What Is Google’s Knowledge Graph?
Google’s purpose is to provide the most relevant response to an Internet user’s search query (and to make a ridiculous amount of money doing so).
Google’s search engine has gotten pretty good over the past 20 years, moving from only being able to identify [exact match] queries to understanding how semantics, intent, location, and more all intertwine.
Take these two queries:
Why and how has Google chosen to override organic search results to display its own answer to this query?
Using its knowledge graph.
The knowledge graph is Google’s database of knowledge, which contains a lot of information.
As of 2012 Google’s knowledge graph contained more than 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects – and that was over 3 years ago.
It contains information on sports teams, cities, celebrities, movies and much more.
A significant volume of this ‘knowledge’ is collected from internationally trusted sites like Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook, but also from newspapers like the Telegraph and media sites such as IMDB.
How does this affect search?
For most users Google’s knowledge graph and its effect on answering search queries is incredibly positive.
‘Who is the prime minister?’ can be confidently answered by Google through the knowledge graph based on a number of variables including the intent of the statement, accessing the knowledge graph and looking at the user’s location.
But Google also uses the connections it has identified between those 500 million objects to predict and answer users’ next queries.
Take for example a search for Hulk Hogan. Google’s knowledge graph knows that he has featured in films, that he has a family, along with personal details such as his height, age and social profiles.
Clearly for the webmaster of hulkhogan.com this isn’t good. More queries answered within search results means less traffic and ultimately less $.
All of this information is likely available on hulkhogan.com but that’s one extra click and a few extra seconds for users, which means Google isn’t achieving its goal of being the best search engine in the world, which, over the course of billions of searches, will add up.
The future of SEO?
Let’s be honest, backlinks are a fundamentally flawed way of ranking websites.
Whilst Google has done very well and gets better each day at removing spam and manipulated sites, it’s still all too easy to manipulate rankings with PBNs, Sape Links and other methods, even if that is purely a rank and bank situation – and Google knows it.
The knowledge graph may one day allow Google to move beyond backlinks and focus on returning search results based on trust and what it knows to be true.
This has its own issues – Google algorithmically decides what is true then returns search results according to this truth, meaning the future of billions of peoples’ source of knowledge could be dependant on a multinational business’ decision of what is and isn’t true.
But for marketers that focus on quality content and building a trustworthy brand, knowledge graph integration into organic search could be a step closer to having a spam-free Internet.