Demystifying the Google Knowledge Graph (Part III)

Takeaways and Recommendations: Rethinking Web Strategy

This article is the 3rd and final part of a series that has aimed to demystify the Google Knowledge Graph and better understand the concept of the Semantic Web. In Part 1, we discussed Google’s evolution between 2006 and 2012 and how it moved towards semantically-enriched search results. In Part 2, we looked at how the Google Knowledge Graph fits into the overarching framework of the Semantic Web.

In Part 3, we will outline the impact of the Knowledge Graph on search engine optimization (organic/paid) and how we can take advantage of these changes.

While it is much too early to perform an in-depth analysis, Google’s Knowledge Graph has a number of implications. We will attempt to demonstrate different means of coping with these changes.

  1. Avoid Overuse of Keywords: Keywords are at the root of the abundance of spam one finds online, something Penguin already attempts to rectify. Nevertheless, when we see the changes made to Google’s algorithm last April, we realize that semantic properties will prove more fruitful and effective than simple words. With the Knowledge Graph, we will need to focus our efforts on creating a base of synonyms and contextual information. Blogs present an excellent opportunity to source a wide range of concepts while encouraging user-generated content (UGC).
  2. Be More Responsive by Sending Pertinent Signals Linked to Current Events: Nearly 2 years ago, Google first placed emphasis on the need for data freshness. This shift allows them to rely on social connections and concept comprehension. It goes without saying that Google will attempt to take advantage of the current levels of enthusiasm for real time search results, if only to no longer need to rely on Twitter. Platforms such as Tumblr or Stumbleupon are also excellent channels through which to distribute topical content, bypassing the natural limitations of blogs and microblogs.
  3. Prevent User Retention on Google’s SERPs: Google tends to display answers and information directly on their search results pages. This is a practice that is often condemned by the SEO community. They criticize the fact that Google profits at the expense of a company that has spent years collecting data, which then loses page views and visits. If we accept this threat as real, there are options available such as the use of the NOSNIPPET which tells Google not to show a snippet (description) under your Google listing. While Google can deliver direct results from Wikipedia and forums, it can not currently do the same with brands; we must nevertheless remain vigilant. Google Squared is there to remind us of this fact.
  4. Diversify Traffic Sources: Google, wanting to maintain their market lead, is aware that Bing has made similar attempts to enhance their search engine by integrating Wolfram Alpha. A search of ‘Marie Curie’ with Google Knowledge Graph displays the location and date of her birth and death. It will also provide information on her spouse, her children, and highlight some of her most important discoveries. The same search with Wolfram Alpha produces her name, the place and date of her birth, and of her death. It will also provide information on some of her discoveries. Google lists the location of her death as “Sencellemoz,” while Wolfram Alpha displays “Passy, Rhône-Alpes, France.” It might be time to search for information somewhere other than Google. As illustrated by the ‘Marie Curie’ example, Bing displays greater potential and indicates that it should maybe be the first place one searches. Plus, starting today, Bing announced a partnership with Encyclopedia Britannica to include Britannica Online answers directly in the Bing results page, which is a great move. Furthermore, the launch of Yahoo! Axis, which places them firmly back at the forefront of Web search, provides us with yet another source of information, not to mention social media, Web portals, news sites, etc.
  5. Try Other Forms of Publicity Suggested by Google: Google is looking to expand their advertising space by placing the emphasis on the user rather than the researcher. The Knowledge Graph is expected to influence the results of paid search. For example, if Google knows that a person searching for a film would probably be interested in another, Google could expose this user to an ad to pique user interest. In fact, Google has already implemented changes to Adwords so as to include words with spelling errors, singular/plural, acronyms, abbreviations, etc. Google also opened an auction platform to sell advertising space, in the same vein as PPC. Finally, there is this fascinating blog post from Google that explains the choice of ads in regards to a specific publisher, Adsens.
  6. Develop a Dedicated Mobile Strategy: Google wants to offer a search engine that is easier to use on mobile devices. However, as stated by Larry Page during his talk (smart devices, tablets, etc.), one of its biggest current challenges happens to be with mobile. We should also consider this article by a Forbes contributor that says that Google and Facebook might completely disappear within 5 years because they have not been able to establish themselves on mobile early enough. The Google Knowledge Graph is also planned for mobile devices and tablets. Actually, it might be easier to refine ones search while staying on the same page than to be sent from site to site, as is the current situation. At least, this is what Google believes.
  7. Develop a Local Strategy: The challenge of developing a local strategy is exposed when considering the diversity of stakeholders. We also know that the one of the main challenges for Google is to master local search, something that is still dominated by the various stakeholders, from site directories to deal-of-the-day websites. We note the difficulty Google has in establishing their Google Offers service outside the US (or even in the US, for that matter). It only seems logical that the more Google knows about people, organizations, places, events, and local products, the more capably it will be able to refine their searches, rendering the searches hypertargeted. Google says that we will start to see the Google Knowledge Graph window as often as we see Google Maps, which makes it their largest single endeavor in the Web search industry. Is this a sign of things to come? Making their service Google Places available to users in the form of Google Plus Local is just another sign.
  8. Have a Well Thought Out and Coherent Social Strategy: Since the launch of Google+ social network, Google has never lied on their ambition of becoming a directory of people that could be used to inventory their identities, personal information, social networks, and activities. With the Google Knowledge Graph, Google can use these connections to give importance to certain information over others depending on the interactions and history of each entity. Even if Google plus search your world is destined to highlight Google+ entries, we nonetheless have the bookmarklet “don’t be evil” that shows us that Google can produce search results from the network of their choice. Due to its domination in the field of Web search, we can imagine the impact that the Knowledge Graph will have on the expansion of Google Plus Search Your World. If you still have doubts concerning the efficacy of the influence of social media optimization on SEO, I refer you to this small study conducted by Tasty Placement.

