What You Need To Know About Google’s Knowledge Graph
Humans are naturally curious. Such immense curiosity perhaps that it inspired Google to create a database so vast it is now known as the Knowledge Graph – or KG for short.
Let me start this article by sharing with you a highly relatable experience I encounter almost every day.
You know how something random runs through your head and you get this compelling feeling of wanting to know more about it? I get that several times in a day. Like when I scan my Facebook newsfeed and read something about how corn actually makes you fat or how drinking wine reduces risks of heart failure (I know, I like gathering random information). Well, I don’t really trust what every other Facebook blogger says, so I head on to Google to verify whatever kind of information I’ve got my hands on.
And, guess what? What I thought would be a five-minute search ends up in a three-hour surfing sesh. It’s as if Google knows everything that can keep me interested and suggests articles that get me scrolling and reading for hours. What could be the reason behind this?
Is Google reading my mind?
Is Google stalking me?
Or, is Google run by psychics?
As much as I find it delightful to think of Google in a mystical fashion, it’s really much simpler (or should I say complex) than that. I say simple because what Google does is actually fathomable to a human’s rational mind. What they have developed, the Knowledge Graph, is closer to science than it is to magic – although it might as well be.
What is Google’s Knowledge Graph?
At its core, Google’s Knowledge Graph is a data bank of relationships. Everything in the world can be defined by their relationships, by a web of connections. Think of it as a word association map, extending as far as the world’s knowledge goes – and that’s infinite.
For example, if you happen to have a new crush on Hollywood but you really didn’t catch his or her name on the after credits, you’ll most likely search for them on Google by using the movie title as a keyword. Suppose the movie was “The Hunger Games” and the actress you were looking for was Jennifer Lawrence (you’d be a fool for not knowing her but oh well). After you key in the title, you’ll get a page-full of search results for your query. And, a separate box with marked up data on the right corner of Google, like so:
This box on the right is courtesy of the Knowledge Graph and should include information associated with your queries like recommended movies, other actors and actresses, and the like. This allows you to engage with related content that you find relevant without having to search for them yourself.
How Did Google Make This Possible?
The Knowledge Graph was materialized way back in 2012 to help Google actualize its mission which is to give people the world’s knowledge through relevant and meaningful search results – that’s how I understand it in my own words. And every effort they’ve exerted, including the several updates they’ve launched to develop Google’s algorithm, was never to destroy your page rankings but rather improve the quality of experience users’ have whenever they use Google’s search box.
The Knowledge Graph, to this day, is a work in progress. In order for Google to understand what it is people are searching for, they need to process each query by not only understanding syntax, they also need to understand the intentions behind each search.
For example, I’d like to search for “cool things to buy.” Cool things can mean two things: cold, chilly objects or trendy, fashionable ones. When a user keys in this search, it is up to Google how they will decipher this information. And to do that, they need to know where the user is coming from. When taken in a literal sense, cool things would refer to something cold as ice or frost. But Google won’t show you that. Instead, Google will show you the latest, popular items available for purchase – or maybe even trendy things to be launched soon.
So How Does Google Know Exactly What You Mean?
It’s not that Google is able to speak your language or understand you on the human communication level. Google is able to come to such conclusions because of the data it has gathered across different authoritative websites – like Wikipedia and Stack Exchange Network – as well as the relationships and trends it has observed among users’ search queries. Looking at search results in this light, we can say that the Knowledge Graph is the product of many, many years Google has serviced human curiosity.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
And this brings us to say that the Knowledge Graph is a work in progress – forever, probably. So long as Google stands, the KG will continue to evolve. Everyday new information is added to the world’s knowledge, every year we get a few more words in the American dictionary, every couple of months someone new becomes famous, and every week or so, something new becomes viral across the internet. With new information constantly given from this world, the Knowledge Graph will continue to grow.
Watch this video to get a short lesson about the Knowledge Graph from the people behind Google!
So What Does The Knowledge Graph Have To Do With Your Website?
The Knowledge Graph is a precious database for Google. And the KG relies heavily on websites to get relevant data regarding users online behavior. How users think of your content, help the Knowledge Graph draw out relevant conclusions about how users intend to use the information they acquire. To put it bluntly, Google actually needs your website to rank; they need it to become relevant to users so that they too can benefit from the engagement by monitoring varying relationships between queries and data.
Becoming an asset to the Knowledge Graph means more traffic to your website. Because you provide Google with more data to help them interpret users intentions, they will send more traffic to your site to gather more information.
Looking at it this way, it’s a win-win situation – right?
How Can You Make Your Website Knowledge Graph Friendly?
Making your website KG friendly is somehow a part of SEO practice already – although you may not really know it. Let us show you a couple of ways you can “consciously” make your Search Engine Optimization tasks Knowledge Graph Friendly as well.
Technique 1: Spoon Feed Crawlers With The Right Information
In SEO, keywords are very important. The same thing applies to optimizing for Google’s Knowledge Graph. The best way to help Google understand your website – what it is and who it is for – is to position the necessary cues in all the right places. This helps crawlers index your site well and at the same time, create the right connections for your website in the Knowledge Graph. Specifically, you’d want your keyword placed in the following sections of your content:
- Meta Title
- Meta Description
- Subheadings (not necessarily all, just some)
- First Sentence or Paragraph
- Last Sentence or Paragraph
If inserting a keyword will make your content feel forced or unnatural, forget it. Remember, you need to make your ideas flow very naturally otherwise, it will hurt user experience.
