What Is a Knowledge Graph?



May 18, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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Google has been hard at work for the past few years trying to deliver more reliable and comprehensive results for search engine users. A knowledge graph is a relatively new method Google has adopted to show you all the information search engine bots find related to your query.

What Is a Knowledge Graph?

Google’s knowledge graph or knowledge box is like a lexicon of all the information the search engine’s bots have collected about a specific keyword or query. The technology giant launched it in 2012, first in the United States and later to international versions of Google.

The knowledge graph technology skyrocketed, and by 2016 it had 70 billion answers ready for search engine users. Google is continuously expanding its knowledge base to provide more relevant and helpful answers to its customers’ queries.

In the beginning, the results that came up in the box were static. Fast forward to 2021, however, and the knowledge graph panel has become interactive. Let’s say you’re searching for the latest movie starring your favorite actor. Google will not only bring up the budget, director, and production company but also links to local cinemas where you can buy tickets.

Experts agree that the knowledge graph is a technology that delivers better answers for customers and better reach and relevant traffic to brands and marketers.

Google explains the basic process of how a knowledge graph search works. First, the search engine spiders get a query, then Google identifies schemas based on the structured or semi-structured data and keys. Next, it searches the schemas for encoded information and data and provides a box with the values displayed as data.

What Is the Purpose of a Knowledge Graph?

The main reason Google started building knowledge graph search technology was to provide comprehensive answers by collating data on what people are searching for. While in the past Google ranked websites based on keywords only, now it understands content better.

Collating and integrating information helps individuals conduct research and see all the relevant information about a topic in one box. By integrating data sources, Google focuses on customer experience when developing and improving the knowledge graph search. Google’s artificial intelligence technology finds connections between ideas and phrases and addresses semantic search techniques.

By building a knowledge engine, Google is slowly becoming the largest database of personalized answers. Building the knowledge graph and the knowledge vault (the next generation of knowledge graph) will enable the search engine to better implement artificial intelligence based on data it collects on users’ search behaviors.

The primary uses of the knowledge graph application programming interface (API) are predictive search, annotation, and ranking content based on relevance and reliability.

Google offers knowledge graph panels in various categories, including:

  • Books
  • Local businesses
  • Movies
  • Music tracks and albums
  • Companies
  • Government organizations
  • Nonprofits
  • Video games
  • Websites
  • Magazines and periodicals
  • Sports teams
  • People

Simply put, knowledge graph technology provides an overview of the keyword or topic by collating information available from the internet in a single information box, such as the one below:

Image via Google

Knowledge graphs primarily benefit the search engine giant by providing its users with a better experience and faster information. People’s attention span is shorter than ever, and they love not having to click on multiple links to get all their information. By improving customer experience, Google can remain the No. 1 search engine with the largest knowledge base ever created.

How a Knowledge Graph Helps You as a Website Owner

As a business, you want to grab every opportunity to connect with customers online. That’s why you are engaged in content marketing and SEO. By implementing the Google knowledge graph API into your site, you can improve your chances of appearing in search engine results for various queries.

Because Google can understand context and identify which meaning of a word someone is searching for, you can create content with less focus on the keywords and more on readers and customers. That’s exactly what the search engine giant wants you to do. The more you give people the answers they’re searching for, the more relevant Google will think your content is, and the higher it will rank in general search results and knowledge graphs. Note that mobile and voice search relies on knowledge graph search API more than computer browsers do.

If your website is struggling to get a decent organic reach, implementing schema.org markups could improve your visibility on Google.

If you’re not familiar with coding websites, the Google knowledge graph search API might sound foreign to you. The good news is Google has invested a lot of time and effort into creating guides on how to use its API and take advantage of knowledge graph technology.

How Knowledge Graphs Enhance Search Results

Compared to regular search results, knowledge graphs deliver better-quality data and more relevant information for users. Here are the main reasons Google is rolling out the knowledge graph technology:

  • The Google knowledge box is structured and easy to consume. Compared with long text found on Wikipedia, Google focuses on things searchers are most likely to be interested in and displays them in a box. Simply put, it presents data in a graph format. The graph always pulls the most relevant and reliable piece of information from available sources.
  • Knowledge graphs are semantic. This means they synthesize information from different sources into one easy-to-consume table. It saves people a click or two, consequently saving time. What if you were searching for information on local restaurants and had to click on all the website links, read reviews, and find menus and opening times? Through the structured data table, Google collects everything you need to know and even allows you to book a reservation.
  • It is user-generated and updated regularly, just like search engines. If a more relevant or accurate piece of information appears online, Google will replace the link in the box, giving you up-to-date results.

