Tag Archive | "knowledge"

SearchCap: Google algorithm updates, right-to-be-forgotten & knowledge graph hack

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Taking Full Control of Your Google Knowledge Panels

Posted by MiriamEllis

They say you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip, but when the turnip (and your biggest potential competitor) is Google, the lifeblood of the local business locations you market could depend on knowing where to take control.

As Google acts to confine ever-more stages of the local consumer journey within their own interface, local enterprises need to assume as much control as possible over the aspects of the Google Knowledge Panel that they can directly or indirectly influence.

This cheat sheet is your fast track to squeezing the most you can out of what Google is still offering.

How Google changed from local business benefactor to competitor

It may not come naturally, at first, to think of Google as a competitor. For many years in the local space, their offering of significant free screen real estate to any eligible local enterprise was like a gift. But, in their understandable quest for maximum profitability, Google is increasingly monetizing their local product, while at the same time giving more space to public sentiment when it comes to your brand’s reputation.

As this trend continues, your business needs to know which features of the Google Knowledge Panel that appear when searchers seek you by name can be controlled. You’ll also want to know which of these features has the most potential to influence rankings and consumers. We’ll explore both topics, as follows.


Core features on most Google Knowledge Panels

Different industries have different Knowledge Panel features, but the following graphic and key represent the elements that commonly pertain to most business categories. Each numbered feature will be described and designated as controllable “yes” or controllable “no” in the accompanying key. Some features will be labeled controllable “partly”, with notes explaining that designation. You will also discover pro tips for best practices, where appropriate.

1.) Photos & videos

When clicked on, this takes the user to both owner and user-generated photos in a set. Photos significantly impact CTR. Photos must be monitored for spam.

On mobile, there is a separate tab for photos, beyond the initial profile images.

Pro Tip: Videos can also be posted to your photos section, but try to post more than 2 videos so that you’ll get a separate mobile video subtab.

Controllable?

Partly; this is both an owner and crowdsourced element.

2.) Maps

When clicked on, this takes the user to the Maps-based Knowledge Panel accompanied by map with pin. Be sure your map marker is correctly placed.

Controllable?

Partly; owner can correct misplaced map marker, but users can submit placement edits, too.

3.) Exterior photo

When clicked on, this takes the user to an interactive Google Street View visual of the business.

*On mobile, no separate space is given to exterior photos.

Controllable?

Partly; owner can correct misplaced map marker.

4.) Business name

This must reflect the real-world name of the business and be formatted according to Google’s guidelines.

Pro Tip: If your enterprise is a Service Area Business, like a plumbing franchise with no storefronts, your name should match what appears on your website.

Controllable?

Yes; owner provides, though public can edit.

5.) Maps star

When clicked on, this gives users the option to either save the location to their map, or to view the location on Maps. Very little has been published about this easily overlooked feature. Users who star a location then see it as a star in the future on their maps. They are a form of “lists.” It might be posited that a business which many have starred might see some form of ranking boost, but this is speculative.

*On mobile, there is no Maps star. There is a “save” icon instead.

Controllable?

No.

6.) Website button

When clicked on, this takes the user to the website of the company. In multi-practitioner and multi-location scenarios, care must be taken that this link points to the right URL.

Pro Tip: Large, multi-location enterprises should consider pointing each location’s Knowledge Panel to the right landing page. According to a new study, when both brand- and location-specific pages exist, 85% of all consumer engagement takes place on the local pages (e.g., Facebook Local Pages, local landing pages). A minority of impressions and engagement (15%) happen on national or brand pages.

Controllable?

Yes; owner provides, though public can edit.

7.) Directions button

When clicked on, this takes the user to the Maps-based widget that enables them to designate a starting point and receive driving directions and traffic alerts. Be sure to check directions for each location of your enterprise to protect consumers from misdirection.

Controllable?

Partly; owner and the public can report incorrect directions.

8.) Review stars and count

The star portion of the section is not an average; it’s something like a “Bayesian average.” The count (which is sometimes inaccurate), when clicked, takes you to the separate review interface overlay where all reviews can be read. Review count and sentiment are believed to impact local rankings, but the degree of impact is speculative. Review sentiment is believed to highly impact conversions.

Pro Tip: While Google is fine with your business asking for reviews, never offer incentives of any kind in exchange for them. Also, avoid bulk review requests, as they can result in your reviews being filtered out.

