As several media outlets have reported, Google just made a seemingly small but very significant change to how companies show up in its search results. When you search for a brand by name, the “knowledge graph” beside the results will now display the company’s social media accounts, making it easy to click through to any of them. (This isn’t automatic for all businesses, however; we’ll tell you how to get yours included below.)
This is quite a change for Google. Previously the search engine only showed a link to a brand’s G+ page, which made a certain kind of sense since it promoted the use of Google’s in-house social platform. But last year Google started showing Facebook, Twitter or other social pages for select results, mainly celebrities. Now the door has been widened to include any brand.
Why did Google make the change? G+ has been on the decline for a while, and gotten less and less emphasis from its parent company. But we don’t think this is so much a reflection on G+ (which is still among the social channels that get displayed) as it is a nod to user preference. Google has apparently realized that serving its primary purpose—helping people find the information they’re looking for quickly—is more important than positioning its own pet projects.
How This Affects Your Business
Getting your social media to show up in SERPs is by no means make-or-break. But let’s look at the knowledge graph and where it appears on the screen. The knowledge graph is rarely a graph at all, unless you’re searching for stocks. It’s the name of that little info ox where Google offers quick answers. The one that shows the definition of a word, the Wikipedia answer to a question, or the address and reviews for a business.
Notably, the info graph appears either above the first search result or to the side of the search results depending on what kind of search you run. The info inside this box has two huge advantages:
- It stands out visually from the search results, which is basically the best possible thing for getting users to click on it.
- It’s perceived to come from Google itself, an objective authority, rather from your business. That gives it more user trust.
Thus, anytime you can get resources that you created into this info box it’s a win. Getting your Facebook page in front of more people may not be the same as getting clicks from qualified leads, but if your Facebook presence wasn’t important to some part of your selling cycle you wouldn’t have it in the first place. Generally, offering online users more entry points is a good thing.
How To Do It
If you’re lucky, a search for your brand will show that Google’s already displaying your social accounts in the sidebar, and that it chose the accounts you want it to emphasize. (Google currently includes seven major platforms including Facebook, Twitter and, oddly, Myspace.) More likely you’ll have to do a little coaxing.
Google has offered instructions on how to do this. What you need is a page on your website that publicly displays your desired social media profile (although you should have these visible on basically every page already). Then all you have to do is add structured markup to tell Google which of those social profiles to associate with your business in the search results. If you’re not technically minded there’s an exact template you can paste in available here. Just swap out the placeholder URLs for your own and you’re good to go.
Will having these profiles show up in the knowledge graph result in waves of new sales, fans and likes? We doubt it. But it does make you more accessible and encourage people to look at your social content. And it’s the kind of thing you want to do before your competitor does.
Need help with your social media, SEO, or internet presence? EverSpark offers a free consultation. Contact us today.
[cta-banner param1=”356912″ param2=”101873ea-e497-4dc5-991f-a2b00dda7b2b”]