As Google continues to significantly change and improve, one of the ways in which it does is via semantic search and the knowledge graph. What, exactly, is the knowledge graph?
The knowledge graph is a digital compendium of knowledge that includes people, places, and things. All of these specific data points are referred to as entities. What, exactly, is an entity?
An entity is a noun: a person, a place, or a thing. Basically, the sum of the majority of knowledge can be distilled down to person, places, and things. This isn’t a limit, per se, but it gives us some reference as to what we can expect to find when we do talk about these topics.
So why is the knowledge graph important to SEO? When you’re dealing with businesses an known entities, you must optimize according to how Google has the data stored in its knowledge base.
What is the difference between the knowledge base and the knowledge graph? They are essentially the same thing.
What Is Google’s Knowledge Graph?
The knowledge graph is a knowledge base that provides structured data about entities, their relationships, and facts about them.
The knowledge graph currently has 500 billion facts on 5 billion entities as of 2020.
The knowledge graph works as both a semantic indexing structure for search engines and a knowledge base for natural language processing systems.
In simple terms, it’s an automated database system where search engines like Google build out a series of nodes or fields on the internet with connections created between various web pages related to any given topic.
It is growing in popularity among users who are more likely to click on listings when they find what they’re looking for right away—knowledge graphs give them exactly that.
As knowledge graphs improve search engine queries, knowledge graph-friendly coding practices on websites can also help to increase search rankings.
Web design firms that make knowledge graph improvements to their websites may find themselves higher in the ranks of local searches as knowledge graphs are becoming a hot topic for SEO in 2021 and beyond.
While knowledge graphs have previously been reserved for larger companies with many employees who could devote time to properly optimizing their knowledge graph entries, knowledge graphs can now be edited by anyone.
This means knowledge graphs are open to smaller businesses, who may struggle to compete on knowledge graphs with larger competitors.
Google has even released a knowledge graph testing tool for anyone to use.
This kind of information is invaluable when it comes to developing knowledge graph tactics that work well for your business online.
While knowledge graphs can be especially helpful in local search, they also provide other benefits including increased click-throughs and higher rankings on semantic searches like those related to people or brands.
Knowledge graphs have the potential to change SEO by providing users with the information they need right away, making it easier than ever for companies to rank higher organically in search results—as long as they are knowledge graph-friendly from the start.
Knowledge Graph Structures
Knowledge graphs are built using Schema markup, a semantic coding language that search engines can identify and use to create knowledge graph structures.
Schema markup is used to help Google better understand structured data, and how to parse and display that data to users.
The knowledge graph itself is made up of nodes and edges between those nodes. Nodes are essentially important entities on the internet like people, places or things while edges represent connections between those entities.
While knowledge graphs do not currently have any impact on SEO for Google’s main SERPs (search engine results pages), knowledge graphs may soon be used as a ranking factor for local listings where knowledge graph relevant content helps users find answers in their immediate area.
Knowledge graphs could also play an important role in semantic SERPs, helping give more information about semantic keywords without requiring users to click through first.
This means knowledge graph Schema.org markup coding practices are incredibly important for SEO.
How To Make Knowledge Graphs Work For Your Business’s SEO
If knowledge graphs are going to play a larger role in the future of search engine optimization, knowledge graph friendly coding practices should be at the forefront of company development strategies online.
Here’s how knowledge graph-friendly coding can help your business achieve higher rankings:
- Developing knowledge graphs about people who work for your business can give users more information about those individuals and make it easier to find out more if they see their name or image shown on the SERP.
- With knowledge graphs, you can add nodes that show contact information, location and background details which could lead users directly to contact forms and other important content when they do a google search with information about an individual.
- Local knowledge graphs may give your business knowledge graph entries that can be added to knowledge graphs on Google Maps, allowing users to find answers about businesses in their immediate area.
- By adding information about location, opening hours and contact details you may be able to direct users toward knowledge graph entries that include links to a company’s website as well as reviews from other people who have done business with them online.
- Creating knowledge graph entries for various locations is also helpful for businesses that work in multiple cities or even countries.
- Websites that are knowledge graph friendly may link knowledge graph entries together so users searching within the same geographic space will see similar knowledge graphs related to similar entities, making it easier than ever for companies to create connections between multiple local websites.
By leveraging knowledge graphs and entities, you can take advantage of the latest SEO technology for achieving better online visibility.
Knowledge Graph Knowledge
By creating knowledge graphs of your own and updating them as new information becomes available, knowledge graphs can work to improve SEO for many businesses today.
As knowledge graphs become more important in the future of search, understanding how knowledge graphs are made is a critical skill for all business owners and website operators looking for higher rankings online.
How the Knowledge Graph Impacts SEO
While knowledge graphs have been around for a while, it wasn’t until recently that the knowledge graph began to affect SEO strategy.
Similarly to how Schema.org markup was mostly impotent before structured data became more widespread, knowledge graphs are not yet well-spread and can’t be considered a factor in SEO just yet.