Controllable?

Partly; owner can encourage, monitor, thumb up, and respond to reviews, as well as reporting spam reviews; public can also flag reviews as well as thumbing them up.

9.) Editorial summary

This is generated by Google via unconfirmed processes and is meant to provide a summarized description of the business.

Controllable?

No.

10.) Address

For brick-and-mortar businesses, this line must display a genuine, physical address. For service area businesses, this line should simply show the city/state for the business, based on hide-address settings in the GMB dashboard.

Controllable?

Yes; owner provides, though public can edit.

11.) Hours

When clicked on, a dropdown displays the complete hours of operation for the business. Care must be taken to accurately reflect seasonal and holiday hours.

Controllable?

Yes; owner provides, though public can edit.

12.) Phone

This number must connect as directly as possible to the location. On desktop, this number can be clicked, which will dial it up via Hangouts. A business can add more than one phone number to their GMB dashboard, but it will not display publicly.

*On mobile, there is no phone number displayed; just a call icon.

Pro Tip: The most popular solution to the need to implement call tracking is to list the call tracking number as the primary number and the store location number as the additional number. Provided that the additional number matches what Google finds on the website, no serious problems have been reported from utilizing this strategy since it was first suggested in 2017.

Controllable?

Yes; owner provides, though public can edit.

13.) Suggest an edit link

This is the most visible vehicle for the public to report problems with listing data. It can be used positively or maliciously.

Controllable?

No.

14.) Google Posts

Introduced in 2017, this form of microblogging enables businesses to post short content with links, imagery, and video right to their Knowledge Panels. It’s believed use of Google Posts may impact local rank. Each Google post lasts for 7 days, unless its content is designated as an “event,” in which case the post will remain live until the event ends. Google Posts are created and controlled in the GMB dashboard. Google has been experimenting with placement of posts, including showing them in Maps.

Pro Tip: Posts can be up to 1500 characters, but 150–350 characters is advisable. The ideal Posts image size is 750×750. Images smaller than 250×250 aren’t accepted. Posts can feature events, products, offers, bookings, phone numbers, 30-second videos, and links to learn more. Images can contain text that can prompt users to take a specific action like visiting the website to book an appointment, and early days experiments show that this approach can significantly boost conversions.

Controllable?

Yes.

15.) Know this place?

When clicked on, this feature enables anyone to contribute attribution information to a place. A wizard asks the user a variety of questions, such as “does this place have onsite parking?”

Pro Tip: Google has let Top Contributors to its forum know that it’s okay for businesses to contribute knowledge to their own Know This Place section.

Controllable?

Partly; both owner and public can add attribution via this link.

16.) Google Questions & Answers

Introduced in 2017, this crowdsourced Q&A functionality can be contributed to directly by businesses. Businesses can post their own FAQs and answer them, as well as responding to consumer questions. Q&As with the most thumbs up appear up front on the Knowledge Panel. The “Ask a Question” button facilitates queries, and the “See all questions” link takes you to an overlay popup showing all queries. This is becoming an important new hub of social interactivity, customer support, and may be a ranking factor. Google Q&A must be monitored for spam and abuse.

Controllable?

Partly; both owner and public can contribute.

17.) Send to your phone

Introduced in 2016, this feature enables desktop users to send a place to their phone for use on the go. It’s possible that a place that has been sent to a lot of phones might be deemed popular by Google, and therefore, more relevant.

*On mobile, this option doesn’t exist, for obvious reasons.

Controllable?

No

18.) Review snippets

This section of the Knowledge Panel features three excerpts from Google-based reviews, selected by an unknown process. The “View all Google reviews” link takes the user to an overlay popup featuring all reviews. Owners can respond to reviews via this popup or the GMB dashboard. Review count, sentiment, velocity, and owner response activity are all speculative ranking factors. Reviews must be monitored for spam and abuse.

Pro Tip: In your Google My Business dashboard, you can and should be responding to your reviews. Surveys indicate that 40% of consumers expect businesses to respond, and more than half expect a response within three days, but it’s best to respond within a day. If the review is negative, a good response can win back about 35% of customers. Even if you can’t win back the other 65%, a good response serves to demonstrate to the entire consumer public that your business is ethical and accountable.

Controllable?

