Thank you, Chris, and thank you to my fellow panelists. I’m Bryson Meunier, the Director of SEO Strategy at Resolution Media. It’s an honor to be here today talking to you about one of Google’s most recent innovations– the knowledge graph– and how it affects people like us.
How many of you fear the knowledge graph? Believe it or not, some marketers do. For those of you who don’t fear the knowledge graph, let me try to explain to you why those who are wary of it feel the way that they do. For years we’ve been dealing with the golden triangle or some variant of it in search results. The ten blue links expired in 2007 with universal search, but as marketers we still knew that the majority of traffic is going to come to the first three listings on the page, and that being in those first three positions was almost hypnotic to searchers, and they couldn’t really help but click through.
This led to SEO success for people like us, who knew that moving from the second page or below the fold to above the fold on the first SERP can lead to increased traffic and conversions from natural search.
And then comes the knowledge graph. On May 16 of this year Google changed the search result pretty significantly, to the point where there are now large images and text for certain queries to the right of the web results. And while there haven’t been any public studies that have examined eye tracking and click tracking for Google search post-knowledge graph, the fear is that it looks very different from the classic golden triangle, where users are fixated on the large images to the right of the web results, and don’t end up clicking through as much to the web results themselves.
For the knowledge graph carousel the eye would go to the top of the page, theoretically, and not to the web results on the actual page.
And for mobile and tablet listings this effect is even more pronounced, as mobile and tablet results have the knowledge graph integrated into the search results above the fold, pushing all traditional web listings down.
The fear among some in the SEO community is that organic visits to the site will plummet, similar to this image from someone who shared their experience with Penguin earlier this year. And of course Pandemonium would ensue.
My message to you, however, is that there’s no need to fear the knowledge graph. Here’s a cute picture of a bunny in sunshine to put you at ease.
There may be isolated tales of lost traffic due to knowledge graph, but the SEO community hasn’t revolted the way they have with other issues like Penguin and Panda. At this point I haven’t seen any solid evidence that the introduction of the knowledge graph has decreased click through rate.
There is evidence to the contrary, however. For example, direct answers is something that has been around at least since 2006. You may recognize these results from the query [weather] that show a simple forecast with links to more information. You would think that this type of information would satisfy the query and not lead to a click to a website…
But organic traffic to weather sites has grown overall since direct answers box in last three yearsTraffic to Weather.com has quadrupledThis suggests that users are still clicking through to a web site, even for queries that appear to be answered on the SERP
Wikipedia would be one site that might seem to suffer the most from this change. However, when you examine Wikipedia organic traffic at that time, you can see that it’s only down slightly in Google following the change, and that a larger drop occurs in May of last year, indicating the trend may be seasonal. Traffic from Bing and Yahoo! to Wikipedia remain unchanged.
When we looked at client data we found the same: that traffic seems to mirror forecasted search volume for navigational queries in the top position. Entertainment client (official site for popular movie, this season)One month prior and one month following Knowledge Graph, search volume and traffic stayed the same for top keyword with prominent knowledge graph listing overallEntertainment client (official site for popular movie, last season)Slight drop in seasonality for navigational query with prominent Knowledge Graph listing, but organic traffic increased 4% in the month following implementation with no promotion.
So it’s unlikely that you are affected by knowledge graph, but if you think you are, you want to follow these three steps:
Knowledge graph might not be a problem as it is now, but it could be a traffic driver for your business. Here’s how…
First, we know from AmitSinghal’s comments to the Wall Street Journal that the knowledge graph has increased the number of searches on Google. If you look at related searches for Jazz, for example, you see that many people who are looking for Jazz in Google also do searches for miles davis, duke ellington and louisarmstrong. So with the knowledge graph, these concepts are now represented visually on the page. But when you click through, you don’t go to a Google landing page with all the info you need, but rather a search results page with some info and more web results. So there are more searches done, but eventually the user clicks through to a site. This might not benefit the websites shown when users search the head term, but it does benefit a website eventually.
Because the knowledge graph changes the kinds of queries that Google understands, it’s likely that we can expect more people using different types of queries to communicate with Google. This is an example of questions you can ask Siri that Google might not understand. Now there are questions you can ask Google that Google didn’t previously understand.
For example, if you ask Google how deep is Lake Tahoe, they used to show you something very similar to what Bing shows on the left: words and pictures and web sites related to the query, but not understanding or answering the query. And yet Google on the right gives you the exact answer before it gives you web sites where you can get more information.
This is an example of a report in Bright Edge called revenue and rank, but I know other enterprise SEO tools like Conductor have a similar report. It’s entirely possible that the knowledge graph is causing fewer people to convert on higher value keywords, but if that’s the case it is completely trackable with analytics.
