Google Knowledge Graph's Impact on SEO

:: Travis Bliffen of Stellar SEO reviews how SEO could change when Google Knowledge Graph is fully integrated and gives readers actionable advice on how to prepare for it. ::


Back in mid-2012 Google dropped yet another bombshell on the Web's SEO experts: the Knowledge Graph (see: Website Magazine's January issue, which includes Strategies to Avoid a Knowledge Grap-tastrophe). After the serious fall-out of 2011's Google Panda algorithm update and the early-2012 Penguin changes shortly after, website owners, bloggers and content creators alike, cringe to think of the SEO implications of yet another change.


What is Google's knowledge graph?

You likely have already noticed Google's Knowledge Graph at work. If you make a search on Google for a person, place, movie, TV show, or basically any noun or word with multiple meanings on the right side of your browser a small box may appear. This box includes semantic-search information for your quarry from a variety of sources. Information typically includes what it is, important dates, people, suggested searches other users made about the search terms or other meanings for the same search.


What does Google's Knowledge graph mean for SEO?

The answer to that question is just as ambiguous as the secret formula to land on the first page of Google in the first place. However, there are some implications one could stipulate.


Better targeted traffic: First, Google's Knowledge Graph is far more likely to have a positive effect on sites than a negative one in regard to search traffic. Before one might type in say, "Dallas" searching for the 2012 TV series and would have to wade through pages of content which may include the city, the other TV series, the football team, the basketball team or any other manner of results that simply managed to rank high for the word, "Dallas." Now the Google Knowledge Graph box allows a user to quickly say, "I wanted the TV show." Then results include only those relating to the show. For webpage owners, this means people who are actually looking for their content are more likely to find it in the massive slush-pile that is the Internet.


Context matters: While Google's Knowledge Graph could have a positive effect, it also means webpage owners need to ensure their keywords are supported by secondary keywords that add context. In our example, if Google can't tell your page is about the Dallas TV show and not Dallas the city, your site isn't going to be found no matter how optimized your page was for the word, "Dallas."


Thinking like a reader: That tiny box also makes suggestions based on other user's subsequent searches. So, SEO is no longer a matter of just plugging keywords into an analyzer and seeing what people are searching for. It's now important to think about how a user would find certain information as well as what other information they may be looking for on that topic. Back in our Dallas example, maybe I'm searching for the TV show Dallas because I wanted to know more about an actor on the show, a natural subsequent search would then be the actor's name. If my site uses the actors name as a keyword as well as the title of the show I can receive traffic both from people looking for the show who may be recommended to search for the actor and people looking for the actor who may be recommended to search the show.


A quest for more: Finally, Google's Knowledge Graph challenges us to provide more. Gone are the days where Web users actually have to click websites to get basic information. The basics appear in the box. If you want readers to click into your site you need to not only offer more, but let users know it's there. This may entail more precise meta-tags or page summaries that invite readers to learn more than Google's little smart box can offer..


In the end, only time will tell how Google's Knowledge Graph will ultimately impact SEO tactics, but the focus is the same as it's been since the Panda algorithm change poked it's nose into the game: It's about quality and real content for real people, not keyword density.


Travis Bliffen is the founder of the startup Stellar SEO, a search engine marketing company. Travis works with several companies such as Toronto Vaporizer to increase their organic search traffic.