Partly; both owner and public can contribute.

19.) Write a Review button

This is the button consumers click to write a review, leave a star rating and upload review imagery. Clicking it takes you to a popup for that purpose.

*On mobile, this is formatted differently, with a large display of five empty stars labeled “Rate and Review.”

Controllable?

No.

20.) Add a Photo button

This button takes you to the photo upload interface. Third-party photos must be monitored for spam and abuse. Photos are believed to impact CTR.

*On mobile, this CTA is absent from the initial interface.

Controllable?

Partly; brands can’t control what photos users upload, but they can report inappropriate images.

21.) View all Google reviews

This link brings up the pop-up interface on desktop containing all of the reviews a business has received.

Pro Tip: Enterprises should continuously monitor reviews for signs of emerging problems at specific locations. Sentiment analysis software is available to help identify issues as they arise.

Controllable?

Partly; brands can’t control the content reviewers post, but they can control the quality of experiences, as well as responding to reviews.

22.) Description

After years of absence, the business description field has returned and is an excellent place to showcase the highlights of specific locations of your enterprise. Descriptions can be up to 750 characters in length.

Pro Tip: Do call out desirable aspects of your business in the description, but don’t use it to announce sales or promotions, as that’s a violation of the guidelines.

Controllable?

Yes.

23.) People Also Search For

This section typically shows brand competitors, chosen by Google. If clicked on, the user is taking to a Local Finder-type view of these competing businesses, accompanied by a map.

Controllable?

No.

24.) Feedback

This link supports suggested public edits of the Knowledge Panel, which Google can accept or reject.

Controllable?

Partly; brands can’t control what edits the public suggests. Brands can use this feature to suggest edits, too, but there are typically better ways to do so.


Additional features on some Google Knowledge Panels

Some industries have unique Knowledge Panel features. We’ll list the most common of these here:

Price summary

This is meant to be an overview of general pricing.

Controllable?

Partly; this is both an owner and crowdsourced element.

Lengthier editorial summary

Shown in addition to showing the category of the business, this editorial summary is created by Google by unconfirmed processes.

Controllable?

No.

Menu link

A somewhat complex feature, these can link to third-party menus, or can be generated directly by the owner in the GMB dashboard for some businesses.

Controllable?

Partly; owner can control the menu URL and content in some cases.

Reviews from around the web

This features a rating summary and links to relevant third-party review sources, determined by Google.

Controllable?

Partly; owners can’t dictate which 3rd parties Google chooses, but they can work to build up positive reviews on featured sources.

Critic reviews

These are chosen by Google, and stem from “professional” review platforms.

Controllable?

No.

Popular times

This information is drawn from users who have opted into Google Location History. It’s meant to help users plan visits. It’s conceivable that this could be utilized as a ranking factor.

Controllable?

No

Booking

This “see schedule” button takes the user to Maps-based display of the company’s schedule, with the ability to reserve an appointment.

Controllable?

Yes

Groupon ads

This controversial element found on some Knowledge Panels appears to feature Groupon being allowed to advertise on brands’ listings without owner consent.

Controllable?

No

Local business URLs

There are a variety of additional URLs that can either be added to the GMB dashboard or stem from third parties. These URLs can represent menus, ordering, booking, reservations, and product searches.

Controllable?

Partly; owner can add some additional URLs, but some come from 3rd parties

Google Messaging

This is Google’s live chat feature that lets clients directly message you.

Controllable?

Yes

Hotel Knowledge Panels

Hotel Knowledge Panels are practically a completely different animal. They can offer much more detailed booking options, more segmented review sentiment, various ads, and deals.

Controllable?

Mostly; owners have a variety of features they can enable, though some are out of their control.

Prioritizing Google Knowledge Panel features for maximum impact

Every location of an enterprise faces a unique competitive scenario, depending on its market. What may “move the needle” for some business locations may be relatively ineffectual in others. Nevertheless, when dealing with a large number of locations, it can be helpful to have a general order of tasks to prioritize. We’ll offer a basic list that can be used to guide work, based on elements that most important to get right first:

✓ Guidelines

Be sure all listings are eligible for inclusion in Google’s product and adhere to Google’s guidelines, both for the listings, themselves, and for reviews.

✓ Duplicates

Identify duplicate Google My Business listings using Moz Check Listing or Moz Local and handle them appropriately so that ranking strength isn’t being divided up or thwarted by multiple listings for the same location.

