Cars Information in Knowledge Graph Now Rolled Out to Google Australia

In early December 2013 Google announced that their Knowledge Graph would include new car price and information on specifications. Back then this new information was only available in Google US.

I am unsure about the specific date that it has been rolled out, but the car information is now visible in Google Australia (among other local Google versions) too. However, compared to Google US only a title (year, brand and model), the industry category the model sits in and images are being showed. Price and specifications are not yet shown in the Knowledge Graph results. For example, this is how the results for [Toyota Yaris] looks like:

Toyota Yaris Knowledge Graph

Screenshot of the Toyota Yaris in Google’s Knowledge Graph

Although there is a big arrow visible which suggests that more available can be made visible by clicking on it, so far nothing happens. It is unknown to me if and when Google will make more information available. This will certain cause a challenge as car prices in Australia can differ based on postcode. Visit an Australian website of a car manufacturer and you will be ask to provide your postcode so they can give you tailored prices. It will be interesting to see if in the future Google will be able to provide you with specific retail price based on your personal information or that Google will show you ‘starting from’ prices.

Different car searches can bring up different ways in which the Knowledge Graph is build up. In Google Nederland, searching for [BMW 3] shows you this result:

BMW 3 Series Knowledge Graph Search Results

Screenshot of the BMW 3 Series in Google’s Knowledge Graph Search Result

Still no price and car specifications visible but you get more images results. Clicking on one of the images takes you to that specific image with the Google Images carousel.
That the Knowledge Graph outside Google US is still in development is apparent from the fact that the Knowledge Graph only seems to return car models that are available in the US market. Search for [Holden Commodore] or [Renault Clio] and you will get no Knowledge Graph results. Searches for [Toyota Kluger] will give you its American equivalent the Toyota Highlander. In this stage of development the Knowledge Graph is not than a visual presentation of the car model you are after and gives automotive websites only new opportunities to have their images more prominent in organic search results. An XML image sitemap and for images can help you to get your images exposed in the Knowledge Graph.

It is interesting to see how the Knowledge Graph will be further developed inside and outside Google US and from where Google will continue to pull the information to compile this car model Knowledge Graph and which opportunities this brings for automotive websites in terms of optimisation.

How Press Releases Sites Can Still Help Your Ranking

Recently, Matt Cutts suggested in a Google Webmaster Help forum that links from press releases will not have an impact on your rankings in Google’s result pages. Since then, this one-sentence-comment has been the centre of a lot of debate on different SEO discussion boards, whether or not links from press release websites will help your rankings.

Indeed it did confuse some people. But I believe that Cutts did not mean to say that press releases will not help. What he tried to say is that press releases that are submitted to press release sites without being picked up by real news sites, will not have any effect on your search engine rankings.

Your content needs to be newsworthy and the press release you submit your press releases to needs to be one that is used as important resource by news sites that are trusted by search engines and actually read by normal people, who discuss your news and share it on social media. That is when your press release will help you with your rankings.

So press releases will always continue to be what they always were – hints for journalists and bloggers to create a story.  It is the secondary links from respected news sites who TAKE your press release then write-up a NEW article for publication (which includes a link or two) that still provide value.

But how to create a newsworthy press release? It will help if you write for a well-known, highly regarded brand or company but if you keep in mind to write a press release around one of the following subjects, your news should be picked up more easily:

1)  Introducing a new brand to the market
2)  Introducing a new product or product update

3)  Pointing out a certain result – for example, a press release stating something like ‘xyz investment yields 10%’ or something along these lines.
4)  Important staff or management changes at the company – beyond the intern of course!

Just do not expect that simply throwing a press release onto a press release will help you any further. Any use of press releases for quick link building is a dated tactic and has been ineffective for a while. Create something worth sharing and use press releases that do more for you then simply putting your content on their website and dare to ask money for it. They should be the search engine for news related to your press release. In fact, press releases should be the shopping centre in your neighbourhood where news site that bring news related to your business or product go to do their shopping for relevant news items.

Press releases have become even more important as ranking on Google should not be the marketing instrument you should solely rely on at this time now. We have social networks, apps and other great channels to reach our target markets. It is about giving attention not to just ranking but focus on multi-channel marketing as well. And press releases are one of the best, if at least you put an effort in them and build relationships with the press release sites relevant to your industry.

Why paid links can beneficial

According to Google your website should not be involved in any link schemes, such as buying or selling links that pass PageRank. Since their Panda update Google is actively penalising websites that violate this guideline. It helped us to get rid of SERPs full of meaningless, low quality paragraphs riddled with links to dodgy services or companies. But I believe not all paid should be considered as spam and be penalised by Google. Paid links can be beneficial, especially when you are a sponsor for a related niche. So although Google Panda has done searchers a huge favour by finally cleaning up its search engine, there is nothing wrong with setting up link strategies with relevant partners, whether this is on a paid-for or sponsored basis.

