The Knowledge Graph (but a bit like ‘The’ Facebook, I’m sure we’ll soon drop the prefix) was added to Google in 2012 in the US but has been rolling out gradually worldwide ever since.

Even if you’ve not heard of it before, chances are that you’ve seen it on a search query and it’s quite likely that you were pretty pleased with the results it gave you. Not yet available for every search but certainly becoming more and more commonplace, the Knowledge Graph replaces the need to click on organic search listings in order to answer a search query. Want to know how old Barrack Obama is? Want to find out about cheap car insurance? The Knowledge Graph answers these without the user having to leave Google.

Screen shot of Obama's knowledge graph

Obama’s birthday via Google’s The Knowledge Graph

Cheapest Car Insurance via Google's The Knowledge Graph

Cheapest Car Insurance via Google’s The Knowledge Graph

Forget the days of visiting a bunch of sites and working out the answer to your question – Google is taking the hard work out of search for you. If you can remember back to the start of the new millenium then you may have used Ask Jeeves – and the Knowledge Graph isn’t too far from this format. Such a success since it launched, the Knowledge Graph has been introduced in a number of languages including Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and Italian, and is rumoured to be the reason behind a large page view decline in various language versions of Wikipedia.

How does The Knowledge Graph Work?

According to Google, the information in the Knowledge Graph is derived from many sources, including the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia. (However in December last year it was announced that Freebase was shutting down late 2015 and all data would be transferred to Wikidata.) Way back upon its launch in 2012 the network for the Knowledge Graph contained over 570 million objects and more than 18 billion facts about relationships between different objects, which the Knowledge Graph uses to understand the meaning of the keywords entered for the search. But despite all of this, in terms of how much it “knows”, the Knowledge Graph is eclipsed by the Knowledge Vault. The Knowledge Vault was announced by Google in August last year and is a knowledge base that contains upwards of 1.6 billion facts sourced by algorithms. The difference is that the Knowledge Vault pulls in information from across the whole web – ranking these facts as trusted or ‘dirty’ depending on where it learnt them from – whilst the Knowledge Graph only pulls in information from trusted sources making the results it displays at the top of your search query almost certain to be correct. It’s all a bit science fiction-esque really…

Online search is suddenly forever changed – the Knowledge Graph can display everything about a query, and coupled with Google shopping results, which take the browsing out of online shopping, and Google local listings which can take the hard work out of finding the nearest business or service for you, users have never had it so good! But what about businesses?

Because on the face of it, it looks like businesses may have been a bit shafted. With users no longer needing to click through on a number of queries, businesses will suffer a loss of organic traffic. But if you are the business that makes it into that little Knowledge Graph box, the exposure you’d get from bypassing the organic results could be a massive boon. From the car insurance example image above, if I were USwitch then I’d be feeling pretty chuffed about having my business listed above all the better known (largely through TV advertising) car insurance comparison sites.

So how do you make the best of your site for The Knowledge Graph?

  1. Cover the basics – make sure your company is in the places where Google has said they pull information from – Wikipedia and Freebase being the two biggest.
  2. Offer the information for Google – Make sure your company information is detailed, up to date and in the right places. Having opening hours and an address are entirely necessary for the Knowledge Graph – so make sure that detailed information about your company is confirmed on all the relevant Google services such as Marketplace and Places. Cover your back and update your Google+ account too.
  3. Establish your online presence. Having an established online presence is a must. Google are pulling in the most popular and well established sites to present their Knowledge Graph results, so make sure your site is in the running. It’s not enough to have a great site – engage your visitors with interesting, regular content, be active on social media, register with Google Marketplace and Google Places, and make sure every box is ticked
  4. Maintain your online image. With the user at the forefront of Google’s mind, Knowledge Graph also pulls in customer reviews and social media profiles. Cultivating a well managed image is paramount to success here – Knowledge Graph cannot be edited and you don’t want a PR disaster on your hands (unless you can triumph in the manner of Greggs!).
  5. Don’t opt out. If you get in the Knowledge Graph box then there will be a negative effect on your traffic as users no longer need to visit your site to find the answer they were looking for. But don’t be tempted to opt out – by not bothering to compete for the real estate in the box and by having a less than fantastic online presence you’d be losing visibility and affecting your business far more negatively than the Knowledge Graph ever would.

However you feel about the Knowledge Graph, it’s certainly not going anywhere! So why not embrace it as the future of search and see what it can do for your business? But if you find the thought of maintaining a strong online presence a bit of a head scratcher, get in touch with us here at Browser Media, we’d love to help!