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Medical SEO Voice Search Optimization (BERT)

Medical SEO Voice Search Optimization (BERT)

We are “Speaking” to devices, like Siri from Apple and Alexa from Amazon. More and more patients are searching online using these devices and digital assistants. Search engines such as Google are placing a higher emphasis on voice search optimization. After all, the point of Medical & Dental SEO is to rank medical and dental websites accurately so patients can find the best information for their search query as accurately as possible. Hence “BERT”.  Google announced an open-source neural network-based technique for natural language processing called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT, for short.

BERT From Google Search, For Medical & Dental SEO

The way Google provides search results has gone through many different adjustments and algorithm changes. Where we are today is light years from where we were a decade ago. There are advances in search engine technology every year, and the changes Google makes to its search algorithm isn’t even always announced. This ends up leaving website owners to figure out on their own what they need to do to optimize their website for search.

There are billions of search queries every day that Google provides search results to users. Many of these search queries are common and are things they see every day. These searches have a good history of successfully providing relevant results to the people who search for them. However, there are some searches that Google has never provided results for. These challenges have forced Google to build ways to provide results for searches they’ve never seen before. Adding problems to search is that people don’t always know exactly what they are looking for to begin with. There may be a misspelling, misuse of words, or other problems that don’t quite get the search query just right.

BERT From Google Search, For Medical & Dental SEO
BERT From Google Search, For Medical & Dental SEO

Google has worked for years, making its search engine respond better to natural language. In fact, many people would use specific keywords in their searches to help Google provide them the right results. Previously, the search engine had trouble handling complex queries and queries that are conversational. However, that has changed with new advancements in search at Google that allow a better understanding of natural language while searching. Last year, Google announced an open-source neural network-based technique for natural language processing called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT, for short.

What exactly does “BERT” do to search for my medical practice?

BERT will consider all the words in a search sentence rather than look at them one by one. The result? The full context of your search is considered when returning results. This change is helpful for search engines to understand the intent of your search query. In order for a website to take advantage of this change in search technology, they must adjust their content strategy. 

The BERT search model affects not only rankings but also featured snippets in search results. Ideally, Google wants to provide its users with as much useful information as possible more efficiently. The company estimates that nearly 10% of all English searches in the United States will benefit from his new model, and it will eventually be applied to other languages over time. Search requests that are more conversational and include words like “For” and “To” benefit significantly from his search model. By better understanding the context of a search, better results can be provided. Prepositions can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence, so this improvement will undoubtedly affect not only search results by the way people search. These changes will apply to healthcare search results as well. 

What are some ways the BERT search model will affect my search results for my medical practice? 

For example, if you were to search “2019 Indian traveler to USA needed vaccines,” the word “to” indicates someone is traveling from India to the United States, and not the other way around. Previously, Google would consider every word in that search query without context. It may provide you with a vaccine list while traveling to India, which would work for those words but not for the context of those words. The BERT model applied to search takes the “to” into consideration and, therefore, will provide the user with more relevant results.

Another example of how BERT can help with search results would be the phrase, “treatments for legs while I stand at work.” The words “stand” and “work” can have multiple meanings. However, when taken into context with the entire sentence, more relevant results will be presented.

With context becoming more critical in search results, you should strive to have your content sound more natural and conversational. This may mean spending a considerable amount of time rewriting the content on your medical practice’s website. While this may be time-consuming, you will reap the long term benefits of your efforts. First, you will bring your content in line with new search engine practices that allow you to present your website as a relevant search result to more and more potential patients. Second, this could be an excellent time for you to update your website’s content to reflect any changes in medical practices. You should be doing this on a regular basis, but if you have fallen behind, this is a great chance to accomplish two things at once. Updating your medical content to reflect current medical trends and writing it in a way that falls in line with new BERT search models will be beneficial to the growth of your practice.

What are some other ways BERT can help people find my website?

Another way Google is applying BERT to search to provide better results is by using its improvements and applying them to other languages. As the system learns context in English, those patterns and context can be applied to other languages. If you have patients that are searching in your area in a different language, BERT can provide more relevant results and help them find your website.

Should I expect continued changes in search that will change my SEO strategies?

Yes, you should. However, these changes will only make it easier for patients to find your medical practice, but only if you keep your website up to date. The “best practices” for SEO Optimization that were all the rage years ago are becoming less and less effective. Search is now moving towards a more natural language, focusing on the way people speak and context. You should strive to have your SEO Optimization strategies match people’s natural conversation. With that said, Google will continue to make improvements to its search engine, and they will not always get everything right. Improvement of search results using natural language will be an ongoing challenge for Google. You should expect to see further changes as years go on and improvements will be made. If you stay on top of these changes and apply them to your website, you will be in good shape to continue to grow your medical practice.

How can I learn more about BERT search models and make sure my website is optimized for it?

Call Patient Gain today and speak with our experts. We are continually refining our client’s websites to reflect the best practices in search. Make an appointment today with our specialists so we can show you what we can do for your medical practice.