Google Says Knowledge Graph Is The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ To Your Site’s Corkscrew

    March 12, 2014
    Chris Crum
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With the Knowledge Graph, Google is trying to be the “Swiss Army Knife” to publishers’ corkscrews. That is according to Google SVP and software engineer Amit Singhal, who spoke at SMX West earlier this week.

Do you think this is a good analogy? Has your traffic suffered from Google putting its own content on search results pages? Let us know in the comments.

Since Google launched the Knowledge Graph, and more so as it has continued building it to encompass more types of queries, publishers have wondered what it means for the future of getting traffic from Google. After all, if Google is giving users what they’re looking for right on the search results page, why would they need to click over to your site?

In addition to the Knowledge Graph, in some cases, Google is even going so far as to put sponsored results for its own products above sites that people are specifically searching for. We’re talking branded searches in which Google forces its own product above the actual brand being searched for.

Google’s Matt Cutts recently announced a new tool for users to report scrapers who are outranking original source content. In response, Dan Barker tweeted this back at him, illustrating an example of how Google gives an answer to a question making it so the user doesn’t need to click over to another site (in this case, WIkipedia).

That got nearly 35,000 retweets and 4,000 favorites, which is quite a lot for an SEO-related tweet. Clearly this resonated with people.

Search Engine Land, sister site to SMX, has a liveblog of Singhal’s keynote (which was an on-stage interview with Danny Sullivan). Sullivan brought up the tweet, and asked him about the Knowledge Graph and its effect on publishers.

The liveblogged account of Singhal’s words (some of which was paraphrased) says:

If you look at a search engine, the best analogy is that it’s an amazing Swiss Army Knife. It’s great, but sometimes you need to open a wine bottle. Some genius added that to the knife. That’s awesome. That’s how we think of the Knowledge Graph. Sometimes you only need an answer.

The world has gone mobile. In a mobile world, there are times when you cannot read 20 pages, but you need something — an extra tool on your Swiss Army Knife. When you build a better tool, you use it more.

Note: According to Barry Schwartz, Singhal specifically referred to publishers as “corkscrews” and “screwdrivers”.

“Personally, I kept finding it funny Amit using the ‘screw’ drive[r] and cork ‘screw’ association to publishers,” Schwartz blogged. “Yea, publishers do feel ‘screwed’ and him using those words didn’t help. But his analogy, while it stinks, is true.”

Back to Search Engine Land’s liveblogged account. On getting the balance right in terms of using others’ content…

It’s a great question and we think about it all the time. We built Google to fulfill user’s needs. Somewhere along the way, people started debating if web traffic is more than users. But keep in mind that we need to keep our user’s trust. We’re part of an open web system. If we lose our user’s trust, the open web would lose its strongest ally (sorry readers, I’m paraphrasing here). If people stop trusting us, then a sinking tide sinks us all.

We deeply care about this. I’ve been in this field for 20 years. The relationship between publishers, Google and users is all one of mutual benefit. We work hard at getting that balance right. You guys (the audience) have been great contributors to the web. The world is changing, and SEO is all about change. Users dictate how the world changes. We are changing so that our users get a lovely product, and publishers get access to our users. (paraphrase again)

I don’t know if any of this is going to make publishers feel better about the direction Google is heading in, but it’s pretty consistent with the things Google has said in the past.

Another problem with the Knowledge Graph, which wasn’t discussed in the keynote, apparently, is that it often shows erroneous information. Sometimes for businesses.

The Knowledge Graph is definitely useful to searchers looking for quick answers, but how much users can really rely on it for accuracy is debatable.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • wertwert

    Got it backwards google… knowledge graph is totally the corkscrew… fits awkwardly and you only need it once every 3 years or so and half the time it breaks the cork.

  • http://www.netbuilder.com.my/home/SEO+Malaysia/q?m=article&article_id=24 Danny Cheng

    Google, Google Google! You just have to love them. I mean they always seem to have an answer to everything! And the best part? They get to break the rules they make.(and if we don’t like it, well, we can all just go take a hike!) Think about it, Google local is nothing but a scraper site (it’s just “listings ” of business address that Google tells us not to make) and let’s not even talk about K.Graph… yikes!

  • http://trevorhickmaninsurance.com/ Trevor Hickman

    As a small business owner trying to keep up with the trends, can someone give a quick explanation what knowledge graph is and how it helps us?

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    Their speeches about how great their own products are seem to only resonate with the stubbornly dedicate Google fans and their own Google staff. They can cheer lead all they like about their own business, but millions of people out there are seeing the damage Google is doing in real terms. This is a corporation that has massive control and influence over the businesses and incomes of potentially millions of people, and we’re all suffering thanks to Google’s endless greed and determination to become the single solution, wiping out competition and continually promoting large businesses over smaller independent companies.

    I used to be a fan, but these days I do not trust a single thing Google says about anything. Matt Cutts could tell me in a video that water is wet, and I would go and run the tap to make sure.

    • http://www.mylightyearservice.com/ Kenneth Vaughn

      Well stated Bloke, could not have said it any better my-self!

      • Jordan McClements

        I second and third that.

  • http://www.ZoomTanzania.com Kirk Gillis

    More like a hijack than a jackknife. Another phase of Google’s ongoing efforts to control all web content, and thereby reap all web advertising revenue. I used to be Google’s biggest fan, now I pray every night the feds bust them up as a monopoly. It just doesn’t make any sense they are allowed to control the majority of the worlds search while simultaneously giving preference to their own content, and thereby reap more and more of digital advertising spend. Google built itself on the backs of publishers, now they seem intent on killing them off.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Zzy.Master Zzy Master

    preferably from the google, make a special point of discussion and discuss issues seo good seo fellow experts. do not use other people’s social sites.


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  • http://www.aquahabitat.com/ Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts

    At least they can give a prominent citation to the origin of what google scraped.

    As a site who gets scraped frequently I do appreciate the reporting tool. It would be nice if it were more automated within google, however.

    If I see a reference to wikipedia, I look for a more credible source of information!