What Google’s BERT algorithm means for PPC

In October 2019, Google released a new algorithm update called BERT, which has a direct impact on SEO but also implications for paid search. Let’s take a look at what exactly BERT is and why context is now everything.

What is BERT?

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. In layman’s terms, you say? This new algorithm can help Google better understand the context of words used by people in searches. Before BERT was introduced, Google would disregard certain words in a query, which would often cause the query to lose its meaning. This, in turn, would make results less relevant.

What does BERT mean for paid search?

BERT is an organic algorithm change; however it would be naïve of advertisers to think that paid search will not be impacted. As a result of organic search results now understanding what people want, SEM ads will be shown in a more informative way.

Google now knows that all words in a search query need to be interpreted together in order to provide the user with more targeted and relevant organic results. So, PPC ads and landing pages will now need to be even more targeted and well-written with keywords incorporated naturally, to give them a fighting chance of appearing alongside better organised organic results.

Top tip: Review organic results for an insight into how to improve your paid campaigns.

What changes can I make to my PPC ads now?

Whilst there are no changes that need to be made to PPC campaigns, as such, what PPC managers should be doing is thinking about creating strategies for PPC ads that address user intent.

PPC ads need to complement organic results and attract users amidst more useful organic listings that now fully align with the answers users are looking for. To create an effective intent-based PPC strategy, all intent stages need to be supported by aligning campaigns, budgets and metrics. Automation can assist you with this.


BERT helps Google to decipher what a full search term means – it brings context to the fore and means that searchers receive more accurate and focused results. PPC ads have an important role to play on the SERP, along with organic search results. We recommend listening out for trends from BERT, and in the meantime, focusing on improving your PPC ads based on user intent signals.

Have any questions on the BERT algorithm and PPC? Please leave your comments below.

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