Digital Insights

How Google is Stealing Your Website Traffic


Published: November 5, 2014

The Knowledge Graph was introduced by Google in May of 2012 with the lofty goal of delivering more relevant and accurate results for search users. This semantic-centered software actually thinks like a human as it identifies and draws a connection between facts about people, places, and things it discovers on the Internet.

That’s the Intention
The reality is that the Knowledge Graph, in many instances, is hijacking the information it uncovers – perhaps directly from your own website – and presenting a condensed version in a prominent box on the results page without even giving you the courtesy of a link back to your site.

How the Knowledge Graph Works
Once the algorithm interprets the meaning behind the search query terms, results that are centered around people, places, or things are displayed either in a box on the right side bar or in a carousel directly below the search query box. Relevant organic results will continue to be displayed in addition to Knowledge Graph results.

At least for the time being, the Knowledge Graph is limited in its ability to return meaningful results for all types of search queries, and results returned are generally for shorter search phrases. The information contained in a typical Knowledge Graph is no more a brief summary of the essential facts, and the users who are satisfied with this sparse content are probably not the conversion-minded searchers you are looking for.

Google knowledge graph is stealing your website traffic

Google Uses Semantic Search to Create the Knowledge Graph
Semantic search is a new way of interpreting a search query that is based on a better understanding of the context in which the search terms are used rather than depending solely on the terms themselves.

Consider a search query for “cheap auto repair in Denver.” Before semantic search, Google might break that phrase down into separate keywords such as “cheap auto repair” and “Denver” and start examining its index for results that include those terms together.

The user might receive a mixed bag of results that includes a repair shop in Denver that repairs autos cheaply, a Denver-based auto parts store with cheap prices, and a bookstore in Denver that sells repair manuals for the do-it-yourselfer looking to perform his or her own auto repairs on the cheap.
Semantic search would determine that the user was looking for information about Denver-based auto repair shops with cheap prices, and deliver results for low-cost auto repair facilities in the Denver area.

Surviving the Knowledge Graph Threat
The Hummingbird algorithm update is all about semantic search, and followed the Knowledge Graph’s introduction by about a year; together they are bringing sweeping changes to the way SEO is done.

  • Optimize your web pages for topics rather than specific keywords. The new Google is looking more for the intent behind the search terms, and less at specific keywords.
  • Long tail terms will usually perform better for semantic search than shorter terms.
  • “Stretch the relevance” of your terms by considering peripheral phrases. As long as at least one of the keywords contained in the phrase has direct relevance to the topic, similar and related words will provide Google with a better idea of the nature of your content and will help drive additional traffic.
  • If your business has a local presence, be sure that your Google+ Local listing is claimed and optimized.
  • If you think your business would benefit from inclusion in Knowledge Graph, be sure that your web pages are tagged using markup.