There's one piece of news that you'll find on almost every blog this morning: Google is launching a major update to its core search product. The search engine company calls it the "Knowledge Graph" and in short it will make 3 things easier for users:
1. Find the right things
U.S. English users are the first to see a new structured information box on the right sidebar of the main search page. The above image shows how that looks when searching for "Taj Mahal". As Google explains:
Language can be ambiguous—do you mean Taj Mahal the monument, or Taj Mahal the musician? Now Google understands the difference, and can narrow your search results just to the one you mean—just click on one of the links to see that particular slice of results.
2. Get the best summary
For well documented things - say an artist or public figure- Google will show you a rich executive summary right there in that "knowledge box". Google mainly draws that data from Wikipedia or it's own Knowledge Graph database (a huge database filled with information what people search for).
3. Make unexpected discoveries
By showing "what people also search for" as well as highlighting interesting facts and connections, Google will help users to make unexpected discoveries. This is probably going to be the most interesting feature for many users, as unexpected exploring has become somewhat difficult on today's web.
So, here's the big question: What does it mean for brands?
Many brands and organizations have spent a lot of time and money to optimize their websites & landing pages for best possible rankings on Google's search site. It is of course too early to tell, here's a couple of questions and thoughts I had after reading the Knowledge Graph Announcement:
1. How will Google decide "what's the right product", when many brands offer the same?
Will Google launch this for product, commerce & action oriented queries like "Buy cheap Airline Tickets"? And if so, how will it decide what's the right product for me? If Google shows me options based on what other people search for (and klick on), this will likely lead to the big brands getting bigger and bigger. What about new players to the market?
2. Are Wikipedia entries becoming the most important SEO tactic for brands?
If Google also starts to draw rich brand summaries from Wikipedia, I'm pretty sure we're going to see many brands and their PR Agencies trying to find ways to optimize Wikipedia entries. This could give Phil Gomez's initiative - Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement - a big boost.
3. Will there be a link between the Knowledge Graph and AdWords?
The one thing that stroke me when looking at the screenshots in Google's Annoucement: Where are the AdWords?
Let's just look at the Taj Mahal example. It could be that I'm planning a trip to the this beautiful building. So besides just showing me factual information about the building - will Google start to display action oriented infos like: Flight Tickets to Taj Mahal, Hotels near Taj Mahal? If so, how will Google chose what e-ecommerce links to display? That's where AdWords would have to come back into play. It's gonna be highly interesting to see how Google tries to apply the Knowledge Graph to e-commerce related queries, after all that's how Google makes its money.
As said before, it is still too early to have the right answers, but I'll keep my eyes open for more commentary on what the Knowledge Graph means to Brands, Public Relations and E-Commerce.