Technique 2: Incorporate Context Clues
I’m pretty sure you’ve learned about context clues during your primary or secondary education. But as a refresher, context clues are words or phrases that help define a given word. So, these clues help expound a word with an unclear or unknown definition.
For example, you are writing on the topic of “battery.” Not the power source kind of battery but “test battery.” The usual error crawlers might categorize your website and content mistakenly. But of course, it’s an honest mistake. Between batteries used to produce electrical charge and batteries used for testing, the former is a more common use of the word.
So what can you do to help crawlers avoid this error? Add context clues.
That’s right. Within your content, add information that is relevant and unique to the topic of test batteries. You can include types of test batteries, the origin of test batteries, or the people who introduced test batteries. This added information or context clues help crawlers understand your content more accurately and also help Google form your website’s relationships in the Knowledge Graph more appropriately.
Technique 3: Always Go For Quality
Against thousands of other websites competing to rank for the same keywords you have, producing high-quality articles is always a good trump card. As I previously said before, Google wants you to rank. When you rank, you become a reliable asset to Google’s Knowledge Graph. Consequently, Google will also begin to send you more traffic without you having to work for it. But to get there, you need to earn users trust by your own efforts first. And you can do this by:
- Becoming a data-driven website – Create content using facts and not just baseless rumors. When you give out information it should be backed up by a good amount of research or at least, true to your own experiences.
- Being a consistent source of reliable information – When you start getting traffic, don’t drop quality right off the bat. You will lose traffic faster than you were able to build it. The traffic you’re getting is growing because they expect to get something more out of your website. If you let your guard down or start getting comfortable and eventually replace high-quality work with mediocre ones, people will notice. And people will leave you. Outgrow yourself every day.
- Have a heart – Nobody likes a robot or a buzz kill. When you create content, picture your users having fun reading it. Having good quality doesn’t mean overly technical topics, intelligent choice of words, or fancy graphics. Good quality, at least for me, is delivering exactly what answers your users queries – in the most interesting and engaging manner possible. You need to have that “human” element in your content.
This brings me to an important point.
Technique 4: Optimize For People, Not Just For Search Engines
I know that SEO, by dictionary definition is optimization for search engines. This means that we need to make our website strategically and systematically designed for search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Yandex.
But is this really the paramount of SEO? I suggest we go beyond just optimizing for search engines and optimize content for PEOPLE.
Search engines constantly update their systems and algorithms so there really is no surefire way to stay on the top of search engine ranks. Remember the Hummingbird update? How about the Penguin or Panda update? How did your website deal with the algorithm changes? If you were able to maintain your website at a considerable rank, then good. But we’re still in for an indefinite number of updates so no one can really tell what future awaits your website.
If search engines are uncertain, people, at least on the macro level, are not. People may be individually unique but they still share core attributes that make them alike. And these primary characteristics that make us human will remain the same no matter how much time passes or how advanced technology becomes.
Given that search engines and people are polar opposites when it comes to processing change, wouldn’t it be better to optimize your website for something that remains stable over time? People, in the end, are search engines primary benefactors. Search engines improve their systems in hopes of giving people a richer online experience.
As long as you optimize your website for PEOPLE, you can never go wrong with your content. But, how do you do this?
Simple. Apply the popular principle of “putting yourself in another’s shoe.”
Am I creating content that even I would be delighted to read?
Is my website fair and universally acceptable to all people?
Does my content add even an ounce of new knowledge to users?
If you keep reflecting on these questions and create content with users experience in mind, then no doubt, you’re already doing User Experience Optimization.
Technique 5: Remain Consistent Overtime
I believe I mentioned this earlier, but I would like to reiterate it – it’s just that important.
It is twice as hard to maintain a rank than it is to obtain one.
People already trust you. Google already trusts you. To maintain that trust can be very challenging – especially when you know that they both expect great things from you. If you plan to secure your rankings, you have to consistently provide users with relevant content. You have to go beyond your accomplishments yesterday to bring everyone a better show today. And, you have to optimize your content to achieve maximum user experience for as long as your website exists.
I know I just made SEO seem terrifying, but take it as a challenge. If you think of your users as you generate content, this should be easy.
See this article for helpful tips on maintaining your website rank!
Benefits Of Making Your Website Knowledge Graph Friendly
Okay. So you’re taking all the necessary measures to help Google improve its Knowledge Graph. But really, what’s in it for you?
When you establish yourself as an authoritative website, worthy to be called as an asset to the Knowledge Graph – you earn Google’s trust. And that’s the entire point of SEO. In other words, making it easier for crawlers to create meaningful connections to and from your site is one way to improve your rank and therefore is synonymous with your objectives for using SEO.
When Google trusts you, they send you more people by making your website more visible on the SERPs. The logic is simple: Users value quality and Google values users. So if you’re a website driven by quality, then Google values you as well. Think of it as Google wanting to share a bite of a very delicious pie to anyone who wants it.
Our Final Thoughts
I believe one of the key takeaways you can get from this article is to always have your website thrive on quality. Search engines are becoming wiser each day. What used to be just keyword stuffing and link hoarding has turned into something more meaningful yet complex at the same time. This should teach us that there is no such thing as shortcuts in SEO. Everything needs to be worked hard for – users deserve to be worked hard for.
Well, get your game on and become the Knowledge Graph’s newest asset!