    Don't be evil results Vs Google plus search your world

  9. Obtain an Authorship Markup or Have Some in Your Surroundings: Content authors will hold more and more weight in search results. In April, a study by Searchmetrics revealed that 17% of all SERPs now contained pages with authorship markups. It showed that the content of authors of influence were propelled to the top of the search results. This gained them recognition and, consequently, influence. The Google Knowledge Graph sources the content of these authors, the outcome of which is a vicious circle; one where the most influential authors will be included in the Knowledge Graph, which will increase their recognition and influence, and in turn, will increase the likelihood of them being sourced in the Knowledge Graph. We also expect that those somehow linked to important authors will be given more weight in search results or, conversely, be given less weight, depending on their valuation. Here, we speak of authored pageRank, as was suggested by Tom Anthony on SEOMOZ.
  10. Use Open Databases of Structured Information: Back in the year 2000, we committed some time to understanding that DMOZ (Open Directory) served as a sourced database for Google. Today, we know that Wikipedia and Freebase source the Google Knowledge Graph, so why not contribute to some of their entries. If Wikipedia creates barriers to entry, Freebase is completely open. However, remember that it is not the profile that matters, but rather the facts surrounding the profile. This is similar to Twitter, for example, where the search engine places more importance on tweets and retweets than on the profiles themselves.
  11. Turn Linkbuilding into a Spontaneous Activity: With the updates to Panda and Penguin, Google is already attacking black hat SEO techniques and networks that establish links in exchange for connections or pay. The Knowledge Graph will be able to more precisely assess an adequate weight to give each link based on its content and the connections that exist between people and organizations, for example. It is therefore highly recommended to not create links for reasons other than content. We also recommend promoting linkbaiting,which is the natural way that people and sites tend to link to those judged most pertinent. Citations will be as valued as hard links.
  12. Use Semantic Markups in line with Schema.org: It’s fair to say that we’ve kept the best for last. The presence of markups on pages sends a signal of quality to the search engine, but also favours the description of entities that Google would like to make standardized. Because of this, the owner of the site has the opportunity to directly impact how the search engine will react to their site. In concrete terms, the sets of links (breadcrumb trails), the commentaries (reviews), the images, the videos, the products, and in more general terms, organizations, places and events should all benefit from this. Today, microformats are still abound on the Web and personally, I see an opportunity to differentiate oneself by using Schema. Source Blekko : Sites using Schema.org vs sites using hCard microformat

Cases of multilingual sites are just as interesting, if not more so, since these act as semantic pools. What is often considered a drawback, namely, the need to deliver content in multiple languages, is in fact a great opportunity to increase your sites notoriety due to the larger base of concepts available by virtue of the site being translated into difference languages. Latent Semantic indexing rests on the principal of proximity between synonyms and keywords. Expressing these in multiple languages allows the Webmaster to optimize the semantic elements of the text in each language. By doing this, Google sees one large basket of entities that are all similar and pointed in the same direction.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you of the importance of maintaining coherence and integration in your online presence by leveraging the Link Graph (PageRank base), the Social Graph (social signals) and the Knowledge Graph (Web entities). The organizations that best succeed at maximizing the points of contact between these three spheres of influence will be the big winner of Web search as we envision it in the coming 10 years.

Finally, from a SEO standpoint, I must say that experience will no longer be sufficient to perform optimization. Only a continual watchfulness and a willingness to perform small-scale tests can enrich the knowledge of organic and paid SEO experts. R&D dedicated to SEO will no longer be considered a luxury, but a necessity.

*This article reflects my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the position ofMediative.

Join us on Tuesday June 12th, 10am/1pm for a VIP webinar “The New World of SEO” featuring Bing’s Senior Product Manager, Duane Forrester and Mediative’s own Gord Hotchkiss and Charlotte Bourne as they answer the top 20 questions related to the evolving landscape and future of SEO strategy. Spaces are limited : Register today!


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  1. [...] In Part 3 of this series, we will outline how the advent of the Knowledge Graph impacts search engine optimization (natural/paid) as well as how to take advantage of the coming changes. [...]

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