A Better Understanding of Searches: What is Bert?

People back in the days used to do their research using the old-fashioned way, from books and published articles, since they were the most reliable resources. However, ever since the internet was introduced, people run to their smartphones if they have any burning query that needs a quick response. Google Search is the most dependable search engine, and it is utilized by millions of users worldwide.

It’s fascinating if you get to know just how curious people are out there. People Google almost everything, from simple questions to complex ones, and they expect this engine to continually give them a proper answer. Multiple users fill the search engine with billions of searches daily, and approximately 15% of the questions are always new to the guys working on the search engine. This has forced the team to resort to working toward giving results to searches they weren’t anticipating.

Most of us approach the search engine with little or no knowledge of what we want to learn, but isn’t that the sole purpose of using Google Search? Most of the words or phrases used on the search bar are usually off or incorrect since we’re researching something new. We often don’t even know how to formulate and structure the questions that we want to ask nor the right words and spellings to use for the query.

Have you ever written down a phrase on the search bar only to have the results based on a corrected version of the question you were implying? It is correct if we would say that Search is all about understanding the language of a user. Understanding in the sense of getting clarity of the user’s intentions and coming up with the best results for the same.

The Google Search team’s work is to analyze your statement, figure out what you’re trying to search for, and provide helpful info from the web. This is regardless of how you combine or spell the words used on the question. The team’s notable effort is their consistent improvement in their language understanding and analyzing capabilities done over the past few years. However, setbacks include getting false interpretations, especially on complex words and questions.

Have you ever heard of keywords? Do you know why they are so crucial in websites and articles? Now that it’s pretty challenging for Google Search to understand complex questions, people have opted for keyword-use to refer to what they would want to know. They are usually phrases, even though quite different from how one would ask a question, but relatively simple for the team to understand what you’re interested in learning about.

One of the latest improvements of the Google Search research team is machine learning in the science of language understanding. They are making progress in finding ways of understanding queries, which is the most significant leap in the history of Search. So what is it all about? What should you expect? Read on to find out.

How to Apply Bert Models to Search

Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, BERT, is a network-based neural NPL technique (Natural Language Processing) per-training. This open-source technology was introduced in 2018 to help any user to train their own question-answering system. The invention was a breakthrough from the Google research team on the models that process words to the rest of the terms in a statement rather than singling each word in order (transformers).

Therefore, BERT models are meant to analyze the entire context depending on the words that precede and come after it. This technique is ideal for considering the full possibilities of the user’s intention while asking a particular question using a specific word. It better understands the intent behind asking for a specific question.

However, the team realized that they needed some software advancements and a set of new and improved hardware. Some BERT models are pretty complex in that they push the limits of the traditional hardware capabilities. As a result, Cloud TPUs were introduced to get relevant information for the search results quickly.

Cracking Your Questions

Well, that might have been a lot of shocking technical information for you, so here is a piece of explanation of what you stand to gain from it all. When you head over to Google Search, you expect to get answers to the queries that you type on the search bar. Despite your spelling mistakes or having sentence structure that might not be correct, as a user, you expect Google to answer your question accurately so that you can get on with life after learning something new.

When BERT models are applied to your Search’s feature snippets and ranking, Google Search can do a better job in providing you with valuable results to your questions. As a start, BERT can help understand searches in US English, about one in each ten. You’ll also be comfortable searching for any queries as you can phrase a question naturally.

The technology can even analyze complex queries where prepositions matter to develop the best results for you. This gives a user the freedom to be as raw as possible in formulating the question, knowing that accurate results will be provided to them. Before the program’s launching, a lot of testing was done to ensure that it would be practical and valuable once released to the public.


The following are examples that show the significantly different part that BERT has made a change in search results. They each demonstrate BERT’s ability to understand your query and provide relevant answers to it ideally.

1. Let’s consider the query – ‘2019 brazil traveler to the USA need a visa.’

Typically, before BERT models were introduced, the phrase ‘to’ would usually be ignored in the sentence, and the query will produce answers that will not address the user’s intent. The significance of the phrase ‘to’ is so huge because it draws the line on what the actual question implies. Formerly, the results would twist to providing solutions for American citizens traveling to Brazil.

However, with BERT models, there is a more defined clarity on the user’s needs. So when it comes to issuing results, the phrase ‘to’ will be put into considerations, and the results will be more accurate. In this case, you might be directed to websites with the requirements of attaining a visa to the US, qualifications of traveling to the US, the application process, and the costs that you might incur for the visa.

