Knowledge Graph Webinar Panelists

How do you enhance your brand’s SERP appearance by taking full advantage of Google’s Knowledge Graph in 2021? How does the Knowledge Graph influence user behaviour and SEO success and how important is it?

On Tuesday 1st June, Dixon Jones was joined by Paige Hobart from WeAreRoast, Dan Taylor from SALT, Hannah Thorpe from Verkeer, and Jason Barnard from Kalicube.

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Transcript

Dixon Jones

Hello, everybody, and welcome to Majestic’s Old Guard, New Blood episode. I’m sorry, David, what episode number is it?

David Bain

Episode 17.

Dixon Jones

15? 17. There we go, 17. We’ve been here for over a year now doing this stuff, nearly 18 months.

Dixon Jones

We’ve got a fantastic lineup, we’ve got an extra person on today. And that’s partly because actually I didn’t even know if I was going to make it on here today. I’m moving house tomorrow. I’ve done my back in. I’m lying on my back. So back to where I was before, when I was sitting there with a broken hip, but this time it’s not so bad, anyway.

So we’re going to be talking about the Knowledge Graph. We’ve got a really good panel of experts, and not only a great panel of experts, a lively panel of experts as well. I’m going to enjoy the next 45 minutes, I think.

Why don’t we start with you, Paige? Tell us about yourself. Where do you come from?

Paige Hobart

So my name is Paige obviously. I am as of today, head of SEO at the agency ROAST.

Dixon Jones

Congratulations.

Paige Hobart

Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I’ve been there over six years now, started as an SEO exec, moved my way up the other positions over the years. I’ve really been able to make our SEO department what I want it to be. I’m really excited to join you guys today. I helped publish SERP Features Glossary a few years ago that got me on BrightonSEO. I’m really hoping to be able to chuck in some helpful comments about SERP Features today.

Dixon Jones

Amazing, fantastic. Hannah on the new blood, because I’m counting you guys as the youngsters of the group. Tell us about yourself. Where do you come from?

Hannah Thorpe

I was actually wondering which side of the team I was falling on. I feel very old today.

Dixon Jones

No, you’re young. Me and Jason are on the old side. I don’t know about David in the middle there.

Hannah Thorpe

Cool. Hi, I’m Hannah. I am the managing director of an SEO agency called Verkeer. I’ve got about eight or nine years experience now in the industry doing all things SEO. I’ve gone to the dark side in running a team instead of being as hands-on. But Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Panels and Google SERPs are really the thing that I’m most excited about in SEO. I’m always game to dip back into it, to chat more, especially with you guys. Super excited.

Dixon Jones

Fantastic. And thanks for coming in. Appreciate it. David, tell us about yourself and where do you come from? Oh, you got to turn your mic on.

Jason Barnard

I think he’s Dan.

Dixon Jones

Oh, sorry, Dan.

David Bain

I wasn’t expecting to come on there.

Dixon Jones

Oh, no. David, David’s the producer. I’m sorry, Dan.

Dan Taylor

That’s all right. I’m Dan, I’m head of R&D at SALT agency. I like Hannah was also wondering which side of the old versus new fence I fell on. But at the risk offending people, I just assumed I’d be on the old side.

Being head of R&D, my role encompasses everything from the top level management of teams, through to product development, service development, breaking things and all that in between. And outside of that, I also run a Russian SEO new SEO website as well, russiansearchnews.com.

Dixon Jones

Wow. So you’ve got the Russian hat to go on there as well. So anybody that wears a Russian hat is always scary in an SEO’s eyes, I think. Well, thank you very much for coming on, Dan.

And Jason, me old mucker, me old friend, and definitely I’m afraid on the old side of Old Guard, New Blood. Who are you and where do you come from?

Jason Barnard

I’m Jason Barnard, I’m young at heart, if I may make that point.

Dixon Jones

You may.

Jason Barnard

Thank you. I’m the brand SERP guy, I’m obsessed by what appears when people Google your brand name. And that obviously includes the Knowledge Panel on the left-hand side. I’ve had multiple wonderful discussions with Hannah about brand, sorry, SERP features, and with Paige as well. And Dan, we’ve had a couple of conversations about all of this stuff. And I’m really, really, really keen to talk about it.

One of my big obsessions recently has been the Knowledge Graph and how Google fills its Knowledge Graph, how it’s using it today in search. I think it’s phenomenally important. And if you’re not looking at it today, you should be looking at it yesterday, or something along those lines.

Dixon Jones

So I was going to start by saying, what’s the one thing, if all of the Majestic audience haven’t got any time to go through the whole lot, what’s the one thing that they want to take away from today? I guess your point is, if you’re not looking at the Knowledge Graph, you really need to be. Is that fair?

Jason Barnard

Yeah. I think recent updates have pointed towards the fact that Google is pushing the Knowledge Graph more and more into the actual fundamental results that it’s producing. And if you’re not looking at yourself and your brand as entities, and your product as entities, and thinking about how that’s represented in Google’s mind, and we can look at Google’s Knowledge Graph as being Google’s mind, Google’s understanding of the world. If you’re not looking at that today, you really should have been looking at it yesterday.

