How to Get Search Traffic from Google’s Knowledge Graph

traffic

When Google rolled out the Knowledge Graph on May 16, 2012, it caused quite a stir in the search community. According to the reports at the time, Google took a step into artificial intelligence and got a thousand times smarter.

Even though the Knowledge Graph has been out for two years, there are still very few SEOs who really grasp the significance of Knowledge Graph Optimization (KGO).

The very fact that Google is ‘smarter’ means that you need to be smarter too. I don’t mean ‘smarter’ in order to game the system, but ‘smarter’ in order to better understand how users can get the things they want when they search.

Google’s goal is to give users the most accurate search results in the shortest amount of time. Your goal as a marketer is the same — to give users precisely what they are searching for. Obviously, you want those results to be your own, which is why you need to be optimizing your web presence for the Knowledge Graph.

Download this cheat sheet to learn how to get search traffic from Google’s knowledge graph.

But before we get started, let’s take a look at what the Knowledge Graph is:

What is the Knowledge Graph?

The Knowledge Graph is Google’s way of answering questions and delivering information in a direct way.

The best way to understand it is to search Google for “what is the knowledge graph?” The result you will see is a product of the Knowledge Graph, presented at the top of the SERP in larger type and framed with a gray box.

knowledge graph

To be more specific, the Knowledge Graph (KG) – according to Search Engine Land – “understands facts about people, places, and things and how these entities are all connected.”

Seeing KG in action helps understand how it works. Below are some examples.

Searching for “famous actors” turns up this Google SERP. The picture carousel at the top is a Knowledge Graph result:

knowledge graph actors

In the search for “Colorado Rockies” below, the SERP is virtually dominated by Knowledge Graph results:

rockies

Searching for “best sandwich shop in San Francisco” shows another carousel result plus a map result, both products of KG.

sandwich

Results that have to do with individual people will vary according to how you word your query. For example, if I type in “who is the ceo of google,” this is what I get:

ceo

But when I search for “who is Larry Page,” this is what I get:

larry page

The Knowledge Graph provides personalized results based on location and other factors as well as results from your Google+ account. Here is an example of the personalized results that it will fetch:

ip address

How the Knowledge Graph works

Under the hood of the Knowledge Graph, you’ll find several fascinating algorithmic features. Here are a few of them:

  • Semantic search – the driving force behind Knowledge Graph’s input understanding is semantic search. KG considers a variety of data points — word variation, synonyms, concept matching, natural language, IP location, and search context — to deliver more specific results. Many of Google’s recent algorithm updates have further pushed the power of semantic search.
  • Entity indexation and disambiguation – the Knowledge Graph is a grand attempt to catalog every thing — i.e., noun, object, or entity — and connect it to every other thing. These “things” are technically called “entities.” The process of entity mapping is called Entity Recognition and Disambiguation, or ERD. As we’ll see below, understanding the power of entities is a key component of KGO.
  • User behavior – what I find interesting is that the Knowledge Graph depends heavily on user behavior. In response to the query above “what is the knowledge graph,” the graphed SERP comes from Wikipedia, not Google, even though “knowledge graph” is a branded term of Google. This fact alone shows that Google is algorithmically preferring (as far as we can tell) Wikipedia results over its own page, in part, due to the fact that Wikipedia is the go-to resource for most users. Search traffic, including CTR, organic, and direct, indicates that Wikipedia contains the best answer to a user’s query.

Now that you understand what the Knowledge Graph is and how it works, let’s break down what you need to do in order to get more search traffic.

Continue your content marketing using entity keywords

At the most basic level, use keywords. The Knowledge Graph, as an entity recognition and disambiguation system, thinks of your keywords as “entities.” It attempts to recognize a particular entity, disambiguate it, and then relate it to the millions of other entities within the database.

Without the use of keywords, it would be very difficult for Google to connect pages on your website to specific search queries.

Use schema markup everywhere possible

Schema markup is the quickest and most effective way to help the Knowledge Graph return your results in graph boxes. We already know that it shows in 36% of all Google search results. You can infer that Google prefers pages that have schema markup. Thus, you should be using it wherever you can.

Markup options are available for hundreds of entities on your website. Since the Knowledge Graph depends heavily on this markup to produce helpful results, you should be using it for your site entities.

You’re probably familiar with markup for, say, movies:

movies

However, there are many other schemas that you can use on your site.

Have a recipe? You can use a markup schema to identify the method of cooking, the type of cuisine, the length of time it takes to prepare the dish, and the ingredients that should be used.

recipe

Google may not feature Knowledge Graph data for every schema data point you input, but it will return some. And, as semantic search and markup become more important for the algorithm, it will probably return more as time goes on.

