How to Build Your Business’s Local Knowledge Graph

Have you ever searched for a business on Google and been presented with a collection of company details right on the search engine results page? This is known as a local Knowledge Graph panel, and many business owners have questions about these highly visible organic search results. Where does Google get their information, and what can you do to enrich or correct it? Let’s take a moment to dissect the local Knowledge Graph placement for a small business so we can better understand what can be changed, how to suggest edits, and where business owners have little to no control over what’s presented.

10 Elements of a Local Knowledge Graph Result

Google collects business data from many sources. It should come as no surprise that one of those places is Google My Business, the company’s very own digital tool for business owners. Anyone can create a listing for free, and it’s well worth your time to learn the ins-and-outs of Google My Business. The appearance of a local Knowledge Graph result is largely dependent on how much information Google can find about a business, and you should make that search as easy as possible by maintaining a listing with them. Creating a Google My Business profile can also help get your establishment listed on Google Maps. Google has designed their tool to be user-friendly, so you may be able to handle these updates on your own. There is a simple verification process to make sure you actually own the business.

However, this is not the only place Google looks for business information. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll break down 10 common elements of a comprehensive local Knowledge Graph placement:

  1. Photos: The internet is awash in photos, and images of your business may come from customers’ blogs, media coverage, your website, or pictures you’ve uploaded to Google My Business.
  2. Business name: There are many places where Google may learn your business’s name, including your website, online directories like D&B Hoovers, or your Google My Business page. Make sure that you always refer to your business the way it’s advertised on the front door: Google may not understand that listings with slightly different names are about the same company.
  3. Intro copy: This is usually a brief business description, such as “Fast-casual diner serving hot dogs, burgers, and other classic American cuisine.” When it comes to small businesses, Google will usually pull this text from a company’s Google My Business page. Business owners who have claimed their listing are able to enter a preferred description, though Google isn’t obligated to display it. In the case of larger businesses, this text may be sourced from the company’s Wikipedia page. However, it can be difficult for small businesses to convince Wikipedia’s volunteer editors that they’re notable enough for an entry.
  4. Phone number, business address, and hours of operation: Google My Business is the search engine’s primary resource for these critical details. Business owners can enter their preferred phone number, address, and hours within the listing.
  5. Questions & answers: Searchers who are signed in to their Google accounts can submit questions directly from the local Knowledge Graph result. These queries can be answered by other users, including the business owner (be sure to answer when logged into your Google My Business account so readers know it’s an official response).
  6. Reviews from the web: Google knows that people are interested in reading customer reviews. While it has its own review function (more about that in a moment), Google also sources responses from websites like Groupon or Zagat. Business owners cannot control which websites are displayed in this section. If there are unfavorable results, you’ll need to devote some attention to your profiles on those websites.
  7. Popular times: This chart estimates how busy a business is throughout the day. How does Google know what’s going on inside your store or restaurant? It aggregates data from people who have opted-in to Google Location Tracking on their mobile devices. In fact, some local Knowledge Graph placements will even show real-time details, including wait times. It’s all a function of how many data points (i.e., visitors with tracking enabled) are available to Google at a given time. Business owners do not have any way to edit this information.
  8. Reviews: A crowd-sourced feature that allows Google users to submit their reviews. While business owners can respond, you cannot edit customer reviews. You can flag contributions that you feel are inappropriate, but the final decision rests with Google.
  9. Social profiles: Links to a business’ social profiles are often shown at the bottom of the local Knowledge Graph placement. It can be very valuable to have your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages highlighted here, as customers can then easily connect with you. One of the most effective ways to bring your social media presence to Google’s attention is by including schema markup on your website. This tells Google where your official social profiles live, and can actually be used to communicate a variety of information to the search engines through your code. A web developer can help get this code added to your site.
  10. People also search for: You may see links to nearby businesses or competitors at the bottom of your local Knowledge Graph placement. Google displays this information based upon user behavior, and there’s nothing you can do to change what’s shown here.

What if My Business Doesn’t Have a Local Knowledge Graph Placement?

Start by creating or claiming your Google My Business listing. Next, make sure your own website has the proper details listed, like business name, address, and phone number (or “NAP,” in digital-speak). You can also consider hiring a web developer or search engine optimization professional to help you with the technical details. It can be stressful trying to put your best foot forward online, but an investment of time and effort can pay off if your local Knowledge Graph placement gets customers in the door.

To learn more about how to use search to promote your business, visit our SEO Essentials section.

Photo Credit: Haru1, Twenty20