Updated: Aug 20
A Knowledge Panel is a great way to present your brand. People might know you, but a more complete SERP certainly strengthens your name – more exposure to your brand, logo, social channels and, one could say, less visibility for competitors’ ads.
While search engines are smart to read unstructured data across the web to build their knowledge about a person, brand or entity, you can help give them a hand to understand you better and quicker.
In this blog post, I’ll show you step by step how to score a panel like this one:
SERP Analysis and Knowledge Graph Explorer
This work starts by… Googling. You want to understand which types of pages are ranking, search intent and so on before you define your strategy. Plenty of SEO work starts by searching and here’s the same. You want to assess if Google has any clue of who you are as an entity, looking at things like these on page one:
Are there other people/brand named the same as me?
Are there social channels, videos, pages or any SERP features related to me?
I’ll assume here that Google has *some* knowledge about who you are on the SERPs, like ranking your website, tweet panel or social channels on page one. Otherwise, I advise you to build your profiles before attempting to influence a Knowledge Panel. You’ve tons of ways to do this (you know… marketing?), and I’ll cover one further down this post.
After you assess that Google has some idea of who you are, let’s see if there’s an entity behind you or what’s your confidence score. Using Google’s Knowledge API Explorer, you can assess Google’s confidence in an entity, like your name or brand.
Gladly, there are two tools that are very handy to check your score: one from Kalicube and another from Carl Hendy. Both will give a confidence score and the latter will also say which type of entity. This confidence score has no cap – an entity could be a 1 with no competition, while The Beatles (band) has a confidence score of 26,482, followed by their album also named “The Beatles” with 7,147. I only use it as a reference to see how far I am from another entity competing for the same search query, like brands with similar or dubious names.
Using Wikidata to build your profile
This is the most exciting section of this short guide is Wikidata.org. First, you should look at the Notability criteria. If you ignore this step, the change or items you added will most likely be reverted. In my case, my client had a Wikipedia page for years are a well-established brand with users worldwide, but another business that used to be named the same as my client, appeared on the Knowledge Panel.
They had rebranded over 6 years prior, but kept showing up only on the Knowledge Panel – Every other top 10 results were related to my client (homepage, sitelinks, social channels) or other sources (talking about my client), so I was clearly a case where this knowledge panel didn’t highlight the right company.
After some digging, I discovered Wikidata, “a collaboratively edited multilingual knowledge graph”, which is used by Google, among plenty of other sources, to populate knowledge panels.
While my client was on Wikipedia, their Wikidata profile was weak and the confidence score was lower than the competitor. Bingo! I had a way to quantify how behind we were and started building the strategy.
In the next paragraph, I’ll tell you where else changes were made for Google to identify the correct brand, but here’s an example of entities competing for “project management”. Entities with higher confidence scores tend to rank higher (again, use Kalicube to see a confidence score for any item):
I’m by no means an expert on Wikidata, but I’ve some general advice if you want to create or edit things there:
Look again at Notability to understand if a person or company is relevant enough to be listed. Having a Wikipedia page, for instance, gives you that approval, but there are many other reasons.
Become a real editor: Find a niche you’re knowledgeable about and help the community by editing other entries. In my case, I love a lot of 90s hardcore bands that are recognized by Wikipedia or are/were famous to a certain extent but get little attention in Wikidata.
Don’t attempt to edit a lot of things at once as experienced editors or bots can revert your changes. If you tried to edit Wikipedia before, you’ll know how close attention they keep on it. If you receive comments or changes are reverted, engage in the discussion and make changes. Build your profile and trust, like you’d do with your brand.
Don’t update your competitors’ profiles. It’s not ethical and they can easily do the same. Chances are you both will lose and a page could get flagged or locked.
My way of learning was by reading other trusted and well-built profiles. Pick anyone famous, like Bill Gates and see what type of information is available. On Wikidata, you can build two types of data:
Statements (name, age, family, place of birth, occupation, inception, website, etc)
Identifiers (Social profiles across the web. Start with your active social channels, but there are PLENTY more beyond your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles).
And as with any structured data, make sure to connect your Wikidata profile to the structured data of your website, including all identifiers you can. Once I started exploring what could be done, I found an enormous list of profiles – To mention a few, Quora topic ID, Crunchbase, YouTube, IMDB and Spotify are some not-so-obvious ones. Here’s an easy profile and mentions Google Sheets tracker you can use.
Optimising your brand around the web – E-A-T, social profiles and author bios
While Wikidata was an important step to fix the problem my client had, your profile alone won’t do the job – Can you imagine how much spam, if it was that simple? Search engines are clever enough to cross-check external sources to understand an entity.
Do you have consistent information about this brand around the web? Start by auditing your social channels, using descriptions that strengthen your case (what you sell, who you are), link to your website and all other aforementioned profiles whenever the opportunity is there, and of course, keep them up to date. Connect all profiles whenever you can, like adding your social channels in bios and adding all of these profiles on your Structured Data on your “main entity”, such as your website.
You might be surprised to find out that you built profiles or wrote bios in the past and forgot about them. This is a mix of structured and unstructured data: if you wrote a blog post externally while working for a company, but you currently work somewhere else, try to update it. Or did you know that your Crunchbase allows you to add links to your website, LinkedIn and Twitter?
Talking about Crunchbase, it’s used by Bing as well:
In case you’re looking for inspiration to write new author bios, Daniel Smullen has a great guide with tons of examples to highlight your E-A-T.
How long after building my profiles could I get as a Knowledge Panel?
Of course – It depends – but there are two ways to spot if you’re going in the right direction.
First, has Google started identifying you in the Knowledge Graph API? If you show up there, it means you “exist” as an entity. Keep track of your confidence score, checking every few days. If the number is growing, you’re getting closer. You’ll also have a Knowledge Graph ID, which will load a knowledge panel on Google (something like this: https://www.google.com/search?kgmid=%2Fm%2F09d8m5)
The other way to keep an eye on changes is to check them using Kalicube’s Knowledge Graph Sensor, which dates when big changes happen on the Knowledge Graph. I haven’t used Kalicube’s paid services or courses, but I do trust what I read from Jason Barnard (the founder) regarding branded SERPs and learn from his tweets, so it’s just a matter of time until I pay for something – I’m confident his courses are great!
What happens if I lose my profile?
I’ve seen cases where panels started being identified in a matter of days, even when several people had the same name. It’s likely to be unstable for a while, with profiles appearing and disappearing every other day.
Don’t panic and keep building your profile, on your website and external profiles across the web – Which you should do not because of a knowledge panel, but to display the right information for those reaching these profiles.
That’s all for today – Now it’s your turn to build your brand entity out there!