It is called Knowledge panel, and it is the box that appears in the SERP when on Google we are looking for entities, with information on biography or history, photos, various links and other data. Let’s find out how this feature works and why it is important to control and take care of it to better manage the presence of your online brand.

What is the Google knowledge panel

The info sheet is the panel shown by Google for queries related to entities of various types (that we know are people, places, organizations, things or abstract concepts) present in the Knowledge Graph, a.k.a the hidden engine that connects all the types of data that Google finds on the Web, defined by Danny Sullivan “a gigantic virtual encyclopedia of facts”.

Tabs are designed to help users quickly understand more about a given topic, by bringing out key facts, and to facilitate the exploration of a topic in more depth.

Esempio del knowledge panel per la query Google

The layout and info in the Knowledge Panel

Inside the panels, Google’s systems try to show the most relevant and popular information for a topic: since no topic is identical, what is shown in a knowledge panel varies, but typically include:

  • Title and brief summary of the topic.
  • A longer description of the subject.
  • An image or several images of the person, place or thing.
  • Key facts (for example, when a remarkable figure is born or where something is found).
  • Links to social profiles and official websites.

They may also include special information related to specific topics, such as songs by music artists, upcoming episodes of TV shows and roses of sports teams.

The evolution of the system

For desktop searches, the knowledge panel traditionally appears on the right; for mobile searches, however, it generally appears in predominant position and anticipates the classic blue links of organic results.

“When we launched the knowledge panels for the first time, most of the research activities took place on desktop, where there was space to easily show the knowledge panels alongside the search results”, explains Google’s Public Liaison for Search. Today, however, the majority of the research activity “is carried out on mobile devices, where the size of the screen does not allow a side-by-side display”.

For this reason, information from the Knowledge Graph from mobile is often not presented through a single knowledge panel, but can be divided into different tabs spaced between the overall results.

What are the informative tabs for

For users, the knowledge panel is a first and immediate source of information, because they allow us to view a quick snapshot of what you need to know about the topic that interests us through the contents available on the Web and identified by Google.

For entities – and in particular for who has/manages an online or local activity, a company or simply does personal branding, appearing in this box has an important value in terms of visibility and it is essential to verify that the information are correct, intervening to modify what is shown.

How are managed the info inside the Google Knowledge Panel

One of the pages of the Google guides explains to us that these tabs are “automatically generated” with information received from various sources on the Web. In some cases, Google might “collaborate qith partners who provide authoritative data on specific topics like movies or music and combine these data with info coming from other open sources on the Web”.

In others, however, are the entities themselves to provide direct feedbacks in various ways and cite, for example, “prominent personalities or Creators of a TV Sho”‘, which are “authoritative themselves”. Hence,” some of the information displayed may also come from verified entities that have suggested changes to the facts in their information sheets”.

Similarly, the images that “appear in the informative tabs may come from different sources”, starting with “individuals who have claimed their own informative tabs and selected a featured image among the images available on the Web”. In other cases, photos “are a preview of the results of Google Images related to the entity and are automatically acquired by the entire Web”.

Constantly updated data

The informative sheets are updated constantly and automatically with the evolution of the related information on the Web, but Google “also takes into account the changes in two main ways: directly from the entities represented and the general feedback of users” (who can interact by clicking on the button that appears in the bottom right corner of the box).

“The systems aren’t perfect, like everything else”, Sullivan writes, and this explains why Google “also accepts reportings from anyone who wish to do so concerning issues”, so to overcome the possible inaccuracies that could appear in the knowledge graph or panels.

Feedbacka are then analyzed “to understand how any inaccuracies have surpassed our systems, in order for us to make general improvements through the Knowledge Graph”. Google is also careful to remove “inaccurate facts that come to our attention for violating of our policies, giving priority in particular to problems related to public interest topics such as civil, medical, scientific and historical issues or where there is a risk of serious and immediate damage”.

Do not confuse knowledge panel and Google My Business tab

There is a particular to pay attention to: we should not confuse the informative tab with the profiles of activities,  meaning the box generated for businesses that use Google My Business, although they are very similar from a visual point of view: this second box is in fact specific “for activities that offer services to customers in a specific location or within a specific area covered by the service” and offers different information, entered directly by the company itself (and therefore not “gathered” online by Google).

How to take advantage of visibility

The knowledge panel is an incredible source of visibility in the Google Search and is one of the features that attracts the most the eyes of users, as also revealed by the study of new online habits and the creation of the so-called pinball pattern. For this reason, it is essential to provide the public “with the most accurate, authoritative and interesting information” about our brand, suggesting “changes to what is shown in the Search, including images, statistics or other data“.

The SEO value of the knowledge panel

The informative tab has a very important value for the organic visibility of a brand (corporate or personal), because it basically allows you to dominate the SERP for specific queries, providing a special and professional “business card” that can convince users to click on the site or to inquire further, strengthening brand awareness and overall reputation.

