Recently, Google was granted a patent with the name “Question answering using entity references in unstructured data“. The patent is long and full of technical lingo but if offers some insights into how Google finds relevant information on your web pages.
What are entities?
According to the patent, an entity is “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. For example, an entity may be a person, place, item, idea, abstract concept, concrete element, other suitable thing, or any combination thereof.”
In other words, an entity is something that people search for on Google. The patent explains how Google might find information on the pages that are not organized in a pre-defined manner, i.e. regular web pages that can have any kind of layout and code design.
How do you have to adjust your web pages?
Google’s algorithms try to find the connections between the different pages and the topics that they find. There are some things that you can do to make sure that Google finds the right “entities” on your pages:
1. Make sure that your pages are relevant to a topic
This is quite obvious but many websites still do not have a clear focus on a particular topic. If you want to sell shoes, make sure that your website is relevant to the topic ‘shoes’ and everything that is related to that topic.
Your web pages should not only provide the direct answer to the question of a searcher. It should also contain supporting information. If a searcher has further questions, the answers should be available on your web pages.
Google wants to provide solutions on the search result pages. If your web pages provide these solutions, they will be listed in the search results.
2. The structure of your web site is important
Of course, it makes sense to use structured markup code on your web pages. It is even better if search engines can find the structure without that code.
The navigational elements on your web pages should be clear and concise. If a web page about “tiger” is embedded into a website about golf, search engines will be able to find out that you’re talking about the golf player, not the animal.
The navigational elements on your website should be clear and concise. Use categories, sub categories and clearly arranged sections. The structure of your web pages should also be visible in the URLs of your web pages and the folder structure on your site.
The easier your website visitors can find what they are looking for, the easier it will be for search engines to find relevant content.
3. The structure of your web pages is important
Depending on the keywords for which you want to get high rankings, it can be helpful to provide an answer in paragraph format. Google distinguishes different query types. “Who is” queries might prefer solutions that are written in paragraphs while “how do I” queries might prefer answers in bullet lists.
Ideally, your website should offer both solutions. If your website has many different pages that explain the topic from many different angles (in a way that looks good to human website visitors), it is more likely that your pages will get high rankings on Google and other search engines.
The patent does not contain new information. It just confirms that Google is able to see your website as a whole and that they are able to put your website into a greater context with other websites.
Even without dedicated structured data code, your website visitors and search engines should be able to recognize the structure of your website. The easier it is to find the structure of your website, the better.
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