One of the first and key components of Google’s rich results, Knowledge Panels, are a key ingredient to any successful SEO campaign. For digital marketers who are usually promoting/marketing people, organizations, places, and things, knowledge panels – and to a lesser extent site links – are important, because they maximize brand visibility in navigational queries.
What is a Knowledge Panel?
Above is a marketer’s take on knowledge Panels. However, Aaron Bradley, a noted knowledge graph enthusiast and advocate for using knowledge graphs in content creation and information repositories, had this to say on what a knowledge panel is:
5:32 What is a knowledge Panel?
Knowledge panels are self-authoritative, meaning Google enables the knowledge panel entity or entity representative to make changes to information in the knowledge panel. One of the advantages to claiming the knowledge panel is that once you have claimed the knowledge panel, you can select a featured image from images available on the web. Otherwise, images are a preview of Google Images results.
Knowledge panels are updated automatically as information changes on the web. Google also considers changes directly from the entity in the knowledge panel or their verified representative and from general user feedback.
What is the Google Knowledge Graph?
The Google knowledge graph is an information repository for people, places, organizations, and things collected from authoritative and trusted experts and data sources found on websites. Google has indicated it does include offline sources which could be thought of as purchasing/licensing niche knowledge graphs. Knowledge Panels are built from information in the Google Knowledge Graph.
Examples of known purchases of offline data are the 2010 purchase of ITA – airline seat reservation system; LyricFind and FreeBase are websites but Google has indicated the data wasn’t crawled by Google but was purchased from these sources, or in the case of FreeBase, bought the resource. Google still may have obtained the data by crawling websites, however – the fact that they have said they purchased the data does indicate that they do pay for useful data from offline sources.
Public knowledge graphs include general purpose resources, such as Wikidata, DBpedia, YAGO, and Freebase, as well as domain-specific sources, like GeoNames for geographical data and MusicBrainz for music-related information. Kalicube has a list of sources cited in knowledge panels. Note the %’s for the top 5 is around 95% and the last three are business related.
Top Five cited sources in knowledge Panels
|Cited Source||% of Total Cited Sources|
|No Cited Source||31.49%|
“No Cited Source is intriguing in that this is over 31% which next to Wikipedia, is nearly 10 times the number for the next cited source. One has to wonder if these are not “brands” and that data is from GoogleMyBusiness. Later in the maintenance section of the post, I’ll be sharing a personal experience maintaining GMB info for SEO Pros.
This post will explain:
- How to get a Google Knowledge Panel
- How to maintain a Knowledge Panel
- How to get Knowledge Panels for:
- Assessing Knowledge Graph sources
- User Graphs for PA’s and KP’s
How to get Knowledge Panels:
For a notable person, a place, a thing, or an organization getting a Google knowledge panel is as easy as:
- Doing a search for the entity;
- Go to the bottom of the panel and click “Claim this knowledge panel”;
- Review the features granted after verification;
- Verify you are the entity or a representative of the entity.
- Update your Google knowledge panel!
How To Verify a Knowledge Panel for a Client
If you are the representative of the entity you can claim the panel if you have access to log into:
- Google Search Console
How to get a Brand Knowledge Panel:
Getting a Knowledge panel for a Company is as easy as opening a GoogleMyBusiness account. Getting a knowledge Panel for a brand is nearly impossible, judging by the fact one of the best known brands, Air Jordan (a Nike Brand), has product listings, but not a Knowledge Graph of facts about the iconic sneakers! It is evident that Google decided Nike is the **entity** people would be looking for the type of information in a Knowledge Panel and Air Jordan is a product that searchers are more likely looking to buy, even though Air Jordan has a WikiPedia entry just like the company Nike.
Considering one of the criteria Google uses to establish if an entity is notable is a WikiPedia entry, the Air Jordan example indicates that the intent of the searcher also plays a role. Thinking in terms of query types that are known indicators of search intent, this would make navigational and informational queries the types of queries for which we can expect to find a Knowledge Panel.
How to Claim a Musician Knowledge Panel
A musician or artist knowledge panel is similar to all knowledge panels, in that it includes a featured image, name or identifier for the entity, and facts about the entity. A musician knowledge panel will also often include genre, record company, a list of single and or album releases, and social channels to name a few. If the artist has a website and a claimable Knowledge Panel, then you can use the verification methods above.
Since in this case, the band/artist is also a brand with a website, if there were no panel to claim, it might be possible to get a panel by claiming a GoogleMyBusiness page as a service area business. Note: I would only go this route if there were no Knowledge Panel to claim on the search for the band artist or a song.
I am going to discuss KP maintenance later – however, artists and bands need to be mindful that every streaming channel profile, social network profiles, and any of the other usual suspects for promoting your band are potential sources for info that can go into your Knowledge Panel. So be consistent in your profile entries using high quality images and consistent and ACCURATE contact info as this will be how you book gigs and sell the merch!
