Google+ and the Knowledge Graph – Applied to the Top Brands of 2012

The Google Knowledge Graph is a relatively new addition to Google’s SERPs that aims to provide searchers with a more dynamic experience when searching the Web. The simplest explanation of this feature is that it is an attempt to provide information instead of websites, as it relates to search queries.

When most SEO professionals learned that Google was including a new information set that will occupy valuable SERP real-estate, some of the first questions that came to mind were:

“Where will the information from the knowledge graph come from?”
“Will this information include links to the sources?”
“How can I get information about my clients included?”

 The information that displays in the Knowledge Graph can be as simple as a one line answer to a query, or as complex as a micro-biography about a person or organization. For a while, it seemed that the majority of this information was coming from Wikipedia.

However, recently we have seen a trend where Google+ is showing up as a source for information in the Knowledge Graph. This seemed especially true for search queries involving brands. From a thin analysis, it seemed that brands with a presence on Google+ were more likely to have a modest Knowledge Graph entry than brands that aren’t on Google+. These modest entries typically include a logo and slogan or tagline.

To test this theory, we analyzed the top 100 brands (as defined by Millward Brown’s 2012 BrandZ™ List). We did a single Google search for each brand, using the recognized brand from (i.e. “HP” instead of “Hewlett Packard”). We made note if the search for the brand triggered a Knowledge Graph entry and, if so, the source of that info. We also checked to see if the brand had a Google+ page and if it was verified.

The searches were conducted using the Opera web browser and the private tab feature. The searches were made signed out of any Google accounts. The location and date of the searches was Columbus, OH 43212 on October 3, 2012.

Oh, and the searches happened 766.590 feet above sea level; don’t want to forget that.
(Click the image to view the full list in PDF format.)

Summary and Conclusions

Here are some interesting findings in the data:

  • of the top 100 brands, only 24% triggered a Knowledge Graph entry when searched
  • the information for 92% of those Knowledge Graph entries came from Google+
  • 96% of brands that triggered a Knowledge Graph entry when searched also have a Google+ page
  • 53% of brands with a verified Google+ page had a Knowledge Graph entry show up with their search

Based on this data, there is a good correlation between brands that have a verified Google+ page and those who get a Knowledge Graph entry showing up with their search.

Why is this significant? Unlike Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, or any other data source that might be used to provide an alternative to traditional webpage-retrieval style searches, Google+ allows brands control over what information is being presented.

And this is not only the case with the biggest brands; it impacts smaller, local brands as well. Either way, the message should be clear that brands of any size that are not on Google+ are missing out on a potential opportunity for increased exposure.

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