content Quality will be especially relevant for businesses that have content available in multiple languages.

"We’re also applying BERT to make Search better for people across the world. A powerful characteristic of these systems is that they can take learnings from one language and apply them to others. So, we can take models that learn from improvements in English (a language where the vast majority of web content exists) and apply them to other languages. This helps us better return relevant results in the many languages that Search is offered in."

Pandu Nayak - Vice President, Google Search

With those changes, Google will continue to assign less value to backlinks and specific keywords. Instead, emphasis will be placed on the overall quality of the available content on the website. Regardless of the language(s) this content is available in.

"No matter what you’re looking for, or what language you speak, we hope you’re able to let go of some of your keyword-ese and search in a way that feels natural for you."

Pandu Nayak - Vice President, Google Search

The above quote is the key to future success - content that feels natural to its user will gain value. In contrast, the keyword-stuffed content of the past will become less relevant. Such an approach still means that you can have both, but it will be trickier to achieve such a balance.

When it comes to Localization, the content of a bad translation quality will significantly drop in value. Google will become very good at detecting High-quality localization versus a cheap, low-quality one.

How to Achieve High Quality of Content and Localization?

To play by the updated rules that are introduced by Google BERT, businesses have to follow a simple principle:
Provide high-quality content that is informative, interesting to the reader, and, most importantly - linguistically correct.

In our recent article, we listed the most common challenges that affect the content quality and, as a result, the quality of the translated content.

The most common low-quality factors from our practice are low-quality source texts and companies cutting costs on translation services. The logic behind it in the past was that "If my source content is of good quality, the translated version is merely a bonus." Not anymore. Google wants to make sure that all of the content, regardless of language, is of high quality.

Working with a Professional Translation Agency

That's where Translation Agencies come into play, which will assure a high translation quality for all of your content.
By working with a professional language services provider you gain access to a whole plethora of translation and localization-related services, which are all designed to allow you to achieve high-quality content regardless of language.

The translation agency can help you with existing content by proofreading and enhancing it using professional linguists, which increases its SEO value. It can also professionally Localize this content into other languages, which will attract new international customers and users to your web platforms.

The Bottom Line

In their recent changes, Google has rolled out a BERT update to Google Search. BERT introduces neural networking capabilities to the current search algorithm. Those changes allow a better understanding of the content on a website, with a strong emphasis on the language, sentence structure, and semantics. This results in overall better quality of search results for the end-user.

When it comes to SEO, BERT does change the game a bit. The rules stay the same; however, from this point onwards, Google will have a better understanding of content quality. Poorly written content will rank lower; meanwhile, well-written content will be even more relevant and will gain extra SEO value.

The changes introduced by BERT are here to stay. They are just some of the initial plans by Google to add even more artificial intelligence capabilities to their search engine. If your business works in multiple countries and presents its content in various languages - make sure all of your content is of high linguistic quality.

A business can get away with having high-quality source content, but treating translated content as an afterthought or a "nice to have" addition. Google won't allow you to get away with it anymore. Poorly written content or a bad translation will be called out by Google and, as a result, harm your SEO and ranking value.

That's why it will be essential from now on to have to-quality content, regardless of the language it's available in.

Contact the language experts at AD VERBUM and our team of experienced language industry professionals will help you keep your content in perfect shape in any number of languages.

Start Translating Today

References:

References
Google. 2020. Understanding Searches Better Than Ever Before. [online] Available at: <https://blog.google/products/search/search-language-understanding-bert>

Marketing-schools.org. 2020. Black Hat Marketing | What Is Black Hat Marketing?. [online] Available at: <https://www.marketing-schools.org/types-of-marketing/black-hat-marketing.html>

Twitter.com. 2020. Danny Sullivan. [online] Available at: <https://twitter.com/dannysullivan/status/1188689288915050498?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

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