Hey Business Owners! Google's Trying to End Search With Their Knowledge Graph Feature

“But Sean,” you might ask, “Why would the most powerful search engine in the world want to end the very thing they do?”

That is a good question, and it seems like a contradiction, but I promise you it isn’t. To paraphrase Francisco d’Anconia, “there are no contradictions, only a faulty premise,” and in this case he is right. I’m not insisting that Google wants to stop being a search engine; I’m saying they want to be better at it.

Contrary to popular belief, search engines are not called search engines because of what you do when you use them. They are called search engines because of what they do. Google crawls, catalogs, and indexes content from around the web, and when you go to Google’s website, you perform a search query of the results they have cataloged and indexed.

So what I’m saying is, Knowledge Graph is Google’s biggest attempt at helping users find what they are looking for without having to search very hard.

Looking through all the information on the search engine results page can be absolutely frustrating for users because of either an overload of options or scarcity of resources on a subject. Knowledge Graph helps users to not have to scroll so much.

You Google yourself, right? Your business? Everyone does! When searching any company these days, you’re going to notice that there is a Knowledge Graph side panel in the right margin of the search results.

This is just the tip of the iceberg too. Many various Knowledge Graph widgets exist out there, but the type that concerns business owners the most is when the results are from scraped content from a website.

Did you know that approximately 20% of all the search results now come with the Knowledge Graph widget displaying on the SERP for user consumption? This naturally impacts the organic targeted traffic in a huge way. It essentially shifts the users eyes and attention to a different part of the first page, and inevitable does a shake up on the value of where ones brand lands on page one. Wikipedia alone realized over a 20% decline once the Knowledge Graph features were employed by the search engines.

Of course many people have a lot of questions pertaining to these developments. Are the Knowledge Graph answer boxes going to be attached to certain keywords that pertain to your business directly? Is the Knowledge Graph going to have any impact on your targeted traffic and profit margins? Do you even wish to have any content reflected in the Knowledge Graph boxes? Is there anything you can do yourself to stop it if you do care?

The Knowledge Graph feature set forth by Google is quickly expanding, so all Internet marketers need to start understanding they need a firm grasp and a solid game plan to take advantage of this feature. Here are some things you need to think about as you learn about the new feature.

About Us – Graph Panel Content

The Knowledge graph feature is increasingly showing up in branded search results for both large businesses and the local, smaller businesses. The Knowledge Graph panels can have all kinds of information and will depend on the business model and brand.

  • General information and a short Wikipedia description is an example.
  • Sometimes Google Plus photos are used as well.
  • Stock quotes provided by Google Finance and other top financial sites.
  • Available Google reviews, and other reviews from “around the web”.
  • Social media profiles.
  • Competition within your business niche.
  • Various related searches.

These Knowledge Graph panels provide powerful brand representation. Consumers often look to and trust third party information, and not only that but Google is looking like they are training people to trust the Knowledge Graph panels.

Of course, if the information represented in the Knowledge Graph about your brand is accurate and good, then it becomes a satisfactory feature of search results. But if the information put forth isn’t good, you have limited (direct) influence on contributing to or making updates to what is put there about your brand in the Knowledge Graph panels. So of course we can all hop on the various discussion forums, social media groups, and personal blogs to whine and complain about it, or we can use it to our advantage and take our 2015 SEO results to an unprecedented level.

Scraped Content For Knowledge Graph Panels

In the very beginning, the Knowledge Graph panels mainly displayed Wikipedia short answers to questions and little quick facts. The websites that provided a ton of information and content didn’t have to worry about the loss of any search engine traffic due to content scraping.

Now, however, the Knowledge Graph appears to be getting a little smarter. It can now hand pick instructions from the “how to” questions out there and also extract the important answers from large pieces of content on websites.

If Knowledge Graph does this to your website, will Google just take away from your traffic? I suppose that has more to do with what content is being scraped and what search phrase is showing up. If it is some of your primary content and messaging for your brand or expertise, and it is showing up in a branded search, this is not necessarily a problem. If the scraped content is good, it builds your brand, and positions you as an expert / influencer on your topic. If it is content you don’t approve of and it is showing up in a topic based query, the good news is Google considers you an expert or at least a valid influence in your topic and the only thing you need to worry about is how on-top of your own messaging and content you have been.

