Recently, Google unveiled its latest advancement in search – the “Knowledge Graph” – which is believed to be the first critical step toward making its search results more ‘human’ by understanding the relationships between people, places and objects. The Google product team provides a great summary of this new feature in the video below:
To summarise, a simple search term, such as “Brisbane”, can have more than one meaning. A user who searches this term could be looking for restaurants, apartments, maps, news articles, transport and more. However, Google’s Knowledge Graph helps to narrow down your search results to find more specific answers or learn more information about your query, which could open up a whole new set of inquiries.
As shown below, a newly populated area (the Knowledge Panel) along the right hand side of the search engine results page becomes visible, where a summary of similar keyword topics and closely related subjects including a map, key facts, points of interest and recent results that include the term “Brisbane” appear. In essence, Google has pulled all relevant facts and summarised all content related to the topic searched, not just unrelated objects.
You can give the Knowledge Graph a try for yourself here:
While it might be a while before Australian users have access to this new feature, it is important to understand the potential impact it will have on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Both Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing.
What Does Google’s Knowledge Graph Mean for SEO?
At current, Google have made no official comment on whether the Knowledge Graph will affect search results. However, with the recent discussion surrounding the importance of quality content and backlinks in regards to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, the Knowledge Graph only looks to solidify this. Links from off topic sites will surely continue to devalue and discount your site as they will most likely damage the quality of the search results. By continually creating new content and building relationships with trusted websites in your sector, the Knowledge Graph will likely see this content to cover all facts and their relationships to one another, and thus be incredibly relevant and useful for users.
What Does Google’s Knowledge Graph Mean for PPC Marketing?
One issue that you will immediately notice when trialling Google’s Knowledge Graph is that the Knowledge Panel covers the paid search ad positioning. However, don’t panic! Google have stated that there will also be ads along with the panel for any search, as well as a special format to make the panel work on tablet and mobile devices when the feature is rolled out.
The biggest impact the Knowledge Graph will have for PPC marketing however, is that it will likely pre-empt users’ next search by giving the result before they even decide that they want to search for it. This, therefore, reduces the need for a user to refine their search query, but also means that some advertisers may receive impressions where they wouldn’t normally intend to appear.
As such, it is crucial that marketers ensure they are targeting a wider range of keywords, pre-empt the natural progression in search terms or pre-empt what Google thinks is the natural progression in search terms. Furthermore, to obtain maximum brand exposure on the Google search network, it will be important to advertise on each of these keywords. Alternatively, if your goal is to generate conversions, then you need only bid on what you think the last link in the search chain would be.