Notice how, in the results below, markup is providing Knowledge Graph results. Fundamentally, Google reads these as recipes, even in the absence of markup. But beyond that, it provides KG results for the markup identifying prep time, calories, ratings, and reviews.

stir fry

This is just one example of the type of markup that produces Knowledge Graph results. There are hundreds of other schema options that you can use. You can find a variety of schemas at Schema.org.

Optimize your Google+ pages

The Knowledge Graph draws much of its information directly from Google+. Businesses and organizations with optimized Google+ pages have an advantage for KGO. To optimize for Google+ is to optimize for the Knowledge Graph.

Here’s an example. If you are looking for a good place to eat in San Jose, California, you might search for “eatery in san jose.” The Knowledge Graph carousel populates photos, reviews, and directions directly from the Google+ pages of the relevant food establishments.

eatery

When you click on a specific business, e.g., Flames Eatery, the query input changes automatically (notice the search field), and the SERP is now populated with even more Google+ data. If you are logged in to Google while searching, you can “follow” this restaurant by adding it to your Google circles, or you can write a review.

flames

Google+ allows you to set up your business’ hours of operation, menu, and other important details. Searchers will see this in the Knowledge Graph results.

Invite customer reviews

One of the most common KG results is the reviews. Google depends on the review text to create graph displays in search and map search results. See how user input affects Knowledge Graph data in Google maps:

ruby skye

Clearly, detailed reviews with plenty of information provide the most helpful results.

The art and science of inviting business reviews is outside the scope of this article, but keep in mind that they do impact search relevancy and, more to the point, Knowledge Graph results.

Use Freebase MIDs (sameAs)

Freebase is an entity database that assigns an MID (Machine Identification) to every one of its millions of entities. Anything that is relatively well known probably has an ID in Freebase.

freebase

Google, with its purchase of Metaweb in 2010, acquired the Freebase database. Although Freebase remains a Creative Commons licensed organization, the data it has produced is subsumed entirely under Google’s Knowledge Graph database. Thus, connecting your brand entity with Freebase provides a way to correlate structured data with Freebase data, aiding entity disambiguation for streamlined KG results.

The sameAs property is one of the ways that this verification works. AJ Kohns describes it as an “entity canonical.” Adding the itemprop=”sameAs” markup will instantly provide the disambiguation that is needed to deliver a straightforward Knowledge Graph display.

If your entity (person, thing, business, etc.) is not part of the Freebase database, you can easily add it.

schema

Help Wikipedia

One of the most obvious sources of data for the Knowledge Graph is Wikipedia. You can help contribute to Wikipedia’s accurate, reliable, and helpful information. Wikipedia, however, is not a means to SEO/KGO, but rather a data source for the Knowledge Graph, which is a component of a successful web presence.

Like I mentioned above, KGO is not the same as search engine optimization. It requires a more detached and user-information motivated view of online marketing.

Help Google

Finally, you can actually help Google refine the results of the Knowledge Graph by labeling them as “not useful,” “useful,” or “awesome.” This is probably the least effective way to influence the results, but I wanted to at least mention it in closing.

Here’s how you can tell Google what you think.

Within a Knowledge Graph box, usually at the bottom, you can find the word “Feedback.”  You can click on the word and tell Google what you think about the results.

cheesesteak

Occasionally, you will receive a pop-up asking you for your response:

feedback

Personally, I’m skeptical of how much of an impact my responses matter in the grand scheme of all things Google. But, hey, if I can help Google improve its search capacity, why not?

Conclusion

Knowledge Graph Optimization is less about quick wins and slick tricks and more about high-level trustworthy marketing efforts. The core of KGO is giving helpful information to users and letting them make the best decision.

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Comments

  1. Nikhil Waghdhare :

    Hey,
    This post contains lots of knowledge about Google’s Knowledge Graph. Google knows every thing about you and what you are looking for. Google is now becomes more smarter by adding a knowledge graph…. 🙂

    • Michael Chibuzor :

      Yes, I agree with you Nik. Google knowledge Graph is an aspect that most content marketers and website owners neglect. I also believe that if you could mention some of the names that are popular online as you write your marketing content, it’d be deemed relevant when people search for them.

      And just like Neil pointed out, we need to seriously start considering this Graph to see how they can add to our bottom-line. Thank you Sir for another eye-opening post.

    • Nikhil, great points. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Thanks Neil, I didn’t know that knowledge graphs can help that much in bringing traffic to my site.
    Another great post.

  3. Shaun Overton :

    Are there any good plugins for WordPress that can help with the schema?

  4. To be honest, never used google’s knowledge graph before..

    Apparently big mistake..

    Thanks for another great stuff, guess I have entertainment for today’s evening 🙂

  5. Wow Neil, I’ve been reading extensively about SEO for more than a year but I’ve never heard of KGO or Schema. You’ve given me a lot to think about and research.

