It’s been awhile since we checked in on the latest in search engine optimization, so what’s new? Turns out a lot!
Google Knowledge Graph
If you haven’t heard of the Google Knowledge Graph yet, I’m sure you’ve seen it. Any time you google a well-known person or brand, you’ll see an extra info graph just to the right of the organic search results with basic information about what you’re searching for. For example, if you google “Feeding America,” you’ll see the first sentence from Wikipedia describing the organization, the tax ID, when they were founded, recent posts on their Google+ page, and other things people searched for when they were looking for Feeding America.
So how do you improve your knowledge graph? Well start at Google themselves – if you don’t have a Google+ page (or haven’t updated it in several months), get on that! Google will always highlight your use of their products first. Next take a look at some of the other sites that Google pulls info from for the knowledge graph and make sure the data is accurate and up-to-date – Wikipedia, Freebase, and, potentially, GuideStar. (I say potentially for GuideStar because I could not find that confirmed anywhere, but it’s a safe bet since the knowledge graphs include tax data and nonprofit categories, both of which are available on GuideStar. Plus, Google uses GuideStar to validate nonprofits applying to their Google for Nonprofits program, so they already have a loose partnership with them.)
Rich snippets are like ad extensions, but for your organic search listings. They let you highlight extra things about your page or organization, adding a free bit of sparkle to your organic search results that help click-through-rates, which I know we all want to improve. Have a big event coming up? Highlight the event date, location, and name. Want to make sure people know about the low-cost healthy recipes you have families on your website? Highlight the ingredients, prep time, or nutrition info.
In order to actually add rich snippets, you need to add some markup on the back-end of your site, depending on the rich snippets that you want to add. For example, to add event rich snippets, you need to add code that tells Google the name of the event, the location, date, description, etc. For recipe rich snippets, you can add information like the ingredients, prep time, nutrition, and an image. Just direct your developers to Google’s instructions, or keep reading for info on how to add markup yourself using the data highlighter feature in Google Webmaster Tools.
Google Webmaster Tools – Data Highlighter
The Data Highlighter helps Google more easily find the important parts of your website - they can even help you add rich snippets if you want to forgo adding actual markup. Start by navigating to the Data Highlighter in your Google Webmaster Tools account. Then click “start highlighting” in the top right of the page. Next it will ask you what type of page you want to highlight, like events or articles, and then the URL of the first page. Then just start clicking images and highlighting text, and it will pop up asking if that part of the page is the event title, image, description, date, etc. Once you’re finished marking up, hit publish and you’re done! Your organic search listings should look better and better.