In keeping with Google’s efforts to make the internet more accessible to not only consumers but to businesses as well, Google has inadvertently confirmed that you can now get a Google Knowledge Panel without a Wikipedia page. This is an excellent way to gain visibility for your brand, and the best part is that it doesn’t cost you anything.
Google’s Knowledge Graph is a base of real-time structured data that answers questions and provides information for searchers. Google uses information from trusted sources, which are cited in the panels (sometimes), to form this knowledge base, and the most relevant information is displayed above or next to search results in knowledge graph panels. If you’re still not sure what we are talking about, use your browser to search for “dollars to euros.” The infobox at the top of the screen displaying the most current exchange rate is part of Google’s knowledge graph.
Knowledge Panels and Marketing
If you are seasoned in the ways of digital marketing, then you are already familiar with these knowledge panel displays, but you may not be aware of how you can acquire a panel for your brand. In case you don’t already know, try searching for a large corporation such as Apple. To the right of your search results, there will be a large box prominently displayed containing almost anything the average searcher would want to know, including a description of the company, stock prices, names of c-suite employees, headquarters location, and social media profiles.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you want to find out how this can benefit your business, or you already know and want to get a panel for your brand. In this article, we will take an in depth look at everything you need to know about the brand knowledge panel, along with some SEO tips, and how you can use it to build your brand.
Getting in the Knowledge Graph
There are three things you need to accomplish before you can get in the Knowledge Graph, which will then produce a knowledge panel for your brand. And none of these steps involves having a Wikipedia page.
1. Your first need to review the “About Us” page on your website and include detailed information about your business and what you do. Since your website is the heart of your business, and it lets Google and everyone else know everything about you, this is the first and most important step.
2. Add Schema.org markup to your website. It is important to make sure that this includes as much detail as possible while citing sources to confirm the information you provide.
3. And for the third step, you will need to get extensive coverage from several reliable and unrelated sources.
This last step might be difficult for many businesses, but we will cover that in more detail in this article.
Wikipedia isn’t the Only Way
In years passed, it was commonly understood that a business needs a Wikipedia page to be included in the knowledge graph, but this hasn’t always been the case. What Google is really looking for is strong corroborating evidence from reliable sources that supports your claims for your business. The question is, “how many do I need?” And the answer is that there is no clearly defined number.
Google looks for reliability and consistency in the information, rather than a certain number of instances. But keep in mind that you will need more than just a couple. For the purposes of this article, we will say that you need more or less 30 entries from different sources with consistent appraisals of your business.
What Sources Does Google Trust?
As with many other things, Google isn’t exactly forthcoming with this information. The reason behind this is that Google wants to provide the best user experience possible, and publishing all the data on its inner workings would give businesses and marketers a means to exploit Google’s systems for their own gain, taking the focus away from the value provided to the searcher.
In a Google blog article posted in 2012, Amit Singhal stated, “Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t just rooted in public sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. It’s also augmented at a much larger scale—because we’re focused on comprehensive breadth and depth. It currently contains more than 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s tuned based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web.”
From this statement, we can clearly see that Google’s primary interest lies in whether or not the source is reliable, and they are less focused on the domain name of the source.
We Now Have Insights into Google’s List of “Trusted Sources”
Prior to Google’s recent and ongoing knowledge panel update, known as Budapest, Google did not cite any sources in knowledge panels other than Wikipedia. However, we can assume that Google was compiling and analyzing data from a number of other sources because some 20% of knowledge panels included no source at all.
Now, as of March 2020, we are seeing a major turning point for the future of knowledge panels.
1. There has been a significant increase in the number of brand panels
2. Wikipedia is no longer the only source Google is willing to cite
3. Nearly 20% of knowledge panels now cite sources other than Wikipedia
4. Hundreds of additional sources are being cited in knowledge panels
5. There has been nearly a 50% increase in knowledge graph panels that don’t include cited sources
It’s important to keep in mind that this does not provide a clear picture of where Google is putting its trust, but this does offer us some key insights into how businesses and marketers can benefit from the knowledge graph.
While there are hundreds of cited data sources, there is a steep curve after Wikipedia, Crunchbase, LinkedIn, and Bloomberg. What we can extract from this trend, however, is that Google’s emphasis is on corroborating information from numerous trustworthy sources, not just Wikipedia.
What we are seeing is that the citation is sourced based on a few key factors to provide the most relevant information.
1. The brand or business
2. The industry or sphere of operation
3. The intention behind the search query
This by no means gives us a broad overview of how to make the cut for Google’s knowledge graph, but it does reinforce one of the principal tenets of marketing: test it until you find what works.
Where to Place Corroborating Information to Ping the Knowledge Graph
We can most likely assume that if you have made it this far into the article, you probably don’t have the clout to have your own Wikipedia page (yet). If this is the case for you, you should start by optimizing your profile pages on the sites we mentioned previously:
(In no particular order)
Your next step is to confirm your relevant information on as many pertinent authoritative sites as possible. These can include
1. Conventional news sites – Globenewswire.com, Reuters.com, Globenewswire.com, inc.com, businesswire.com, PRnewswire.com
2. Focused news sites – Marketwatch.com, Geekwire.com, TechCrunch
3. Niche sites – Aia-aersoapce.com, Art.com, Golf.com
4. Geographically targeted sites – Visitcalifornia.com, Ny1.com, Washington.org
There is one important point to take into consideration that we have not mentioned previously in this article. When you are building your digital footprint in hopes of gaining a knowledge panel for your brand, there is no “man behind the curtain” who is judging your efforts. Google’s knowledge panel is produced by an arbitrary string of code that has no personal consideration for you or your business. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. This means that the rules are the same for everyone, and all you need to do is find a way to tip the scale.
In your efforts, you will improve your website (especially the “About Us”) section, add Schema.org markup to your domain, and find ways to get your name out there on authoritative websites. Not only will these actions improve your chances of getting a knowledge panel, but they will also significantly increase SEO for your brand.
Remember that you are building a reputation for notability. And the bar is much lower for Google than it is for Wikipedia. With some research and some common sense, getting a Knowledge Panel for your brand is completely within your reach.
If you have any questions about how you can increase your brand visibility or would like to learn more about our innovative marketing solutions, feel free to contact us.