✓ NAP

Create a spreadsheet containing company-approved name, address, phone number and website URL data for each location and be sure each Google listing accurately reflects this information.

✓ Category

Without the right primary category, you can’t rank for your most important searches. Look at the category your top competitors are using and, if it’s right for you, use it. Avoid repetition in category choices (i.e. don’t choose both “auto dealership” and “Toyota dealership”).

✓ Map markers

It may seem obvious, but do an audit of all your locations to be sure the Map marker is in the right place.

✓ Reviews

Acquire, monitor and respond to reviews for all locations on a daily basis, with the goal of demonstration accessibility and accountability. Reviews are part-and-parcel of your customer service program.

✓ Images

Images can significantly influence clickthrough rates. Be sure yours are as persuasive and professional as possible.

✓ Posts

Make maximum use of the opportunity to microblog right on your Knowledge Panel.

✓ Ability to implement call tracking numbers

Analysis is so critical to the success of any enterprise. By using a call tracking number as the primary number on each location’s Knowledge Panel, you can glean important data about how users are interacting with your assets.

✓ Q&A

Post and answer your own company FAQ, and monitor this feature on a regular basis to emphasize the accessibility of your customer support.

✓ Product/service menus

Where appropriate, a thorough menu deepens the experience a user can have with your Knowledge Panel.

✓ Bookings

Depending on your industry, you may find you have to pay Google for bookings to remain competitive. Alternatively, experiment with Google Posts image text to pull users from the Knowledge Panel over to your own booking widget.

✓ Attributes

Add every appropriate attribute that’s available for your business category to deepen Google’s understanding of what you offer.

Summing up

Each element of a Google Knowledge Panel offers a different level of control to your Enterprise, from no control to total control. Rather than worry about things you can’t manage, focus on the powers you do have to:

  1. Create positive real-world consumer experiences by dint of your excellent customer service
  2. Prompt consumers to help you reflect those experiences in your Knowledge Panel
  3. Monitor, track, and interact with consumers as much as possible on your Knowledge Panel
  4. Publish rich and accurate information to the Knowledge Panel, knowing that Google wants to retain as many users as possible within this interface

Local enterprises are in a time of transition in 2018, moving from a past in which the bulk of customer experiences could be controlled either in-store or on the brand’s website, to a present in which Google is successfully inter-positioning itself an informational and transactional agent.

Google wants your Knowledge Panel to work for them, but with the right approach to the elements you can control, you still have a significant say in how it works for you.

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The Minimum Viable Knowledge You Need to Work with JavaScript & SEO Today

Posted by sergeystefoglo

If your work involves SEO at some level, you’ve most likely been hearing more and more about JavaScript and the implications it has on crawling and indexing. Frankly, Googlebot struggles with it, and many websites utilize modern-day JavaScript to load in crucial content today. Because of this, we need to be equipped to discuss this topic when it comes up in order to be effective.

The goal of this post is to equip you with the minimum viable knowledge required to do so. This post won’t go into the nitty gritty details, describe the history, or give you extreme detail on specifics. There are a lot of incredible write-ups that already do this — I suggest giving them a read if you are interested in diving deeper (I’ll link out to my favorites at the bottom).

In order to be effective consultants when it comes to the topic of JavaScript and SEO, we need to be able to answer three questions:

  1. Does the domain/page in question rely on client-side JavaScript to load/change on-page content or links?
  2. If yes, is Googlebot seeing the content that’s loaded in via JavaScript properly?
  3. If not, what is the ideal solution?

With some quick searching, I was able to find three examples of landing pages that utilize JavaScript to load in crucial content.

I’m going to be using Sitecore’s Symposium landing page through each of these talking points to illustrate how to answer the questions above.

We’ll cover the “how do I do this” aspect first, and at the end I’ll expand on a few core concepts and link to further resources.

Question 1: Does the domain in question rely on client-side JavaScript to load/change on-page content or links?

The first step to diagnosing any issues involving JavaScript is to check if the domain uses it to load in crucial content that could impact SEO (on-page content or links). Ideally this will happen anytime you get a new client (during the initial technical audit), or whenever your client redesigns/launches new features of the site.

How do we go about doing this?

