This free Google tool is indispensable for every PR pro
Digital tactics can be intimidating, but there is one essential tool from Google that every PR professional should be familiar with. It generates that amazing sidebar on the right side of a Google search when using a desktop (above), and the top of a Google search on mobile.
It’s called the knowledge panel.
An easily managed asset, knowledge panels are essential to branding and reputation management. It’s also an essential tool for SEO that impacts traditional, local and voice search.
A business’s knowledge panel shows contact information, hours of operation, customer reviews, a logo, photos, social media profiles and a website URL. These details are also fed into Google Maps and other Google products.
A knowledge panel has a few bonus features of particular interest to PR pros that many are unaware of: the ability to share short snippets or summaries of blog posts that link over to the full post, microblog short pieces of original content, publish upcoming events and show special discount offers.
Intended for fresh content that is changed frequently, these specific three areas (blogs, events and offers) appear for a short period of time on the panel, and are managed through the “Google Posts” feature in Google My Business.
Knowledge panels aren’t only useful for a business, but they can be used for other things, too:
- books and movies
- landmarks and places
- celebrities, authors and other “important” people,
- music albums
- and more
In this article, we’re only addressing knowledge panels for a business that are easily managed in Google My Business using beginner skills.
If you’re a geek like me, it might interest you to know that knowledge panels are created by Google’s Knowledge Graph Search API. Knowledge graph and knowledge panel may be used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. The knowledge graph software generates results that show up in the knowledge panel.
Besides a business or corporate knowledge panel, most other types are managed using schema code on a website, which is an advanced skill more common to website developers and SEO professionals. If beginner schema and rich snippets interest you, however, the Yoast SEO plugin offers a basic ability. This resource is also helpful.)
Let’s take a closer look.
This video from Google is from the 2016 launch of knowledge graph, but it does a nice job explaining the idea.
Examples of knowledge panels
Depending on whether the panel is for a person, place or thing, the information included in a knowledge panel can vary. It also looks different on a desktop versus mobile.
Here’s an example of the celebrity knowledge panel that comes up on a search for “Jennifer Lopez.”
You probably noticed the type of device used for a Google search impacted how the knowledge panel appears. The information presented is the same, but the format shuffles to fit the device.
When you compare the results on a desktop search to the same search on a mobile device, the mobile-friendly version includes changes appropriate for the device, such as a one-touch call button instead of a phone number, and tabs to maximize space on a small screen.
If you have time, do a quick search on your laptop and mobile device for the same company, and compare how the knowledge panel is presented differently on each one. This will give you a better understanding of how it works.
Changes are also triggered by the type of panel. An author’s results will be different than a celebrity, actor or musician knowledge panel, just like the panel for a book will be different than a movie, and a public company will be different than a private or local business.
Let’s look at the knowledge panel of a business (below), since this is the most common knowledge panel that a PR pro will manage. You’ll notice the information presented in the panel is slightly different from the celebrity example shown above.
When we compare the small business above with a public company (below), the knowledge panel changes again. It includes stock information, CEO and founder information, and an ability to add products.
Let’s use Microsoft® as an example.
When I click on the first product listed in Microsoft’s knowledge panel, it opens a Google search for that product… which includes its own knowledge panel.
The buttons and information presented also change from what is on the corporate knowledge panel to be more appropriate for a product, including a link to stores that sell the product, pricing (pulled in from Google Shopping), and editorial product reviews.
How to claim, create and edit a knowledge panel
I know what you’re thinking now… “Okay, Carrie. It sounds amazing. So how do I do this?”
For a business, there are two approaches: you can claim ownership of an existing knowledge panel, which is then edited and managed using Google My Business, or you can create a new one from within Google My Business.
Even if you’re considering this for a startup business, don’t assume a knowledge panel doesn’t already exist, since they can be automatically generated by Google. See if it comes up with a Google search for the business. If it does and it has not been claimed, the bottom of the knowledge panel includes a link to start the process of claiming it.
CLAIMING A KNOWLEDGE PANEL ON DESKTOP:
CLAIMING A KNOWLEDGE PANEL ON MOBILE:
If a search for your business does not bring up a knowledge panel in the search results, you’ll need to create a Google My Business listing for that business, and go through the verification process.
This resource from Google will help you add or claim your business.
If you find an existing knowledge panel but the link to claim it does not appear, that knowledge panel has already been claimed. If you can’t figure out who claimed it or how it’s handled internally, this Google troubleshooting can help you figure it out.
I have one last quick thought to share: do not create a duplicate knowledge panel, since it can cause problems with driving directions, SEO and other areas. It’s better to jump through any necessary hoops to reclaim ownership, or figure out the correct person at the organization to work with. Like other Google products, multiple people can share admin rights on Google My Business. If someone has claimed it, asking them to add you to the existing account can be a quicker way to gain access.