For those readers who haven’t encountered it until now, Google’s Knowledge Graph is a feature the search engine giant rolled out to provide additional information on the results page for different searches. For example, branded searches (i.e. searches for the names of companies or branded products) now bring up a side-panel displaying the name of the company, who the CEO is, when it was founded and other details, such as its customer service and technical support numbers. The Knowledge Graph has been around for a while and, on the surface, it seems like little more than a handy collection of widgets that make search engine users’ lives a little easier. However, there’s one aspect of the initiative that’s been causing controversy.
Amongst the Knowledge Graph’s many functions is the ability to cull information from websites in response to search queries and display it on the results page. In other words, users looking for straightforward factual answers to questions no longer necessarily have to visit a website to find them: Google will fetch the information for them. Why is this controversial? Because many websites believe that they’re losing traffic to Google’s new feature. Not only is this loss of traffic likely to affect a website’s ranking with search engines, but it may also damage them financially. After all, they won’t get any advertising revenue from users viewing their content on the results page as they might from actual page views.
But is Google’s Knowledge Graph really the scourge of any website trying to earn page views and advertising revenue? In the short-term, the answer appears to be ‘yes’, but the long-term view isn’t so black and white. The internet is still a relatively young communications tool and it is constantly evolving and developing in new and unexpected ways. In the grand scheme of things, the Knowledge Graph is just one more surprising development. If anything, it seems to be throwing down a challenge to websites and the companies that run them. After all, having its content appear on the Knowledge Graph might damage a company’s page views at that moment, but it could also serve as an advertisement for its content in the long run. By making their content as engaging and well-written as possible, companies stand to turn the Knowledge Graph to their advantage by using the extra space it grants them on the results page to intrigue readers and gain their loyalty.
At this early stage, it’s impossible to say exactly what the long-term impact of Google’s Knowledge Graph will be, but we can all rest assured that it’s unlikely to be entirely negative.