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Google’s new updates include changes that will impact what sites Google ranks in the search engine’s AI.

Google BERT

BERT is a technique for Natural Language Processing (NLP) that helps Google to better understand the intent of a search query. The change to how BERT is used impacts nearly 100% of searches whereas last year it only impacted 10%. Google BERT is already implemented for every search query that users make. BERT will affect almost every English language search query on Google.

Latest Spelling Algorithm

Google also announced changes in its spelling algorithm to help the search engine understand misspelled words. What makes the spelling algorithm of interest is that it helps Google understand the context of misspelled words.

Passages Indexed

Google's search algorithm will now also be able to index individual passages of text within web pages, not just the web page itself. So essentially, passages from a web page can be ranked when returning a search query. Google says that this will impact 7% of search queries.

Example of a before and after search results showing how Google ranks passages from a web page instead of a web page. This update enables Google to surface pages where the answer to a query is deep within the content.

Google is also highlighting specific text matches in featured snippets, and even video segments, within some search queries. Now, this will be made more widely available.

Hum to search

Google's also trying to do something similar to Shazam, with its audio algorithms now able to identify popular songs based on people humming or whistling to the search app. Google's algorithm will then identify potential song matches, based on your tune.


Google also made updates on subtopics, which will have a significant effect on how search queries are ranked. For example, the key phrase “home exercise equipment” is quite unclear and may have diverse meanings to different users. Similarly, when typing in the word “jaguar”, the search engine could show different results, referring to the animal, the car, or the football team. Subtopic Ranking is going to make it harder to rank for high traffic broad keyword phrases. However, it can be a huge advantage for website owners that optimize specific subtopics.

Change in Video Content

This update will affect 10% of searches. which is a game-changer that may force many SEOs and webmasters to use videos in their content. In this update, Google will use its AI to understand the different passages within videos. Google will analyze videos, assign a tag to each section to describe what it’s about, and then redirects users to these videos.

Data Sets in Search

Lastly, websites that sell statistical reports or rank for statistical information will be impacted. This update bypasses webpages, showing the statistics directly in the search result so that users can quickly get answers to their questions.


All the above changes do seem to impact search optimization, mainly the ranking passages, which impact 7% of search queries, creates more competition because now more pages are eligible to rank. Most of these won't have a significant impact on general SEO approaches but will have an impact on ranking, which may influence traffic flow, but they apparently won't lead to major shifts in performance.



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