Google is permanently changing the rules of the game and trying to serve more relevant answers to search queries. In the past, Google’s search results page (SERP) had provided only links to relevant websites but it hadn’t been enough. Currently, it tries to deepen the contextual understanding of the query. The result of efforts is the Knowledge Graph (launched in May 2012), and it provides answers, not just links.
Google shows answers in answer boxes. It’s a SERP feature that tries to directly answer your question (search query). A detailed article about this feature was published by Dr. Peter Meyers on the Moz blog.
My goal is to become an entity of the Knowledge Graph and show answers to conversational questions related to me.
What did I need to achieve my goal?
- Personal website and social media accounts
- Wikipedia profile
- Freebase topic
- Implement structured data
If you want to become an entity, you have to be visible on the Internet. It’s necessary to have a personal website but I also recommend having a profile on main social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Every mention about you can increase your chance to succeed.
Step 1: Create a Wikipedia Profile (March 21, 2014)
I’ve set up my Wikipedia profile, filled out a basic description about myself and attached social media links. Introduce yourself or your business in a non-commercial way based on facts because admins are uncompromising.
Step 2: Create a Freebase Topic (April 5, 2014)
Let’s take a look to another step: Freebase. It’s described as an open and shared database of the world’s knowledge and was acquired by Google in 2010. I’ve created an account and established a new topic, Robin Rozhon (type Person). I’ve filled out basic information, such as name, profession, links to my social profiles, education, date of birth, places where I’ve lived, etc. It’s up to you how much personal information you want to share.
Step 3: Implement Structured Data (April 6, 2014)
If you use structured data in your code, Google is able to detect information on your site properly. It highlights basic data about you as a person or business entity. In this case, I’ve chosen type Person from Schema.org. It’s essential to have access to your source code. If you have no experience with the implementation of structured data, you can validate your implementation via Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Here are pieces of code I used on my website:
... <div id="wrap" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person"> ... <img itemprop="image" src="img/robin-rozhon.jpg" alt="Robin Rozhon" title="Robin Rozhon" width="150px" height="150px"/> ... <span itemprop="name">Robin Rozhon</span> ... <p><i class="icon-envelope-alt"></i> <span itemprop="email">[email protected]</span></p> <p><i class="icon-mobile-phone"></i> <span itemprop="telephone">+420 732 242 046</span></p> ... </div> ...
Then, I was waiting for what’s going to happen but no change appeared after one month. There was no answer box. Therefore, I decided to add one more markup (property of type Person) – sameAs and linked to my Freebase topic.
<h1><link itemprop="sameAs" href="https://www.freebase.com/m/0104lzw5"><a href="http://www.rozhon.com">Robin Rozhon</a></h1>
Note: There also exists Data Highlighter in Webmaster Tools if you’re not able to edit source code, but I haven’t tested it.
I’m an Entity (May 19, 2014)
I was asking Google almost every day and I finally received the desired answer.
What does it mean? Google understands me as a living person and not only as a keyword. I’m an entity in the Knowledge Graph! I can ask questions about my age, job, education, where I’ve lived, where I was born, etc. and I get an answer.
Note: An answer box doesn’t appear in every language; therefore, I simulate a search query from an English-speaking user located in the US (use .com domain and insert parameters gl=us and hl=en into URL), and I use non-personalized results (insert parameter pws=0 into URL, use incognito mode, log out of Google account or use a different browser).
Correct implementation of structured data is a big help for Google, and especially markup sameAs was crucial in this case. Every shown answer was from Freebase which means it’s a really important source of information for Google. We’re not limited only by people-related information. Answer boxes can provide opening hours or the phone number of your store and much more. Google wants to keep users on its domain, and that’s the reason why we’re going to see answer boxes or other forms of the Knowledge Graph in search results more frequently in the future.
Update (October 2, 2014)
Unfortunately, I have to announce that Google doesn’t show answers to questions about me anymore. There are a lot of possible reasons why this happened:
- I’ve launched a completely new website without structured data.
- I wasn’t working on the awareness improvement about my brand or website.
- Google released many algorithms updates and probably modified conditions for showing an answer box because I’ve also lost answers for my two other projects.