Google’s Knowledge Graph has been a work in progress, with new features appearing every week to throw more curve balls at SEO and content marketing strategies. Yet for every blow to standard practices (think Authorship images and video thumbnails), there’s a chance to gain visibility in search results. Hence the guarded optimism surrounding Knowledge Graph timelines.
Google watchdog Florian Kiersch first came across the new feature, which hasn’t been completely rolled out yet, and published his findings in a Google+ post. Allegedly, timelines will appear in select SERPs, presumably when there’s enough relevant information that can be organized chronologically. Kiersch demonstrated search results for Google and World War II and shared the timelines’ functionality. It appears at the top of SERPs and offers more information when users hover over chronological entries. Clicking on a part of the timeline will bring up more information and clickable links back to the content’s source.
This is naturally a great target for marketers looking to show up in even more search results, but how can they optimize their chances of being featured in timelines? While Google hasn’t publicly addressed the feature yet, there are a couple obvious steps brands can start taking.
1. In-depth (and contextual) content
A shallow take on a news story or complicated subject probably won’t be featured on a Google timeline simply because there isn’t enough information to contextualize it. On the other hand, a sophisticated, long-form piece about the history of an industry or product could possibly end up in this kind of Knowledge Graph result. This may be part of the reason Google encourages in-depth content: It includes identifying information, such as dates, that can be contextualized and expressed in a more visual manner.
2. Schema markup
It’s very likely that the bulk of what populates these new timelines derives from schema markup. As Brafton reported, over one-third of search results include information culled from marked-up content, but 0.3 percent of sites actually use the code. As Google becomes more sophisticated in its ability to populate interactive Knowledge Graph results, brands need to get on the same page and start coding their websites properly to reap the benefits.
Most companies probably aren’t going to be devoting their entire strategies to showing up in new or experimental Knowledge Graph features, but they can start thinking carefully about what sorts of content will give them a semantic edge. For example, a B2B IT solutions firm might want to publish information about the history of certain kinds of technology. The chance to appear in a technology-oriented timeline is the sort of valuable spotlight brands would kill for in a post-keyword search environment.