The Knowledge Graph is a database system launched by Google in May 2012. Beyond just storing facts, the Knowledge Graph connects information about various entities (people, places, and things) to understand how they are related.
The Knowledge Graph enables Google to take all those facts in its database and start to make sense of the connections between them. Not only does this type of understanding help the search engine decipher what a searcher is asking for, but it also affects the results.
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How does the Knowledge Graph impact search?
There are three main ways in which the Knowledge Graph has influenced SEO for businesses and websites. This new feature led to traffic declines for some websites. According to Wikipedia, page views dropped by 21 percent following the launch.
There are Quick Answers at the top of the SERP for how-to questions and definitions. The Knowledge Graph offers answers to the query in a white box at the top of the search engine results when it interprets information from authoritative websites. Marketers are concerned that Quick Answers will reduce the need for customers to click on results.
In fact, it is likely that any traffic Google siphons through the Knowledge Graph was from visitors who just wanted a quick answer and would have left the page after finding it. This means they are unlikely to convert.
Another area that has had a significant impact in the development of sidebar panels, which are available for businesses of all sizes. This type of panel displays a lot of information about your brand as a result of a branded search. There are often optimized photos, reviews, social profiles, as well as stock prices for related brands on the panel.
How to optimize for the Knowledge Graph?
1. Create content that gives quick answers
Think about queries that will lead to Quick Answers for your industry, such as ‘how to’ and ‘what is’ questions. You will be more likely to appear as the authoritative source for an answer if you create content that answers the question sufficiently. Be clear and easy to understand when answering customer questions.
Watch the traffic and click-through rate of Google’s Quick Answers page. You may notice an increase in some answers chosen. This can boost trust when people are scanning the SERP.
2. Keep your website’s ranking high by optimizing your content
People who are interested in in-depth answers are more likely to convert if they scroll to the bottom of these Quick Answers. This means you should rank as highly as you can. A number of SEO best practices can help you achieve this, including optimizing image alt text, and title tags, increasing keyword density and adding backlinks. You can increase your chances of showing up in the Knowledge Graph by mastering SEO.
3. Make sure the information in the sidebar panel is accurate
Make sure all the information in the sidebar panel about your business is accurate. This information is trusted by your customers. Be sure to cultivate positive reviews on Google+, upload engaging pictures, and establish a strong social media presence. Your brand will be more likely to be perceived positively, improving your conversion rates.
Effects of the Knowledge Graph on SERPs
Knowledge Graph elements show up in all kinds of ways on Google SERPs. With such a vast knowledge repository, Google often takes the direct route and displays just what (it thinks) the searcher wants to know right on the results page. Users benefit because they can get a quick answer to their questions without even leaving Google.
Website owners have mixed feelings about the Knowledge Graph, because while it’s possible to get your own site quoted or linked to from within a KG element, more often Google seems to be competing with websites for clicks.
For example, searching for the query [flights from Los Angeles to Paris] brings up a SERP that displays no organic listings above the fold at all. Ads appear at the top and right column, as usual.
Below that is an interactive Knowledge Graph element that lets you choose your travel dates and see flight choices and prices. Organic web links for Kayak, Expedia, and the rest of the usual travel sites do appear on this SERP but are visible only if the user scrolls below the Knowledge Graph feature.
Other Knowledge Graph features take up less space or are arranged in a less obstructive way (from an SEO point of view). For example, in the case of a Google SERP for the query [Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim], the engine interprets what the searcher might be after, and the search engine dishes up organic links to websites about this baseball team with blended results from the Google Images and News vertical engines as well as the following Knowledge Graph elements:
- Game information about the team’s next scheduled game
- Stadium pictures, map, and background information, as well as user reviews and links to search results pages about upcoming events
Users can easily find the information they seek with the Knowledge Graph. With this feature, marketers can optimize their content and write new content that targets Quick Answers.