Google is working to understand content and the relationships between things in the way that people do. The search engine giant recently announced the introduction of the Knowledge Graph, a search feature that allows you to search for entities. An entity is something that exists online, although it might not have a material presence, such as distance or a nutritional rating. They are pulled from an array of sources. Effectively this means you can search for your favourite sports teams, mountain ranges, paintings and more, and Google will return, not only the traditional search results, but other information relevant to your search query, drawing from more than simple keyword data. According to Google, the Knowledge Graph contains over 500 million objects, and over 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these objects.\
But what does this mean for search?
According to Juan Karstel, Engage Strategist at Quirk Cape Town, this could lead to increased emphasis on online brand strategies that are sustainable in the long run and not simply after quick wins and short term results. It also means less focus on manipulative link building techniques.
Tim Withers, Head of SEO at Quirk Cape Town also weighed in on the development.
“The concept of entities in search is an intriguing one; a search for the ‘Eiffel Tower’, for example, has yielded entity-type results for quite a while now, but this new implementation provides much more detailed info than before.
As always aim to build quality links
“I think it'll be a long time before Google is in a position to marginalise its link graph, and that building quality links in the traditional sense will be a significant part of any SEO strategy for the foreseeable future. “
Yet another ball to juggle
Tim suspects that, just as Google must have plans to extend the reach of social media to its traditional ranking metrics, it’ll look to do something similar with entities and the Knowledge Graph.
“There are more visual cues these days as to Google and Bing’s intentions, but that’s a double-edged sword. Previously, SEOs had to monitor keywords and sites on the SERPs to keep tabs on algorithm changes. Now it’s just as important to monitor Google’s presentation of results across the different verticals,” says Tim.
SEO could become even more of a PR and content game than it already is
Tim also suggested that Google was exploring options and that he wouldn't be surprised to see their algorithm give substantial weighting to the following sooner or later:
- Citations or articles by reputable authors and publications (linked and unlinked)
- Mentions in relation to prominent entities or people (for example, a celebrity mentioned in connection to your brand or site)
- Search activity and trends
- Social Media discussion (not just shares, Likes or tweets, but actual volume of discussion)
“Of course, there's an additional layer to this story, and that's one to do with ethics and the damage Google's doing to site owners by pushing greater volumes of "knowledge" out into the SERPs,” said Tim.
By pushing more data onto the search engine results pages, there is less and less need for users to visit websites, meaning less likelihood of conversions. Brands will need to further incentivise consumers to visit their online spaces. But that is a discussion for another day.