Do you know what a Google knowledge panel is?
Whether you think you do or not, you’ve seen a Google knowledge panel in the wild. Knowledge panels display fundamental information about businesses, celebrities, brands, countries, states, cities…pretty much any notable noun.
As more of our lives move online, knowing how to put your best foot forward is vital. In this article, we’ll talk about knowledge panels, why you want one, how to get one, and what to do when you have one.
What is a Google knowledge panel?
A Google knowledge panel is a feature of Google’s SERPs that will appear for certain search terms (generally people, places, businesses, brands, etc.). Whatever you’re searching for, knowledge panels display foundational information about a topic, similar to a brief encyclopedia entry – if there is a knowledge panel populating, which we’ll get to soon. Knowledge panels pull information from different sources to provide an impartial, factual entry.
You’ve definitely seen one before, even if you didn’t realize that’s what you were looking at. As an example, here’s the knowledge panel for tulips:
Knowledge panels change depending on the nature of your search. For example, Paul McCartney’s knowledge panel looks a little different than the one that populates for tulips:
For the tulips, we see a physical description, scientific information, and a breakdown of different types of tulips. For Paul McCartney, see where you can listen to his music, albums, and some basic biographical information.
According to Google, knowledge panels are “meant to help you get a quick snapshot of information on a topic based on Google’s understanding of available content on the web.” Essentially, knowledge panels are meant to supply users with information relate to their query, from multiple, authoritative sources, help users find relevant links, improve accessibility of information by not requiring users to visit multiple websites or sources, and help users find information faster than they would by clicking on results.
What are the benefits of a Google knowledge panel?
How you look online – particularly in search results – will often act as your first impression for potential clients and customers, prospective employees, investors – really, anyone that could be important to you or your business. 68% of user experiences online begin with a search engine, and over 95% of users report searching online to learn more about businesses.
At its most basic level, a knowledge panel populating means Google knows who you are, and what the presence of your brand looks like online. In 2022, users expect to see a knowledge panel for people, businesses, and brands. If a knowledge panel doesn’t populate for you, it could harm your reputation. Your Google knowledge panel gives you an opportunity to put your best foot forward, and will also give you authority online.
There are a few other benefits when it comes to knowledge panels:
- Having a knowledge panel is like having a Google ad without the negative association that comes with ads. Because knowledge panels are themselves considered credible because the information is pulled from authoritative sources, it acts as a non-advertising advertisement.
- If you have a knowledge panel, it will increase your overall visibility in search. Of course, your panel will be prominent in branded results, but you’re also more likely to appear in featured bars or carousels, People Also Search For sections on competitors’ searches, and other featured snippets.
- Finally, if you do not have a knowledge panel, but work to get one to populate, a lot of the strategies to generate a Google knowledge panel will also benefit your overall SEO and online reputation management (ORM) strategy, strengthening your online presence and visibility in search results.
How is a knowledge panel different from a Google My Business listing?
In search results, knowledge panels and Google My Business (GMB) listings can be hard to distinguish from one another. Both populate on the right side of search results, and give a general overview of your business.
To give you a better sense, this is a GMB listing for a local Austin bookstore:
While this listing gives an overview of the business similar to a knowledge panel, the GMB listing also contains information not included in knowledge panels, such as hours of operation, Google reviews, hours of operation, company updates, and a description of the business written by the business itself.
Unlike a knowledge panel, a GMB listings are only for businesses, but they can be extremely valuable – the average GMB listing is viewed over 1,200 times every month and, like knowledge panels, they can provide users with a quick overview of the key information about your business. GMB listings are also necessary to see your business rank in local pack results. Even further, you can create and edit GMB listings yourself, ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward.
To set up a GMB listing for your business, see if Google has already generated one. To do this, search for your business – if you do see a listing, you can click “Own this business?” to go through the steps to claim the listing. If not, you can create a listing for your business. To learn how to create a Google My Business listing, check out our step-by-step instructions.
How to Get a Knowledge Panel
I’ll be honest: if you don’t already have one populating in results, getting a knowledge panel can be a difficult process that takes consistency and time, and is not a guarantee.
Because knowledge panels are automatically generated, and generated from various sources, you have to take multiple factors into consideration to formulate your knowledge panel strategy.
First, you have to understand how Google is reading information, and what helps it determine whether or not it will populate a knowledge panel. When it comes to generating a knowledge panel, Google needs to be sure that it understands the entity – what Google calls the topic of the knowledge panel – well enough to make one in the first place, that users searching for a particular keyword are looking for that particular entity, and that populating a knowledge panel would be beneficial to users.
So what does this mean for you? If a knowledge panel is not populating for you, your business, your organization, etc., you have to work to:
- build your online brand to make sure Google is confident that people searching for a particular query are searching for you,
- that there are reputable, authoritative sources online that describe you, your business, or your brand,
- and that information online describes you, your business, or your brand wholly and well to ensure that Google has the “right idea” about your brand.
Should I wait for Google to populate a knowledge panel?
