If it isn’t already, the Google knowledge panel should be an important part of your online presence and marketing strategy. We’re here to tell you why that is, and how to get the most from this feature.
In this post you’ll find:
– What is the knowledge panel?
– Why is it important?
– Does the panel always pop up?
– Am I in control?
– If Google’s watching, there can’t be problems, right?
– How do I claim the knowledge panel and prevent problems?
– Once I’ve claimed the panel, can I change whatever I want?
– Where does the information in the panel come from?
– Do I want my social profiles included in the knowledge panel?
– Is the knowledge panel the same thing as Google My Business?
What is the knowledge panel?
The knowledge panel is the official name for the information panel that dominates the right hand side of the screen of Google’s search results. They appear for companies and for individuals.
Why is it important?
Anything that gives you more real estate on Google’s first page is valuable. In the case of the knowledge panel, potential clients immediately have access to basic facts about your company, as well as the ability to check out your social profiles and see what thought leadership and humorous memes you’ve been sharing.
In other words, the panel helps drive awareness, which can help drive business growth.
Does the panel always pop up?
Usually, yes. You might also see this “See results about”:
After selecting one of the options, you’ll see the corresponding knowledge panel:
Am I in control?
Fair question. If the panel is about you or your company, you should get to decide what information is displayed, right?
The answer is sort of yes, and sort of no. You see, Google pulls information from around the internet to populate the panel. Most commonly, information is pulled from Wikipedia, however, it can also be pulled from LinkedIn, Forbes, or other sites. The good news is that you do have some measure of control over what information is appearing on those sites.
So, if you don’t like the company blurb that is appearing in the Knowledge Panel, see where it’s from, and then determine if you can edit the source. You can also leave Google Feedback (see the bottom right of the panel), and let the search engine know that something is wrong. You have to be patient here though. It can take quite a while for Google to take action.
If Google’s watching, there can’t be problems, right?
Wrong. Google isn’t monitoring your panel, it’s simply using its vast AI-brain to decide what to show people. It’s absolutely possible for someone to manipulate the system and cause big problems for your company.
One of our clients had a malicious user claim the company’s panel. This person then added a slanderous website to the panel in place of the company’s actual website. It took a long time to work with Google to straighten the problem out. In the meantime, that false website was right there, front and center, every time someone searched for the company.
How do I claim the knowledge panel and prevent problems?
In addition to preventing problems, claiming the panel gives you more authority to request changes. Here’s how you do it:
1. You have to use a GSuite account to claim the panel, and you want to be very careful which account you use. It is not easy to change accounts and you don’t want to be locked out if someone leaves your company. We recommend using a generic account, something like info@ or support@. If you are claiming a personal knowledge panel and want to be the only one in charge of it, you could use a personal account.
2. Google the company or person you want to claim. When the knowledge panel appears, there will be a button at the bottom that says “Claim this knowledge panel.” Click it.
3. Now, you’ll see this screen. Click “Get Verified.”
4. To verify that you own the knowledge panel, you’ll have to sign into an official site/profile that Google has associated with the panel. More often than not, this is going to be Google Search Console.
5. Now, if you haven’t already claimed your Search Console, you’ll need to do that. We recommend first asking around your company to find out if anyone has claimed the Console – oftentimes, someone from the web development team will have done so, or perhaps someone on the SEO side. If no one has claimed it, you can do so yourself by going through Google Analytics. You’ll need to have account edit access to claim the Console.
(If you’re thinking at this point that this all sounds complicated, you’re correct. Google does this on purpose to make it hard for malicious users to claim knowledge panels.)
6. Okay, once you’ve verified that you represent the company or person behind the knowledge panel, a form will pop up. To fill out the form, you’ll need:
- Edit access to 2-5 official profiles for the company or person you are trying to claim. These can be social profiles, a website, or listings. You must provide screenshots showing that you are logged into these profiles.
- If claiming a business, you’ll also need to upload a document that verifies a business association: a certificate of incorporation with your name on it, a partnership agreement with your name on it, an employment agreement with your name on it, or a social media partnership agreement with your name.
- Finally, you’ll need to have a selfie of you holding a government issued ID.
7. Fill out the form and submit!
8. Be patient. Expect it to take 2-4 weeks for Google to review the claim and either verify or reject your submission. If you haven’t heard anything in 4 weeks, you might need to reach out to support or re-try the process.
Once I’ve claimed the panel, can I change whatever I want?
You can’t change whatever you want, but the panel isn’t static. So, to address some frequently asked questions:
- Can I add a new field like “Founding Member Organizations”?
- Maybe. You can sometimes encourage Google to pull in new information from Wikipedia or Wikidata, but it can be tricky to get an entirely custom field.
- Can I change the short description directly under my company’s name? (For example, Water.org is identified as a nonprofit.)
- This field isn’t likely to be changed through the usual feedback process. However, you can influence it by the information you add to other sources, like Wikipedia.
- Can I remove the “People also search for” list?
- Unfortunately, no. We know this is generally a list of your competitors, but focus instead on how to influence the parts of the panel that you can change, and, in general, how to claim as much real estate on Google as possible (for example, through a Wikipedia page).
- If I’ve claimed my panel, does that give me more authority to request changes?
- Yes! Any requests you make come from a position of authority. Google is more likely to make the changes and to make them more quickly.
Where does the information in the panel come from?
Frequently it comes from Wikipedia. If Google can’t find it in Wikipedia, it will look elsewhere – LinkedIn, Forbes, Crunchbase, etc.
To make it as easy as possible for Google, you should also optimize the structured data on your website and make sure you have public social media accounts. For a knowledge panel for a CEO or Founder, in addition to having a personal Wikipedia page, it can help to have information on the company’s Wikipedia page, as well as a standalone bio with structured data on the company website.
Do I want my social profiles included in the knowledge panel?
Social profiles don’t typically show up on the first page of Google, so including them in your knowledge panel is a great way to get them in front of your target audience.
If your profiles aren’t currently in your panel, you can request they be added after you claim it. All you need to do is click feedback – general feedback – other. It will help if you can give Google the URLs of the social profiles.
You should also make sure that all your profiles have the same main name as your business and knowledge panel. For example, if the panel and your main website say “Do Good Inc.,” your social profiles should also say that, rather than saying “Do Good” or “Do Good Incorporated.” This helps Google match the profiles to your company.
Is the knowledge panel the same thing as Google My Business?
Nope, these two are separate. Google My Business will show up for local audiences, while the knowledge panel will appear no matter where the searcher is based.
We do also recommend Google My Business though for SEO!
That wraps us up. You now have what you need to claim and edit your knowledge panel, and take over your slice of Google. If you have more questions about the knowledge panel, SEO, Wikipedia, or anything related to marketing, we are always ready to help.