Funeral Home SEO Catchup: Google BERT and Why it Matters

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Have you heard about BERT? No, not Ernie’s fellow stripe-wearing Muppet. The BERT we’re talking about is a Google update.

“Another one?” That’s what you might be wondering if you follow SEO and content marketing news at all.

Yes, another one — and this one’s important.

Google constantly updates its algorithms. In 2018 alone, the search engine made more than 3,000 updates — that’s about nine a day. Deathcare firms can’t keep up with every tweak Google makes to its processes, but you do need to know about the big ones.

Which is what BERT is: Google called it the most important update in the past five years.

BERT: When, Why and What
Google released the BERT update in late 2019, noting that it expected the change to impact at least 1 in 10 search queries.

BERT updates the way the search engine handles natural language queries. Specifically, it improves the AI understanding of words and how humans use them in searches, especially when it comes to words such as prepositions, which can alter the meaning of phrases substantially.

For example, if someone Googles “memorial service by veterans,” they’re likely looking for businesses or services owned or provided by veterans. In contrast, the search “memorial service for veterans” is likely seeking information about a funeral service for a deceased veteran.

The BERT update helps Google return the most valid results for the specific meaning behind the query. It also helps the AI understand how the addition of words in a query change the meaning, making it easier for people to use regional phrases or ambiguous words in their queries.

The word “bass” means multiple things, for example, and BERT looks for other words in the search phrase to understand specifically what the user wants.

A fish? The lower half of a tonal range (as opposed to “treble”)? Shorthand for a bass guitar? Google wants to immediately understand which “bass” you mean when you search for it.

What Does BERT Mean for Funeral Home Marketers?
While BERT itself is huge, the impact to solid content marketing isn’t. If you’re already creating high-quality, user-friendly funeral home marketing content, you might see a slight bump in organic traffic. But you don’t have to do anything or change your processes.

If you’re not creating high-quality content, BERT is another warning shot fired across the bow of your online marketing ship. Google said this update is about rewarding good content. It helps ensure people can search naturally and find content that is relevant to their queries.

And most SEO experts believe BERT foreshadows developments that make it even easier for search engines to understand context and long-tail keywords. That means search is moving ever more specific, and your deathcare content should be answering those specific questions and intents if you want to compete online going forward.