Geek Alert: Does PR Have a Place in Google’s New Knowledge Graphic Search Tool?
A colleague forwarded me a very geeked out article about Google’s new knowledge graphic and thought we could discuss the PR and social media implications about it. You are entering a geek zone – put on your pocket protectors!
First, some justification. I know most PR and advertising (and, frankly, most social media) folks are not hip deep in SEO (search engine optimization), their website analytics, or their company’s PPC (pay per click paid search) campaigns. I personally think it would serve you if you did understand it better, but I certainly understand why you do not. First off, it’s hard and second, there are plenty of other things to do than that – I get it.
However, most PR and advertising professionals I know are extremely good at riding a popular wave, finding relevance to your brand’s story with the popular culture or a today hook. I am often incredibly impressed at how seamlessly some are able to tell a compelling story by connecting dots. I really admire it.
That ability – to connect the dots of modern culture with a brand – that’s why, in particular, I think this new development is something you might care about.
What’s a Knowledge Graph?
Here’s the skinny – Google has begun rolling out knowledge graphs to accompany search. The short of it, in the future when someone searches for keywords – like “PR Firm New York” – they will be given the typical search results as before but will also get a panel to the right of supplemental and theoretically helpful information.
That information will be stuff that Google has made their best guess you might be wanting to know, based on a years of semantic search analysis. What that means is they have data that shows them what most people also search for when they put in specific terms. They know that if you search for a university, you might want to also know about student loans and grants. They also know that you might want to learn about community colleges or trade schools, or the available apartments for rent in that university city. It’s what people actually do, not what you want them to do, which will help drive those results.
*Hint* Social media is custom made to have this conversation with your customers – to know what they want rather than what you want them to want. Are you using it that way?
Wikipedia results are an example. If you searched for Colorado River you might be given some facts like where that river’s head is, how long it is, if it’s good for salmon or trout fishing…you get the idea.
Google hasn’t completely revealed exactly how they will pick which facts and which websites will be linked there, but they will make that decision. The question from a PR and advertising point of view is – does your company have any relevant content on their web properties to leverage this huge shift in search results delivery?
3.5 Billion Facts About 500 Million Objects
Google estimates they have data-based 3.5 billion facts about 500 million objects. That’s a huge universe, isn’t it? If your brand hasn’t had a focused content strategy, you likely have a very very small percentage of that data base. The amount of information about your company, what you do, and why you do it is likely missing. Bummer.
However, if you have been providing fact-based (rather than hyped out spin) content on a regular basis that is relevant to solving specific people’s specific problems rather than trying to close them on a sale, you have a better outlook. Can anyone spell niche?
What Can We Do About This?
Basically, rather than being focused only on particular high traffic focused keywords (you’ve done this with online PR releases, I’m sure), here’s what will happen. Knowledge panels will “allow Google to move toward a new way of searching – not for pages that match query terms but for entities or concepts that the words describe.”
Think of the universe surrounding the starting point of a search rather than just the entry doorway.
The question then, is have you done enough to understand the universe surrounding your customer? Do you know what they were asking before they found you? Do you know where they intended to go after they found you? Most marketing people do not and they should – more correctly said, the marketing people (the greater umbrella of all of us – PR, sales, advertising, and more) who DO know this stuff will win. If that’s not you, fix it.
This is a very complex subject, new and quickly evolving, but here’s the 411.
All PR, sales, advertising, marketing and social media professionals will be impacted by this. Whether or not your PR releases will show up online will impact you. Whether or not your company will be in the favored box of relevant results on the knowledge panel will impact you. Whether or not your company shows up at the right time, right place (or if your competitor does) will impact you.Whether or not a simple PR release showing up in Top 10 results can compete against an entire box of information that sparkles and satisfies more than what you offer will impact you.
Time to Learn Something New (Like NOW)
These panels are specifically designed to increase search time and improve delivery of relevant results to search users. If you are leaning on the average way of doing things – expecting that PR releases and announcements will somehow be enough to catch eyeballs, you are going to lose. It’s time to go read that article, find a way to drive a relevant and specific content strategy in conjunction with campaigns, and frankly, get a bunch more interesting and worth paying attention to.
A big sparkly object that looks a whole lot like a squirrel just showed up in your front yard and it is planning to distract people who have, up until now, been paying attention to you and your content. Before all your acorns get munched, go now – read and understand this information!
Consider yourself forewarned.
Til next time!
Vicki @Smartwoman Flaugher