November 17, 2015

On the Brink: the Problem with Google’s Knowledge Graph


Something happened to me this past weekend, dear readers. I was browsing Reddit and I stumbled across a post that seemed so uniquely targeted to two of my biggest interests, that I felt compelled to share it with you.

It seems that whenever a user Google’s “capital ship,” a Knowledge Graph, or answer box, appears providing you with high-level information about what a capital ship is, along with a picture. The problem is, this picture is not of a real-life capital ship. It’s of a fictional ship from the video game Star Citizen (something I’ve written about before).

Why Does This Matter?

Ummm, I’m sorry, but as I’ve written about before, Star Citizen is the single most crowd-funded project ever, and also looks like an incredibly sweet operatic space adventure game, so you should probably pay attention to it. Did I mention Oculus Rift support? It’s going to have Oculus Rift support.

Aside from that, though, it illustrates an important point: Google can be wrong. The answer boxes provided in SERPs are created with a complex algorithm — not by individuals filling out curated information (with a few notable exceptions).

There Is Tremendous SEO Opportunity for Optimized Images

I suspect that the big reason why this particular SERP is happening is because of the quality of this image’s optimization. Nerds like to copy and paste this image on all sorts of places in the Internet, and it’s heavily optimized for “capital ship.” It also crops up in content associated with the keywords “capital ship,” and Google sees this. After it happening so often, it thinks to itself, “Hey, I bet this image is of a capital ship!” Ipso facto, we have this SERP.

This is good news for you. For whatever reason, image optimization falls to the wayside for optimization, but as SEO becomes more and more about content, and content is becoming more and more visual (see: Pinterest, Instagram, et al.), image optimization should be a high priority for webmasters. Moreover, BECAUSE many webmasters/SEOs forget about or ignore image optimization, there’s probably a good chance that you can get your image content to rank for some of your key terms.

How to Find Your Image Ranking Opportunity 

My advice: look at the SERPs for the keywords that you care about. Are any images popping up? What about knowledge graphs or answer boxes? If so, maybe it’s time you factor what the SERPs actually look like, and make sure that your website has optimized content — both for best practices, and the actual content media itself —  to give you the best chance for ranking.