To those of us who are used to doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), we’ve been looking at URLs filled with content, and links between that content, and how algorithms such as PageRank (based upon links pointed between pages) and information retrieval scores based upon the relevance of that content have been determining how well pages rank in search results in response to queries entered into search boxes by searchers. Web pages connected by links have been seen as information points connected by nodes. This was the first generation of SEO.
Chances are good that many of the methods that we have been using to do SEO will remain the same as new features appear in search, such as knowledge panels, rich results, featured snippets, structured snippets, search by photography, and expanded schema covering many more industries and features then it does at present.
In general, the subject matter of this specification relates to identifying or generating augmentation queries, storing the augmentation queries, and identifying stored augmentation queries for use in augmenting user searches. An augmentation query can be a query that performs well in locating desirable documents identified in the search results. The performance of an augmentation query can be determined by user interactions. For example, if many users that enter the same query often select one or more of the search results relevant to the query, that query may be designated an augmentation query.
In addition to actual queries submitted by users, augmentation queries can also include synthetic queries that are machine generated. For example, an augmentation query can be identified by mining a corpus of documents and identifying search terms for which popular documents are relevant. These popular documents can, for example, include documents that are often selected when presented as search results. Yet another way of identifying an augmentation query is mining structured data, e.g., business telephone listings, and identifying queries that include terms of the structured data, e.g., business names.
These augmentation queries can be stored in an augmentation query data store. When a user submits a search query to a search engine, the terms of the submitted query can be evaluated and matched to terms of the stored augmentation queries to select one or more similar augmentation queries. The selected augmentation queries, in turn, can be used by the search engine to augment the search operation, thereby obtaining better search results. For example, search results obtained by a similar augmentation query can be presented to the user along with the search results obtained by the user query.
My last Post was Five Years of Google Ranking Signals, and I start that post by saying that there are other posts about ranking signals that have some issues. But, there are other pages that you may want to look at while you are learning to rank webpages, and I didn’t want to turn people away from looking at one recent post that did contain a lot of useful information.
Cyrus did a video with Ross Hudgins on Seige Media where he talked about those Ranking signals with Cyrus, called Google Ranking Factors with Cyrus Shepard. I’m keeping this post short on purpose, to make the discussion about ranking the focus of this post, and the star. There is some really good information in the Video and in the post from Cyrus. Cyrus takes a different approach on writing about ranking signals from what I wrote, but it’s worth the time visiting and listening and watching.
Structured Data is information that is set out in a way which makes it easy for a search engine to read easily. Some examples include XML markup in XML sitemaps and schema vocabulary found in JSON-LD scripts.
A search engine that answers questions based upon crawling and indexing facts found within structured data on a site works differently than a search engine which looks at the words used in a query, and tries to return documents that contain the same words as the ones in the query; hoping that such a matching of strings might contain an actual answer to the informational need that inspired the query in the first place. Search using Structured Data works a little differently, as seen in this flowchart from a 2017 Google patent: