The best designed sites provide clear navigation structure (such as a taxonomy or table of contents) to direct users to content. That structure, as we learn in this article, informs and guides users, in ways that keyword search doesn’t. Keyword search requires that the user have knowledge and a specific skill.
Search Is Not Enough: Synergy Between Navigation and Search, by RALUCA BUDIU, Nielson Norman Group (September 7, 2014)
Navigation serves important functions: it shows people what they can find on the site, and teaches them about the structure of the search space. Using the navigation categories is often faster and easier for users than generating a good search query. Plus, many times site search does not work well or requires users to have a good understanding of its limitations.
Search engines today – especially Google and Bing – seek to identify entities and their relationships. This posting distinguishes between implicit and explicit entities. Explicit is known from structured markup; implicit is inferred from the text on the page.
Demystifying The Knowledge Graph, Barbara Starr, Search Engine Land (Sep 2)
Posting has advice for SEO people for optimizing their pages for recognition by the Knowledge Graph.
Google does index tweets, but not a substantial percentage and not very quickly according to this analysis by Eric Enge at Stone Temple Consulting. May mean that Google doesn’t use tweets as a ranking factor.
How Does Google Index Tweets?, by Eric Enge (July 9)
Google search guru Daniel Russell spoke on the The Revolution in Asking and Answering Questions in this video – showing how new search capabilities empower us to ask new questions and get “deep answers”. Video lecture has many good examples from Google search. Closes with demo of conversational style for question and answer.
The Revolution in Asking and Answering Questions, Search Research (May 13, 2014)
Bill Slawski (SEObytheSEA) examines fact extraction process in Google and notes a way that Google may be using anchor text to find other terms for those facts.
- HOW GOOGLE MIGHT IDENTIFY SYNONYMS FOR ENTITIES USING ANCHOR TEXT, (June 4)
- FINDING ENTITY NAMES IN GOOGLE’S KNOWLEDGE GRAPH (June 5)
He explains that there are two types of crawling and indexing.
- Indexing text – as we are accustomed to thinking – and ranking pages.
- Identifying named entities – people, places, things – and picking these out as “fact extraction”. These crawlers have been called “janitors”.
Google is likely using anchor text to learn more about the entities and specifically to gather alternate names.
SEO analysts are being encouraged to design for entity search – and searchers can keep in mind many of the same points.
Feeding the Hummingbird: Structured Markup Isn’t the Only Way to Talk to Google by Cyrus-Shepard, The Moz Blog (June 17)
Structured markup does help the search engine identify the entities: people, place, products, events; but the search engine can parse text to identify subject – predicate – object in the query and in the text. This is a triple – and Google and others are good at extracting the semantic meaning. The advice to the SEO analyst to include “appropriate predicates and objects” might apply to the searcher too.
Meaning is clearer with use of synonyms and context – the “co-occuring phrases”. Google excels at expanding a word in context to related words – synonyms. The SEO analyst and the searcher could help the process by adding a few too.
Bing, though it has not upset Google in market share, does have some successes in creating a search platform to be used in other applications.\
At Five Years Old, Bing Has Come Far Yet Has More To Grow, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Jun 2)
“It just scored another win by powering Spotlight search in the forthcoming versions of Apple’s Mac OS X “Yosemite” operating system and iOS 8. Bing has certainly proven itself to be more a contender than I think many would have believed. Maybe in five years, we’ll see a real platform-to-platform battle happen.”
And in another five years the search engine scene will be completely different.
Danny Sullivan examines the impact of Google’s algorithm changes on the news and community weblog, MetaFilter. MetaFilter, a long and well regarded service, has suffered from severe decline in traffic for reasons unclear to the owner. Sullivan tries to sort this out – is it a penalty for ads, for thin content, for “inorganic” links? Is this the result of a manual intervention or an automated filter? Nothing stands out (at the time of the posting) and Google has been slow to help. The article does show the enormous complexity of assessing sites and the damages that can ensue for a business.
On MetaFilter Being Penalized By Google: An Explainer, Search Engine Land (May 22)
Bing is driving forward with entity search. While Google wants to be an “answer engine”, Bing is saying it is a “do engine” for helping people take action – book that restaurant reservation.
Microsoft Has Big Plans For Bing’s Entity Engine, Frederic Lardinois, Techcrunch (Mar 30)
Microsoft clearly has big plans for using entities in Bing and products that rely on it; the company plans to open up a part of this entity engine so more third-party sites will be able to highlight some of their features on Bing.
Dr. Meyers finds that Google is much better at understanding questions and could be revolutionizing organic search.
Knowledge Graph 2.0: Now Featuring Your Knowledge, Dr Peter J Meyers, The Moz Blog (Mar 25)
But where does Google get the information – from humans!
The main sources of data for the Knowledge Graph are curated by people. Ironically, Google is facing the same dilemma with Knowledge Graph in 2014 that led to the creation of internet search engines in the first place.
But that will have to change. Meyers gives some examples of direct extraction of answers from pages.