This article first appeared in the G2 Learning Hub.
Remember when Google’s search results page featured nothing more than links and meta descriptions? As Google has grown and the ecosystem of Google features has expanded, the search engine giant has been making an effort to provide customers with more information right there on the search page. One of the biggest changes came in 2012 with the addition of the Google Knowledge Panel.
Getting to know the Google Knowledge Panel
The Knowledge Panel is the box on the right side of the Google search results page that contains information about a business location or brand. It generally appears when people search for a specific business by name, and it’s intended to help consumers quickly see relevant information such as business hours, contact information, location, and reviews.
For local businesses, the Knowledge Panel is yet another local listing to pay attention to in addition to pages on Facebook, Yelp, and other review sites. Thanks to the Knowledge Panel, consumers don’t have to visit your website to learn about your business; they can get all of the information from the search results page. It’s up to you, as a business owner, to control and update this information.
Below, you’ll find a rundown of the various components of the Knowledge Panel, instructions on how to manage your listings, and best practices for turning the Knowledge Panel into an asset for each of your business locations.
The two types of Knowledge Panels
Knowledge Panels come in two different forms: branded Knowledge Panels and local Knowledge Panels. In much the same way that Facebook has corporate brand pages and individual location pages, Google provides a Knowledge Panel for the corporate entity as well as individual Knowledge Panels for each business location.
Branded Google Knowledge Panels
Branded Knowledge Panels show information about large corporations rather than individual business locations. For a large multi-location franchise business, the information displayed might include:
- Date Founded
- Stock Price
- Location of Headquarters
- Number of Locations
- Number of Employees
- Customer Service Number
These branded Knowledge Panels also have links to the corporation’s social media profiles, websites, and a section at the bottom showing similar businesses that people also search for.
You’re probably wondering how your business can appear on the Knowledge Panel. Google generally only gives branded Knowledge Panels to prominent businesses that have a significant online presence. If your business is big enough to have a Wikipedia page, it probably has a branded Knowledge Panel. Local Knowledge Panels are much easier to get because Google sees them as more relevant for users searching for local businesses.
Local Google Knowledge Panels
Local Knowledge Panels display information about individual business locations. For a specific franchise location, the information displayed might include:
- Phone number
- Popular Times
- Link to Website
All of this information is listed to help consumers gain as much knowledge as possible directly from the search results page. Knowledge Panels also display different types of information depending on the industry. For instance, the Knowledge Panel for a hotel might show the various amenities, room rates, and availability while Knowledge Panels for concert venues generally show a list of upcoming shows. Knowledge Panels for high-end restaurants will usually include links to make reservations, and so on.
Each Knowledge Panel has buttons that link to the business’ websites and social profiles. These features are especially relevant for multi-location businesses because it’s up to the owner to ensure the buttons link to the appropriate pages and sites for each individual business location. If users are going to be directed to a Facebook Business Page, you’ll want to make sure your local business’ Knowledge Panel sends them to the appropriate local page.
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Claiming and editing your Knowledge Panel
You can claim your business’ local and branded Knowledge Panels through Google My Business (GMB). In fact, your business won’t receive a Knowledge Panel until you’ve established your business’ profile on GMB. Once you’ve been given and claimed your Knowledge Panel, you’ll have the ability to suggest edits. Google doesn’t allow business owners to edit Knowledge Panels directly, but you can submit suggestions so long as you’re the verified owner of the business’ GMB page.
The content on your Knowledge Panel is prominent, customer-facing, and the first information people will see when searching about your business. Business owners should have a strategy for monitoring this information, which is especially true of all the user-generated content that is driven by submissions to Google Q&A and GMB Reviews.
That user-generated content makes your Google Knowledge Panel a double-edged sword for your business. On one hand, the information help consumers find and learn about your business. If Google gives your business a Knowledge Panel, your business will be featured prominently on the right side of the search results page when people search for your business by name. On the other hand, the Knowledge Panel has features that give consumers the ability to shape the narrative about your business. With Google Q&A and GMB Reviews, Google is giving consumers more control over your brand’s online reputation.