Dixon Jones

Brilliant.

Jason Barnard

That was what I was going to say earlier on. That sounds better, doesn’t it? Only slightly.

Dixon Jones

That sounds good. It sounds great. No, no, no. And all the rest of you as well, if there’s one thing that people should take away about Knowledge Graphs, is there any one thing to stand out, if they haven’t got time to listen to the whole session? Anyone want to jump in there? Dan, you’ve got your mic off. All right, Hannah.

Hannah Thorpe

I guess for me, my thing, whenever I’m talking about Knowledge Graph is just think of it like, it’s a trust signal. So you need to think of it the way you think of any form of brand activity that you’re doing. So you can’t game it the same way that you used to be able to buy some links and suddenly rank. It’s actually about just being the best and having all of those signals really clearly.

I think for me, if you’re not going to do anything and listen to the rest of it, the thing is just build a really great brand. Because by doing all of those things, technically, you should become part of the Knowledge Graph anyway.

Dixon Jones

Cool.

Jason Barnard

Brilliant.

Dixon Jones

Paige, do you want to jump in with something?

Paige Hobart

I think the one thing that I’d love people to take away from this is that a Knowledge Graph and a Knowledge Panel are two separate things. Because I’m all about using the right terminology. We have so many different ways of describing things in SEO, just understanding what you’re talking about is my number one tip.

Dixon Jones

Excellent, we will come back to that, I absolutely promise you. David, one thing that they can take away.

David Bain

Dan.

Dan Taylor

Dan.

Dixon Jones

David, Dan, you’re all the same.

Dan Taylor

I think what would really is if I actually had my own place in the Knowledge Graph, so that you could relate a little bit better. This is justification for why I need a panel.

I think not wanting to copy what everyone else has said, I’d also probably say when clients talk about Knowledge Graph, or especially some internal teams get wind of what the Knowledge Graph actually is, not to see it as a strategy or a tactic, or something that has to be an end goal of an SEO campaign. It’s an end goal of an accumulation of a large number of omnichannel activities, and isn’t an SEO strategy, per se. It’s something that comes about from existing in the wider ecosystem.

Dixon Jones

Okay. That’s really good. Okay, well, on that, Jason, why don’t you come back on that?

Jason Barnard

Sorry, I just wanted to add to that. I love the omnichannel idea is, because it’s not just Google. All of the big tech industry, or the big tech companies, excuse me, have Knowledge Graphs, and they’re all trying to build this understanding of the world. And these Knowledge Graphs are simply their understanding of the world. And if you look at Facebook, or Twitter, or Amazon, or Google, or Bing, they’re all building these Knowledge Graphs.

And if you’re doing an omnichannel approach, you’re liable to… and a branded one, which Hannah was saying, you’re liable to correctly inform, correctly educate these machines to understand who you are, what you do, and who your audience is. And that’s the key.

Dixon Jones

I think that’s where I wanted to go next then, because there is more than one Knowledge Graph in the world, isn’t there? I think when we hear the word Knowledge Graph, we’re thinking about Google’s Knowledge Graph. But as you said, there are lots and lots of different Knowledge Graphs.

Wikipedia, for example, is effectively a Knowledge Graph. I see Knowledge Graph, you can correct me if I’m wrong, as an encyclopedia, a database driven encyclopedia basically. It’s a database with a lot of different ideas. Is that right? Are there any other Knowledge Graphs that you think are particularly important beyond Google, just to get our minds stretching a little bit sideways on?

Jason Barnard

I think as I said, all the big tech companies are building Knowledge Graphs. Wikipedia is a great example and your way of saying it, it’s an encyclopedia for machines. It’s incredibly powerful and as humans, it helps us to understand what we’re looking at. And all of them are building Knowledge Graphs from similar sources, and that is Wikipedia, Wikidata, DBpedia, the Open Graph, and our own websites, which we should not forget.

So in fact, all our websites are actually mini Knowledge Graphs that describe, that contain all of the information about us, who we are, what we do, and what we offer to our audience, i.e. who we serve. And if we can communicate our little internal Knowledge Graph to these other Knowledge Graphs, we’re going to benefit significantly, short, middle and long term.

Dixon Jones

Cool. So what then is, Paige, the difference between the Knowledge Graph and the Knowledge Panel?

Paige Hobart

Yeah, so obviously, I think you’ve already covered that Knowledge Graph is a database. I think it’s a really unhelpful name to call it a Knowledge Graph. Because then people think that it’s a graph, it’s a visual thing, when actually, it’s a database. It’s Google’s brain. It’s what it knows to be true in the background of all these SERP features that actually exist visually, it’s that background of information.

So that is the Knowledge Graph, is that big database, is all that information. The Knowledge Panel is something that Jason has spent his life looking at. And that is your Right Rail, if I will use your language, unless you’re on mobile, and then there is not Right Rail. But it’s that panel on the right-hand side usually on desktop, that talks about you, and it’s all that information about a brand or a person or a thing. And that is the manifestation of the Knowledge Graph.