Eventually, knowledge graphs will become similar to structured data—any web page without knowledge graph results may not rank on Google’s first page when a user asks a question directly about your business or product.
The knowledge graph is already influencing SEO because it may as an authority signal.
Knowledge graph results, displayed as a featured snippet knowledge card, show up at the top of each SERP alongside organic search listings, so they provide users with answers upfront instead of having them click through multiple pages.
This knowledge card will provide guidance and search tips along with knowledge graph results.
As knowledge graphs become more common, they will have an even heavier influence on SEO.
Especially when it comes to local businesses or niche knowledge, knowledge graph results will likely become the most prominent type of results in the SERPs, if they are not already.
There are several ways you can gain knowledge graph results and improve your ranking in SERPs:
Use Schema markup: Schema markup allows Google to identify your content more easily by using structured data markup such as JSON-LD, Microdata, or RDFa.
These coding formats make it easier for Google to understand what is being published on the web page so it can generate and parse results based on this data.
Knowledge graphs impact link building, along with on-site SEO. When you are building links, you are better off to link between concepts and likely-known entities rather than linking via random words that may not have their place within the overall known website’s entity paradigm.
In this case, concepts and potentially-known entities means anything that’s a noun – a person, place, or thing – linking to something on your site that’s reflective of this, rather than random verbs, “click here” anchor text everywhere, and so on.
Doing the latter could dilute your link quality, along with messing with its relevance to your overall topic.
This way, you build Google’s confidence in your authority and expertise enough that you’re aware of the relationships between certain entities (and whether or not they may be unrelated to each other).
How the Knowledge Graph Helps Google Better Understand Search Intent
Google wants to serve up knowledge in the form of search results. They want you to get answers without having to click away from their site, so it’s logical for them to add knowledge-based responses directly into the SERPs.
Rand Fishkin’s recent zero-click study posits the theory that websites do not receive more than 65% of clicks from the Google SERPs.
This is an astounding number, considering how many businesses rely on Google to drive traffic and display their websites.
If this is true, then this would mean that the opportunity for appearing in the Google SERPs is shrinking.
But, we do not know exactly what the data is counting. Is the data counting mobile devices? Is the data counting actual clicks of a mouse button from a desktop PC?
Taps on a mobile phone vs. clicks could have different interpretations and thus, depending on who you are, this would include different outcomes for that data.
Thus, it’s quite important to categorize exactly what that data was based on and not jump to conclusions based on generalized clicks.
The final conclusions and interpretations could be much different. Clearly, with many businesses seeing significant success from Google search as a result, there is still significant opportunity and it hasn’t slowed down to a crawl as a result (no pun intended).
Anyway, with Google’s knowledge graph, they are doing just that—better understanding the intent behind your search query by providing direct answers and knowledge cards as well as pulling all this information together on a single page:
This knowledge card provides a lot of information about the “truth” that your query implies. Additional knowledge items and images appear in the knowledge graph snippet, as well, depending on your search query.
For queries where knowledge cards are relevant, Google shows this knowledge graph sidebar as an integral part of search results.
These knowledge card snippets are designed to be dynamic and fluid, loading only when they are needed for queries that support them.
As knowledge cards come directly from Google’s knowledge graph database, knowledge cards tend to have a longer shelf-life than traditional SERP elements like news results or social shares.
The knowledge card displays only in the SERP when it is relevant to your search. If there’s no knowledge graph about a particular query, you won’t see one (unlike other elements of the knowledge panel which are static).
If you have knowledge cards that come up empty because they’re related to things outside Google’s knowledge base, like recipes for a recipe-related knowledge card, there’s nothing for Google to display.
Knowledge Cards and the Semantic Web
The knowledge graph is built on semantic relationships between nodes (entities) in knowledge graphs across different knowledge bases.
This means that as you’re creating content, it has to align with existing topics of knowledge, not just random target keywords or phrases.
Google wants to give you knowledge about a query without having to click away from Google, so they’re trying to surface knowledge graph cards in more places than just knowledge panels. With knowledge cards displayed on your search results page and underneath them, there’s a lot of prime real estate for knowledge cards to appear in.
The knowledge graph provides data that can help you answer questions, which is like what search engines were supposed to do all along. When Google started out, they were expected to be the “answers” engine, but as that role became more and more difficult to fulfill and Google started returning everything, knowledge graphs allow Google to fulfill the initial expectations by providing knowledge without needing you to click elsewhere.
The knowledge graph puts semantic data on one page for your SEO efforts. Many “semantic” structures are out of reach for many sites because knowledge bases like Yahoo Answers aren’t available to index.
When knowledge card data is visible to Google, they’ve now got a new source of semantic data that gives them more signals for ranking and providing knowledge-based results.
The knowledge graph provides better SEO results because you’re able to create content around the knowledge graphs in the knowledge base rather than just targeting random keywords or phrases that may have little to no relevance to what you’re actually optimizing for.