Explaining Google Q&A, GMB Reviews, and Google Posts
Consumers can ask questions and provide answers on Google Q&A. They can write online reviews and post photos of your business using GMB Reviews. Business can post updates and events on the Knowledge Panel using Google Posts. All of this content appears on the Knowledge Panel – the first thing people see when searching for your business.
Google Q&A displays crowdsourced questions and answers in the Knowledge Panel along with your business information. People can ask things like, “does this restaurant have WiFi?” or “is this store open on Sundays?” Answers are then provided by either the business owner or other consumers. In addition to affecting public perception of your business, Google Q&A can actually impact your SEO ranking. It’s been shown that Google crawls these questions and answers for keywords when determining where your business ranks in search results.
There is a way to gain more control over your business’ narrative on Google Q&A: prepopulate questions and answers before the public can fill in that information for you. Compile a list of questions customers usually ask about your business and fill your Google Q&A section with the questions and corresponding answers.
Additionally, business owners should make sure all team members are aware of Google Q&A and empowered to answer new questions when they appear. The person in charge of your business’ GMB account will receive an email notification when a new question appears on Google Q&A, but every other member of the team will have to manually check the Knowledge Panel for new questions.
As for GMB Reviews, the best strategy is to respond to every review. These reviews populate at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel where they’ll be accompanied by any responses that you provide. Research has shown that 89 percent of customers express a willingness to change a negative review depending on how the business responds, which is why review response is such a critical aspect of improving your business’ online reputation. Having a negative review on your Knowledge Panel isn’t the end of the world – in fact, it’s an opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer into a brand ambassador.
Turning a negative review into a positive review can raise your star rating, which is an important factor for consumers. The aforementioned research shows that 68% of consumers want 3.5 stars or more before considering a business, and 52% said at least 4 stars.
Google Q&A and GMB Reviews give consumers the ability to submit content about your business, but there is one more Knowledge Panel feature that provides businesses with the ability to post their own content.
Google Posts are messages that businesses can post on their Knowledge Panel in order to promote a special offer, an event, a new product or anything else that might catch customers’ attention. Posts – which can include pictures and videos – appear on your Knowledge Panel for a week before being archived. After a week, the posts will still be visible but they won’t be promoted right there on your Knowledge Panel. If you post about an upcoming event, the Post will stay on your Knowledge Panel until the event happens.
The Knowledge Panel is part of Google’s effort to control more of the online ecosystem. The more information Google can provide to consumers, the more time consumers will spend on Google. The ultimate goal of including these additional features for Google is to serve as the one-stop-shop for all online consumers. Searches inevitably begin on Google, and as a company, Google is hoping to create enough features and content for the consumer to never click off of Google.
Google Posts represent another way that you can use the Knowledge Panel to get your business information in front of consumers before they ever reach your website.
How can my business appear in the Knowledge Panel?
There is no single factor that determines whether or not a business gets a Google Knowledge Panel, and Google is notorious for keeping its algorithms secret. However, this quote from the Google support page highlights a few factors that business owners should consider:
“Like search results, whether or not a business’s information will appear in the knowledge panel is determined by a variety of factors. Relevance, distance, and the prominence of the business all contribute to its standing in local search results.”
Takeaways about the Google Knowledge Panel
While Google doesn’t tell businesses how exactly to earn a Knowledge Panel, there are a few steps you can take that should increase your chances of getting one. First, you’re going to want to claim and update your business pages on the various sites that Google pulls information from such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, and so on.
Additionally, you should fill your business’ Google My Business page with up to date information about your business hours, your address, phone number, relevant links, and photos of the interior and exterior of your business.
The Google Knowledge Panel represents your business’ first impression when someone is searching for you. By keeping the information up to date and accurate, you can ensure that consumers are able to find your business quickly and easily. It’s equally important to respond to user-submitted questions and reviews to protect your business’ online reputation – especially in a visible, customer-facing environment like the Google search results page.