If you don’t work for a large company with a big budget and don’t have access to enterprise SEO tools, this is an example of a dashboard that we present to clients showing ROI by keyword for natural search. We look at a lot of data, but what you should be most concerned about is revenue, or whatever your primary conversion metric is. If the knowledge graph is affecting you, there are a number of things you can do, but you should measure success or failure by change in conversions to primary keywords. Head keywords might not get as much exposure theoretically because of the knowledge graph, but if that is happening it will be evident in these reports.
Multimedia and vertical search optimization doesn’t get the attention that link building or page level optimization do in SEO blogs, but they’ve become more important than ever with this change. Images and news results are still highly visible in the wake of this change, and should be considered at the beginning of an SEO campaign. You should all be doing this because universal search has been important since at least 2007, but I know that it doesn’t always get prioritized among the list of tasks SEOs need to do. Knowledge graph makes it more of a priority.
On the list of things SEOs value, meta descriptions are usually toward the bottom of that list, if it’s included at all. In fact, meta descriptions and structured data are tools that webmasters have at their disposal to help us increase click through rate to our sites. If our description is compelling, it should increase traffic to the page, even in the wake of knowledge graph. Prior to webmaster tools, we didn’t really have any way to measure that, but with available impressions and clicks in webmaster tools we can finally see if our descriptions are compelling for a particular keyword. Don’t forget the description.
The phrase ‘follow the money’ in All the President’s Men with Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman meant follow the money to find the source of the Watergate conspiracy. If you want to find the source of knowledge graph listings to ensure you’re included, Google has made many of them public, including CIA World Factbook, Weather Underground, World Bank, Freebase, and of course Wikipedia and Google internal data. The only sources that are editable are Freebase and Wikipedia, and both of those have pretty rigorous standards about what information is included, so you could spend a lot of time trying to get included for little return. In most cases there are better uses of one’s time than to chase these public data sources, but by all means if there is notable information that’s missing from the knowledge graph submitting it to Freebase or Wikipedia could be time well spent.
To summarize, if you remember just five things from this presentation…
Thanks. I hope this was interesting and educational. If you have any questions, you can contact me here, and I look forward to more discussion at the end of the presentations. Thanks!
KNOWLEDGE GRAPH: FRIEND OR FOE?Making the Knowledge Graph Work for YouBryson MeunierDirector, SEO StrategyResolution Media
WHY DO MARKETERS FEAR KNOWLEDGE GRAPH? Proprietary and confidential 2
NO EVIDENCE THAT KNOWLEDGE GRAPH DECREASES CTR Proprietary and confidential 9
DIRECT ANSWERS PREDATE KNOWLEDGE GRAPH Proprietary and confidential 10
DIRECT ANSWERS INCREASED TRAFFIC TO WEATHER SITES Proprietary and confidential 11
WIKIPEDIA TRAFFIC UNCHANGED Knowledge Graph, May 16, 2012 Proprietary and confidential 12
ENTERTAINMENT CLIENT, OFFICIAL MOVIE SITE Google Analytics Google Insights for Search Proprietary and confidential 13
THINK YOU MIGHT BE AFFECTED BY KNOWLEDGE GRAPH? 1. Compare expected search volume with actual traffic 2. Use navigational query in first position if possible 3. If volume is seasonal, compare percentages to last year and look for big traffic drops Proprietary and confidential 14
KNOWLEDGE GRAPH INCREASES # OF SEARCHES Proprietary and confidential 16
KNOWLEDGE GRAPH CHANGES SEARCH BEHAVIOR Proprietary and confidential 17
KNOWLEDGE GRAPH CHANGES SEARCH BEHAVIOR Proprietary and confidential 18
REVISIT KEYWORD TARGETING • Great majority of queries affected by knowledge graph either not on the purchase funnel or related only to awareness • Low ROI compared to other keywords • Reduce reliance on head terms and consider true ROI of keywords targeted Proprietary and confidential 19
REVISIT KEYWORD TARGETING Proprietary and confidential 20
REVISIT KEYWORD TARGETING Proprietary and confidential 21
CONTINUE MULTIMEDIA AND VERTICAL SEARCH OPTIMIZATION Proprietary and confidential 22
REVISIT META DESCRIPTIONS AND STRUCTURED DATA Proprietary and confidential 23
FOLLOW THE MONEY Proprietary and confidential 24
SUMMARY 1. Don’t fear the Knowledge Graph or Direct Answers 2. Target the keywords that bring the most long-term value 3. Craft meta descriptions to compel a user to click through 4. Use structured data, images and videos to draw the eye 5. Consider the return of contributing to Knowledge Graph data sources Proprietary and confidential 25
THANK YOU! Bryson Meunier Director, SEO Strategy Resolution Media firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.brysonmeunier.com http://www.resolutionmedia.com @brysonmeunier +Bryson Meunier Scan to visit m.brysonmeunier.com Proprietary and confidential