Is the Google Knowledge Graph an encyclopedia

Knowledge graph

Knowledge Graph: Brief explanation

The term knowledge graph is initially understood in a very general way as a system that searches for information and links it with one another. As a rule, however, the term “Knowledge Graph” means the implementation of such a system at Google. The Internet giant has chosen a name that is as simple as it is apt: Google Knowledge Graph. With the help of Google's Knowledge Graph, additional information on the relevant query is displayed in addition to the search results. In this way, Google can provide the user with information appropriate to their query. He doesn't have to visit another website to get an answer to his question.

Detailed explanation

Google introduced the Knowledge Graph in 2012 - initially in May on the American website, from December 2012 it was also available on Google's German website. With the Google update “Hummingbird” from 2013, the functions of the Knowledge Graph were expanded again, but the basic principle remained unchanged. The aim of the introduction was to give the user an opportunity to quickly find information on a specific topic without having to click through the search results. To do this, the Knowledge Graph uses a so-called "Knowledge Base". This is a database in which the information is not simply stored on one level, but is linked to one another on several levels via references. In many cases, Google uses content from Wikipedia, but company pages and its own data also flow into the Knowledge Graph.

In this way, Google can offer the user a wide range of information that either contains what they are looking for directly or simplifies the search for it. However, the knowledge graph also has its limits, as it does not provide data on every topic. His strengths are shown in search queries about well-known personalities and companies, and he can often provide answers to simple questions entered in the search field. The Knowledge Graph can also help with general search terms, but here it is limited to known, simple or clearly defined terms. If you search for “Leo” or “Cairo” on Google, for example, the Knowledge Graph will provide additional information. If, on the other hand, you want to know more about the “tax laws in Germany”, that exceeds the possibilities of the search engine helper and you have to rely on the regular search results.


Google SERP with Knowledge Graph for search term "Leo"

How is the Knowledge Graph structured?

In order to be able to use the Knowledge Graph specifically for SEO or for optimization in the context of online marketing, one must first of all know how it is structured and how it works. It basically consists of three areas:

  • the answer box
  • the knowledge panel
  • the carousel

The answer box appears above the SERPs, but only if Google can provide the answer to a specific question. In response to the question “How high is the Eiffel Tower?”, For example, after just a second or two you will find out that the Parisian landmark is 300 meters into the sky. Even for more complex questions, such as “How do I change a car tire?”, Google has step-by-step instructions that make further clicks on the search results superfluous. The search engine is only overwhelmed when it comes to a really complex topic, such as how to fill out your tax return. This fact is also important from an SEO and marketing point of view.

The knowledge panel is the "heart" of the graph, because here - in a compact summary - information about the term you are looking for appears. Regardless of whether you search for “IBM”, “Bombay” or “Wilhelm Tell”, Google can help with almost any topic. The internet giant owes this not least to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, whose data Google accesses a lot - and this fact is also important for SEO and online marketing. The specific information that appears in the knowledge panel depends on the search queries on the topic. Google evaluates the inputs that are made with the respective search term and compiles a balanced mixture of information from it. The goal that Google is pursuing with the Knowledge Graph also becomes clear here: The user should receive information on frequently searched terms quickly and easily. However, Google does not want - as many feared when the Knowledge Graph was introduced - to dig up the traffic from an information website such as Wikipedia.
The carousel is a part of the Knowledge Graph that does not appear immediately with search results. Instead, you can click on one of the links under the answer box or in the Knowledge Panel under the heading "Is searched often" to get to the carousel. A series of images then appears above the SERPs that refer to related topics. When asked about the height of the Eiffel Tower, for example, you will find the Empire State Building, Big Ben, the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre in the carousel - well-known landmarks of other cities as well as other sights in Paris. With the carousel, Google wants to offer further information if you have not found the information you are looking for in the answer box or in the knowledge panel. With a click on one of the images in the carousel, a corresponding query is automatically started with Google, so that you receive matching search results on the topic and a new knowledge panel.

The Knowledge Graph and SEO

At first glance, the knowledge graph seems rather annoying from an SEO and marketing point of view, because instead of clicking on the search results, the user gets the information directly from Google - he no longer ends up on a company's website.

This is true to a certain extent, but there is still no reason to throw the SEO gun in the towel. On the one hand, it is controversial among experts whether relevant traffic is lost through the knowledge graph. If you just want to know how old George Clooney is or where howler monkeys live, in most cases you will only get the information you need and then you will be gone. On the other hand, companies in particular can influence which information about their brands and products appears in the Knowledge Graph. Google often uses Wikipedia and the company's website for the graph - and the company can influence which topics are dealt with in which way on both sides. Of course, there is no point in writing a wild fantasy story about the company's social commitment on Wikipedia, because it would be corrected by the other users in a very short time. However, the image of a company can certainly be enhanced by making gentle adjustments and using the right wording. If the data is presented in a well-structured manner on one's own site, the probability increases that it will actually flow into the results of the Knowledge Graph, because it relies on structured data. Corresponding optimization is therefore worthwhile.

In addition, the Knowledge Graph offers companies the opportunity to distinguish themselves through content. Since very simple queries now often run directly via Google, you shouldn't try to counter this with countless SEO and marketing measures. Instead, this field is largely left to Google and concentrates on gaining users and thus perhaps customers through high-quality content.


The Google Knowledge Graph is a practical aid for many users to quickly get information on simple queries. As a result, a website can certainly lose traffic, but with the right measures you can take countermeasures. Well-structured data on your own website help to positively influence the information in the knowledge graph, and the lost traffic can at least partially be compensated for using high-quality content with additional information.


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