The following are tutorials pages on MusicGateway for getting important professional profiles on:
How to Claim a Celebrity Knowledge Panel
Celebrities’ knowledge panels are like all the other knowledge panels, in that all you really need to do is identify the query that generates a Knowledge Panel as part of the SERP. Verify that you are the entity or its representative and you have the control required to make direct entries, keeping in mind that if it’s a name, chances are someone else already has the panel. Then it seems to come down to how notable the person is.
Search my name and the Knowledge Panel is literally a dead Senator. Before “Entity Search”, he barely made the first page because in 25 years I have a large footprint on the web! Today I looked and it seems a large Tech company in BC Canada hired a Terry Van Horn (no e on the end) and I am now competing with him as well. I do have 5 of the 10 results on the page and I still have the Ace of Spades up my sleeve in that the minute I saw the Senator in the SERP I registered TerryVanHorne.com (coming to a SERP near you) and believe I may be able to get what
Dixon Jones has on his vanity search.
BTW, that SERP will be interesting to watch, in that Dixon Jones, the Architectural Firm, did have the knowledge panel using a GMB listing even though both Dixon Jones the principle and the firm both have WikiPedia pages. However, both the personal and commercial listings have sketchy info and look like they are under review.
How to Maintain a Knowledge Panel
Aaron Bradley talks about how he uses a knowledge graph for EA Sports’ many games to keep content consistent over multiple platforms. I believe that you should think of maintaining the information on internal and 3rd party sites like you do for website content and Local NAP, by doing audits to determine that there are no or few bad signals (inconsistencies) in what is found in searches. It’s the web, folks – a few inconsistencies like a misspelled address in a NAP audit is not something worth losing sleep over. Then too, it also depends where the inconsistencies are found.
I mentioned earlier that I would discuss how maintenance of a Google Maps listing is causing me to wear a helmet before doing a search for it on Google. A few months back, I decided to return SEO Pros to its roots as the first SEO Organization and consumer advocate. Aggregators, also known as directories, used to burn me up – when I was working in an industry, they were the big boys on the block, to the point that I found them showing up in Local Packs, but soon disappearing after someone submitted SERP Feedback. I went into GoogleMyBusiness and thought I’d delisted it, but there is incorrect data all over the account, because it was promoting my services prior to my retirement as a web developer and SEO.
What I need to do at this point is not found in any standard SEO procedure I’ve seen to date. I can’t do a permanently closed like the Dixon Jones architecture firm and as long as Google Maps is the current source for the data, I’m snookered. The site has had sitelinks in the past so I’m going to try and claim the panel using GSC to verify I am the SEO Pros owner/rep.
I am also going to remove all the data from the GMB listing. This sort of issue is also why you should think twice about using your name for your business name, as you better hope nobody notable has already got the panel before you. Like a number #1 ranking, once a site is in that position, it is a lot harder to replace, because to some degree, they are the standard to which all others are compared.
Assessing Knowledge Graph Sources
To some extent, I’d say assessing knowledge graph sources is a lot like evaluating any other resource or reference for sustainable link building. What is the quality of the data or content, in the case of link building. The known information repositories that were purchased like Freebase and later given to WikiData; trusted authority resources easily parsed like WikiPedia, and the Google Knowledge Panel cited resources listed above are the home runs in knowledge graph sources.
Then, depending on the industry, I would look for some sort of aggregator for topics associated to the entity, like IMDB for actors. In regards to doctors and demonstrating medical expertise, I have to believe that to some degree, their expertise from mentions on hospital websites, universities where they studied and papers they are cited in on the web (and possibly offline) have an excellent chance of being in the knowledge graph because of the trust and authority of the sites they are found on.
User/Personal Graphs for Personal Assistants and Knowledge Panels
First off, I have to give credit where it’s due: to Bill Slawski’s post – A Personalized Entity Repository in the Knowledge Graph and the private discussions we’ve had about how personal graphs could be used for personal assistants, like devices, and Knowledge Panels that aren’t as dependent on the entity being notable. For instance, if someone searched for Terry Van Horne and had just performed an SEO related search or a had a personal graph that showed an interest in SEO, Google could show my knowledge panel rather than a dead Senator’s. I can always hope that happens, can’t I?
Why are Knowledge Panels and Graphs Important for Your SEO?
IMO, this is the future of SEO, with knowledge graph results and their younger brothers, passages and featured snippets being better suited for the needs of mobile searchers and in particular, personal assistants, like Alexa. On a phone, people aren’t looking for a 1200 word diatribe but rather a “snippet” or passage that enables them to do something with the info they received in the phone search or Alexa reply.
That’s also why for many products, you see the discovery/research is done on phones but the sale happens on the desktop and tablets where it is easier to read large passages of text and in particular, view the images. The majority of you who thought my twitter poll was whacked, where I pointed out that SERP features like featured snippets and the recently announced passages would dominate SERPs… LOL! We didn’t even know about passages when I posted that, but the writing is/was on the wall, if you’re bothering to read it!
Special thanks to Aaron Bradley for sharing his experience with knowledge graphs in the video and to Bill Slawski co-host of the “Entity Hour” for his participation in the video and his feedback on the post. Lastly you all should thank Doc Sheldon for his input as editor which made this a much better read!