Google Updates 2019: How This New Update Is Changing Seo

Hold the phone! Google has finally released details on its latest overhaul to its algorithm software. It goes by the friendly name of BERT. It’s been described by Google as their biggest update for five years and it’s stirring a lot of chatter in the world of SEO. BERT is sure to be one of the biggest Google Updates 2019 will see. If you’re new to this world then don’t hesitate to check out our previous post, SEO BASICS: 3 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW, to get yourself clued up.

In this post we’ll be talking you through what’s new with this update and try to elucidate some of that confusing jargon surrounding the issue. SEO is complex, but we at Monumental Marketing, an SEO agency in London,  are here to help you understand. Just think of us of your fairy godmother of SEO, sweetie.

1. Who is this Bert guy everyone’s talking about?

First things first, let’s be clear about what BERT is. As friendly as this Bert chap sounds, the title is, of course, an acronym. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. This jargon may sound rather confusing, but in layman’s terms it simply means Google is getting a bit more conversational. The ‘bidirectional’ part of BERT means that Google no longer has to analyse each individual word in a search query separately. Updates to the software mean that the query can be interpreted by Google as a whole phrase, so that more sense can be made of it.

A keyword here is ‘context’. Many search queries are more complicated than one might think, because phrases rely on their context to make exact sense. For example, the word ‘bear’ has 5 different definitions as a verb and 3 as a noun. With the help of BERT, Google will now be able to determine more easily which definition is meant, by better assessing the context of the query. This should help Google users to stop using what has been termed as “keyword-ese”. When a user’s initial query doesn’t return the correct results, the next port of call is often to rephrase it in an unnatural way. In a blog for Google, Pandu Nayak stated that, “In fact, [rephrasing is] one of the reasons why people often use “keyword-ese,” typing strings of words that they think we’ll understand, but aren’t actually how they’d naturally ask a question.” BERT will remove the need for this, making Google search a more user-friendly experience.

Another important facet of BERT lies in its ability to interpret prepositions such as ‘for’ and ‘to’. These are words that are common to us in general speech, but are actually quite difficult linguistically for software to understand. Google is focused on allowing users to interact with its services as though they were dealing with a person. BERT, one of the most tectonic Google Updates for 2019, is a key step in this direction.

2. So, what’s this got to do with SEO?

That’s the burning question that’s on the lips of the SEO aficionados out there. Well, here’s the tea. BERT only analyses search queries, it does not crawl webpages. So, there’s no need to get your panties in a bunch – your site’s rankings aren’t going to be doing backflips. SEO wiz Danny Sullivan has confirmed this:

On top of this, BERT is currently only functioning with U.S. English. For those of you living outside the States, you needn’t be concerned just yet. 

However, it is worth noting that Google is becoming more wise to the quality of written content. As BERT-like software becomes incorporated into site-crawling software, it will become even more imperative that the grammar of web content is impeccable.  Currently, Google updates like this are more concerned with improving search functions like ‘featured snippets’, which provide targeted answers to search queries. The bottom line is, BERT is a big change, but no cause for panic in regards to SEO.

We hope this blog had been illuminating for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

In the world of SEO, things are constantly changing. Google likes to keep us on our toes when it comes to getting the best results for our websites on those coveted top SERPs. That’s why we at Monumental make sure that we are always in the know. That’s how we remain the freshest growth marketing agency London has right now. We love to share our tips and tricks with you – if you missed last week’s blog, 3 Ways Digital PR and SEO Work Together, then be sure to check it out. 

SEO is our topic this week and the word on everyone’s lips is… *club 96*. Just kidding, it’s ‘snippet’. Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, has confirmed in a tweet that webpages in a featured snippet position will no longer be repeated in regular Page 1 organic listings. This might mean nothing to some of you, and induce panic in others. Don’t fear – we are here to set the record straight and make sure that you are well enough informed to continue your SEO efforts to best effect.

1. What on earth are you on about, Danny?

Danny says that the primary reason that featured snippets are no longer repeated is that it “declutters the results & helps users locate relevant information more easily.” It is clear that the priority at Google is with ease of use for the average user. This does mean that the SEOers out there can often bear the brunt of the change, however. While the user experience may improve, the change also now means that being in a featured snippet does less for SEO than before. This is because the link to the site in the featured snippet will go from being featured twice to once on SERPs. Hence, being in the featured snippet becomes slightly less of a coveted spot.

Having one’s site in the featured snippet is still beneficial, though. In fact, it is the equivalent to being ranked number 1 in the basic respect. So, don’t give up on featured snippets just yet, they are still beneficial.

