Google “Shopify” and you’ll see the classic list of blue links. But you’ll also see a box on the right side of the page. This box is a Google knowledge panel, a feature Google introduced in 2012. The idea behind the Google knowledge panel was to answer popular questions directly on the search engine results page (SERP).
This may seem like a negative thing from a marketing perspective. After all, if users have their questions answered on the SERP, why should they click through to your website? But understanding how these knowledge panels work can help you increase brand awareness and take control of how your brand is perceived online.
What is a knowledge panel?
Google knowledge panels are blocks of basic, verified information automatically generated when people search for an entity (a.k.a. well-known people, places, and things). On desktop, the knowledge panel appears to the right of the first page of search results; on mobile, it sits at the top.
Small, local businesses often don’t have knowledge panels. Instead, they have a business profile in the spot where a knowledge panel would be. Individuals and larger organizations can claim their knowledge panel by getting verified with Google; smaller businesses and organizations can claim their information by creating a Google business profile.
Where does Google get the info for knowledge panels?
The information in Google’s knowledge panels comes from the company’s Knowledge Graph, which it launched in 2012. The Google Knowledge Graph is a database with billions of facts pulled from around the web. Google updates its knowledge graph algorithm periodically, and changes to the knowledge graph can lead to changes in its knowledge panels. Individuals can claim knowledge panels and request changes to the information as well.
The images in a knowledge panel come from Google Images results, although an entity can choose a featured image as well.
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Features of knowledge panels
The information you’ll see in a knowledge panel depends on the subject. If you search for a company, you might see:
- The business name and headquarters location
- An image or images, such as the business logo or storefront
- A short description
- Financial information such as current stock price and yearly revenue
- Structural information like subsidiaries and/or parent companies
- Historical information like predecessors, names of founders, and founding date
- Links to social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- A “people also search for” section with related entities, such as business competitors
Limitations of knowledge panels
Google’s knowledge panels provide a quick snapshot of an entity, but they’re no substitute for real research. Because knowledge panels are automatically sourced from the internet by an algorithm and because any user can suggest edits to knowledge panels, they sometimes have inaccurate information.
When using a knowledge panel, remember to check a trusted source, such as the entity’s official site and social media accounts, a reputable newspaper, or a government website. For example, you can check the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website for earnings information about publicly traded companies. If you find inaccurate information in a knowledge panel, you can report it by clicking the Feedback button.
As a business owner, knowledge panels are limiting because you cannot directly control or edit them. Remember that a knowledge panel differs from a Google business profile, which appears in the same spot and includes business-provided information.
How to get a knowledge panel
You can’t request or purchase a Google knowledge panel, but you can optimize your chances of getting (and keeping) a knowledge panel for your business. Here’s how.
1. Create an About page
Your About page is an easy to find, search-engine-optimized page on your website that houses essential facts about your business. If you make it easy for Google to find relevant information about your business, you can have more (indirect) control over what ends up in your knowledge panel.
2. Stay consistent
Google looks to multiple sources when creating a knowledge panel, so keeping your messaging consistent across platforms will help ensure the right information makes it onto your panel. Try to present the same information across sites that Google pulls from, like your business’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Wikipedia, and YouTube pages.
3. Claim your knowledge panel
To claim a knowledge panel, you’ll need to get verified. Start by Googling yourself or the business you represent. If a knowledge panel appears on the SERP, click “Claim this knowledge panel” at the bottom of the box. You’ll be prompted to sign into another account (such as Google Search Console, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube) to verify your identity. You may have to add Google Search Console to your website in order to claim the knowledge panel and get verified. Once verified, you can add other users to your account.
Google knowledge panel FAQ
How does Google determine who gets a knowledge panel?
If an entity (person, place, or thing) is part of Google’s Knowledge Graph (a database with billions of entries), Google will automatically generate a knowledge panel when a user searches for the name of a particular entity. Google has not disclosed the exact criteria for getting a knowledge panel, but having a Wikipedia page is a good indicator of qualification.
Entities can gain or lose knowledge panels when Google updates its Knowledge Graph algorithm. You cannot pay for or request a knowledge panel. As a small business owner, you can, however, create a free Google business profile that functions similarly.
Can I suggest changes or updates to a knowledge panel?
Yes. Any user can provide feedback for any knowledge panel by clicking “Suggest edits” or “Feedback.” If you claim your knowledge panel, you can select a featured image, and Google will prioritize your edits over general user feedback when reviewing suggested changes.
Can businesses request to have a knowledge panel created for them?
No, businesses cannot request a knowledge panel. However, they can claim an existing knowledge panel by verifying they are a qualified representative. Companies can also set up a business profile.
Is the use of knowledge panels likely to increase or decrease in the future?
Knowledge panels have become increasingly popular since they launched in 2012. Searchers rely on knowledge panels for quick answers, and businesses hope to score knowledge panels to increase brand authority and awareness. Based on these trends, the use of knowledge panels will likely continue to increase.