Jason Barnard

Can I just interrupt and say that the desktop mobile distinction is really important, because obviously, we all use mobile or a lot of mobile is being used, but the Knowledge Panel gets mixed up in all the other results. And the reason that I tend to focus on desktop, and I talk about the Right Rail, which is actually what Bing calls it, when I was talking to Nathan Chalmers from Bing, he was saying, “Oh, on the Right Rail.” I was going, “That’s a really cool phrase,” so I stole it.

But the desktop actually allows us to visually see very clearly that the Right Rail is fact, what Google considers to be fact, and Bing for that matter, Nathan, sorry. And the Left Rail is much more Google’s opinion about what the best solution to your problem might be. So left-hand side recommendation, opinion, right-hand side, fact.

And if you look at it that way, it becomes much easier to distinguish in your brain.

Paige Hobart

And then we’ve got those extra things that are now coming into the SERPs, which is these hybrid Knowledge Panels that also integrate Google My Business. And sometimes they’re separate panels, sometimes they’re merged panels, and it’s all very exciting.

Dixon Jones

So that whole idea of fact then, does that mean that if Google gets its facts wrong, how messed up is the world going to get? Because I remember doing something a long time back about Knowledge Graph bias. And the idea that if there’s a small seed fact that’s wrong, that can start manifesting itself as it starts to learn from that fact and develop it.

And some things are really, to this day, it’s happened all throughout society. I remember doing something about pirates, and why do pirates have eye patches? And of course, we all think that pirates have eye patches, because they had lost an eye, shot out by a fellow pirateer somewhere.

But in actual fact, it’s so that when they went under decks, because of bright light, so that they could be adjusting to the light, so they could see under the decks a lot quicker. Well, that’s obvious when you know it, but society has skewed that fact and gone away.

Going back to my original question then guys is, how often does the Knowledge Graph go wrong? And how wrong can it get? Who wants to come in on that? Dan?

Dan Taylor

I think oftentimes, especially when Google’s in the phases of building out its Knowledge Graph, and taking data from DMLs, Wikipedia and other sources, the propensity for it to go wrong, probably went wrong a lot more. And we saw that with how it did image annotations, how it returned certain search results around sensitive queries, because it was just using the data fed in as original sets to produce SERP augmentations of the results around that.

Now, it’s had much longer to build out and almost, more concrete, not ethics, but a borderline of yes/no, based on all the data processing, the propensity for it to actually go wrong is lessened. We still will see it for queries or new emerging queries, especially around, when we see it when people make up new words and new brands.

I hear it when, I really sound old here, but when young people start speaking words which don’t mean anything or mean something very different, there’s going to be a evolution of language as its progressed. And that’s going to then impact and influence how Google processes the search results.

One example I’ve always had working in a lot of tech is WAF, web application firewall. For most of the world, it’s web application firewall, apart from in northern Texas where there’s actually an acronym for the church of something like Augustus Famagusta or something. So it completely changes, and it changes around religious festival times as to what the meaning is. It’s for you.

So we need to understand that it’s feeding off of data that we input it. And as we correct it, there’s going to be, I think as Paul Harper puts it in all his talks, post-retrieval adjustments based on, “Yeah, that’s not right, that’s wrong.” And it’s going to have to start doing those fixes. But over time, as it builds, it will get better at not making the same mistakes.

Dixon Jones

Hannah, any thoughts on that?

Jason Barnard

Sorry, Hannah. Go ahead.

Dixon Jones

Hannah.

Hannah Thorpe

Mine wasn’t a thought. But just to add on to what Dan was saying is that that whole post-retrieval fixes for stuff that’s gone wrong, the best thing as a user or a brand you can be doing is giving feedback. All of Google’s Knowledge Panel features allow you to feed back on if it was factually right or not. I would just say that the best thing to be doing is to keep feeding that machine.

I know some people don’t think that they don’t really want Google to take over the world. They don’t want to provide that information. But that’s the only way it’s going to get better. But I’d say the same in the sense that we really, it’s only emerging trends that we see it really getting it wrong.

I think Bing used to, and I don’t know if they’re still doing it anymore, test having a yes and no almost in their Knowledge Panels. So if an argument had two sides to it, they would show both, to stop really pushing a bias. I’d love to see Google start doing things like that. But I just think it doesn’t fit with the Knowledge Graph approach of things having to be fact or not fact.

Dixon Jones

Both of those points, I think are really, really crucial points. I think the giving feedback to the Knowledge Graph, I absolutely agree. There’s a human at the other end of that, there’s a team of humans that are trying to improve their Knowledge Graph. At least I assume there’s humans there. Maybe it’s all done by machine.

But I genuinely believe that humans there are checking whether this knowledge is… And then the great thing about the feedback button is that a human cares about it. So it’s a reason for somebody to pay attention at Google to that particular result, scenario, entity than any other entities. So it gives them priority in which they need to be fixing things.

So if all of a sudden, there’s a storm in the Philippines, and everybody’s talking about typhoons and storms and Manila and things like that, then all of a sudden, they need to start paying attention to weather systems in Philippines as part of their topic, verification stuff. So I think that’s really, really a good piece of feedback.