Ask the client

Ask, and you shall receive! Seriously though, one of the quickest/easiest things you can do as a consultant is contact your POC (or developers on the account) and ask them. After all, these are the people who work on the website day-in and day-out!

“Hi [client], we’re currently doing a technical sweep on the site. One thing we check is if any crucial content (links, on-page content) gets loaded in via JavaScript. We will do some manual testing, but an easy way to confirm this is to ask! Could you (or the team) answer the following, please?

1. Are we using client-side JavaScript to load in important content?

2. If yes, can we get a bulleted list of where/what content is loaded in via JavaScript?”

Check manually

Even on a large e-commerce website with millions of pages, there are usually only a handful of important page templates. In my experience, it should only take an hour max to check manually. I use the Chrome Web Developers plugin, disable JavaScript from there, and manually check the important templates of the site (homepage, category page, product page, blog post, etc.)

In the example above, once we turn off JavaScript and reload the page, we can see that we are looking at a blank page.

As you make progress, jot down notes about content that isn’t being loaded in, is being loaded in wrong, or any internal linking that isn’t working properly.

At the end of this step we should know if the domain in question relies on JavaScript to load/change on-page content or links. If the answer is yes, we should also know where this happens (homepage, category pages, specific modules, etc.)

Crawl

You could also crawl the site (with a tool like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb) with JavaScript rendering turned off, and then run the same crawl with JavaScript turned on, and compare the differences with internal links and on-page elements.

For example, it could be that when you crawl the site with JavaScript rendering turned off, the title tags don’t appear. In my mind this would trigger an action to crawl the site with JavaScript rendering turned on to see if the title tags do appear (as well as checking manually).

Example

For our example, I went ahead and did a manual check. As we can see from the screenshot below, when we disable JavaScript, the content does not load.

In other words, the answer to our first question for this pages is “yes, JavaScript is being used to load in crucial parts of the site.”

Question 2: If yes, is Googlebot seeing the content that’s loaded in via JavaScript properly?

If your client is relying on JavaScript on certain parts of their website (in our example they are), it is our job to try and replicate how Google is actually seeing the page(s). We want to answer the question, “Is Google seeing the page/site the way we want it to?”

In order to get a more accurate depiction of what Googlebot is seeing, we need to attempt to mimic how it crawls the page.

How do we do that?

Use Google’s new mobile-friendly testing tool

At the moment, the quickest and most accurate way to try and replicate what Googlebot is seeing on a site is by using Google’s new mobile friendliness tool. My colleague Dom recently wrote an in-depth post comparing Search Console Fetch and Render, Googlebot, and the mobile friendliness tool. His findings were that most of the time, Googlebot and the mobile friendliness tool resulted in the same output.

In Google’s mobile friendliness tool, simply input your URL, hit “run test,” and then once the test is complete, click on “source code” on the right side of the window. You can take that code and search for any on-page content (title tags, canonicals, etc.) or links. If they appear here, Google is most likely seeing the content.

Search for visible content in Google

It’s always good to sense-check. Another quick way to check if GoogleBot has indexed content on your page is by simply selecting visible text on your page, and doing a site:search for it in Google with quotations around said text.

In our example there is visible text on the page that reads…

“Whether you are in marketing, business development, or IT, you feel a sense of urgency. Or maybe opportunity?”

When we do a site:search for this exact phrase, for this exact page, we get nothing. This means Google hasn’t indexed the content.

Crawling with a tool

Most crawling tools have the functionality to crawl JavaScript now. For example, in Screaming Frog you can head to configuration > spider > rendering > then select “JavaScript” from the dropdown and hit save. DeepCrawl and SiteBulb both have this feature as well.

From here you can input your domain/URL and see the rendered page/code once your tool of choice has completed the crawl.

Example:

When attempting to answer this question, my preference is to start by inputting the domain into Google’s mobile friendliness tool, copy the source code, and searching for important on-page elements (think title tag, <h1>, body copy, etc.) It’s also helpful to use a tool like diff checker to compare the rendered HTML with the original HTML (Screaming Frog also has a function where you can do this side by side).

For our example, here is what the output of the mobile friendliness tool shows us.

After a few searches, it becomes clear that important on-page elements are missing here.

We also did the second test and confirmed that Google hasn’t indexed the body content found on this page.

The implication at this point is that Googlebot is not seeing our content the way we want it to, which is a problem.