Google’s knowledge graph is smart, based on a logical algorithm. It understands user intent and delivers the information most likely to answer someone’s query. It’s like getting your morning paper and seeing all the information that interests you highlighted or marked so you don’t have to wade through every page — simply turn to the relevant sections.

How You Can Use the Google Knowledge Graph To Reach More People

You can improve your search engine rankings and your brand’s visibility through knowledge graphs. That said, there’s no guarantee Google will pick up on your structured data. The tech giant decides whether to include your shop, website, or local business in its knowledge graph. If you are engaged in content marketing and search engine optimization and rely on Google’s free traffic, you might benefit from studying structured data and how it works.

Even if your site is not appearing in search results based on exact keyword match, it can show up for relevance or mentions. Google now understands intent, not just the search term, allowing you to leverage additional free traffic and brand visibility. Having your site mentioned on authority sites and cited in data centers such as The World Factbook can help you get free inclusion in Google’s knowledge graph search results.

Knowledge graphs have a direct impact on your SEO results and content visibility. Before the implementation of the knowledge box, you had to know the name of the movie or character you were searching for to get your answer. Now, Google looks at your query in a context, and artificial intelligence tries to guess what you mean.

Money follows assets, and digital real estate’s importance has grown rapidly in the past few years. That said, the more connecting information you have about your brand, products, and website around the internet, the greater chances a search engine will pick it up and collate it into a box of information. Tagging your images and logo might even bring them up on search engines for relevant queries.

The more information Google has about your company and brand, the better it will rank your pages. This is true for both keyword-related and semantic search results. With knowledge graphs, you can communicate directly with search bots and tell them what they need to know and display.

The more content you publish on your site, the more information you make available for search engines. A consistent content strategy will help you gain more visibility on Google, especially if your blog posts include structured or semistructured data that speak the language of bots.

Knowledge graphs make organic search engine traffic easier or harder to get; it all depends on where you focus. Regular results in the middle of the page are likely to get fewer clicks, as the knowledge box displays everything people need to know. They don’t have to click on the results, as Google has already brought up the most important information.

How To Implement a Knowledge Graph

The Google knowledge graph search API uses the standard schema.org descriptions and structure, which you can implement into your website by adding a code. When you post a new entry to your website, you need to add the schema entry to tell Google about the category as well as other relevant information.

Once you have added the structured data through a plug-in such as Yoast SEO, test the schema markups to ensure they’re communicating with Google’s search spiders. In doing so, you’ll see how the information displays in search engine results. Test your schema.org markups regularly, so you can deliver relevant information and descriptions to bots. Google’s search engine algorithm is ever-changing, meaning you need to ensure your site or pages bring up the most relevant information about your products, brand, or publication.

Here are ways to implement knowledge graph search API on your site:

1. Add Schema Markup To Your Page

The first step should be implementing a schema markup to the structure of your page. Most website builders can do this or have a plug-in available for the task. Web designers can code the markup into the site’s theme, or you can follow Google’s guidelines for adding the code to the website. Once you have added the markups, use Google’s tool for testing your site’s structured data and validate your schema markups.

2. Add a Wikipedia or Wikidata Entry

One of the best ways to get Google’s knowledge graph technology to pick up your site and content is to list it in places the spiders usually look: Wikipedia and Wikidata. If your business doesn’t yet have an entry or a page on one of these platforms, it might be time to think about what you would like to display.

While nearly everyone has heard about Wikipedia, fewer people are familiar with Wikidata. It is a knowledge graph similar to Google’s that includes semantic and structured information for easy processing. Real people moderate and edit it, and it’s changing constantly.

3. Improve Your Local Google My Business Listing

One entry Google uses to build a knowledge graph panel is Google My Business. If your local business location is not listed on Google My Business, you will have little to no chance of getting into the knowledge graph that appears for relevant local searches.

The main things you should include in your Google My Business profile are your address, business name, opening hours, and regular updates. The more customer reviews you get on your Google My Business page, the better your entry will rank.

