Did Googles BERT Open The Gates For Short Form Content?

I’ve been troubled since the announcement of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) by Google that had rolled out the week of October 25th, 2019.


Not by the SEO implications but by the dozens of grown men posting pictures of Bert from Bert and Ernie of Muppet fame.


Danny Sullivan (a cofounder of Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine LandMarketing LandMarTech Today and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo and MarTech events) went so far as to post a selfie with Bert sans Earnie.



Danny Sullivan and Bert the Muppet selfie



Bert and Earnie from Sesame Street are 2 grown adult male puppets that have been living together for 50 years (the age of Sesame Street this year- 2019).


Why are adult males so interested in this 50-year-old “I’m not gay puppet?


To cast any implications aside in this day of “you looked at me I’m suing you for harassment”


I’ve decided to use Bert Parks for my interpretation of Googles BERT, best known for hosting the annual Miss America telecast from 1955 to 1979.


Lots of pretty women, not creepy male puppets.


I’ll remind our readers that there are lots of other Berts you can associate this Google algorithm update with.


Bert Lahr Bert LahrBert Convy Bert Convy Bert Reed



Let’s share the love people.



That said here’s my first highly unscientific BERT (as in Google’s) test.


Look at my Windy City Parrot blog and you’ll see that the majority of posts are blended micro-posts, in other words, a single thread weaves the discussions together as in “Macaw” parrot.


In this “Macaw” parrot post, for example, I talk about finding four unique solutions for four of 43 known subspecies of macaw parrots.


A problematic issue with this approach is that you only provide one headline even though there are actually three additional headlines within the post but this method has worked well for us and our reputation.

Thank you Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media for helping me align my content by this process.

It enables me to achieve consistent 1200 to 3600-word posts without breaking a sweat.


Then there was this explosion of discussions on how to deal with BERT.


Rachel Brosnahan Call Center GIF by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Find & Share on GIPHY


Yet here’s the aforementioned Danny Sullivan Tweeting,


“There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.”


Full transparency – I am a data geek but I’m just a data hack.


My strength is not simply looking at the numbers but looking for what’s missing, what I expect but don’t see.


In viewing all the before and after BERT SERP results I viewed online it was clear that queries touched by BERT were presented with a more granular answer than pre-BERT.


So the seven voices in my head had a meeting/argument and decided that we would start to post short-form (low word count), simple answers that would surely meet the queries criteria for rewarding a high ranking answer (SERP).


Perhaps writing about nine ingredients in the Swiffer Wet Jet solution (floor cleaner) are purified water, ethyl alcohol, Polypropylene Glycol N-Butyl Ether, Alkyl Polyglucoside, Didecyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride…………………… some of which are not bird-safe really doesn’t have to be part of a blog post trying to impress Google that I’m an expert on the subject.


They know I’m not a chemical engineer so why bother?


But I am a word engineer that created short-form blog posts with headlines asking questions like



In spite of having two 40 inch monitors,

2 - 40 inch computer monitors


it’s hard to share this story with static screenshots so here’s a brief video recapping my results for one post.


It’s a 1-minute video but if you’re trying to avoid rabbit holes today here’s the spoiler, “What Is A Bird-Safe Floor Cleaner To Use In The Home?” (433 words) ended up on SERP 7, page 1 of Google 72 hours after deployment.

Obviously there’s a couple of caveats.


Yes, I was logged into Google and have not tested it on a new incognito page.


In our two-story – work – live – shop – space here in Lowell, Indiana we use so much bandwidth that we have two Comcast accounts thus 2 IPs.


I did not get the same results on the second IP and will continue to test daily now.


Conclusion, “It’s about the answer, more than ever”.


Stay tuned.


“Our algorithms don’t count the words on a page similar to how you wouldn’t judge a cookie just by its weight. If you want your pages to be recommended as something awesome, then make something awesome.


Google’s John Mueller


Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing

Your zygodactyl footnote


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