And the second point that you made where I think people don’t like that Google is taking over the world, I think there’s an interesting debate to be had there. Because it’s a dilemma for us as SEOs in that our job is to get the customer’s psyche into our ecosystem or our client’s ecosystem, isn’t it? But the problem with the Knowledge Graph is that the Knowledge Graph is also trying to get the customer’s psyche into the Knowledge Graph’s ecosystem.

Is there a dilemma for us as SEOs, when we’re trying to feed the Knowledge Graph, in the long-term, we may be damaging ourselves? Or do we need to change our business models to get around that because that’s coming anyway? Don’t know who wants to take that one. Did I make sense in the question? Dan, go on.

Dan Taylor

If I interpreted that correctly, I think to an extent the activities we should be doing as SEOs in driving traffic that’s both relevant and useful for a site should be positively impacting the Knowledge Graph. Because as well as… Google will be processing as part of a Knowledge Graph, when people search for a brand X, also what modifiers and compounds they wrap around that brand.

So with more people searching for, I don’t know, my brain has completely gone blank of everything. What have I got? I’ve Napolina olives. So if people are searching for Napolina, more and more as you’re going on, and you start saying Napolina olives, Napolina green olives, Napolina pitted green olives, Napolina queen olives, eventually it’s going to make the association between the entities of olive and Napolina to the extent where if you’re searching for olives, Google will be able to go, “Are they meaning Napolina? Is Napolina a good result to show here?” And then it’ll augment the search results accordingly.

So through how we build out, for most of us, we’ll probably be doing this subconsciously. But by building out relevant branded compounds and trying to match compounds to branded search, we’re feeding the Knowledge Graph in that way.

Dixon Jones

Jason, do you have something in there?

Jason Barnard

Yeah, I think the fundamentally most important thing that we often forget is it’s up to us to educate these machines. If we’re clear about who we are as a brand, what it is we offer and who we’re going to offer it to, we’re going to benefit long term. And once again, it’s not just Google, it’s all of these big tech companies.

And the second thing is, Google’s now pushing out Discover which is a push technology. With the idea of pull, i.e. I search for something, I’m looking for it. Google can react to my search and send me or give me the results that it thinks are the best response to my query, the solution to my problem.

With Discovery, it’s saying, “I know Jason Barnard is interested in the double bass. I will push content towards him through Discover in a very social media manner,” if you like, which Jes Schultz is the person who was talking about that a great deal. It needs to understand who I am and what I do and who my audience is, in order to be able to do that. And it’s up to me to educate it.

And if we start educating Google, Bing, Yahoo, Apple as well, obviously, Facebook, Twitter, all of these big tech companies, they will be able to better present our offers to the users. And our audience, don’t ever forget is simply a subset of their users.

So if you approach it from that point of view, you go back to Dan’s point earlier on, is multi-channel, don’t rely just on Google feed or these machines. Do it across them all, and do it in a consistent manner, because they will all get it, and you will probably not get as much benefit and profit as you would have got in the past by cheating the algorithm.

But perhaps by building a branded, as Hannah said, strategy, omnichannel, as Dan said, you’re going to make a better business for yourself, both because you’re hitting all these different channels, but also because you’re serving your clients and your brand much, much better.

Dixon Jones

But to push the point a little bit more, I want to become the world’s greatest authority on, I don’t know, parks in Bedfordshire because that’s where I am right now. I want to do that. I’ll write the ultimate fantastic article, website, and maybe have a charity called Parks in Bedfordshire all set up, running around, creating this brand for parks in Bedfordshire and talking about it.

And then my question is, am I not leading up to the point where Google, somebody sits there and says, “So what’s the best parts in Bedfordshire?” And instead of Google saying, you want to go to Parks in Bedfordshire charity, it’ll say instead, the five, 10 best parks in Bedfordshire are this, this, this and this, because of this, this and this, and it’s going to have more information than my stuff, because it’s going to have it from other people’s as well.

And it’s not going to give any citation or any importance, or it’s basically going to take the information, hold it for itself and not give anybody the love. It’s just going to sit there and say, “I’ll tell you as long as you use Google’s device to get you to the park.”

Paige Hobart

But then that’s all down to intent mapping, isn’t it? For those users, it would make sense that it’s a maps listing with all these locations, because I want to know where to go, I’m going to go there, it’s in my maps. That’s what I want.

Your website might not be relevant for that intent. I think Google’s just trying to be a bit smarter about it and give you the result that you need as a user. You might find that actually, if you’re a charity, that you’re going after certain other types of queries.

I think there’s a lot of SERP features out there that are fed off of… Featured snippets are self-fulfilling. I think Emily Potter did a really good talk on, if you say are reptiles good pets for kids, the featured snippet will say “Yes, they’re really good pets for kids.” If you google are they bad for kids, the featured snippet will be like, “They’re really bad for kids.”

