google knowledge graphintermediate

Today, Google announced the rollout of its Knowledge Graph, which will cause a big change to how results are delivered in the SERPs. Basically, the intent behind the Knowledge Graph is for search engines to think more like a human -- and deliver results that reflect that. It's gradually rolling out in the U.S. as we speak, but you might not see it for yourself quite yet. After the initial rollout is complete, Google will expand the Knowledge Graph to searches on mobile and tablet devices, then to languages other than English.

As Google puts it, Knowledge Graph, "taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do." Wait. What exactly does that mean? Let's take a deeper look at this rollout, and try to make things a little clearer!

What is Google's Knowledge Graph?

To explain the Knowledge Graph, let's all pretend we're conducting a search in Google for the term 'Taj Mahal.' Before the Knowledge Graph, Google simply saw that query as a string of characters; but it means much more than that to you, a human, right? If only search engines could understand 'Taj Mahal' like you understand it, the results would be much more relevant to you! That's exactly what the Knowledge Graph will help Google do, and as a result, users will see improved search results.

So think about it -- what does Taj Mahal make you think of? A historic monument? A casino in Atlantic City? A musician?

taj mahal query

I guess it depends on the person -- and that's what makes this update so cool. As Google puts it, Knowledge Graph, "understands real-world entities and their relationship to one another: things, not strings."

How does it do that, though? Well, it taps into public sources of information like Wikipedia, Freebase, and the CIA World Factbook for information, couples that with information pulled from more than 500 million other objects, and augments it all with more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between those objects. If you want more in-depth understanding of how this works on the backend, well, get a job as a Google Engineer, I suppose. Or at the very least, watch this video before we get into why the Knowledge Graph is so cool!

Why is the Knowledge Graph Cool?

Because it will make Google search results better, plain and simple. It's doing this in a few ways:

1) Searchers are more likely to find the right thing. Like we referenced above, a search for 'Taj Mahal' could mean you want information about the monument, the musician, or something completely different. With the Knowledge Graph, you'll be able to narrow your search results to only include what you really want. Just click the link of the Taj Mahal you really want as indicated in the image below, and you'll see the results you actually wanted to see. Now Google can understand the nuanced meaning behind queries of this nature like the searcher intends the search engine to.

taj mahal

2) Searchers get an accurate summary of facts. Because the Knowledge Graph allows Google to better understand a query, it can them summarize content related to that topic. For example, a search for 'Marie Curie' could yield facts like her birth date, education, and scientific discoveries. To determine which facts searchers actually want to see, the Knowledge Graph looks at what other searchers have been asking Google about the item. For example, searchers may have been more interested in Marie Curie's scientific discoveries, and less interested in, say, her favorite food, so facts are displayed to reflect those interests.

marie curie

It is also able to pull in relevant facts because, like we stated earlier, the Knowledge Graph understands the relationships between entities. So the Knowledge Graph understands that Marie Curie is a person, she won a Nobel Prize, she had a husband named Pierre Curie, and Pierre Curie claimed her third Nobel Prize -- all of these facts are linked within the Knowledge Graph as items that have a relationship, not just disparate, unrelated objects.

3) Searchers discover new information they wouldn't otherwise find. With all of these new facts popping up in search results with the Knowledge Graph, searchers will be able to learn information about their query that could open up a whole new set of inquiries. Google uses The Simpsons as an example to demonstrate this benefit:

matt groening

Apparently, Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, got the inspiration for the name of three of his main characters from his parents and sister! Google hopes that this will help them "answer your next question before you've asked it, because the facts we show are informed by what other people have searched for. For example, the information we show for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of next queries that people ask about him." Think of it kind of like the ecommerce recommendation engine ... but for organic search!

Does the Knowledge Graph Change How Marketers Do SEO?

To put it plainly, we don't know. Google made no comment on whether the Knowledge Graph would affect search results -- although if it was going to harm any businesses, we're confident some statement would be made. But my educated guess is that the Knowledge Graph only serves to solidify the statements Google has been making surrounding its Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. Essentially, write for humans, not for search engines. That also means you should be creating comprehensive content. Not only do humans want the whole story, but the Knowledge Graph will likely see content that covers all of the facts (and their relationship to one another) as incredibly useful to humans and their surfacing of relevant facts. So if you're a good content creator and legitimate search engine optimizer, the Knowledge Graph should be in your favor -- but as always, we'll keep you updated if we learn anything different.

What do you think of Google's Knowledge Graph? Do you think it will change the way marketers approach SEO?

Image credit: MoneyBlogNewz

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Originally published May 16, 2012 4:24:00 PM, updated February 01 2017


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