There are other scenarios though. If your business is suffering from poor user reviews on Google+, Yelp, and other various review sites and you still haven’t been demoted yet by the bad merchant algorithm, then you are likely to be on display on page 1 for all the world to see the 2.5 star aggregate rating. This is a very common scenario for consulting clients that like to take all of my advice except getting on top of their local reviews. Now Knowledge Graph conveniently aggregates all the customer “reviews from around the web” in that handy little panel in the right margin of the SERPs. That can almost be worse than not ranking at all.

I can’t say it enough; even to those that pay me to tell them this. Get on top of your content! You are what you publish! If you ignore this, the best possible outcome is that nobody will ever know about you and your business and nobody will ever talk about you online.

So, since this is the direction that Knowledge Graph is headed, now more than ever is to take advantage of influencer outreach, and adjust your efforts and focus on what content you publish, where you publish it, and how often. At this time, the Knowledge Graph is showing original source links, and promoting trust for the original site.

Scraped Content From Competitors

No business owner wants to have their content scraped and repurposed by someone else for someone else’s profit or gain, but the race has started when you see Brand X show up as an authoritative source in an answer box. Are you smarter than them? Do you know more? Are they wrong? Who cares? Better get on top of your content! Have I mentioned that yet?

Your headlines need to be attention grabbing, and the content you create must be intriguing and valuable to readers.

Have Knowledge Graph Panels Changed SEO Fundamentals?

What are you going to do about search engine optimization? Do you start creating content for the purpose of getting it scraped by Google, or should you forget about the answer boxes, focusing instead on targeted traffic that will convert to sales?

Yes!

Doing both of these things fortunately focus your content in the same direction. Often you are going to find that the source displayed in the Knowledge Graph panel is already located in one of the top search results.

Google Knowledge Graph Answer Box Example

Google Knowledge Graph Answer Box Example

When the source used in the Knowledge Graph comes from a much lower ranked source, this is usually because of on page content scraping considerations.

In some cases for really general queries about niche topics, Google gives you the option to add feedback in case the answer is incorrect, or altogether needs to be removed.

Google Knowledge Graph Feedback Option

Google Knowledge Graph Feedback Option

When it comes to “how to” search queries, Google prefers numerical lists that are formatted instead of a broader schema.

In other words, the general strategies you use to push solid SEO rankings is also what is going to help your odds of being picked for the Knowledge Graphs. Of course if you don’t make the Knowledge Graph answer boxes, your targeted visitors that will convert to sales are wanting more information than just a quick answer.

People that are looking to buy something are going to want more information than what can be represented in the answer boxes. What this means is that buyers are obviously still going to click through, although overall click through numbers might be lower.

The top factors putting quality content out there are always being discussed, and those that deal more closely with scraping by Google for Knowledge Graph information being displayed include the following:

  • Theme out your subsections
  • Strong title and H1 headings recommended
  • Watch use of primary keyword phrases
  • Make Author/Owner names clear on page.
  • Provide interesting and unique value to content

So, moving forward with your regular SEO strategies (as if there is really such a thing anymore) is key, even as Google’s Knowledge Graph answer box idea continues to grow.

I’m saying it now; this will have a  sizable impact on your total amount of site visitors you get. Either evolve with what is going on in the SERPs, or get really good at direct mail marketing. No matter what happens with Knowledge Graph, and what Google decides to display in their most valuable real estate, they still derive their value (to their users) by delivering the highest quality content they can find on the web. The focus still has to remain on the conversion of your targeted organic traffic from search engine results, but this is a major component to you over all click through rate, and we all know that is both a ranking and conversion factor.

NOTE: None of this is news (by the way). Take a look at this Google+ Hangout On Air a younger, fatter “me” did for my medical marketing department over a year ago. You’ll see Knowledge Graph Optimization in full swing for a local urgent care clinic.

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