Google’s Knowledge Graph: A Friend or A Foe?

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google knowledge graph

This is the knowledge graph. Four years ago, you would never find anything there but paid ads or a blank, white space. It’s a fixture now, giving us instant bite-sized answers to almost every query—from the simple ones like George Clooney’s height and age, to the more obscure like the current president of Djibouti (go ahead and Google it).

google knowledge graph

The Google’s Knowledge Graph

We have to admit, the knowledge graph is one heck of a user-friendly tool that puts the entire world’s available information at the beck and call of anyone. No more browsing on pages upon pages of SERP!

Wait, if that is the case, what’s going to happen to SEO now?

A Little Background of Google Knowledge Graph

google search timeline

Credit: siliconbeach

With the growing number of people turning to Google for answers, they sought to improve their service by integrating an answer engine to their search engine.\

Enter Google Knowledge Graph.

Introduced in May 2012, it’s a proprietary tool that attempts to understand information on the Web in order provide answers to queries. Now the next question is where will they find the information?

Since a lot of information-rich websites are indexed in the internet like the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia, it’s only natural for Google to derive answers from these sites. And in just a few months of its conception, Google has amassed over 570 million objects and more than 18 billion facts about anything and anyone.

The Knowledge Graph Today

One of the latest additions to the Knowledge Graph is the inclusion of social media profiles of certain personalities, companies, or organizations late last year.

google knowledge graph social media profile

Earlier this year, Stone Temple Consulting performed an in-depth look at the Knowledge Graph’s capability to provide rich answers to search queries. They found out that 20% (170,000 out of 850,000 questions) were responded with answers out of the Knowledge Graph.

Google is also ranking the most reliable and relevant answers through the initiative called Knowledge Vault, which derives all of its data from the Knowledge Graph. The database already contains almost 2 billion facts already. Through the Knowledge Vault, users can now access complete, reliable, and relevant information to many keyword-based queries. This may also be the reason why the last algorithm update, Phantom 2, hit a lot of instructional and informational websites.

Knowledge Graph: A Cause for Concern?

If you think about it, we spend hours upon hours and hundreds upon thousands of investments just to make sure our pages rank in search engines like Google and reel in traffic. Then all of a sudden, users might not even need to browse through the rest of the SERPs.

Honestly, Google simply doesn’t mind.

If users (a.k.a. consumers) can easily find all the information they need without having to enter and navigate a website, that’s a huge plus for user experience—something that Google has been raving about ever since Day 1.

But the real cause of concern here is not in the nature of the Knowledge Graph itself. It’s not uncovering Knowledge Graph’s potential as a tool that can work for you.

If your company or website feeds on conversions there’s no reason to be threatened by the Knowledge Graph. It’s unlikely to interfere with the Buyer’s Journey.

Perhaps, the Knowledge Graph might even turn out to be a good thing because it will help consumers be informed, educated in their decisions. If you’re actively participating in educating your potential customers/clients, then you’re actually giving yourself a leg up by letting Google include your content in their Knowledge Vault. Education is important to Google, so it must become important to you too.

The Consequences of Semantic Search

If you can still remember, our very first blog entry talked about Artificial Intelligence and its part to play in search moving forward. Well, it’s kind of here already: Semantic search.

Before, search engines like Google used to pick apart search queries by keywords. Naturally, these search engines will yield results depending on the relevance of the keywords and their proximity with each other. For example, when you search for “best pizza in Chicago”, a pre-semantic search algorithm (Hummingbird update) will yield one of the following results:
– Best pizza restaurants in Chicago
– How-to’s in making a Chicago-style pizza
– Best pre-made pizza you can buy in Chicago

A post-semantic search algorithm will yield this:

google knowledge graph

See the difference?

Semantic search does searches in context, like how a human mind would answer a question. It’s a matter of interpreting the context of the search query now instead of just scrambling results off of keywords only, although this is still the primary consideration.

What should be done now?

While Google is clearly shifting more power to the user, this shift shouldn’t be a complication if you’re the kind of marketer that relies on featuring benefits and value to users. But of course, with every update, there needs to be adjustments.
Optimize your content to be more subjective. Instead of going on and on about the products and services your company offers, try to highlight how these will benefit your clients/customers.

Use Schema microformats. Google and other search engines prefer to read microformats from Schema. They prefer this formatting because information can readily be indexed, analyzed, interpreted, and presented in the Google SERP. This means you’ll have a greater chance to be marked-up for visibility.

Monitor Google Webmaster guidelines periodically. Always be on the lookout for changes or updates in Google Webmaster guidelines. Then make necessary adjustments to see if your traffic will be impacted positively or negatively.

Kevin Joshua Ng
Kevin Joshua Ng
Kevin is Content Marketing’s humble scribe. He has no doubt in his mind that Content is still king and he will serve it ‘til the day of his demise. He’s known to lurk around the walls of social media, thinking and writing. So follow him on the BuiltbySF blog and on LinkedIn, Twitter.

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