When the world’s most popular search engine announces an update to their algorithm, everyone whose job involves search engine optimisation pays attention. However, there’s one ongoing change that Google is making that SEO marketers might not know about, as it’s a broader and more gradual move towards a new approach to search. Google hopes this will lead to more relevant search results, and what could be described as a more human response to search queries. They want to provide answers, not just links.
Around two years ago, Google began rolling out what is known as “entity search.” The idea is that Google is not just looking for web pages that feature text that matches your search query, but it recognises when you are searching for information on a particular entity, such as a person or a place. In order to achieve this, Google created the Knowledge Graph, a constantly growing knowledge base that gathers information from many sources.
At launch, Google said the Knowledge Graph contained 3.5 billion facts about objects ranging from sports teams and planets, to film directors and roller coasters. You might have seen Knowledge Graph boxes to the right when you use Google search on a desktop browser. For example, if you search for an actor, you will see their date and place of birth, spouse and children, and links to search results for their best known movies or TV shows.
SEO marketers are noting this change, and looking at how they can adapt their websites to ensure they benefit from entity search, and don’t slide down the results pages. Entity search doesn’t affect Google’s reliance on authority, so SEO remains important. If your website is not representing an entity, or an official answer to a question, you can still compete for top ranking on searches where there is no official page or answer. SEO marketers will need to look more to those niche searches, the long tail, which will continue to make up a huge portion of Google usage.
In paid search, there is also an opportunity to interlink your advertising copy with the static knowledge panels, giving your content more authority, especially if it offers something such as videos or additional information not provided by the Knowledge Graph. Entity search is changing the game for SEO, but it is creating new opportunities, which marketers must be prepared to take.