The goal of the knowledge panel is to provide a reliable answer on a brand, coming from a more authoritative source, as well as giving further information; it is often also a commercial feature, which can allow you to monetize on your products. For example, some tabs refer to books sold online, on Amazon or other portals.

How to verify the entity and claim a tab

Clearly, this requires you to carefully check the information given, claiming ownership of a card and suggesting changes.

The first step is the verification of the entity (not only people, but also places or things) that is the subject of the card: you have to activate a Google account and locate the panel that we are interested in claiming, by clicking on the button “Claim informative tab”. Information about the features will appear and we will have to access one of the official sites or profiles listed (e.g. Youtube, Search Console, Twitter or Facebook), to ensure Google that we are actually an authorized representative of the entity itself.

Once this process is completed, we can manage the entity, suggest changes to the information sheet and also allow “some users to participate in the Posts on Google”.

How to make a brand appear in the Google Knowledge Panel

Let’s immediately clarify that there is no chance to request a branded or personal knowledge panel: it is Google to decide whether the entity related to us or our brand is worthy of this tab, or whether it has sufficient authority and fame, recognized and supported by various sources and systems, starting with a page on Wikipedia.

Obviously, there is and there has never been a direct correlation between an article on Wikipedia and the presence of Knowledge Graphs: there are tabs of brands that are not on Wikipedia and brand pages on the encyclopedia that are not in Google panels.

For some time, however, the presence of an entry on the well-known online encyclopedia seemed to be a sort of basic requirement for activating an informative tab, but Jason Barnard on searchengineland told of his strategy to get a knowledge panel for a brand even without a Wikipedia page.

Not only Wikipedia

The author identifies three steps to follow to access the Knowledge Graph for your own brand even without a Wikipedia article:

  1. To use the site as a source of information, taking care of the “about us” page to clearly indicate “who you are and what you do”.
  2. To add the Schema.org markups, making them _”as detailed as possible and citing the sources that confirm them”.
  3. To obtain “a significant coverage from multiple independent, reliable secondary sources”, or “confirmations about the brand on multiple third-party sites that are reliable, authoritative and independent”.

And is exactly the third point the most difficult one for most brands, so that is what the article is focused on.

Reliable sources to Google

The secret is to understand which are the reliable sources according to Google: if Wikipedia is certainly one of the components evaluated to establish the authoritativeness of a brand/entity, there are many other factors that contribute to the system (and that make up the Knowledge Graph).

From Barnard’s analysis of almost 20 thousand brands, it emerges that in 45 percent of cases a Knowledge Panel is activated: more than half of these (55 percent) cite Wikipedia as source (only a year ago, a similar study had set at 79 percent the proportion of citations of the encyclopedia), in the 32 percent there is no mention of it and 12 percent indicates other sites.

So, Wikipedia is not the only reliable source and is “losing weight” as Google uses other sites – to be precise, 237 other possible sources. But which ones?

Elenco delle fonti usate da Google per i knowledge panel

Other sites considered by Google

As you can see from the image, there are 21 sources mentioned more than once in the Google knowledge panels; after Wikipedia, the most used are Crunchbase, Linkedin and Bloomberg, and then there is a collapse of mentions, a sign that Google has not completely loosened its grip on reliability.

However, these data indicate that a large percentage of brands has entered the Google Knowledge Graph by accumulating information on multiple authoritative sources that are not Wikipedia, because Google’s “knowledge” is obtained from multiple parties and the weight of the quote depends on various factors.

In particular, advises the author, you have to pay attention to the brand, the business sector and the research context (apparently, geolocation also plays an important role).

Practical tips to activate a Knowledge Panel

And so, Barnard also offers practical indications to try to force the hand and place our brand among Google’s informative tabs; the first step is to create profile pages on the three most authoritative sites after Wikipedia, so Crunchbase, Linkedin and Bloomberg, and then try to confirm or strengthen the information on other reliable and relevant sources (it should take at least thirty of them, according to his theory).

In particular, in order to provide a broad and non-exhaustive overview, the author cites (concerning US researches) general news sites such as Reuters.com, inc.com, Globenewswire.com, Prnewswire.com, businesswire.com; specialized information sites such as Techcrunch, Geekwire.com or Marketwatch.com; niche sites such as elearningindustry.com, biospace.com, allthingsdogs.com; geo-specific sites such as irishtimes.com, oecm.ca, ft.com, marketindex.com.au.

Final indications

This process, in reality, follows the one necessary to confirm the authoritativeness on Wikipedia, too, but Barnard underlines the advantages of focusing on the Knowledge Panel instead of on the online encyclopedia:

  • It is easier to show Google that our brand is remarkable, because the “barrier is lower than Wikipedia’s one”.
  • We are “building a case and presenting it to an impartial machine rather than human Wikipedia editors”.
  • We have a list of sources to use “as inspiration to find the places Google trusts”.

We just need to “place a set of reliable confirmations to trigger your place in the knowledge graph”, reminding you that not all sources are cited and that a site may be a valid source for one brand but not for another (differences in activity sector or other factors).

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