While it can be an option to wait for a knowledge panel to populate, I wouldn’t generally recommend it. When you allow Google to decide where your knowledge panel pulls from, it’s likely that it won’t represent you as well as if you guided it. While Google is smart, and getting smarter all the time, no one knows you better than you, and working on your own to get a Google knowledge panel will increase the likelihood that your panel is totally accurate when it populates.
The first step in trying to generate a knowledge panel is creating the primary source. To do this, create a page, either on a personal website, company website, or another source that could be used as a knowledge panel reference, and populate it with content in the format of a knowledge panel – you can reference competitor knowledge panels or panels in a similar category to yours to get a sense of what this would be.
What sources are used for knowledge panels?
The source or sources used for knowledge panels are based on authority, as Google is looking for the most accurate, reliable sources for its knowledge panels. Wikipedia is by far the most common source of information when it comes to knowledge panels (along with Wikidata); however, there are other websites that knowledge panels will pull from, including Crunchbase, Zoominfo, Linkedin, Facebook, and several others.
These sources can vary. People and businesses may see the descriptions of their knowledge panels populating from personal or company websites, but this depends on how the site is formatted, and what other resources are available.
When creating this page, ensure that it has multiple sections with clear headings, and is factual and not overly promotional. To help Google “read” this page better, implement a schema markup, or structured data – not only will this help Google better understand your content, but this can help increase your visibility in search results and CTR.
Should I create a Wikipedia page for my business?
Although Wikipedia is the primary reference used for knowledge panels, I don’t necessarily recommend creating a Wikipedia page in the hopes that this will help a knowledge panel populate. There are a few reasons for this:
- Wikipedia pages are difficult to create, particularly for yourself. There are a lot of guidelines when it comes to Wikipedia, and it can be difficult to get a page to fit the criteria. What’s more, even if you do manage to get a page published, it may not satisfy the notability requirements of the platform, and you may see a deletion of your page later down the road.
- If you do get a knowledge panel to populate from a Wikipedia page, and then the page is deleted, your knowledge panel will likely disappear, too, rendering the work you put into it more or less useless.
- Unilke a company website or a Linkedin description, Wikipedia is an open-editing platform, meaning anyone can go in and change your Wikipedia page. While they may not be able to write whatever they want, it is possible for other editors to change your entry, which may not be how you want yourself, your business, or your brand to be presented.
Once you’ve created your primary reference page, you’ll want to make sure that any of the same information displayed anywhere else matches – on social media profiles, directories, business overviews, etc. While you don’t want to trigger a duplicate content penalty, you do want to ensure that you are consistent – if the information is displayed the same everywhere, it will increase the reliability of your primary reference page.
When You Have a Knowledge Panel
If you already have a knowledge panel, the concern is no longer how to get one, but how to get it to say what you want. Knowledge panels are meant to display foundational, or basic, information, so usually your knowledge panel should display neutral, descriptive information.
If you do have a knowledge panel, you’ll want to know how to take care of it. Unlike owned properties, like your website, blog, and social media profiles, your knowledge panel will populate information from credible sources online – not just whatever information you want to include.
Sometimes, knowledge panels can get things wrong, or highlight information that you would rather not have displayed on the first page of your search results.
How do I claim my knowledge panel?
Claiming a knowledge panel means taking a sort of ownership of it – though you won’t be able to edit it the way you can a GMB listing. Unclaimed knowledge panels will have this button:
If the knowledge panel pulls its information from your website (which you can check by clicking on the globe icon), you can claim your knowledge panel simply by logging into Google Search Console (GSC).
If your knowledge panel does not pull from your website, you can claim the knowledge panel through your Twitter or YouTube account. This does not always show up as an option, and if not, you’re in for a bit more complicated of a process.
If you don’t have the option to claim your knowledge panel through GSC or through your Twitter or YouTube, you will have to prove to Google who you are, and why your relationship to the subject of the knowledge panel should allow you to claim it. This will lead you to a long form where you will need to provide your government-issued ID, a selfie with your ID, and screenshots of related social media accounts with you logged in. If you go this route, your information will be checked by a person at Google who will then accept or reject your claim.
While this may seem a bit over-the-top, remember that if it’s too easy, it would be easy for anyone to claim your panel, which would make things even more complicated.
How can I update knowledge panel information, or correct mistakes?
As stated by Google, “knowledge panels are updated automatically as information changes on the web.” Thankfully, this is not the only way information will change. Any user can submit feedback about knowledge panels, indicating an issue with the information displayed. While one request may not do the trick, a concerted effort from multiple people to report an issue may yield the results you’re looking for.
Thankfully, if you’ve verified your ownership of the panel, you have some more options. Though your change request submissions to Google will be similar to the feedback sent by general users, as the owner of a knowledge panel, it will carry more weight and is more likely to result in a change to the information.
Check out this guide from Google to learn more about how to update the information your knowledge panel displays.
Can I change the images on my knowledge panel?
As with the information displayed in knowledge panels, images displayed in knowledge panels come from several sources. If you own your knowledge panel, you should be able to select which images from the web are featured, or submit a change request, similar to any other listed information.
To learn more about how to put your best foot forward online, reach out to Status Labs for a free consultation.