4. Get Listed in Popular Directories

Also add your listing to popular directories and get references. The best places to start are Bing Places, Yellow Pages, FourSquare, Trustpilot, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Google and Yahoo Maps, Bark, and Tripadvisor. The more matching data you provide Google to pull information from, the more it will trust you and the more likely it will be to create a company knowledge graph panel for your site.

5. Add Your Social Media Channels To the Knowledge Graph

When building structured data for your website, include your social media channels as well as your website address. Link your site to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram pages, so they can be verified as authentic representations of your brand.

6. Check the Information on Google and Request Edits

If you check your knowledge graph on Google and find the information is irrelevant or inaccurate, you can request a change, provided that you are a verified representative of the brand. Suggest the change to the data, and wait for Google to action your request. The most important things you should check for accuracy are the business name, location, logo, images, and social media links.

Knowledge Graph Example Use

Companies can use knowledge graphs to build a consistent image and remain transparent on the internet. All information gets displayed in one box, including the management (when available), location, turnover (if it’s public record), year of founding, and, most importantly, customer reviews and ratings pulled from various sources. You can get your Yell or Facebook ratings displayed in the results, provided you connect these services to your site.

Branded knowledge graph panels can also give people a first impression about your company and brand. It can display videos, popular content, and even user-generated entries.

Personal branding of influential people, leaders, and company founders can further enhance a brand’s online visibility. Let’s say someone comes across your profile in LinkedIn. They then Google your name, and your company roles, career highlights, publications, endorsements, and awards come up in the search results. This can be a huge boost for your personal brand. See, for example, what comes up when you search for an author of popular business books:

Image via Google

This knowledge panel is not claimed, indicating Google simply collated the information it has about the author. The data is pulled from Google Books and displays the author profile. If the author claimed the profile, Google could add more information, such as links to the company’s site, Amazon author page, videos, and so on.

Local businesses can also benefit from having a knowledge graph associated with their online presence. Google usually pulls this data from Google My Business, and having a profile there can increase the company’s chances of getting featured in a knowledge graph panel.

The good news is Google is smart enough to find business locations and opening times on websites, check them for accuracy, and even include clickable phone numbers or booking links. Plus, it can give you a quick overview of reviews and let you know the most popular times to visit. You can find a link to directions, too.

Products with structured data can also help you get noticed. Let’s say you are selling an item online, and your products have the schema.org structure implemented. Anytime someone searches for the item, the most data-rich and relevant entries appear with the link to your site. If you don’t use this technology, you are leaving a lot of free traffic on the table.

When you run an eCommerce business, it is crucial that you implement knowledge graphs so you can get your products to come up in search results with the price, availability, and direct link. Google’s shopping search feature can get you a lot of free traffic if you add the schema.org code to your e-commerce platform.

All your products can have their own knowledge graph cards, but bear in mind that sponsored listings will always come before your organic product panels. Therefore, if your competitors or large e-commerce sites advertise the same product, you might spend a lot of time optimizing products but not get the SEO benefits of implementing the API.

Added benefits of using a knowledge graph, apart from more visibility and better search engine results, include providing data for risk analysis, fraud prevention, and content research. Developers can also use it to create software or apps that require information about customer behavior and search habits.

How You Can Help Google Build a Knowledge Graph

If you are engaged in content marketing, you’ll want to pay attention to knowledge graphs and implement the API into your company website as soon as you can. Doing so not only helps you learn more about your potential customers but also helps Google better understand your website, your content, your intent, and even your brand values. The better you structure your website information, the easier it will be for Google to read and analyze it. As a result, the search engine is more likely to promote your content in search results.

Look through your knowledge graph to see if it’s missing anything your potential customers would be interested in. Engage in customer surveys to find out what people want to know about your business before they engage with you.

For example, you might be missing reviews. Let’s say you have only two reviews on Google My Business. Therefore, you do not appear trustworthy, and other companies appear before yours in search engine results. However, you have an additional 41 reviews on Yell and Facebook combined. Add these feeds to your structured data, and you will not only help Google assess your reputation but also pull relevant quotes from reviews that will help inform customers.

Understanding knowledge graphs has benefits for content marketers and SEO professionals. Implementing the schema.org markup once, however, will not give you long-term or consistent results. You also have to stay on top of your listings and structured data, so you can provide Google with relevant information to pass on to its end users.

Author Image - jross

CopyPress writer

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