Let’s jump ahead and see what we can recommend the client.

Question 3: If we’re confident Googlebot isn’t seeing our content properly, what should we recommend?

Now we know that the domain is using JavaScript to load in crucial content and we know that Googlebot is most likely not seeing that content, the final step is to recommend an ideal solution to the client. Key word: recommend, not implement. It’s 100% our job to flag the issue to our client, explain why it’s important (as well as the possible implications), and highlight an ideal solution. It is 100% not our job to try to do the developer’s job of figuring out an ideal solution with their unique stack/resources/etc.

How do we do that?

You want server-side rendering

The main reason why Google is having trouble seeing Sitecore’s landing page right now, is because Sitecore’s landing page is asking the user (us, Googlebot) to do the heavy work of loading the JavaScript on their page. In other words, they’re using client-side JavaScript.

Googlebot is literally landing on the page, trying to execute JavaScript as best as possible, and then needing to leave before it has a chance to see any content.

The fix here is to instead have Sitecore’s landing page load on their server. In other words, we want to take the heavy lifting off of Googlebot, and put it on Sitecore’s servers. This will ensure that when Googlebot comes to the page, it doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting and instead can crawl the rendered HTML.

In this scenario, Googlebot lands on the page and already sees the HTML (and all the content).

There are more specific options (like isomorphic setups)

This is where it gets to be a bit in the weeds, but there are hybrid solutions. The best one at the moment is called isomorphic.

In this model, we’re asking the client to load the first request on their server, and then any future requests are made client-side.

So Googlebot comes to the page, the client’s server has already executed the initial JavaScript needed for the page, sends the rendered HTML down to the browser, and anything after that is done on the client-side.

If you’re looking to recommend this as a solution, please read this post from the AirBNB team which covers isomorphic setups in detail.

AJAX crawling = no go

I won’t go into details on this, but just know that Google’s previous AJAX crawling solution for JavaScript has since been discontinued and will eventually not work. We shouldn’t be recommending this method.

(However, I am interested to hear any case studies from anyone who has implemented this solution recently. How has Google responded? Also, here’s a great write-up on this from my colleague Rob.)

Summary

At the risk of severely oversimplifying, here’s what you need to do in order to start working with JavaScript and SEO in 2018:

  1. Know when/where your client’s domain uses client-side JavaScript to load in on-page content or links.
    1. Ask the developers.
    2. Turn off JavaScript and do some manual testing by page template.
    3. Crawl using a JavaScript crawler.
  2. Check to see if GoogleBot is seeing content the way we intend it to.
    1. Google’s mobile friendliness checker.
    2. Doing a site:search for visible content on the page.
    3. Crawl using a JavaScript crawler.
  3. Give an ideal recommendation to client.
    1. Server-side rendering.
    2. Hybrid solutions (isomorphic).
    3. Not AJAX crawling.

Further resources

I’m really interested to hear about any of your experiences with JavaScript and SEO. What are some examples of things that have worked well for you? What about things that haven’t worked so well? If you’ve implemented an isomorphic setup, I’m curious to hear how that’s impacted how Googlebot sees your site.

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Google invites more entities to take control of their Knowledge Panels and ‘get verified’

Suggest a featured image and control other factual information in the panel.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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How to use the Knowledge Graph for higher rankings

Contributor Ryan Shelley recommends looking into the content displayed in a knowledge card and using what you find to develop a smart and targeted content marketing campaign for your website.

The post How to use the Knowledge Graph for higher rankings appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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What Happens When Your Humanity Befriends Your Knowledge

Like. It’s easy to overlook that one, right? When it comes to the know, like, and trust factor that creates an effective sales environment, know and trust get a lot of attention. Like almost becomes a part of know and forgotten. Similar to that seventh dwarf whose name always slips your mind. (I’m looking at
Read More…

The post What Happens When Your Humanity Befriends Your Knowledge appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

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Knowledge Graph Eats Featured Snippets, Jumps +30%

Posted by Dr-Pete

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a steady and substantial increase in Featured Snippets on Google SERPs. In our 10,000-keyword daily tracking set, Featured Snippets have gone from about 5.5% of queries in November 2015 to a recent high of just over 16% (roughly tripling). Other data sets, with longer tail searches, have shown even higher prevalence.

