Over the past few years, murmurs and signs of a paradigm shift in how Google builds SERPs and returns information for users have surfaced. We’ve recently begun seeing the products of their work coming to life in a variety of ways as they continue to advance their abilities to digest and organize information. I’m specifically referring to a variety of recent patents and documents that have surfaced related to entities in search and aspect-driven search results. I believe that in these concepts lies a glimpse of the future of search…at least from Google’s perspective. Background Reading (Highly Suggested) The following articles, patents, and documents will give you some excellent background into what I’m talking about today and likely in future posts. I highly recommend digesting as many of these as you can! Extracting Unambiguous Keywords from Microposts Using Web and Query Logs Data Google and Metaweb Named Entities and Mashup Search Results All Your Knowledge Bases Belong to Google Extracting Patterns and Relations from the World Wide Web Knowledge Graph Introduction Identifying Query Aspects Identifying Aspects for Web Search Queries (heavily referenced in this post) What is an Aspect: A Short Summary In a patent published on www.jair.org in March of 2011 entitled “Identifying Aspects for Web-Search Queries”, the authors discuss in detail a new way of building SERPs for particular queries that shifts away from the typical keyword-driven ranked results to a set of results designed to summarize important aspects of the query. The method essentially utilizes search query logs and knowledge bases (such as Wikipedia) to understand important characteristics of a person, concept, place, thing, etc. A SERP can then be built that summarizes the “haystack” of information available. Example (taken from the “Identifying Aspects for Web-Search Queries” Patent): In this example, not only is there a grouping of information sets for a SERP to be built off of, but also a set of content types that could be utilized to develop a more intriguing SERP. Something such as this... So, what does this (potentially) mean? Google is beyond building rank-ordered single-page results. And to go one step further, the backbone of information and analysis that would allow for knowledge graph development can be used to build full SERPs, not just cool boxes on the right like the one above (IE knowledge graph implementation). At this point, if this is a new concept to you, I hope your head is spinning a bit. The implications, I believe, are quite profound and could impact how we practice our craft and the skill sets that are requirements (not just desirable) for an SEO. Let’s look at how this form of SERP building could impact us. 1) Link Development – Could be big. This type of SERP creation and knowledge mapping indicates that there may be SERPs that CANNOT be manipulated easily by link development, or frankly, just about anything else you might do as an SEO (at least not directly to the SERP and assuming we’re behaving ourselves). Instead, you might need to untangle a thick web of Google information that’s being used to build this SERP in order to make certain aspects, or representative results for an aspect, more tantalizing to Google than what is currently being displayed. Link development and other optimizations get you in the game, but in this scenario, all the quality links in the world may not help you improve your ranking or break into a SERP. It’s important to think about developing links from beyond a simple quality/diversity/quantity/relevancy paradigm. Instead, think of how you might work to build links with an aspect-driven search engine. Important questions to think about might include:
- What specific subject matter and website/company/person (Hello, AuthorRank, nice to meet you) is Google associating with this query and how can we earn recognition from them?
- What signals other than links could Google be using to understand a person, company, site, etc. is the authoritative result to return?
- What is the real value of a brand mention by an influential individual in a field even without a link?
- What’s the value of a nofollow link?
- What's the value of a reference on a wikipedia page?
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