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The Google Knowledge Graph has become increasingly prominent in Google search results over the past few years, which has had major impacts to both the SEO and PPC success of many businesses around the world.

If you have not heard of the Google Knowledge Graph then chances are you have seen it in Google’s search results. The Google Knowledge Graph is an information panel that sits on the right-hand-side of the organic search results above the PPC advertising results and displays a variety of information about the people, places or things (entities) being searched for.

Since the Google Knowledge Graph is so prominent in the search results, it must form a vital part of any SEM strategy as it both impacts the performance of the SEO and the PPC search results under brand terms for all businesses. The days of basing your SEM strategy on keywords and backlinks only are over, this article aims to explain how to ensure your business is not left behind.

The information found in Google’s Knowledge Graph results is derived from a variety of sources, with one of the most prominent being Freebase, a large collaborative knowledge base of structured data, which was acquired by Google in 2010. Freebase is similar to a wiki in many respects however the information is in a machine-readable format rather than a text format. Google utilises other public data sources such as Wikipedia and CIA World Factbook as well as its very own social network, Google+. Google augments these information databases with meta-data, such as microformats, found within the HTML of the various sites crawled on a regular basis for rich snippets of information, such as physical business addresses, photos and reviews just to name a few.

Google has thorough and comprehensive methods of determining the accuracy of the data displayed in their knowledge graphs, utilising the factors of provenance, external structured data, aforementioned data sources and search behaviour. Provenance is essentially about the verification process to determine the credibility of the original source of the data. For instance a Google+ account is required to sign into Freebase in order to upload information into the database, which provides a base level of provenance verification.

External structured data essentially refers to the information about the business marked up to be understood by Google’s web crawlers. This includes the use of microformats and microdata to communicate vital information about the business, product, person or review that is contained within the web page being marked up. There are a variety of tools to help businesses mark up their websites with this information such as Google’s Structured Data Mark-up Helper and Schema.org.

Google determines which data to show within the Google Knowledge Graph through the analysis of search queries. Tools such as Google Trends and Google autosuggest feature can work as a guide as to which long tail search terms Google may be using for this step in the process.

Google Knowledge Graphs are fast becoming fundamental to the brand search term aspects of both SEO and PPC strategies and therefore must be a priority for all commercial websites.