Knowledge Graphs are here to change the way you use the internet.
Prior to 2012, a search query entered into Google would return a search engine results page in the form of a simple list of website links. These links perhaps included the information the searcher was looking for. Using the title of each link, along with their meta descriptions, the searcher had to then comb through each one, in some cases visiting several websites before discovering the information they desired. The process through which people used to scour the internet was cumbersome and sometimes time consuming, especially when compared to the process used today. Today’s process delivers pre-packaged information, allowing for a better consumer experience, and presenting new opportunities for search engine optimization.
Today, answers to our may online inquiries are answered with almost painful simplicity, thanks to Google’s Knowledge Graph. Using data gathered from every corner of the internet and through billions of search inquiries over the years, Google introduced its knowledge graph in 2012, and other search engines now offer knowledge graphs of their own. Google’s iteration is explained in further detail in a Wired.com article from around the time of its launch, available here: Google Revamps Search with Massive Real-World Map of Things.
What are Knowledge Graphs?
Knowledge graphs compile facts, information, places and people into usable conclusions, targeted facts, intelligent search results. Prior to knowledge graphs, a search for ‘Weather’ might have returned results for the USA today’s weather page, Weather.com, a definition of the word weather, a documentary on weather patterns, etc. Thanks to knowledge graphs, this search now returns the weather of the location from which the searcher entered the search query, which, in 98% of cases, is exactly what they were looking for to begin with. Not only is this information presented at the top of the page, but it is formatted into an intuitive, simple to read graphic complete with proprietary Google symbols and images from google search results. This provides richness and mimic what someone might be greeted with if they were to delve into the search results listed on the page.
Additionally, Knowledge Graphs can help to:
- Find a famous person’s age
- Display movie times
- Identify the cast of television series’
- Share movie premiere dates
- Share the hours of a local business
- Display directions
- Provide traffic information
Knowledge graphs share essentially anything anyone would ever want to know about, in its own format at the top of the search page, above all of the other results. This makes searching far more effective, putting into action Google’s mission statement to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Knowledge Graphs also serve to consolidate the internet, and also streamline the internet.
What do Knowledge Graphs mean?
From a consumer standpoint, Knowledge Graphs are great! It instantly delivers the information that most people are looking for. But it also represents a seismic shift in how we are presented with information, how we consume it, and how we use the internet as a whole. Before the Knowledge Graph, Google was a means to answers, it was a stop along the way, a middleman providing the link between our questions and the answers via links to pages and websites that displayed the information we were looking for. Prior to the Knowledge Graph, each of these pages was relevant and necessary; we’d visit them and interact with them on our way to gleaning information from them.
The Knowledge Graph changes all of this, shifting the focus away from the individual webpages themselves, and onto Google, giving Google considerable power. The Knowledge Graph essentially represents Google skimming all of the information from these sites and presenting it as its own; without even requiring users to visit the page. Google has even come under fire for failing to cite where the information displayed in its Knowledge Graphs has come from. This leads to the question – is the ultimate goal to deem each of these pages irrelevant?
What Does this Mean for Site Owners?
Either way, the Knowledge Graph also presents a unique opportunity for site owners to direct traffic to their sites. As Neil Patel notes in his article The Beginner’s Guide to Google’s Knowledge Graph, site owners can now look for unique ways to contribute to the knowledge graph with the goal of having their sites linked by the knowledge graph. This way, when people click on a knowledge graph for more information on the topic displayed, they will be directed to that website. This encourages site designers to think in new and unique ways. The Knowledge Graph provides opportunities to have their sites be rated highly by Google and displayed among the results in these Knowledge Graphs. The Knowledge Graph also helps users to no longer need to visit their sites, instead absorbing whatever information they need from the Google search engine results page.
On one hand, Google’s use of Knowledge Graphs serves to streamline the internet, making information even more readily available than it was in the past. On the other, Knowledge Graphs also serve to consolidate the internet; combining the information provided by multiple sites into a dashboard, Thus they promote the most popular sites, while rendering the lesser visited sites more and more obsolete. Eventually, the most popular sites may become the only sites, as visitation to smaller sites dwindles. For more, visit UtahSEOclass.com
Chris O’Neill is an MBA student at the University of Utah and is one semester away from graduating.