For example, when I am looking for invest property to buy and I am going to this website that advertises “real estate for sale”, there is nothing wrong of coming across a link, a banner, a special service directory page or even a blog article with a link to a home loan or mortgage provider from a partner website. And the same counts for sponsored links: if I have a business in campervan hire it is okay to sponsor the annual tourist & travel event in my city and get a link on its website in return. How many television DIY-programs are not being sponsored by hardware stores or tool makers and still provide high-quality tips & tricks that you and I wish we good do if only we had the right pair of hands? This is how it used to work when we still did in-store shopping at the local store. If the small hardware store owner did not happen to sell lights he would give us directions to the nearest lamps shop. They might even have had a gentleman agreement that they would try to be complementary to each and competitive, who knows?

My point is: as long as paid links are relevant for visitors or potentials clients, there is nothing wrong in paying for them. Being involved in relevant link schemes could even be beneficial to you, your link partner and the searcher, as you create good website neighbourhoods in which the searcher can shop around seeking for relevant products, services or just information that you and your link partner are offering. In this way, SEO will become more like search marketing than search engine optimisation, as you might reach your goals sooner or get better conversions from link partner referrals than from good old-fashion Google.

With paid links, both SEO specialists and search engines should change their mindsets. It will no longer be about chasing search engine rankings or putting together search results on a search engine page based on link authority (how many websites are linking to your page). It will be about indexing pages that provide the most relevant incoming links (from partner or sponsored pages) or make the highest conversions happen through those links (your website).

How your business can deal with AuthorRank

Recently, Steven Shattuck wrote an article in the Search Engine Journal on 4 reasons why employers should invest in building the AuthorRank of Employees as “content written by established experts carries more authority, and ranks higher than content with less-credible authorship or no authorship whatsoever.” Shattuck concludes that “by facilitating the development of internal subject experts and encouraging them to publish on the company blog (and on their own personal blogs), employers can reap tangible rewards that will impact their business’s bottom line.”

Shattuck article tells just one side of the story, as he does not go into detail on how companies should put his views into practice. In the comment to his article I have put forward what will happen when an employee leaves the company? Does he need to hand over his full authorship, including usernames and passwords to all the link building sites he left content? And is the company going to claim the copyright on the author-employee’s profile picture and the use of his very own name? Companies will not like to just see their employee leave and taking with him a valuable AuthorRank, in which they probably have invested time and money.

And would employees really like to share all the business’s content with his private social networks, including all his friends and family on Facebook? Because that is how it will work: getting your name out there, share your content on the social networks in order to get social mentions and build your AuthorRank.

But how will it work then? If you take a closer look at Shattuck’s article, you will notice that Shattuck himself is an example of a “companised” author. The content is built around this embedded video on AuthorRank and how you as a business need to take this into consideration if you want your content to be highly valued by Google and as a result, get better rankings in its search engine. The video is actually a promotion for Slingshot SEO (the company that Shattuck works for) and contains a link to a page on their website with another article by Steven Shattuck on AuthorRank. So if someone knows the answer on what will happen to his authorship in case he leaves the company he is currently working for, then it is definitely Shattuck.

In my opinion the best option to deal with AuthorRank is to have individual content agents work for your brand as contractors and are considered authorities on topics that deal with your products or services. This is why I think Google refers to AuthorRank as AgentRank and describes it as “the identity of individual agents responsible for content [that] can be used to influence search ratings”. So they are individual agents, not as an employees in service of your business, but authorities on certain topics that happen to be related to your business’ activities. To have their signature an article is like a link from top-end webpage with a high PageRank. And like with link partners you should have a whole network of high ranked individual agents so if one will no longer deliver content for your brand, the effect on your rankings will not have to be immediately disastrous.

So trace down these high-ranking agents and start building relationships with them, if you want to get or maintain your SERP’s.

Google Patents Reachability

Google has recently patented the so-called ‘reachability  score’, which ranks the interaction of your website users with the websites you are linking to. In short, it determines the value and ranking of your website based on the websites you are linking to and the reachability of that site. Eventually, this affects the ranking of your website in Google’s Search Engine Result Pages.

So the question is do you have to start building links to quality websites in your SEO strategies? And will this benefit or hamper webmasters?

If it is useful to the user, then it could definitely benefit a site. Especially since Google keeps saying that we shouldn’t think about SEO too much and just provide a great user experience. In my opinion linking to other websites will never hinder you; your website would just look strange when it had no external links.

Reachability score just adds another level to your SEO strategy. Part of the value of your website will now be measured by the number of users of your website who not only click on the external links, but who actually click through and go on to further explore the destination site.

Measure your website’s reachability is just a logical extension of the way Google measures a websites link profile. Google has been hammering on about ‘link neighbourhoods’ for years so it sounds like they are now advancing the way they define and measure neighbourhoods in their index.

What are your thoughts?