So there’s different SERP features for different things and Knowledge Graph and the Knowledge Panel should just be facts. I think that’s hopefully not going to change anytime soon. Sorry, Hannah, I think were going to pop in with something as well.

Hannah Thorpe

I feel like you said what I wanted to say, just a lot better. But I think just your example, we work for a large park organization who have that exact same problem. I think what we always say is, what do you actually want to do? Because you want your user to get the right information. And if you are selfish enough as a brand that you think that user can only get fact from you, then you probably need to reassess what your business model is.

Why do you want to be the authority on parks? Is it because you love the parks? In which case, surely someone finding out that information whatever way they do, is good for you. And is it that you want to get donations? In which case someone should find out more information about the park, get the information, become passionate about it, and then they will donate when they enjoy the park.

So it shouldn’t actually ruin your business in any way, if you’re using it in the right way.

Dixon Jones

That’s okay, as long as your mission is to get people to go and see the parks. If your mission is to try and provide research with no material benefit, so history may get lost in this, because there may be no historian that wants to say their story now, because it’ll just become a historical fact or fiction, if the Knowledge Graph is going in the wrong direction. And all of a sudden, we can choose who won a war, depending on what the public say.

I just worry with, or play devil’s advocate to say, that alternate realities and truths may be lost, because there is nobody with an incentive to provide unbiased facts anymore. There has always got to be a reason for providing the fact in the first place. And maybe that was always the case. Maybe we always only said something if there was some valid… I don’t know.

Hannah Thorpe

If I may. Sorry. Sorry, Jason, after you.

Jason Barnard

I was just going to say, that’s a philosophical debate. I get the feeling here today, we’re on a commercial branded debate of saying-

Dixon Jones

Sorry, I’ll keep going back there in a minute.

Jason Barnard

How can I actually make the most of the Knowledge Graph for my brand? And what Hannah says is absolutely on the nose, on the nail, I don’t know which one it is. If you’re relying on providing information to users through Google, whatever you do, Google’s going to go that way. You need to rethink what it is you’re doing, and it’s not too late.

So, luckily, you can now sit there and think, “Okay, what is my business model going forward if Google does take all this data, and people no longer come to my website? What is it I can do?” And I loved Hannah’s example is saying, actually, if Google gives them the information, they end up coming to your park and donating. It saves you all the legwork.

Dixon Jones

Perfect. Yeah, that’s good.

Jason Barnard

Maybe. I’m just terribly naive and optimistic. I’m sorry.

Dixon Jones

Sorry. Do you want to come back on that? Or just happy with that, Hannah? Shall I move on?

Hannah Thorpe

The way we explain it to clients, I think going back to the question at the start on the difference between Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Panels, we always explain it to clients as, this is like index cards. So when you’re revising for a test at school and you’re studying, quite often you go through a book. And in that book, you post-it the important points.

And then you take those post-its, and you put them on a wall and you map them out. And you’re like that bit is interesting. It connects like this. So imagine the wall with all of your post-its on, and your notes is the Knowledge Graph and those post-its are the panels.

But when you think of it like that, you still had to read the book. And if the book is your website, you still have to go and get the full story and the full information. You’re not going to piece together a whole narrative on a topic you’re interested in from just one single fact that is appearing directly in a Knowledge Panel or from the Knowledge Graph.

So instead, just think of it as teasers to the rest of the information that you can provide. So if you are purely a publisher, like a historian publishing facts, all you’re doing by helping and feeding that information to Google is helping people see snippets of those facts to then go and find out the bigger picture. You’re not giving away the keys to the kingdom.

Paige Hobart

And let’s face it, history has always been biased. It’s written by the victors. So if anything, it should be more unbiased than it’s ever been in all of our history, because anyone can contribute.

Dixon Jones

But Hannah made the point earlier on, it was a really good idea and Bing did it. I’ve seen Bing do it in presentations. I don’t see them do it in actual real life, and I wish they did, when something has got two opinions, having the opinion A, opinion B side by side. I would love to see that more in Bing, and in Google if they were able to do that. But I think that juxtaposition in today’s society is a good thing to do.

But let’s get back to commercial brass tacks and away from the philosophy. That’s just my way for a while. Okay, so what is it then that Google are doing practically with their Knowledge Graph right now? You mentioned discover which is for those that are on iPhones. It’s on the Android app. And it says, “I know that you’re interested in hitchhiking, in hiking, so I’m going to show you some stuff on hiking, Jason.”

But are there any other clear examples maybe beyond the Knowledge Panel or within the Knowledge Panel where it’s clear that Google is leveraging its Knowledge Graph, that we can hang our hats on and go to our bosses and say, “We need to pay attention to the Knowledge Graph, because this?” Any other examples we can jump out at?

Paige Hobart

There’s a really helpful glossary on Google that’s by this company called ROAST. It’s got about 40 odd SERP features on it. But we actually say is it powered by the Knowledge Graph or not? Because then it really helps you understand which ones you can impact and which ones you can’t.

And sometimes there’s stuff like knowledge cards, which is something like how old is the queen? Knowledge card, she’s this old. You’re not going to ever beat that. That intent is met, that’s probably contributing to a zero click search that we all know are on the rise.

