SMITH – What is that supposed to be? This is a new algorithm that, like BERT, focuses on semantic relationships. Unlike its predecessor, SMITH is no longer focused on and limited to understanding single sentences but is also supposed to be able to interpret longer texts.
But why SMITH?
SMITH is an acronym. It stands for “Siamese Multi-depth Transformer-based Hierarchical Encoder for Long-Form Document Matching” – no chance anyones remembering that, right? Hence the abbreviation.
The new algorithm is intended to help the Google search engine understand and interpret natural language even better. Until now, misunderstandings have often occurred when retrieving information, especially when it comes to longer texts. Google has already taken a big step in the direction of semantics with BERT but is now focusing on longer texts.
This scientific paper from Google Research explains in detail what exactly is behind how the SMITH algorithm works.
How do BERT and SMITH differ?
The biggest difference is that BERT is already in full use. According to Google, SMITH is still in the “pre-training and fine-tuning” stage. BERT also had to go through this phase first before the algorithm was used in practice. It is important in order to better interpret relationships between individual words and to increase text comprehension. Unlike BERT, which is mainly designed for shorter texts and paragraphs, SMITH is supposed to be able to understand relationships between different paragraphs and within longer texts. This brings Google another step closer to its goal of making the search engine even more user-friendly and “intelligent.”
Is SMITH already up and running?
So far, there is no official confirmation from Google that SMITH is already in use. This also cannot be concluded from the scientific paper published on Google Research. Since Google had openly communicated the BERT algorithm at that time, it can be assumed that Google will announce SMITH as well.
What does SMITH mean for the SEO world?
Real consequences are completely in the blue at this point. However, from the experience with the BERT algorithm, it is clear that the primary goal of this algorithm change is probably again to improve and increase the quality of search results. Thus, the best way for webmasters to prepare for SMITH is to continue producing strong, high-quality and well-structured content that adds value to their readers. This way, rankings will not suffer under the new algorithm either.