How Google's 2020 Updates Affect Property Management Marketing

How Google’s 2020 Updates Affect Property Management Marketing

Phil Puccio

How familiar are you with Google’s 2020 updates?

Not too long ago, Google announced some big changes to its algorithm. If you’re wondering what these changes mean for your property management marketing, we have some good information for you today.

Google’s 2020 Updates

It’s no surprise that Google updates its algorithm from time to time.

In fact, they update the algorithm multiple times a year. They do this to continue staying one step ahead of bad actors out there in the digital space and because they want to continuously improve the way they deliver search results to users like you and me.

Most of the time, Google doesn’t announce the updates that they make, but if they’re big enough, they will let us know what’s coming.

Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – or, BERT

One of the updates was announced and in October or 2019, it was implemented. This has been called BERT, which is an acronym for bidirectional encoder representations from transformers.

In plain English, this is basically a way for Google to better understand the context of search queries rather than simply absorbing the keywords.

When Google first announced BERT, they said it was the biggest change in the last five years. It will affect one in 10 searches.

Before BERT was implemented, the search engine had a hard time understanding context clues and prepositions like at, with, and for. These are words that actually change the meaning of sentences for humans. When BERT was created and launched, it made the search algorithm understand the word relationships and allow them to do more than look at keywords. Now, the search function can read a sentence as a whole and provide better search results.

What Google Saw Before BERT:

Example of Google before BERT

What Google Sees After BERT:

Example of Google's BERT update

The purpose of this is to help Google understand the intent of the searcher without taking only the keyword at face value.

Neural Matching for Google Local Search Results

A month after rolling out BERT, Google announced that it would roll out neural matching for Google local search results. Think of neural matching as a super synonym system. It’s meant to help Google connect words to concepts better.

What does this mean in real life?

Before this update, there were some cases where a business might have an unfair advantage in local Google search because they happened to have keywords in their business name. That severely impacted the types of results that users would get because of the system flaw. Now that Google has made it easier for the algorithm to understand the concept being searched rather than a specific keyword, it can deliver search results that are most relevant to the search query instead of matching keyword to keyword.

Google can now do a better job of going beyond the literal name and actual words in a description of a Google My Business page when looking at whether or not to rank it for a certain search term.

January 2020 Core Update

The latest update from Google just happened a couple weeks ago, and they are calling it the January 2020 Core Update. When they update the core algorithm, it means worldwide for all searches. They don’t really give a lot of information about what they changed, but it’s very likely related to the first two updates that were mentioned earlier.

How Property Managers Should Respond to These Changes

So, what do property managers have to do after hearing about these updates?

Google has said to anticipate it taking a few weeks for the “dust to settle,” so to speak. Some volatility in search rankings is normal. The important thing to remember is to be cautious when making changes – you don’t want to fall into the trap of fixing the wrong things.

Google has repeatedly mentioned the way to success, in light of all the changes, is to focus on the basics. We have an upcoming blog series on Google marketing fundamentals that will help you do just that, so stay tuned!

If you’re an existing client of Fourandhalf and you are unsure about how these new changes will affect you, let’s take a look at where you stand. If you do not have anyone taking care of this for you, contact us at Fourandhalf with any questions you may have. We’d be happy to help you set up a superior marketing strategy with Google’s 2020 updates in mind.


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