According to Search Engine Land, click-through rate (CTR) on a featured page increased from two percent to eight percent once it’s placed in an answer box, with revenue from organic traffic increasing by 677%. That’s a pretty colossal improvement and if that’s not incentive enough to strive for the top spot then we don’t know what is! If you are looking for in-depth help as to how to achieve goals such as these, then check out our SEO course.

But, for now, we’ll give you a few tips here. There are three types of featured snippet: paragraph, list and table. The most popular is the paragraph – this will often be in answer to a searched question. Evidence suggests that long tail keywords are more likely to trigger a featured snippet. In fact, in general, the longer the search query the higher the likelihood of a featured snippet appearing. Try and insert keywords that fit in with longer tail search queries to increase your chances of being featured. Software such as Serpstat will be helpful to find the best-performing search queries by whether they are linked to the presence of featured snippets.

Also, by identifying which keywords you are already ranking high for, you can get featured more easily after you optimise for snippets. If you look at Google Analytics Console, you will find the Search Analytics report of your top performing queries. You can narrow these to show only question type queries, and from there you can see what you should optimise for.

We hope you found this blog educational and interesting! If you have any further questions, then please do not hesitate to contact us. If you want to know more about SEO specifically, then check out our SEO course.

Google 2020 updates

The Google update has been a hot topic throughout 2020. We have seen a couple of updates since the start of the year with the first one occurring in January and the second taking place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The Google update 2020 to the algorithm has had a significant effect on how content ranks on Google using search engine optimisation (SEO).

You may be wondering what a Google update is! A Google update is a change affecting how rankings are calculated by the Google search engine. Some Google updates involve major changes to Google’s algorithm and some updates may apply filters to refresh the data on which the algorithm runs. These core updates are designed to produce noticeable effects across all search results worldwide. Inevitably, different websites may notice a rise or fall in search ranking off the back of a core update. The changes in search rankings are more or less a reflection of how relevant content is, which means that if a specific type of content has become more relevant since the last update, then it will move higher up in rankings. Overall, the main goal of a Google update is to improve the quality and relevance of search results.

As a digital marketing agency London, we know a thing or two about SEO and how to adapt to these Google updates, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a helping hand.

January 2020

The first Google update of 2020 started right at the beginning of the year dubbed “The January Core Update”. The Google update in January provided a sweeping reevaluation of preferential content; boosting new favourable content over what was previously favourable. In other words, what used to be popular back in 2019 may have not been the case in early 2020. Newly released content could be more popular and so that would rank higher.

But what did this mean for SEO? Some pages saw drops in their search engine rankings, not because there was anything wrong with the content nor were they being penalised by the algorithm, but because their content was not as relevant as it was previously after being evaluated against the new content which has been published since the update. It was important to pay a close eye to how rankings performed to realign content in order to stay at the top of rankings. 

May 2020

The second Google update 2020 took place at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when the vast majority of countries worldwide were under lockdown. There were some significant shifts in user behaviour after the coronavirus was declared the COVID-19 pandemic and this was reflected in the May Google update. COVID-19 changed what people needed from Google’s search engine results; as either a source of crucial health information or as a place for offering services online. 

There were many things gaining relevance which were never as relevant before and vice versa; pre-lockdown content was now less popular. For example; content relating to travel, entertainment and tourism went from being the hot topics to becoming the least relevant. The biggest challenge for Google was catching up with the new COVID world.

The May Google update 2020 revealed Google’s improvement in understanding what it is that a searcher is looking for and surfacing websites that have the best answer to it more effectively through search engine optimisation. Content which improved in rankings had an element of first hand expertise on a topic and smaller websites which were not seen as giant authorities in their verticals saw improvements.   

December 2020?

On December 3rd, Google confirmed the rollout of another core update to end the year. SEOs had been bracing for this google update 2020 since August however many were surprised Google released its update so close to the end of the year and the holiday season. The full effects of this latest update on SEO are yet to be felt as the dust is still settling however this update appears to have the ‘teeth of a true Google broad core update’ with numerous sites seeing huge wins or huge losses as the update began its rollout. 

Google updates do keep SEOs on their toes, but that can be part of the fun… right? Staying on top of search engine optimisation after a Google update can help improve your content, help you stay relevant and keep your business ahead of competitors, giving you the advantage to thrive online. 

If you liked this article on Google updates and its effect on SEO, then check out our 3 Step Guide to local SEO or better yet, sign up for Monumental’s SEO Course for a Masterclass on all things SEO.


  • Alicia, the digital marketing dynamo herself, is our digital marketing Manager at Monumental. We are yet to find something our Indonesian-Belgian princess can't do. Prior to discovering Monumental, Alicia finished an honours degree in Sociology at the University of Kent and began building her marketing network in the Middle East. Having graced us with her stunning social channel aesthetics and unrivalled powers of Influencer marketing and SEO for several years now, it's no wonder she's giving us that side-eye.