"The first major update since 2007"
Well, that's what Google say, so it's an indication of how important this could be for digital marketers. It was 2007 when Google launched Universal Search, how time flies. 2012 sees the launch of a new upgrade called Knowledge Graph. In this alert we've summarised what it is and why it matters to marketers.
The feature is rolling out now for some users in the US, it's expected that other countries will get it in a matter of weeks. We'll update when it becomes live elsewhere. It could be a while since Google+ integration in Google.com is still a different experience for non US users since several months.
Recommended link: Google’s official introduction to the Knowledge Graph
What is Knowledge Graph?
Knowledge Graph is a set of semantic tools which aim to make your search results more relevant and informative - Google sees this as the first step towards harnessing the collective intelligence of the web - to see information as people do, making learning about things much faster and easier. According to Google, Knowledge Graph does 3 main things. If you compare these examples to what's currently available, you can see how big this change will be to our experience as searchers and to how we present our brands.
1. Smarter search. Enable you to direct the results quickly to "what you meant"
2. A complete picture. You get the best summary of that information as quickly as possible:
3. Grab your attention. Brings more information to the surface on your chosen object or topic, things that you may want to know but didn't ask
This new functionality concentrates on the notion that we communicate in ideas, not keywords. In other words, Google is attempting to think in terms of human relevance. We believe it's important to see this as a shift - not just an update that's done and dusted.
How does it do this?
With Knowledge Graph, Google Search asks you to point it into the right direction and then displays informative summaries for terms, with descriptions, photos and related items that people typically ask for) then it's giving users what they want instead of keywords - so a big move from listing information that may be right. Attempting to gather and present knowledge in an intelligent way feels to us like something that has serious consequences for people who approach marketing from a heavy "SEO" mindset? Maybe not straight away, but a sign of the times?
What does this mean to marketers concerned about SEM and SEO?
If Google is drawing from “collective human wisdom,” then we're talking about *contextual relevance over just links*, think about that, this is where the world is changing for marketers. It's true to what Google has always sought to do, be a search engine focussed on relevance, but it's moving away from ways were marketers might have sought to (more often than not) manipulate it with programmes of on page optimisation and link building. So, not a moving of the goal posts, but a changing of the game.
Three things to keep in mind..
1. More than ever, it's now time to consider how you build brand authority online, to increase the contextual relevance of your content, not just inbound links that are garnered (of course they still matter enormously so far as we can see into the future). Make it easy for Google to see this, Matt Cutts of Google fame [Infamy - Ed] has advocated the rel=author approach to help build contextual relevance - see what this looks like here
2. The importance of your people - this human approach recognises the importance of people related to your brand producing, promoting and sharing content, a move away from abstract "brand content" in search listings, how will you mobilise a brand army of real people on your behalf?
3 - The importance of social, and we can assume especially Google+, will come to the fore as Google launches a users search journey by combining the information that others found useful with information in the Knowledge Graph itself
Google’s new search functionality is promising to elevate how we search and in turn the responsiveness of Google to that. In time, Search Engine Marketers and SEO's may give way entirely to the new, emerging field of "Knowledge Engine Marketing". Is that just more jargon for content marketing / social media marketing / inbound marketing!? Probably.