2. Let’s put another query in the picture – ‘do estheticians stand a lot at work.’

In the past couple of years, the kind of results you might get for such a query might have shocked you. Well, it is not the user’s fault when they happen to construct a sentence poorly since they mostly have an idea of what they want but letting it out is quite different. Previously, before BERT models were introduced, the word ‘stand’ was related to the phrase ‘stand-alone,’ and results would reflect the latter.

Ever since the technology was launched, the words’ actual placement mattered in the delivery of the results. In this case, the stand will be more in the context of a job’s physical demands so that the results will be directly related to that. It makes it easier for the user to learn and spend less time trying to figure out the correct way of phrasing a question to get the kind of answer they are expecting.

3. Here’s an additional question – ‘can you get medicine for someone pharmacy.’

Such a query will generally be answered by getting a prescription from a pharmacy if we were using the older methods. It explains how the results have neglected the word ‘someone’ in the question and focused on getting medicine from a pharmacy. But all that was changed when BERT models were introduced.

You can now get more satisfying results that directly address the context of the question without emitting any vital words. BERT will influence how someone can get a prescription for a friend or family member from the pharmacy. They will also detail the proper procedures to follow, what you might require to make the process smooth, and the kind of medicines you can take for someone else.

4. Another question – ‘parking on a hill with no curb.’

Without BERT models, you’ll get results to give you tips on how to park on both an uphill and downhill. The guidance will include a step-by-step guide to follow to ensure that you perfectly park your car on the curb in a proper manner. However, that will not address the user’s query who wants a solution to such an urgent matter, and it might mislead him/her leading them to curse the internet and the tips offered there. This shows how the word ‘no’ was ignored in the question, leading to incorrect results.

After BERT was introduced, the results were more straightforward, and they address the question directly as it is without paraphrasing or changing it to a different perspective. In such a question, the results will be centered on parking at a parking lot that does not have a curb, which is the question’s primary intention. You will get instructions and guides to follow on how to do it, which will satisfy your needs perfectly.

5. An added query – ‘math practice books for adults

Before BERT models were introduced, the word ‘adult’ matched with the word ‘young,’ and all results were centered on ‘young adults.’ This made it difficult for any learner to get reading materials for grownups since the age bracket for young adults is still below 12 years. In such a search, you’d get results that will recommend books for ten-year-olds, eight years, and even six-year-old children. That will not be the kind of results that you were expecting.

However, on the other hand, with BERT, there is a better understanding of the word ‘adult,’ and it categorizes them as grownups or mature people. With that in mind, the results provided will be for the group of already learned people. They are seeking either to remind themselves of some things that they might have forgotten or further knowledge. That is the significance of having BERT models in Google Search.

Improving Search in More Languages

The Google research team intends to expand its boundaries and make Search become a better experience for users worldwide. As much as English is the widely used language for searches, it is only fair if other languages were included to make it comfortable for every user. Some people cannot correctly read or write English, and it is imperative if we took Search to their doorstep.

One of the improvements currently undergoing is providing room for users to learn from language, translate, and apply the result to other languages. It will also help Google to return results that are accurate in multiple languages without misleading the user. Currently, Google uses snippets in 24 countries where the feature is readily accessible, and there is an excellent noted improvement in Hindi, Korean, and Portuguese languages.

Search is not a Solved Problem

Regardless of the language that you speak or whatever you’re searching for, Google has made it possible for you to let off the keyword-use and use the natural words you are comfortable with. However, BERT is not always effective as sometimes it can disappoint you on the Search. Language understanding is an ongoing challenge that keeps the team on toes trying to make things better for the user and improve Search.

Ultimately, things will improve as the team works in getting the most accurate results for every query keyed in on Search! We ought to be patient with the team as they are working tirelessly to ensure that we get the best results for each query posted on Search. Moreover, we are encouraged to use our natural filler words to gather enough data to improve the Search in multiple local languages.

How well does it sound when you get the accurate results you’ve been looking for on Google? So far, how can you rate the success rate of BERT models? Is it good enough? Has it made a significant change? Leave a comment.

Jeannie Brouts

by Jeannie Brouts

Jeannie Brouts is a Marketing Manager at SEO Vendor. She has 10 years of experience in White Label SEO and online marketing. Jeannie loves writing about the latest ways to help businesses market and produce results.

One comment

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    Michael Swift

    March 26, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    It’s fascinating how Google has evolved through the years. Before BERT was introduced, you had to be specific in what keywords to use to get the results you wanted. Those were the days.

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