Ranking In Universal Search: Structured Data

Structured data is now becoming more and more evident across many aspects of search. The most striking example of that today is in the search engine’s results pages.

From simple beginnings like the classic “10 blue links”, to the modern information rich displays, results pages have made significant changes over the years. The addition of knowledge panels, image results, local results, news, and more all have their own algorithms for determining placement in these areas. The shift towards these multi-dimensional search results by Google has had a large impact on the evolution of the search engine optimisation (SEO) community. Let’s explore some of the patents Google has claimed in order to better understand how they think about structured data and search results.

Entity Metrics for Ranking and Ordering

One of Google’s recent patents is for the ranking of search results based on entity metrics. Their patent discusses four different kinds of entity metrics, and how they use structured data to determine search engine results page placement. The four entity metrics are as follows:

1. Relatedness Metric

This metric analyses the co-occurrence of an entity and its entity type on web pages. It helps Goole determine if a web page is more or less related to a user’s search query based on what related words are on the page.

2. Notable Entity Type Metric

This metric recognises that any one entity may fall under many different entity types, and that some of these types are more notable than others. David Cameron, for example, is a politician, public speaker, and celebrity, but he is most notable for being a Prime Minister.

3. Contribution Metric and Fame Metric

This metric incorporates critical reviews, fame rankings, and other similar forms of information to help rank and place information. The fame metric is a sub-metric of the contribution metric, and it takes into account all of the contributions of an entity. The fame metric will, for example, include a summation of all the contribution metrics of a director’s films.

4. Prize Metric

The Prize Metric is measured by an entity’s awards and prizes, such as an athlete’s medals and records, each with a particular value and weight. This patent strongly suggests that semantic web technology is being used as a foundation for the definitions of metrics and the frames of their environment.

Screen Areas get their own Algorithms

Google included a very intriguing passage in the Entity Metrics patent, and after some parsing it appears that Google’s approach is to divide and conquer. Specific regions of the search results are defined and template, and then each is ranked and ordered in a specific way that varies according to their context or domain. For the SEO industry, this means that optimising websites will have to be based on targeting these templates, and that each of these templates might have their own ranking algorithm to consider!

Final Thoughts

The need to provide a personalised user experience means that different algorithms will apply in different circumstances. There is a general shift occurring, from keyword search to entity search, and a general growth in data-based displays. This change in direction will necessarily push the SEO industry to evolve alongside those changes, and the incorporation of multiple algorithms per page, each informed by a multitude of metrics, will demand new approaches to website optimisation.


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