Can a person be featured on Google without being an entity?

By Brodie Clark

October 10, 2018

The short answer is yes, here’s an example:

brodie clark seo featured snippet

Having “seo” within the search term is certainly on purpose, as without this addition, here’s what the search results look like:

It’s safe to say that this guy will be locked in within the Featured Snippet and Knowledge Panel for this query for years to come.

I published a post on Linkedin mentioning that I was ready to retire after being “featured” on Google. I purposely hid the search term used to trigger the result to see if anyone could find it (and because I didn’t want to break my Featured Snippet from lots of people searching), although it didn’t exactly go to plan – with Matt Smiles explaining that he agrees that it looks like I’m ready to retire, judging by the above result 😆

The reason for writing this article is to do a deep dive into why I was able to get featured on Google, and how this characteristic of Search is evolving.

At the moment, there are 3 distinct sections on Google for presenting this type of data:

  1. Featured Snippets
  2. Knowledge Panels (this is when you’re considered an “entity”)
  3. Featured Panels (coined by Glenn Gabe)

The first screenshot in this article is a “Featured Snippet”. Historically, it was very rare for an individuals information to be presented in this section. The usual placement is within the Knowledge Panel, which the OG Brodie Clark has above on the righthand side.

The Knowledge Panel is primarily powered by Wikipedia. Getting an article placed on Wikipedia is no easy feat, with many “notability” checks being needed to become eligible. You could try publishing your own article on Wikipedia, although it really needs to be backed up with some cold hard facts about why you’re deserving.

A Featured Panel is a whole nother beast, which I first noticed appearing back in June. I searched for a few examples of people in the SEO space who had this and was able to trigger it for Barry:

This is a bit of a strange result, because the headline of the snippet includes “Seo” and is not just his full name. I imagine the reason why a Featured Panel has been triggered instead of the Knowledge Panel for his name is because there is an American Psychologist taking this spot.

Similar to the search query that spurred this article, I’ve also been noticing that Linkedin is increasingly being used to power Featured Snippets too (which is mainly for peoples names). Here’s an example of one that I posted on Linkedin:

I’ve noticed that if you’re the owner of a company and you’ve been in business for a considerable amount of time, and your job title is either “Managing Director”, “CEO”, “Director”, or “Founder” then there’s a high likelihood that a result similar to the above will be triggered when searching for “[Job Title] of [Organisation]”.

If James were to restructure the introduction to his Linkedin profile by making it 40-60 words in length (the sweet spot) and include a succinct summary of who he is, then it’s likely that Linkedin could generate a snippet similar to Cindy’s:

Going back to the example of where I was placed within a Featured Snippet, there are a few reasons for this. It is mainly because Google just likes using SEMrush as a reference for information about publishers. The same can also be seen for Olga:

Although I’d like to think that I was featured in this position because I’ve been mentioned in a few reputable publications in the past year or so:

I’d imagine that it’s a combination of the two.

The ultimate goal, is to have your own website generating your Featured Snippet. This is the reason why I’ve structured my About page sub-headline in this way:

And that description isn’t 57 words long by accident 😉

My advice for anyone who wants to see if they can generate their own Featured Snippet for their name would be to:

  1. First see if you’re already being featured. Try the Linkedin combinations mentioned earlier as well as some other “who is” variations that might trigger it
  2. If you don’t have anything being displayed and you’re already active on Linkedin and a Founder of a company, then target this opportunity. If you’re not a Founder, then it’s best to go down the publishing route. Try to get an article published on a well-known industry blog so a profile page is created
  3. Once your profile page is created, fill out your bio to be between 40-60 words (same goes for Linkedin) and include all the necessary information regarding your experience so Google can present it in a neat paragraph

If you have any questions about how you can get more prominence on Google for your own name, feel free to leave a comment below and I can give you some feedback on the best approach.

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