The Google Knowledge Graph is going for Gold!

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  • August 1, 2012
Georgia Halston

Georgia Halston

Social Media Strategist

An Olympian Effort into User Friendly SERP User Interface (UI)

Since its launch in May of this year it seems the much-anticipated Google Knowledge Graph tool has been sneakily seeping into our SERPs at a much slower pace than first forecast. The aim for the Knowledge Graph was to allow for a decreased search time for users. An amalgamation of images and information from across the web would appear on the right hand side of the SERPs allowing searchers to access rudimentary information without entering other websites.

Saying that, it seems the Knowledge Graph for now (at least in the UK, the US have had a much more sudden increase) has been reserved only for the privileged elite, mainly brands.

A comparison of the same search term, ‘Michelangelo’ in google.co.uk and google.com can be seen below.

Searching for 'Michelangelo' in google.co.uk

Searching for ‘Michelangelo’ in google.co.uk

Searching for 'Michelangelo' in google.com

Searching for ‘Michelangelo’ in google.com

A UK search for anything to do with the Olympics on the other hand produces a completely different result altogether. The Knowledge Graph seems to come to life like never before and while brands in the UK can enjoy perhaps a couple of sentences of a brand bio, the Olympics enjoys a myriad of information panels.

The Knowledge Graph output panel has blessed any Olympic related search term with its own fully self-contained navigation within the SERPs.

The UI represents information from the Wikipedia description of the event, options to visit the official site or watch the events online. Three of Europe’s biggest sports networks are selectable for your viewing pleasure, but the same cannot be said for a US search – the Knowledge Graph does not present a single ‘Watch Online’ option.

Olympic search features

Other features, depending on your search, within the special Olympic Knowledge Graph interface, include: medal counts, a comprehensive schedule of events and, of course, the most recent updates on Google+.

Other features include a medal count

It is worth noting that both long tail search terms such as, ‘men’s 200m Olympics’ and core search terms such as the word ‘diving’ all produce their own bespoke version of the information panel. Perhaps even more interestingly, Google have made the effort to tailor an output panel for each county to react to a UK search of that country and any variation of an Olympic search term. There must be a multitude of individual information panels across the board.

Google output panels

Google really has gone all out with its efforts for the Olympics, removing most of the reasons for searchers to view the official page at all. In terms of SERPs space, Google’s collated content now takes up 50% of the page taking up valuable advertising space.

Our initial account of the Knowledge Graph produced two predictions as to how Google would benefit from the Knowledge Graph as a whole and it seems these predictions ring true for the Olympic efforts from the search engine:

Firstly, our forecast on the Knowledge Graph aiding Google in its effort to become a fully-fledged digital version of the human brain has been further entrenched by its saturation of Olympic-related content. This is a fairly shrewd course of action for Google, as competitors, at least in the field of social media, have also been conducting labours into the notion of the, ‘walled garden’. For example, Facebook has made it very easy for users to engage with applications such as Pinterest but stay confined to the Facebook platform. In the same sense, Google users, with the help of their fully integrated Knowledge Graph interface, users will never have to leave the Kingdom of Google for the information they seek.

The second prediction as speculated in our previous article about Google’s Knowledge Graph is that the right hand SERPs fundamentally pushes the use of Google’s own social platform.

Larry Page said at the start of 2012 Google+ had grown to 90 million users. Now, half way through the year, we have seen the number of users grow, as of June 2012, to 150 million users worldwide. The amount of influence the Knowledge Graph itself has had on the growth is debatable.

The inclusion of the ‘latest post on Google+’ feature on the Olympic UI was inevitable but perhaps Google should be putting more effort into the amount of coverage loyal Google+ users receive on their SERPs. For example, massive hitters on the Google+ front such as Cadbury receive minimal content and information about its brand within the Knowledge Graph panel and what little coverage they do receive only appears as a result of a core search, ‘Cadbury’. Longtail searches such as ‘Cadbury Chocolate’ yield no result in terms of Knowledge Graph coverage.

Google search for 'Cadbury'

The previously explained reasons for such a titanic effort into the Knowledge Graph for the Olympics may be valid but further speculations have come to light.

Perhaps the Olympic Knowledge Graph panel is a method of training UK searchers in the use of their integrated panel. We have been drip-fed glimpses of the Knowledge Graph interface for the last three months and the Olympic search term is the perfect place to start in terms of educating the UK as to its potential.

The Olympic search term will also provide Google with a vast and varied data set as to how people in the UK interact and engage with the Knowledge Graph interface in terms of features and functionality.

Could the Olympic search term simply be a guinea pig for rolling out a UK version of the Knowledge Graph interface?

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