    Thanks once again for the valuable information.

  6. Neil,

    Great post on the Google Knowledge Graph. Google’s work on the KG, plus their recent announcement that backlinks will become less important over time, clearly indicates that they’re moving toward using related keywords to determine search rank.

    Re: your comment “KG considers a variety of data points — word variation, synonyms, concept matching, natural language, IP location, and search context — to deliver more specific results.”

    Specifically, Google’s “Hummingbird patent” mentions that it utilizes a synonym engine. As the KG evolves, we’ll see more and more types of semantic relationships used.

    SEOs and content marketers should definitely start to consider related keywords in their campaigns.

    • Aki, you bring up some great points. It’s all about having the right keywords in place to target your niche market.

  7. I must also admit that I was also not much aware about knowledge graphs and would definitely like to benefit with this tutorial by Neil.

  8. Fakharuddin :

    Hello Sir, Thanks for the great stuff.

    I don’t use Google Knowledge Graph and this is a new and hot topic for me. Hope this will help me more to get good result in SEO.

  9. Kumar Gauraw :

    Hi Neil,

    This is certainly a lot of incredible information you’ve shared here. Again, I would have missed some great stuff if I didn’t come here to find out what you were going to teach today!

    Schema Markup sounds very interesting and obviously, for a blog, a lot of work 🙂

    But, I am going to get to the bottom of this and implement it in my websites. Thank you very much!

    Regards,
    Kumar

  10. Brett Burky :

    Well done once again. I have schema on most sites I work on, but I think I need to dig a bit deeper into after this read.

  11. Awesome post with lots of useful tips, im going to take a crack at further optimizing my site, especially schemas, but still a bit skeptical as to how much traffic knowledge base can bring in for a B2B SaaS company.

  12. Awesome article, really helpful. Thanks a lot.

  13. Hi Neil, Great post! I’ve been into SEO for about 4 or 5 years now and everything I find on Schema doesn’t give me a clear answer on how to implement. This helps, and is the first I’ve heard of KG. Thanks!

  14. Great article. Always new information to help me reach my SEO goals.

    Thanks!

  15. Ravi Chahar :

    Hi Niel,

    This is informative post indeed.
    It’s really great to know about Google knowledge. I have got the point about traffic engagement. The main think to do is providing quality to the customers. Building trust among our readers help us a lot to bring traffic at our blog.

    Doing content marketing is also the main thing to do.
    Thanks for sharing this post with us.

    ~Ravi

  16. Has anyone tried to add to Freebase, and if so how? I tried to follow the instructions but it still did not make sense. Thanks.

  17. Andrea Veratti :

    Great article Neil, I have always wondered how the review sites get those results and now I know! I will definitely try to use it in my blog.

  18. Hi Neil,
    I don’t like this KGO thing. As Google is stopping users from Going to a site. Right?
    Moreover,
    Have you seen this tweet from Dan Barker?
    https://twitter.com/danbarker/status/439125570115223552

  19. Before we Did not know about the Knowledge Graph Optimization. From these post we got a knowledge about KGO. Really I will work on this. Thank you for sharing this great information.

  20. Nouman Tariq :

    Great Post; I love knowledge Graph’s on Google Search Results. Thanks for a detailed post on how to get search traffic from knowledge graph.

  21. Swadhin Agrawal :

    Hi Neil sir,
    Frankly speaking I had subscribed your email newsletter long back but would never read it because I thought that was above the scope of my little brain and I would Save it into my Pocket account.
    But recently I have been reading your blog and let me say It is Awesome.

    Your posts are so useful and I am now able to grasp them they have huge values. Thank You.

  22. OMG ! You helped me a lot bro !

  23. Farcas Gelu Danut :

    I’m sorry for my poor English language.
    If you want to search on Google.ro “who is Larry Page” or who is the ceo of google,”, no Knowledge Graph result.
    This work for all country and languages?

  24. Woah, never really gave much thought on Knowledge Graphs…will have to research more on this.

  25. Prasenjeet Kumar :

    Hi Neil,

    Great article. Is there a way you could tell the difference between normal google search and KG search results? From your post, the only difference I could make out was that KG provides direct answers such as who is Larry Page whereas standard Google results throw up names of websites answering the question. For example when I type “how to make green tea’, I find a box appearing on top of google saying “shop for Green Tea maker” on Amazon, Healthkart, etc. Is that KG result or an Adword result? I know that Adword results appear on the side? Sometimes I feel that there is no clear demarcation between a normal search and a KG search.

  26. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for another informative article. KG is another great feature to be taken advantage of to improve your visibility and help you stand out from the rest.

    Very useful article

    Steve

  27. Gaurav Deshmukh :

    Hi Neil,

    Fantastic post as always 🙂

    You know I always get confused with implementation of schema on small sites. Many people says that implementation of the schema is limited for small sites. What you think?

