Tag Archives: google+

Hacking Google Answer Cards with Freebase (Two Weeks Left!)

Hurry up! Freebase is about to become read-only March 31, 2015.

Freebase optimization was one of the most visible methods of making a change in search results on Google. In early December, Google announced it will shut down freebase, and transfer existing data to Wikidata.

There has been a lot of seo buzz around ‘entity search’ and Freebase was always a part of that conversation. I think of Freebase as a content library that can populate a variety of different structured data coding languages.

Freebase Data as Answer Cards

For SEO purposes, I initially used Freebase to fill in information for hotels. Freebase appeared to be an extension of local SEO and also link building. NAP information needed to be accurate and comprehensive; followed links should be flowing to the proper pages. Once those Freebase fields were correct for an individual hotel, there was room to be a bit creative with the other information to include within the page.

seo freebase optimization

The key with Freebase is to focus on factual information. In this case, I populated the date of a hotel opening. Once complete, many question related search queries asking for the hotel’s opening date return the card-format search result. I do not have a specific timeline for when this card emerged following my initial entry, but it was within a few weeks. (Not able to share the client)

There are perhaps over a thousand different data points to include within an entity’s Freebase profile: attractions nearby, name of architecture, name of enclosed restaurants, number of rooms, etc.

Google Becoming the Ultimate Source?

It appears that when Freebase data is used as the source of information within an answer card, there is no link citation. Google bought Freebase from Metaweb in 2010 so I guess they don’t need to cite; just some speculation.

There are many card-format search results that do have a link citation within them.

google answer cards

What does this all mean?

Freebase was a great experiment for Google and I would say a success. It should be interesting to see how much original content was given to the search engine through the site.

I would bet that most SEOs agree answer cards are here to stay and there will be more. Dr. Pete & Moz showed a 44% increase in answer cards in September 2014. For websites & brands, it’s now an even faster race to establish authority with their space. Why? Google may cite your content within an answer card. More on this in another post perhaps.

Google City Experts & Current State of Google+ for Local

For those working in search marketing, it seems as though Google’s Knowledge Graph changes monthly. This is particularly true for Local SEO. I recently noticed the inclusion of what appear to be Google reviews within the Knowledge Graph. Mike Blumenthal was able to document this update in an expanded post where he discusses the elements of what the reviews display.document

Not all of the reviews shown on the Knowledge Graph are verbatim from an individual review. Instead, some are composed of certain bolded keywords where a review is an aggregate of several. For example, this hotel, Viceroy Santa Monica, has a reivew visibile with the indication that there are 5  associated reviews.

Capture

Who Wrote This Review?

What is even more interesting is to do an exact match search for this review within Google to see what comes up. Some type of mysterious description that is no longer on the Google+ page or even cached. Perhaps this is some type of sentiment aggregation?

google+ reviews example

The Likely Solution For Review Spam From Google

As I was reading the comments of Mike’s post, an idea sparked regarding the way in which spam will inevitably be dealt with by Google. We all know how Google’s efforts to deal with spam have been everything but a smooth process. Their are countless businesses still trying to recover from Google Panda and sourcing Google+ Local issues can burn valuable time resources.

One comment in particular brought up an anecdote of how participants in Google City Experts are encouraged to leave reviews via their mobile device (would be great if anyone could source these instructions as the FAQ page is minimal).

Google City Experts For The Win

I vaguely remembered hearing about this program some time ago, and now it is very much on my radar. I also just signed up so many more insights to come on this program. I would venture to guess that Google is actively experimenting with this group of reviewers. Experts must review 5x per month to remain on the program. The recommendation to use mobile allows Google to triangulate the position of the reviewer as well as verify their credentials via their Google+ profile.

The key takeaway here involves involves the simultaneous use of both of these concepts. Triangulation can be prone to abuse via fake GPS software. Logging into an online profile cannot 100% verify a visit to specific location unless  their is triangulation. At the very least, Google City Experts is being used to populate Google+ Local with as much content as possible. As soon as I signed up, I was taken to the following screen where local places where displayed covering a variety of different types of businesses in a rather random order.

google city experts and google+ local

Surprisingly, I have not visited the above places or any that were listed in the personalized Google City Experts welcome page. It’s somewhat intuitive that people would be more interested to review places that they previously visited. I’m surprised that these entities were not more personalized as the data is likely being tracked by Google for those with Google+ profiles.

Is Google ReviewRank Here?

The other dynamic to the situation deals with the authority of the reviewer.  Undoubtedly, reviews coming from an individual account that has been verified by Google with a history of high quality reviews will be treated differently than those coming from a recently created Google+ profile with the Gmail [insert business name here]@gmail.com. By verified individual account, I mean that Google has independently verified a Google+ individual profile belonging to someone in the real world.

The other dynamic to the situation deals with the authority of the reviewer.  Undoubtedly, reviews coming from an individual account that has been verified by Google with a history of high quality reviews will be treated differently than those coming from a recently created Google+ profile with the Gmail [insert business name here]@gmail.com. By verified individual account, I mean that Google has independently verified a Google+ individual profile belonging to someone in the real world.

Checklist for More Reviews on Google+

More developments to come with this of course. Though the best advice for businesses remains the same. The following checklist can be broken down and applied to a variety of different businesses across several verticals.

  1. Claim the Google+ Local Listing
  2. Optimize with categories, photos, & correct NAP information
  3. Use Moz Local for additional local listing reclamation (though it is somewhat slow)
  4. Take customer surveys & collect data
  5. Remain active on strategic social channels
  6. Identify relevant influences
  7. Ensure a positive customer experience for influencer targets

The aforementioned happens as one component of an SEO campaign for smaller businesses or organizations. For the enterprise, it will be interesting to see how the recently updated Google+ Bulk Upload will accommodate multi-location businesses such as hotels and other national chains.

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Google+ Local Category Optimization: Google Now Insight

Click on the above image for a clear example of the importance of Google+ Local category optimization. Google Now’s is increasingly rising in popularity, especially with the pending launch of Google Glass and the impact the device will have.

[nzs_heading heading=”5″] Which ‘Places Nearby’ Would You Click? [/nzs_heading]

While there are many unknowns, there are some future proof optimizations that can be made. Selecting the appropriate categories and completing as many fields as possible within the Google+ Local listing is key to not only being served within Google Now, but also attracting clicks similar to how rich snippets function in a standard web search.

Google Now will soon be in widespread use and composed of cards that are one of the elements that make up the standard interface of Google Glass.

As you can see, not all of the local listing ‘Places Nearby” are the same. The Dunkin Donuts does not have any reviews, does not indicate the operating hours, and has no picture.

The third choice is the most complete: profile image, operating hours, reviews, and correct category selection.

When your listing is served within Places Nearby, Google is making a determination that your business is relevant to that particular end-user without any active searching. I took this screenshot on an early Sunday afternoon, where doing shopping some food shopping or needing some coffee is a high probability.

Bottomline: correctly claiming, merging and optimizing the Google+ Local listing will position your business to be visible where your customers may be looking.

[nzs_heading heading=”5″] To learn more about Google+ Local optimization or find out about your business, fill out the form below. [/nzs_heading] 

[nzs_contact_form name_label=”Name” email_label=”Email” message_label=”Message” btn_label=”Send”]