You’ve seen them in Google searches for a while now. You might not know exactly what they are, or you might be eyeing them hungrily, wanting to get your online presence inside. Google’s knowledge box and graph provide a means of answering questions you might never think to ask. They’re designed to be snippets of helpful, informative information. The idea is to assist users in discovery. And the results have been pretty amazing.
Inside Search with Google demonstrates how a simple search can result in a knowledge graph that paves the way to discovery. We chose to perform our own demonstration. If you type “President Obama” into the search box, on the right side of the results page, you’ll see a knowledge box:
As you can see, the box offers a handful of facts about the President. Google presents us with a single sentence summary and Wikipedia link to learn more. There are facts about his birth date, full name, spouse, office, and family.
Google next presents a graph with links to Obama’s social media profiles. Discovery begins with a display of what other people who searched for “President Obama” also searched for.
But what does this mean for website owners? If you’re business smart, you’re probably wondering how to get your business—your website—into that box, right?
Google’s Knowledge Box and Graph: Organizing Web Content Information
According to Search Engine Land, Google is on a mission “to organize the world’s information” in a concentrated effort “to make it universally accessible and useful.” That’s a mission of enormous proportions when you think of the sheer volume of information the world has uploaded, contributed, and published to the cyber highway. Only the biggest of search engines could hope to accomplish it, and Google is on it.
The knowledge box and graph were built to assist with the mission. You might liken them to one of the gadgets from Q Branch that saves James Bond’s life on his most recent mission. But instead of packing a wallop of explosives or bullets, it’s armed with information.
Just as James Bond was rather particular about his Walther PPK, Google is picky about their information. It’s not randomly thrown together every time a search is entered. Don’t believe us?
Type “SMX” into the Google search box. SMX is the Search Marketing Expo. It’s only the world’s leading search engine marketing conference, backed by Search Engine Land and the Digital Marketing Depot. It’s a big deal. But here’s what the search results page displays for a knowledge box and graph:
Google chooses to display a more “relevant” knowledge box based on my location versus a box and graph about the SMX I want to know more about. This demonstrates the shift Search Engine Land talks about, the shift away from keyword-based search to entity-based search. This shift should be of concern to you, me, and every other website owner on the World Wide Web.
The shift in search has made a staunch point. Internal data quality is becoming crucial. Instead of cataloging keywords, Google is sniffing out the entities populating your webpages. It extracts entity information in two ways:
- Explicitly: An explicit entity is found when structured data markup is consumed using semantic web technology.
- Implicitly: Implicit entities are obtained when entity information is inferred from the text (or content) on a webpage.
You cannot have one without the other. It would be like having keywords without a webpage or a webpage without keywords—useless. Website owners need to have both implicit and explicit entities to send smoke signals about the topic up to search engines. It strengthens positive vibes, if you will, telling Google and others that you’re a strong topic source.
Once your smoke signals are rising, there’s a chance you’ll place in a knowledge box. Think of these spots as super elite. The number one spot on a search engine results page is elite, but the box…that’s super elite. It’s like the God of all information pointing at you and saying, “The expert resource is [insert your name].”
It sounds epic, but it’s still in testing. Knowledge boxes and graphs aren’t popping with every search, and they aren’t always valuable. Sometimes they’re downright useless. And that’s why Google is continuously testing.
Rigorous Ongoing Test Involving Us
Columnist Eric Enge recently discussed how Google is using dynamic testing to better answer user queries and build out the knowledge graph. The new “search tool” is in a constant state of flux as Google continues their mission to organize the world’s data.
In essence, Google is testing various direct answers to possible search queries. If the result is unfavorable, Google tries a different answer source until the user data says, “Hey! This works.”
Consider our previous “SMX” search. In coming months, Google just might decide that users (like me) weren’t looking for a local result. I’d be on my mobile device for a local search. When I’m at my desktop, I’m in search of the bigger picture—the world’s largest conference, not the staff management company next door.
In some cases, Google doesn’t even display a knowledge box. The search engine algorithms cannot determine perfect answers every time. Instead, the best possible match is calculated and tested in the real world. As Enge puts it, “you and me [are] the QA team for how good the results are.”
Google is willing to do what it takes to provide valuable answers. Are you doing what it takes to provide those answers for Google?
The Future of Search
One thing is certain; the future of search is evolving. If there’s one prediction that can be safely made, it’s that content is going to grow increasingly important.
Facts and citations are likely to be the well-researched “icing” that puts your quality content in favor of being one of Google’s answer sources. It’s probable you’ll have a chance to earn a knowledge box seat in the future. Could the box replace the coveted top spot on SERPs? Time will tell. In the meantime, keep investing in high quality content.
Image source: Google Inside Search