  28. Coinspeaker :

    Your articles (and thi one is not an exception) are really interesting to read, Neil. Thank You.

  29. Naomi@business start ups :

    Hi Neil,

    In all honesty…

    I didn’t even know Google had Knowledge Graphs! Thanks for the education…

    Naomi

  30. Nikhil Ganotra :

    Hello Neil,
    From this article I got a pretty good clue on how Knowledge graph works. Really, your articles are amazing.

    Thanks for this ultimate share. Eagerly waiting for your next post.

  31. Digital Deepak :

    Google is getting more and more brilliant over time. It always tries to reach a point where the search results will be as good as the one recommended by a team of experts. The knowledge graph is a great tool to improve the information available to humans. And perhaps only the No.1 search engine in the world has the power and money to bring such a great information tool.

    Great blog post Neil. I learned a lot from it 🙂

  32. Woah, never really gave much thought on Knowledge Graphs…will have to research more on this.

  33. Hey,

    I never knew that Google’s Knowledge Graph could be optimised such that it brings traffic to my website. Great work man. I will definitely follows all the tips and boost my site’s rankings.

  34. Well I have been encountering these types of results from a long time but I didn’t know this was knowledge graph. Well this using knowledge graph for businesses but I guess t wouldn’t work mcuh for micro niche blogs

  35. Your articles (and thi one is not an exception) are really interesting to read, Neil. Thank You.

  36. Akshay Hallur :

    Hey Neil,
    Fabulous post as always. I think this post is unique and useful. I learned about LSI keywords few days ago, but now another great concept.
    I think that CTR of all blogs and websites will be reduced due to this.
    Google is monitoring everything we do. It customizes advertisements by monitoring phone conversations. I talked about NEXUS 7 in my mobile with Google toll free number, now whenever I surf web I frequently come across NEXUS 7 ads.
    Cheers,
    Akshay Hallur.

  37. Hi Neil, Thanks for sharing this article. Was looking for some info. on google’s knowledge graph and got it here. Thanks again.

  38. Yeasmin Akter :

    Hi Neil, I’m looking articles for knowing KG. Here your article is very informative but I will read more articles about KGO. Thanks for your latest post.

  39. Apeksha Khanna :

    Thanks for this Great Post 🙂

  40. Arun@DigitalVani :

    Another brilliant piece of content. I truly admire your writing skills. Neil You rocks 🙂

    Thank you for putting all this informations altogether.

  41. Knowledge Graph :

    Great article, I read it and loved it from the beggining till the end. The subject of Knowledge Graph is pretty tough though. I think this article is made for people who have experience in marketing and maybe SEO. I was happy to find and read it since for once I found an article wich was not for begginners. Thanks Neil

    Supref

  42. The trick is to ensure that the users get just that much of information in the knowledge graph which motivates them to visit your brand’s website.

  43. I think google is in the linea they need to know a search engine needs 50% seo sites and 50% sem sites.

  44. Hoping Knowledge graph helps in boosting my client’s online presence.

  45. prashant saxena :

    I also see knowledge graph for my name but only if i am login to Google in another browser tab 🙂 .

  46. Realtors in Sarasota FL :

    Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this website.
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  47. Thanks for Sharing Nice Information

  48. Rahul Biswal :

    Hi Neil,

    I am so glad to inform you that one of my blog post has got place in “Google Knowledge Graph box”.

    Can you tell if a blog post got place in Knowledge graph box, what it signifies about that blog?

  49. Can you recommend a good Schema plugin for WordPress? I wish Yoast SEO would add this feature as then it would be high quality.

    Dale.

  50. Thank you for the article clearly has a deep and I was curious to ask you about Google Quick Answers with KGO same as, if possible, you are ready to make a detailed post about this. Thank you for the article, I have often read and learn knowledge on your blog

    • KG has made a big impact in the SEO world over the last few years. I’m glad you have a better understanding. Let me know if there’s anything else I could help you out with.

  51. Hi Neil.
    Your blogs are awesome. can you give more information about how to get quick SEO results for E-commerce sites. Because I don’t believe in paid links. Now a days getting back links is a time consuming process. More over day to day competition is going peaks..everyday one new site is coming in market..please let me know the best ways to get quick results..

  52. Hi neil..

    Is there any limit on no.of link submissions per day.. gone through different different blogs and different opinions.. I think so many myths are there about link submissions..
    Please let me know is there any limit on link submissions per day..

  53. Great post.

    Any insights on maintaining SEO/traffic when the Graph Results are more curated? I’m thinking specifically of Google Health results…

    • In general as you focus on improving your overall site (backlinks, content, structure) you will get traffic even as Google adjusts what they do with the Knowledge Graph.

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