A few weeks ago, I started noticing large pictures of people come up in Google searches, often replacing PPC ads for certain keywords like “music”, “seo”, “social media”, and “food”. We even talked about it at our recent Online Business Mastery seminar in Sydney. A day or two later the feature disappeared and only returned today, along with an official blog post by Google on the feature officially titled as the Knowledge Graph.
This is the biggest visual change Google has made to their search results since rolling out Universal Search several years ago (the introduction of images, videos, maps etc). It’s designed to help users find information more quickly and easily. It was originally announced in May but we’ve only started to see it here in Australia at the time of writing this post. Exciting stuff indeed!
The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.
Google claims the data for this graph is pulled from over 500 million objects and more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these objects – that’s a lot of data! Sources include Freebase, Wikipedia, the CIA Factbook and more.
As keywords can be ambiguous, it is difficult for the search engine to know exactly what you’re looking for. Take “food” for example. Are you looking for recipes, places to eat, or people related to food? The knowledge graph tries to take out some of the guess work with a query like this and presents users with more information. It can narrow your results to the ones you are looking for and place them just one click away. What about “cats”? Are you looking for a definition of the animal itself, types of breeds or even the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical? Before it was all second-guessing, but with Knowledge Graph, Google can now help you find what you’re looking for much more quickly. See the “food” and “cat” examples below:
Knowledge Graph also gives you a fantastic summary of specific data about people, places and items. For example, typing in “Michael Jackson” shows a brief description of the superstar (pulled from Wikipedia), his date of birth and year of death, and details about his children, his albums, his songs, movies, TV shows and even people “related” to him based on all these facts – wowzors!
The most exciting part about this feature is that it is intuitive by design and helps users learn things about what they are search for that they may not have expected. The example that Google uses in their blog post and the one I’ll use here is “Matt Groening” (the creator of the Simpsons). The Knowledge Graph search results provide interesting insights as to where he got the inspiration for Homer, Marge and Lisa’s names.
This is a great feature coming through as it creates a better user experience for Googlers and I personally welcome it! It also tends to keep users on the Google domain for longer than usual as a lot of the information one may be searching for is pulled in and shown directly on the search results page – no need to click off in search of deeper information. I imagine this will annoy a few websites (Wikipedia potentially) but we will have to wait and see. Google has done extensive user testing over the past year or so with this feature and found it to give people more information then normal and even help to answer peoples questions before they’ve asked them. An example has been quoted by Google below, which is pretty amazing and shows how intelligent this technology has become over the years.
The information we show for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of next queries that people ask about him.
Below is a short video which explains the Knowledge Graph from the team behind the scenes that make this magic happen (and you can also learn more about it here).