Poke your head into any SEO conference in 2014 and I guarantee you will see a slide deck titled along the lines of “Knowledge Graph: the future of search / SEO…” This new industry is all around us, and there is no stopping it.
Business owners and SEO’s everywhere s are scrambling looking for solutions on how to prepare for this new search technology. What started as a small Google search engine feature has morphed into an entire industry. I realize making a bold statement such as “the future of SEO” might make me look like a whack-o, but this is something that I am personally invested in and something that I beleive in.
But I know I am not alone in my theories, not even close. Bill Slawski has been researching this since god knows when. Other folks such as Andrew Isidoro have helped popularize the Knowledge Graph sub-industry and pave the way for the rest of us.
Over the last year here at Elite Strategies we have been experimenting with KGO or Knowledge Graph Optimization for our clients and “volunteer entities.” It has been a fun ride. We’ve learned a lot, proved that clients are interested, and helped paved the way for a new industry to come. We first started really noticing Google Knowledge Graph around January of 2013. Back then there was still a lot we did not know about, and many companies still did not have Knowledge Graph listings (we were lucky to be one of the first.)
Through continued research, a few case studies, and lots of trial and error we feel as though this niche is finally ready to see the light of day.
Quick Review: What is the Knowledge Graph?
Google Knowledge Graph is a database used by Google search engine to supplement the SERPs with curated information derived from sources from throughout the web.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the Knowledge Graph in live action in a number of different scenarios. Most people encounter the Knowledge Graph as a result of asking Google a question, such as “Who is the CEO of Microsoft.”
But you can’t sell something you don’t own!
People said the exact same thing about SEO when it first hit the streets. Just like SEO, you cannot guarantee Knowledge Graph results, you can only optimize them.
Once this sub-industry starts really taking off we will start to see people trying to exploit it for profit. I believe that if you are going to establish yourself as a leader of an industry, it is imperative to keep ethics at the forefront of your business dealings. This means:
- not taking on every job that comes your way
- being honest with clients about the results they can expect
- not misleading industry peers by blogging about shady tactics
- sharing your findings with the community
- publishing case studies
- being honest with your findings
Over the last year we have proven that we have been able to manipulate Knowledge Graph results, add entities to the Knowledge Graph, and even make edits to the Knowledge Graph. A great example is some of the work I’ve done for my own personal branding “Patrick Coombe” within the Knowledge Graph:
Granted, just like SEO there are many similarities from a service perspective:
- results are difficult if not impossible to guarantee
- results tend to fluctuate on a day to day basis
- it takes different strategies to optimize for different entities
- there are many barriers to success, such as Google’s lack of transparency from a technical standpoint
Is there even a demand for Knowledge Graph Optimization?
If you would have asked me this question a year ago, I might have paused before answering. Now there is no doubt in my mind: yes, there is a huge demand for Knowledge Graph Optimization. Not just individuals seeking a few quick changes, enterprise level corporations have expressed an interest in this service and have been very eager to see this offered as a service.
Just take a look at all of the action in the forums:
There are droves of people logging on to forums, groups and Twitter looking for help with this already. Even last night I jumped in on a chat that was 4 months old with a simple answer that seemed to solve the problem that was stumping Google Product Forum “experts” for months.
In addition to online, our clients have also began expressing an interest in this service. We have also had several individuals call to seek more information about getting themselves listed within a Knowledge Graph.
We’ve even had at least 2 former employees snooping around for information regarding our Knowledge Graph Optimization strategies.
There is no doubt that this is in fact turning into a sub-niche of SEO, and gaining momentum faster than we think.
Isn’t Knowledge Graph Optimization just SEO?
The Knowledge Graph is just one aspect of the modern search engine landscape. There are many other segments of search engines such as advertising modules, maps listings, in-depth article listings, and more. So in that sense yes, optimizing a Knowledge Graph listing is just like SEO.
On the other hand, we feel as though the Knowledge Graph must be approached from a completely different standpoint than traditional search engine optimization. For instance, in traditional SEO the goal is to optimize a website for a keyword or group of keywords. In KGO, the goal is to optimize an entity for a particular query. Being that it is a completely different approach than traditional SEO, we feel as though it is time to identify this as a new service offering and possibly even a new industry.
How much would you charge for Knowledge Graph Optimization?
Just like SEO, this depends on the size of the organization. Some people will approach your company looking for a quick fix, such as the company who had claimed their incorrect Knowledge Graph was causing legal issues for their company.
Then there are other pricing scenarios such as a brand new company that is looking for a “full sidebar” Knowledge Graph for their company.
Other pricing scenarios include Companies with large sets of data (think nutrition information, pharmaceutical, etc) and needs it to reflect on the Knowledge Graph.
Up until now we have not charged anyone for Knowledge Graph Optimization. Since we have been looking for as many “guinea pigs” as possible, we were grateful just to have the data to start gathering some internal case studies.
Whatever the case may be, it all depends on how you price things already. Some companies will charge a flat rate for “listing” services, other companies will charge hourly rates to make edits, while others will make up their own pricing schemes.
Blackhat / Negative Knowledge Graphing
Anytime you have a new service or industry online, chances are a blackhat version of that service will soon follow (or will have already preceded it). There have already been a number of cases where people have claimed that their Knowledge Graph has been altered.
You might not be able to negative SEO a website (according to Google) but you sure as heck are able to make modifications to someone else’s Knowledge Graph.
Over time, Google may employ some sort of security or authentication for some types of Knowledge Graphs to protect against information hijacking.
Honestly I think once this catches on a bit more, I think it is going to be somewhat of a sh** show.
Already optimizing Knowledge Graphs?
Then bully for you. You are one of the innovators in this field. If you are regularly optimizing Knowledge Graphs, please send me a Skype request, I would love to exchange ideas and play with test cases.
Very seldom do I attempt to predict the future or “call” a trend, but in this case I feel very strongly that this industry will continue to evolve in a very positive direction.
Over the next few months we will hopefully be able to publish some great case studies, report our findings, and continue to dive head first into this new industry.
If you are interested in being a test case for an upcoming Knowledge Graph case study that will be published on our blog, please let me know!