But fine. Were you’re going to get that traffic anyway? Was that very valuable for you? But just being aware that these things exist really helps you hone in on your keyword research. If you know that half of your keywords have a knowledge card, maybe you need to go after something else.

Dixon Jones

So big advert for ROAST, what’s that called? What’s that report called?

Paige Hobart

Oh, it’s the SERP features glossary. It’s getting a reskin soon. It’s pretty ugly right now, but it’s still very good.

Dixon Jones

A nice big plug for it, from Majestic. Any other-

Jason Barnard

I’m sorry. The SERP features that are driven by the Knowledge Graph, or have the Knowledge Graph participating, I think are often underestimated. Things like People Also Ask, for example, Google and brand SERPs in particular will only really put those up when it’s already understand who the brand is, what they do, and what questions people are asking around that brand. It cannot identify which questions are being asked around the brand, without understanding the brand itself. So that’s a really good clue.

But the other point is, that it’s actually got multiple verticals, including Google My Business, and Google My Business is, in fact, Google Maps, is in fact, a massive Knowledge Graph. And it has been said by Bill Spassky, that was just a proof of concept. And I say, for a proof of concept, that’s phenomenally impressive.

But it was just a proof of concept of how the Knowledge Graph will function in the wider world, wider still than Google My Business and Google Maps. And if you look at it from that perspective, you say, well, actually, what Google is now going to start doing, has already started doing from my investigations and experiments is move entities, Google My Business is, into the Knowledge Graph proper, and start to fill Google My Business with knowledge that it is imposing on the business.

So longer term, you end up in a situation where even Google My Business, you can suggest, you cannot control. Because it’s going to be fact, as Google sees it. So we’re going towards that idea.

And from that perspective, I think it’s a very healthy way to start thinking today, I need to make sure that Google understands who I am. I can start at the top with my brand. Who am I? Then I say, what do I do? What products do I sell? What offers do I have? What solutions can I offer to Google’s users who are my audience?

And thirdly, who is that audience? And at what point and at which moments can Google potentially offer me as a great solution to its users when they’re searching on Google? Or even in the case of Discover, when they’re not searching on Google, and Google bullies them into coming to my website.

Dixon Jones

Very good. Dan?

Dan Taylor

Just to add to Jason’s point there, with how Google My Business is moving into more of a Knowledge Graph. That is something that Yandex have been doing with their Knowledge Graph over the past two, three months. To the point, last week, they actually introduced a new feature, which enables people to actually contribute to whether or not routes are walkable or not. Not adjusted with all the normal cartographer lines, and how steep things are, just more a case of, can I cycle this route or not? Yes, you can, no, it’s a canyon. Don’t be crazy. But you can’t always see that on a map. They’ve already started to integrate elements of that.

In my Brighton talk in January, February this year, I actually also covered off just how parts of a Knowledge Graph are now just augmenting different parts of search. Because when we think of search, oftentimes it’s just classed as the linear search bar, not actually for images, video, news, all the other kind of products encompassed in the same ecosystem.

So we’ve seen from experiments where Google’s using better image classification, recognition and annotation to actually identify relationships between different elements, just basically by image. Now, we’ve been putting images out onto the internet since dot. We’ve never really controlled it.

So the amount of information Google is able to harness and harvest from that, and not just the written word, means it’s been able to amplify and power relationship between certain things. We can see that now through image classification tags. When you do an image search, we’ll start to see that being pulled into things like the Google travel feature.

And also just how it generally augments search results from, if someone types in a generic query with multiple common interpretations, which doesn’t have a direct buy or intent, you’ll get a mixture of commercial results. You’ll get a mixture of blogs, you’ll get a map pack, and it’s bringing through other SERP features, but over results also based not just on the intent, but how it’s trying to map out a diversified SERP to meet that intent.

And sometimes when you look at this, and you go, I’ll rank top three for this keyword, it’s literally a case of, sorry, you can’t. Because Google has done it itself, it knows what it actually wants to rank there. It’s probably actively doing experiments now, because itself doesn’t know what is in the top three. We can challenge for it, but let’s not hang a hat on it as being a make or break.

Dixon Jones

Interesting stuff. So does this mean that there’s also a massive market, I guess Zapier is it, really, a marketplace where connecting these different types of Knowledge Graph, whether it’s all trails or maps or images? Obviously, Google has loads and loads of different knowledge graphs or knowledge systems, Google My Business, all these different things that are within its own ecosystem. Do you think there’s mileage in other organizations trying to connect other types of graphs together, using connectors, so that you can build up a very quick Knowledge Graph by taking all the postcodes in the UK and mapping it onto, I don’t know, all the roads in the UK, or I don’t know, doing things like that?

So you take disparate datasets owned by different people and connect the dots to suddenly expand and create a super Knowledge Graph. Is that something potentially feasible? Or have I just gone into philosophy again?

Paige Hobart

I think if we’re going to put our commercial hat on, is that going to make you money? Is it going to be of use to your users to do that? So I guess Zoopla have a page for every street in the UK, so they have to have that huge database, but other companies probably don’t need that amount of information. Sorry, Jason, you were about to say something.

