Will Google's Knowledge Graph Kill Your Website?
Earlier this month, Google unveiled the Knowledge Graph, a new search feature that allows users to immediately get the basic information about certain queries right from the search results page. No more clicking through Wikipedia or encyclopedia websites just to find key facts about something or someone; with the Knowledge Graph, you should be able to get the information you need as soon as you hit the search button.
Available on desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets, the Knowledge Graph appears at the right-hand side of Google’s search results page and it provides a snapshot of what a particular query is all about. For instance, if you search for Steve Jobs (see image above), the knowledge graph will display a quick summary of who he is, together with basic facts including his birthday, the day he died, his wife, children, etc.
Follows the footsteps of Amazon
Google’s Knowledge Graph also borrows a feature from Amazon by having a “People also search for” section. In the same way that Amazon suggests related products that people also bought, the Knowledge Graph shows you people or things that others have also searched for and are related to the particular search query.
In the case of Steve Jobs, links to Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, and Walter Isaacson are displayed. By doing this, Google wants you to “go deeper and broader” and “make unexpected discoveries and explore a topic more deeply with a springboard of information at your fingertips.”
The Knowledge Graph also aims to make search results clearer by filtering queries that may have more than one meaning. For example, when you search for the term “Andromeda”, Google will clarify whether you’re referring to Andromeda the TV series, the galaxy, or the Swedish band. (See image above.)
What does the Knowledge Graph cover?
At present, the Knowledge graph has about 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts and relationships between these different objects. The topics and categories that the Graph covers include entertainment (actors, directors, movies), art (artists, works, museums), Geography (cities, countries), Music (singers, bands, albums), Astronomy (planets, spacecrafts, galaxies), Sports, and more.
Like most things though, this new feature isn’t perfect. Google’s Knowledge Graph is only as good as the sources that it gathers data from. Currently, those sources include publicly accessible databases including Freebase, Wikipedia, The CIA World Factbook, and Google Books. And since some publicly available sources can be inaccurate, all Knowledge Graph boxes include a “Report a problem” link that enables users to correct bad data. Google will use human eyes and algorithms to determine if a piece of information needs to be corrected. When a correction occurs, the source (i.e. Wikipedia and the like) will be notified.
On to the big question: Will your website suffer?
A number of search engine pundits have noted that while Google’s Knowledge Graph does indeed make searching faster and easier, it could significantly reduce traffic for fact-heavy websites such as Wikipedia. After all, why would users bother clicking through Wikipedia or Encarta.com when they can find the information that they need straight from the search engine results page?
To address this concern, Google’s head of search Amit Singhal responded that “publishers shouldn’t worry.” According to Search Engine Land, Singhal mentioned that “most of these types of queries, Google has found, don’t take traffic away from most sites. Part of this seems to be that the boxes encourage more searching, which in turn still eventually takes people to external sites.”
And while the feature may take some traffic away from encyclopedia and fact-based websites, “he sees that as something that was going to happen inevitably, anyway, using a “2+2″ metaphor. If people are searching for 2+2, why shouldn’t Google give a direct answer to that versus sending searchers to a site?”
If your website is filled with key facts and information and you feel that Google’s Knowledge Graph decreases the traffic in your site, then the following tips should help you reel users back in. By the way, be sure to check out the tactics below even if you don’t have a fact-heavy website as they still serve as excellent advice for publishers in general.
Go beyond the facts – So the Knowledge Graph wants to answer the basic questions of users? Then take your website a step further by answering more advanced questions in your industry. Don’t just settle for giving straight information, provide insights and include hard-to-find facts and trivia in your content.
Write about current events – Aside from facts, people also want the most recent data, and this is something that the Knowledge Graph hasn’t tapped into yet. Sure, the new feature displays data that are already set in stone, but it doesn’t give users recent information or current events surrounding the query. This is why it’s important to follow the latest developments in your field. If you’ll be able to update your website as these developments are happening, the better. Sticking to the facts is good, but providing real-time information to users is even better.
Include interesting photos – The Knowledge Graph presents information using words and very basic photos. If you want to stand out from these features (along with other websites) then post unique and hard to find photos on your site. Don’t just stick to images that every other site already has; be original and use pictures that can’t be found everywhere else.
Optimize, optimize, optimize – Google’s Knowledge may be a major change, but don’t forget that the main search results are still there. Don’t let these fancy updates discourage you from your SEO efforts. The same goes for blogging. Don’t neglect publishing new information on your site. Continue to build links, update your blog and optimize your site for search, because at the end of the day, when users need information that’s beyond the Knowledge Graph’s scope, they’ll still go to the websites at the top of the search results page.
A step in the right direction
It’s no question that Google’s Knowledge Graph is a feature that makes searching much more simple for users. In essence, it makes search more convenient while challenging publishers to up their content and bring in relevant and up-to-date information at the same time.
Unlike Search Plus Your World which opens up criticisms about Google being biased towards its own products, the Knowledge Graph is actually an unbiased, relevant, and user-friendly step that takes search to a new level.