How to Control Your Brand’s Google Knowledge Graph (Parte Dos)
This is part two of my blog post series that tries to illustrate how to control your brand’s Google Knowledge Graph. In part one, I gave an overview of the what the Knowledge Graph is (more specifically, the Google Knowledge panel), why it’s there, and how you can begin to control it. Here are the main takeaways from part one:
- What is a knowledge panel? (example below boxed in red)
- What information can it contain? The panel can display a lot of different information, but most contain at least the following:
- Brand name
- Why is the knowledge panel there? Google no longer just wants to provide links to answer your search queries, but rather, it wants to directly answer your questions in its own search result pages
- This move from search to answer engine is discussed in “From Search Engine to Answer Engine: Google’s Knowledge Graph & Schema,” a post that I wrote earlier this year
- How do you control what is displayed?
- You do not have the ability to control it, but rather, you have the ability to customize it via structured data markup on your official website
- What is structured data markup? A standard way to annotate your content so machines (search engines) can understand it
- Google recognizes the following as official elements you can customize for your brand’s knowledge panel via structured data markup: logo, company contact phone numbers and social profile links
Now that you have a summary of part one, let’s onto part two.
Free Knowledge Bases
Google not only uses the content of the websites it crawls to pull information in for its Knowledge Graph, and consequently, its knowledge panel, it also relies on other sources that individuals have the ability to customize. These other sources that I am referring to are large publicly curated databases such as Freebase and WikiData. FYI, Wikipedia does count as one of these large-scale knowledge bases, but is a bit more difficult to modify. Taking a step back, a knowledge base is a technology used to store complex structured and unstructured information used by a computer system, or as Google own’s Knowledge Graph defines it:
I love it when things define themselves. It makes research so much easier. Ha.
Although Google has never (to my knowledge) officially said they use Freebase as a source for their Knowledge Graph, it is widely accepted that they do, and the fact that the company, Metaweb, that developed Freebase was acquired by Google in 2010 doesn’t hurt the argument either. Freebase, a source for the Knowledge Graph, hit a minor roadblock, or better said, a complete road closure, when it was announced in March 2015 that it was being shut down and its data would be transferred over to WikiData. Freebase, however, is still accessible, but the site is read-only and will soon be shut down.
Wikidata, like Freebase, is a collaboratively edited knowledge base that contains information on everything from Bob Marley music to neutrinos. Unlike Freebase, Wikidata is not owned by Google, and it is operated by the Wikimedia Foundation (you know, the people who run Wikipedia). If your company has a Wikipedia page, then it more than likely already has a Wikidata entry, but if your company does not have a Wikipedia page, then a new Wikidata entry is a good place to start. I will not go into detail in this post about how to create and/or edit a Wikidata entry, but I will note some key things you should know. First, I want to stress that edits and additions to WikiData should not be used in the hopes of just gaming the system to get guaranteed results in the Knowledge Graph. Noam Shapiro, contributor for Search Engine Journal, was able to pull an interesting chat log from WikiData team members that highlights this:
The main takeaways from this chat are:
- The Wikidata team is aware of SEOs trying to game entries for SEO benefit
- Wikidata “is not a free ticket into the Knowledge,” – it is just one of many sources that the Knowledge Graph pulls from
Second, and most importantly, stick to the guidelines outlined by Wikidata when submitting and editing items. One thing to note that is quite interesting when it comes to Wikidata’s policy for creating a new item is compliance with its notability policy. To meet comply with Wikidata’s notability policy an item must meet at least one of the criteria below:
- It contains at least one valid sitelink to a page on Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, etc.
- It refers to an instance of a clearly identifiable conceptual or material entity
- It fulfills some structural need
- For example, it is needed to make statements made in other items more useful
Number two is my favorite criteria, as it goes on to say, “if there is no item about you yet, you are probably not notable,” which I feel is a little mean-spirited, because isn’t everyone special? HA. But do not worry about number two if your brand/company does not have a Wikipedia page to link to (criteria #1), as number two was left a bit vague on purpose to allow new entries without Wiki ecosystem references to be created. Wikidata goes on to say, “in case of disagreement over the notability of an item, you can launch a request for deletion. The final decision is always up to the community.” The bottom line: If the entry your entry is for a legitimate brand/company, then I see no risk of deletion. Also, I have created a Wikidata entry for myself (I am in the process of making it more robust) and it hasn’t been deleted yet! Side note, please do not go on Wikidata and submit a request for deletion of my entry after you read this, thanks! 🙂
We Will Always Have Paris
Back to the subject of this two-part blog post series, how to control your brand’s Google Knowledge Graph. Apologies, as it appears I picked the wrong word, as you cannot really control your brand’s Knowledge Graph (knowledge panel), but you can customize it to a point via structured data markup and influence it via free knowledge bases, such as Wikidata. I hope you enjoyed reading this two-part series. If you have any comments about what I went over, please write below or tweet me @ScottGarrett89.