Jason Barnard

No, no, no, I was going to basically say, yes, if you’re a massive company, that would be useful. But if you look at it as, it will be useful, because I will then be able to rank in Google, you’re probably wasting your time. It needs to be useful for your company, for your brand and for your business model.

Dixon Jones

Go on, sorry.

Jason Barnard

I was going to say, if you do it for Google, basically, you accumulate all this information, you sort through it all and you give it out onto the web, you’re doing what you were talking about earlier on, which is feeding Google information.

Dixon Jones

Giving it to Google.

Jason Barnard

And then you get bypassed. So that’s not a business model. For me, that’s not a way forward. Let Google do the heavy lifting, and get on with a proper business where you’re actually offering something valuable to your clients.

Dan Taylor

I’ve got, I was going to say, a good example of this, which I’ve used for a client before, because I’ve actually said that, why don’t we build our own Knowledge Graph of these products? I’m like, “Just google the top 100 list and you’ve done it.” Google’s already done it.

But in the UK, we obviously have a Met Office who produce weather forecasts. Now, I did a poll on Twitter a couple of months ago, I’m using this data for something else. But essentially, what is people’s perception of the accuracy of UK weather forecasts? We’re British, we love to talk about the weather, so why not? And 65% of people in this poll of about 900 actually came out and said, “It’s about 60% or less.”

But in reality, our Met Office has actually got 92 plus percent accuracy within 10 days, but the public perception is bad. Now, the reason why no one’s ever created a separate graph or separate knowledge base to collate all that data is because there is no commercial benefit to it.

Apple doing all the research to produce all that, just so they could appear for 30 seconds on ITV ahead of other channels available, ahead of someone pointing in front of rain cloud, there’s no benefit for them with that level of investment.

Dixon Jones

Cool. Okay, we’re nearly at time already, because these things fly. I want to finish up with some factual tips or good tips that we can do to influence our Knowledge Graphs. How can we get our brand, our product, whatever it is that we want to, our message into the Knowledge Graph? Some tips, please, for from each of you. Who wants to go first on that one? I’ll let Jason go last, because he’ll have a thousand other ones that he’ll fill in.

Dan, did you want to go in?

Paige Hobart

I’ll go, if… oh, Hannah-

Dixon Jones

Yeah, go on, Paige.

Paige Hobart

I was just going to say something as simple as organizational schema is always a good place to start, just to help Google really clearly understand what your business is, what its name is, what its other names might be, what it is as an entity. I’ll just do the one.

Dixon Jones

Schema. So basically schema is important for influencing the Knowledge Graph, is a good number one tip. Okay, anyone else want to jump in from that? Go on, Hannah.

Hannah Thorpe

Cool. So mine would be authorship, like make pages about your author’s publishing content. Use schema on the authorship pages, link to everywhere else they write, build up profiles for your individuals. We do a lot in medical and finance, and author pages are literally the game changer every time in terms of Knowledge Graph, and just proving that trusted source that the information is coming from.

Dixon Jones

So is an author a person or an organization or both, or either?

Hannah Thorpe

It’s a person because organizations don’t have feelings and authors have feelings. All of our clients try and put their company, because they think there’s a long-term value behind it, because then if a team member leaves or whatever. But that’s not reality, and people like to buy from people. So in my eyes, always go for an actual human first, ideally, with a great LinkedIn profile, and use all of their profiles together to build that, this is the person who works here.

Dixon Jones

I like that logic is why an author should always be a person, that’s a brilliant logic, because they’ve got feelings and companies don’t. That’s brill. Dan, you want to throw something in?

Dan Taylor

Yeah, I was going to say Hannah’s point actually nicely segues into the one I wanted to make. This is where SEO blurs the lines, and we have to understand that with individuals becomes, this goes back to your Bedfordshire parks thing earlier. Anyone on the internet can spin up an article about the best parks in X, Y, Z, but in order to actually become an authority on it, you need to do things to establish the EAT. You need to establish expertise, authority and trust in it to then have a regard to warrant certain things.

And this is again where companies fall down in a sense, oh, this article is written by a company. It’s like, no, actually these people create, but I think like Hannah said, companies are afraid to do that, because then you’ve almost given a value to an employee, which is intangible to the brand. But in order to be successful with certain elements, you have to.

Yeah, it’s not a strategy, but genuinely doing the omnichannel stuff and developing the reason to become an expert needed to gain an entity placement, to gain a place inside Knowledge Graph is.

Dixon Jones

I don’t know who it was that said a company is just the sum of its people. But never more has it been true than this discussion here. Jason, do you want to finish off with some tips and suggestions? Because I know you’ve got 1,000 different data sources that can feed the Knowledge Graph.

Jason Barnard

Well, I’ve been looking at this for the last seven years and getting terribly geeky about it. I built Kalicube Pro. I’ve got a dataset of 70,000 brands and people, brands SERPs and Knowledge Graph, API results from three or four years back. I’ve got masses of data.