How the Knowledge Graph Improves Semantic Search
Google’s knowledge graph makes it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for via its entity-based implementation.
Considering that entities are basically nouns—persons, places, and things—let’s look at an example of how knowledge graph can improve your search results:
If you’ve been searching the web for a new home, the knowledge graph might show real estate agents that are close to where you plan on moving.
That way, you won’t have to go through the time-consuming task of researching different agents and their awards or helpful promotions.
The knowledge graph will do it for you.
Searching for information about places, people or things is even more useful when using the knowledge graph in semantic search.
For example, if you’re trying to find information about the city you live in (maybe Chicago), the knowledge graph could show you your local city council members, popular restaurants in the area, and different community centers.
The knowledge graph also offers knowledge cards for people or things that have existed over time.
For example, if you’re researching famous inventors, the knowledge card will show people like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla who made inventions to help improve life as we know it.
The knowledge graph makes semantic search more effective because it helps us retrieve information faster when doing research on places, people or things.
Because of entities and their function within the knowledge graph, searches are more accurate, smart, and relevant.
What Does the Knowledge Graph Do for Entities?
What, exactly, does the knowledge graph do for entities? Since Google’s knowledge graph debuted in 2012, they’ve become the gold standard for semantic search.
It’s not just Google that has knowledge graphs, either. From Facebook to Bing, knowledge graphs are popping up everywhere these days.
The knowledge graph is a knowledge base of entities organized around specific categories and populated with information gathered by its human editors.
This means that the information gleaned from knowledge graphs adds a bit more—on the intelligence front—to searches conducted through them, and leads to better results.
Knowledge graphs are a boon for SEO professionals because knowledge graphs provide them with another tool that they can use to influence how knowledge is organized online.
Because entities are specific nodes and known quantities of knowledge, Google already has some information about them.
As you continue creating value through your site about your chosen niche, you add to Google’s knowledge graph and thus eventually will be considered an expert and authority on your topic as well.
What is the Relationship Between Search Results and the Knowledge Graph?
Google has been working with knowledge graphs since early 2011, and it’s currently available in all major languages.
By including knowledge graphs in search results, Google has the ability to give users direct access to knowledge about a specific entity.
“The knowledge graph shows connections between two or more entities, which can help people explore new ideas and concepts,” said Hartmut Giesel from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog. “Our hope is that these features will empower people with knowledge about things that are relevant to them.”
Google is essentially using knowledge graphs as a way for human beings to better understand the information on websites.
To create knowledge graphs though, search engines need some type of logic so they know what data should be included next to each other and if any relationships exist between the pieces of knowledge being shared.
The reasoning behind this strategy is simple: knowledge graphs are user-friendly and help search engines ensure that they are relevant to what users are searching for.
How Do You Optimize for the Knowledge Graph?
Google’s knowledge graph is fully indexing knowledge, facts and figures right into its search results.
It allows users to learn on-the-fly during their searches instead of clicking away a page or two just to find out more information.
This should not be understated as it will completely change the future of knowledge based SEO and SEM strategies going forward until another technology comes along to break it all down again.
Optimizing for the knowledge graph means forging connections between known entities on your site. For example…
Why is it Important for Brands to Show up in Knowledge Panels?
There are three key reasons why brands should want their knowledge panel presence to be strong: 1) brand awareness 2) authority 3) traffic potential.
Since knowledge panels show up at the top of the page, they are going to be noticed.
Having your knowledge panel for the search query you’re targeting include information about you can further strengthen your brand presence online and establish you as a thought leader in your industry.
Even if someone doesn’t click on it, they will see that information and trust from knowledge graph authority could help to elevate your status.
This is a great way for brands to reach out to audiences who aren’t actively looking for them on Google, or are just casually searching for their product or service.
When people search, especially on mobile devices, it’s likely that they may want answers quickly.
A well-designed knowledge panel done right with accurate data can visually demonstrate your knowledge about your field and give searchers confidence that you are the experts in your area.
The knowledge panel automatically pulls information from schema markup and displays it for users to see.
By including this knowledge, brands will be able to capture traffic from those knowledge panels.
This can help bolster brand awareness by capturing visitors who aren’t actively seeking out the site but may return later.
How Do Brands Get Into Knowledge Panels?
Knowledge graphs are created because of entities:people, places or things.
Because Google uses Schema.org markup, companies have extensive opportunities to include content about themselves within their website code so that they can show up in knowledge panels.
Awareness of Schema is currently low, but it’s important that brands take advantage of it now, because there are countless opportunities to optimize with it.
How Do You Plan On Optimizing For the Knowledge Graph?
The knowledge graph is showing up in more searches, and it’s important for brands to make sure they are properly represented. The knowledge panel can boost brand awareness and authority with searchers who need information fast. Companies should use schema markup knowledge panels to capture traffic as well as increase their rankings within the knowledge graph itself.
When this is done effectively, the knowledge graph—and knowledge panels—can be a powerful vehicle for rankings and traffic performance.