In May 2012, Google rolled out a new feature in their search results called Knowledge Graph.
What is Knowledge Graph?
The Knowledge Graph is a way that Google presents information you are searching for without you having to leave the search results. Knowledge Graph data is gathered from a variety of sources including Wikipedia and social media.
Knowledge Graph appears on the right hand side of the SERPs on desktop and at the top of mobile SERPs.
What does Knowledge Graph look like?
Since it’s something that’s easier to visualize than describe, here is what what the Knowledge Graph looks like if you Google Rick Astley:
In this feature-rich example you can see multiple images of Rick Astley, a link to his official website, an ‘Available on’ section with links to YouTube, Spotify, and Deezer, a Wikipedia bio and profile snippet, links to Google search results for popular Rick Astley songs, links to official social media profiles, links to Google search results for Rick Astley albums, and a ‘More about Rick Astley’ button which expands to reveal a ‘People also search for’ section. All of these things are in what is called the Knowledge Graph.
When does Knowledge Graph appear in SERPs?
Knowledge Graph commonly appears for search results on people, places, and things that Google ‘knows’ about. This includes art works (eg. Mona Lisa), celebrities (eg. Kim Kardashian), cities (eg. Paris), films (eg. Toy Story), and geographic locations (eg. Grand Canyon), to name a few.
In short, Knowledge Graph is a method devised by Google to enhance the search experience for you, the user, so that you will find the information you want quickly and easily.
If you are wondering how it gets its facts, Google has mentioned that it retrieves information from websites such as the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia. If you look at most of the results, you would notice that most of them come from Wikipedia.
What the Knowledge Graph does
What is the main reason you would use a search engine? The most obvious answer would be to learn about something.
Even with searches that might be ambiguous, RankBrain does a great job of interpreting the intent behind the search, and Knowledge Graph helps present that information to you in an easy-to-digest manner.
In a pre-Knowledge Graph and RankBrain world, you would receive results based solely on those two exact words. But Google took this to a whole new level and developed a “graph” that understands how entities in the real world are connected to each other.
If you search for ‘whale’, Knowledge Graph will give you some general information about whales as well as some specific whale species.
At the bottom of this Knowledge Graph panel, you will see links to Google search results for five specific species of whale plus a link to display 40+ additional species, in case you were looking for a particular species.
Below that, there is a ‘See results about‘ section, with a link to a Google search result for Cetaceans.
There are also cases where Knowledge Graph lists only the related entities. Let’s take a search for ‘Ahab’ as an example.
What is the first thing that comes into your mind when the name is mentioned? Do you immediately think about the biblical character? Or do you know him best as the captain in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick? Or maybe you know Ahab as the German doom metal band?
Google provides you with all the possible answers!
Knowledge Graph gives you the essential information
Let’s say you want to find all you need to know about Donald Trump. Through the Knowledge Graph, you will be given a brief overview of his life. In addition to that, you will also be presented with facts such as the day he was born, his height, his net worth, the name of his wives and children, and some of his (in)famous quotes.
It allows you to dig deeper
Let us take the information returned about Trump a little further. If you look at the ‘People also search for’ section, you are given Hillary Clinton, Melania Trump, Barack Obama, Ivana Trump, and Marla Maples as suggestions and all people who Trump is closely related to for various reasons.
If you hover over these names or images you will be shown a tool tip with a simple description of the relationship between the two people.
The example above shows what displays if you hover over Hilary Clinton – ‘Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were candidates in the US Presidential Election 2016’.
Here is another example. If you want to know “Chinese restaurants” that are closest to your location, Google will give you a list of dining establishments as well as a map showing their locations.
The Knowledge Graph also has a carousel feature that allows you to explore further the topic you are searching for. Let us take ‘best 90s movies’ as an example. It displays a series of images featuring some of the best and most iconic 90s movies
Here is another carousel result for a search for ‘museums in London’.
However, it is also important to note that this does not apply for all search queries. As Pundak adds in his article, “When there is an interesting explanation available, you can now see it at a glance.”
Google has always wanted to provide users with accurate answers as quickly as possible and provide the best user experience in doing so – the Knowledge Graph plays a big part in this.
The Knowledge Graph has evolved a lot since its inception in 2012 and there is no doubt that it helps provide a great user experience for Google users.
Google will continue to improve the Knowledge Graph by tweaking displays and adding new features to further enhance the user search experience.
The two videos below from Google do a great job at summarizing and demonstrating the Knowledge Graph in action (although, they show slightly older displays):
You can catch the latest Knowledge Graph news, changes, and updates at Search Engine Land.