And one thing that struck me this year is John Mueller from Google started talking about reconciliation. And the biggest problem that the machine has is that the data about us, the information about us, our entities, our company, our people, our products, is fragmented. And the machine has enormous amounts of trouble bringing it all together into one cohesive unit.

And my argument there, and in fact John Mueller said it, but he didn’t use the term entity home, is say you have an entity yourself, your company, your product, your podcast. Give it a home, give it a page on your website that is dedicated to that entity. And you state on that page exactly what the entity is, what it does, what it offers and who the audience is going to be.

And from there, what Google then does is it uses that as the reconciliation source. So it maps all the fragmented information around the web to that, from the horse’s mouth, source. So Google is looking for you to tell it who you are, what you’re doing, who your audience is. If you tell it clearly and use schema markup, as Paige rightfully said, and it can then reconcile that information with all the fragmented information around the web, including cats in front of Dan.

And it can reconcile that information and it all makes sense. And it all maps out for the machine. The machine will understand. I’ve got a really good example to finish with. The Knowledge Graph API returns what we call, I call a confidence score.

Now, the confidence score for somebody who has a Wikipedia article, we were talking about Wikipedia earlier on, will stay at about 46 to 100 if there is no entity home. As soon as you create an entity home, and you map that Wikipedia page to an entity home that is owned by the entity itself, that confidence score, i.e. the confidence that Google has in the understanding of that information, even from Wikipedia, goes from 46 to 500 to 1,000.

So the confidence multiplies multi-fold, as soon as Google has the horse’s mouth to listen to. So be the horse, talk to Google.

Dixon Jones

Brilliant. So we’ve got some great takeaways, I think. Firstly, the web is written by humans not machines, or rather when it is written by humans, they’ve got feelings and that’s an important part of the infrastructure. I like that. We’d love to see more balanced opinions in the Knowledge Graph coming out, so maybe opinions would be a bit lovely.

Schema is a definite must. Don’t just create a data source and connect data sources, unless you’ve got a business product around it. And obviously understand your own SERPs and talk to Jason about that, and talk to Paige about the SERP glossary. Thank you ever so much everyone for coming on.

But before I give everyone a chance to follow up with you, if they want to, David, my producer, could you come back on and tell us what’s happening next week, or if there’s anything I’ve missed?

David Bain

Absolutely. So great discussion today as always. I just want to say quickly that if you’re watching us live, we are of course syndicated across Spotify, Apple Podcasts. If you want to subscribe to the show in audio form only, make sure you subscribe there.

If you are currently listening, then make sure you try and sign up and actually participate or at least listen to the next one live. Go to majestic.com/webinars. The next one is going to be episode 18. That is going to be on Wednesday, the 7th of July. The topic for that one will be SEO for WordPress.

We’ve already got a couple of guests booked, including Jono Alderson from Yoast and Keith Devon from Highrise Digital. Wednesday, the 7th of July for the next episode.

Dixon Jones

Fantastic. And thanks again to the guys at Majestic for making all this happen. So guys, before we leave, where can people find out about you and where can they follow up with you on Twitter, homepage? Where is your entity’s home? Paige?

Paige Hobart

Yeah, we all ROAST agency is where you can find my agency, but I am on Twitter @PaigeHobart. I’ve already tweeted the glossary if anyone’s looking for it. So you can go find it on my Twitter page.

Dixon Jones

Okay, Dan?

Dan Taylor

Sorry, she’s just stopped meowing. Salt.agency is where you can us, in agency. You can find me on Twitter, TaylorDanRW, and also at russiansearchnews.com.

Dixon Jones

Thank you very much. And Jason.

Jason Barnard

Yeah, I’m on Kalicube Pro. Basically, I built a platform to do what I just said, which is define your entity home, create the schema markup, corroborate, point it out, help the machine to bring all that fragmented information together. So go along to Kalicube Pro.

I also do gazillions of silly experiments on yellow koalas and blue dogs, and various other things. I post them to Twitter. Twitter is my favorite place for posting silly experiments on the Knowledge Graph. So if you’re interested in that, follow me on Twitter and you will regret it for the rest of your days.

Dixon Jones

And Hannah?

Hannah Thorpe

Cool. We are verkeer.co. Verkeer, which is the Dutch word for traffic, if you can’t remember it. So we obviously have no entity recognition, because we’ve chosen that name. And you can find me on Twitter. I am @HannahJThorpe. And that’s always the best way to reach me, if you’ve got questions or you want to argue about entity stuff.

Dixon Jones

Great. This has been fantastic. I’ve loved every minute of the last 45, nearly 50 minutes now. Thank you ever so much for coming on, guys. I hope when David gets this up on podcasts and stuff, you’ll tweet it out, because I think this has been a really great session. I’ll see everybody out in internet land next month for the next Majestic show of Old Guard Versus New Blood. So, that’s it. Thanks very much, everyone. Cheers.

Jason Barnard

Thank you. Bye-bye.

Dixon Jones

See you all next time.

Jason Barnard

Have fun.

Paige Hobart

Thanks.

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