For years, Google has undoubtedly been the biggest driving force when it comes to Internet search engine progression. And for good reason: Google has led cutting-edge efforts and techniques in the world of search queries while pushing for better results and an improved user experience. I use the term “better” quite loosely. In fact, a more appropriate term might be “quality.” While other search engines are slowly catching up to similar models, Google is at the forefront of demonstrating how it perceives relevant search queries should work. “Quality” pertains to Google understanding your search intent and filtering out irrelevant or less-important results. And when it comes to individual searches, Google is usually right.
For instance, Google is currently building the “Knowledge Graph.” Google says that this is a “massive graph of real-world things and their connections to bring more meaningful results.” Users of the search engine can use the Knowledge Graph to answer questions they never thought to ask; Google’s ultimate goal is to help these users discover more.
Below is an example of a Google search result for “Larry Page.” The red outline shows Google’s Knowledge Graph results. This type of approach ties everyone and everything together with a unique bond of relevance, ensuring that search results are high quality in nature.
So, how does your business become a member of the Knowledge Graph community?
The Knowledge Graph Community
To become a member of the Knowledge Graph, you will need to become an entity in Google by creating a Google+ profile. You can then create a business page through your profile. But what is Google+? Google describes the “+” as:
“The social networking added to all of Google’s other services, including Gmail, YouTube and Blogger. Google+ brings popular social-media features like comments, photo and music sharing, video chat, etc. to your social circles. It’s basically what any user chooses it to be, from an ongoing conversation to a platform of self-expression, with tools for making it as individual or collective as you want.”
Google+ also provides an authentication mechanism that allows Google to discover the “real” entities (people or businesses) behind the content and measures their authority on a subject or specific field. Google+ pages provide businesses, products, brands, entertainment and organizations with a trusted identity and presence on Google. It puts a name and a face to your content and is very important in maintaining your brand’s integrity on Google.
Now that you have discovered what Google+ is, you can take the next step. You’ll want to connect your Google+ business page and authenticate your website with that page. Step-by-step detailed instructions on how to do this can be found in Google’s support doc.
The code snippet you add to your site is called rel=“publisher.” Previously, Google relied heavily on rel=“author” which tied your personal Google+ profile to individual articles. Now, thanks to rel=“publisher,” your Google+ business page is connected to your website, and this almost certainly provides better branding for navigational queries. While little is known yet about the long-term effects, it is widely believed that it can also positively affect your site’s rankings.
The Schema effect
Search engines have always looked for ways to enhance the user experience by providing only the most relevant of results to search queries. Only recently have they really begun to expand on that thought and explore how to introduce truly useful results. How can the search engines improve the quality of results and how they are displayed? One way is through the implementation of schema.org markup. Currently, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo rely on this markup to improve the display of the search results, making it easier for users to find desired Web pages.
Schema.org is a shared data system that is very structured and is quite accurate. The descriptions that are placed within these tags are detailed and help search engines find precisely what users are searching for. This type of markup enables search engines to understand the information on Web pages and provide enhanced search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the Web.
Schema.org simplifies it even further:
Implementing Schema.org-structured markup on your website (for products, articles, places, events, reviews, etc.) allows search engines like Google to better understand details of your company to present it to relevant businesses and consumers through search engine result pages (SERPs). This type of SEO/marketing is effective and focuses on businesses consumers that are actively looking to buy your products and services. Below are examples of search engine results for the keyword terms “leather sofa” and “Microsoft Dynamics GP Software” and the resulting rich snippets due to proper Schema.org markup.
These two images show that the rich snippets include many relevant product details, such as ratings, reviews and price. These are tangible, real facts about products that are helpful to customers and potential customers alike. Those clicking on search results with Rich Snippet listings have been shown to have an increased conversion rate up to 20 percent higher than clicking from a standard listing.
Making an impact with the Knowledge Graph
Google is progressing leaps and bounds with its user-centered Knowledge Graph. To ensure that your website gets the proper visibility and exposure from Google’s newest search engine result system, be sure to follow these simple steps:
- Create a Google+ page for your business.
- Connect your Google+ business page to your website.
- Utilize Schema.org markup on your website’s products and articles.
Understanding Schema.org markup and implementing it for a single webpage can be fairly easy if you understand the code and know how to integrate it. Implementing Schema.org markup can be powerful, but marking up thousands of articles and products can be time-consuming, costly and prone to error. Finding a service to automate the implementation of Schema.org markup can be highly beneficial over time.
Google and other search engines are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of search results and Schema.org markup is playing an important role in it. Schema.org is not going away and it’s essential to begin to integrate it into your website as part of your online strategy.
Rich Benci is COO of Algebraix Data Corp., the Semantic Web Company™. He has more than 20 years of executive-level experience in sales, marketing and operations in the technology and digital media industries. Rich has been part of five startups, with four reaching successful exits: AVCOM (acquired by Rand Worldwide), PersonaLogic (by AOL), MyPoints (via IPO), and RealAge (by Hearst). Rich also held senior positions in Sharecare, IBM’s Lotus Development and Hitachi’s AIS group.