Near the end of October (far-right of the graph), we saw our first significant dip (spotted by Brian Patterson and Chris Long on SEL). This dip occurred over about a 4-day period, and represents roughly a 10% drop in searches with Featured Snippets. Here’s an enhanced, 2-week view (note: Y-axis is expanded to show the day-over-day changes more clearly):

Given the up-and-to-the-right history of Featured Snippets and the investments people have been making optimizing for these results, a 10% drop is worthy of our attention.

What happened, exactly?

To be honest, when we investigate changes like this, the best we can usually do is produce a list of keywords that lost Featured Snippets. Usually, we focus on high-volume keywords, which tend to be more interesting. Here’s a list of keywords that lost Featured Snippets during that time period:

  • CRM
  • ERP
  • MBA
  • buddhism
  • web design
  • anger management
  • hosting
  • DSL
  • ActiveX
  • ovulation

From an explanatory standpoint, this list isn’t usually very helpful – what exactly do “web design”, “buddhism”, and “ovulation” have in common (please, don’t answer that)? In this case, though, there was a clear and interesting pattern. Almost all of the queries that lost Featured Snippets gained Knowledge Panels that look something like this one:

These new panels account for the vast majority of the lost Featured Snippets I’ve spot-checked, and all of them are general Knowledge Panels coming directly from Wikipedia. In some cases, Google is using a more generic Knowledge Graph entry. For example, “HDMI cables”, which used to show a Featured Snippet (dominated by Amazon, last I checked), now shows no snippet and a generic panel for “HDMI”:

In very rare cases, a SERP added the new Knowledge Panel but retained the Featured Snippet, such as the top of this search for “credit score”:

These situations seemed to be the exceptions to the rule.

What about other SERPs?

The SERPs that lost Featured Snippets were only one part of this story. Over the same time period, we saw an explosion (about +30%) in Knowledge Panels:

This Y-axis has not been magnified – the jump in Knowledge Panels is clearly visible even at normal scale. Other tracking sites saw similar, dramatic increases, including this data from RankRanger. This jump appears to be a similar type of descriptive panel, ranging from commercial keywords, like “wedding dresses” and “Halloween costumes”…

…to brand keywords, like “Ray-Ban”…

Unlike definition boxes, many of these new panels appear on words and phrases that appear to be common knowledge and add little value. Here’s a panel on “job search”…

I suspect that most people searching for “job search” or “job hunting” don’t need it defined. Likewise, people searching for “travel” probably weren’t confused about what travel actually is…

Thanks for clearing that up, Google. I’ve decided to spare you all and leave out a screenshot for “toilet” (go ahead and Google it). Almost all of these new panels appear to be driven by Wikipedia (or Wikidata), and most of them are single-paragraph definitions of terms.

Were there other changes?

During the exact same period, we also noticed a drop in SERPs with inline image results. Here’s a graph of the same 2-week period reported for the other features:

This drop almost exactly mirrors the increase in Knowledge Panels. In cases where the new panels were added, those panels almost always contain a block of images at the top. This block seems to have replaced inline image results. It’s interesting to note that, because image blocks in the left-hand column consume an organic position, this change freed up an organic spot on the first page of results for those terms.

Why did Google do this?

It’s likely that Google is trying to standardize answers for common terms, and perhaps they were seeing quality or consistency issues in Featured Snippets. In some cases, like “HDMI cables”, Featured Snippets were often coming from top e-commerce sites, which are trying to sell products. These aren’t always a good fit for unbiased definitions. Its also likely that Google would like to beef up the Knowledge Graph and rely less, where possible, on outside sites for answers.

Unfortunately, this also means that the answers are coming from a much less diverse pool (and, from what we’ve seen, almost entirely from Wikipedia), and it reduces the organic opportunity for sites that were previously ranking for or trying to compete for Featured Snippets. In many cases, these new panels also seem to add very little. Someone searching for “ERP” might be helped by a brief definition, but someone searching for “travel” is unlikely looking to have it explained to them.

As always, there’s not much we can do but monitor the situation and adapt. Featured Snippets are still at historically high levels and represent a legitimate organic opportunity. There’s also win-win, since efforts invested in winning Featured Snippets tend to improve organic ranking and, done right, can produce a better user experience for both search and website visitors.

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The post Google showing knowledge graph data in local panels appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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