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How to Hack Your Google Knowledge Panel

By: Brittany Engelmann-- 2017-04-06 6:00 am --

It’s no secret that a successful business needs a presence online. When’s the last time you checked on your Google rank?

More and more potential shoppers are searching first and asking questions later. Some research suggests that as many as 80 percent of consumers start their shopping online, according to SnapRetail, and they say it’s essential to get your search engine welcome mat looking tidy.

Neilsen, a data metrics company famous for TV ratings that also tracks consumer behavior, tweaks their assertion with some category specific data. More than 60 percent of shoppers in the travel products and services category start online, according to Neilsen’s data. A smaller, but still significant number of consumables shoppers looking for groceries and other food items. About 40 percent of food seekers started online, too, and their behaviors included product research and couponing. 

We’ve all got devices in our hands all day so it makes great sense. Neilsen’s advice is to provide information in all the places the consumer are looking.

“In an increasingly complex retail environment, engagement is the emerging skill to master,” says Patrick Dodd, president, Nielsen global retailer vertical in a post on the company’s site. “...  This becomes even more critical as location-based services become more prevalent. Consumers will be quick to distinguish marketing messages that are simply trying to sell from tools that actually help their shopping efforts, such as advanced order placement or mobile price-matching features. Consequently, having the right assets and insights is necessary to fuel context-aware engagement.”

Considering there’s social media, and review sites and, heck, even map results to worry about, it might be overwhelming for the small business owner who’s already tied up with inventory, personnel and accounting.

Well, there’s good news. You can focus your efforts on Google to begin with. Yes, Google is still the reigning champion of search with more than 80 percent market share. Make proper use of some of their free tools and check in, a lot has changed at the search engine in the last year. 

A great first step for a business to make sure your Google Knowledge Panel looks top-notch.

The Knowledge Panel is a search tool offered by Google that presents information about a topic. It appears prominently on the right side of the Google search results page when a user searches for your business.

The marketing site RankRager calls the feature a “monster” and “the future of the Internet.”

Check out their Complete Guide to Google Knowledge Panel for an in-depth look at what it can do, as well as some best practices and pro-tips for owners with multiple locations.

The tool is powered by a Google My Business account, which is free to use.  (Go here to sign up and to claim your business if you haven’t already). The My Business account allows business owners of all types to input information and marketing messages about their business. The tool becomes invaluable for businesses like gas stations or pizza shops which can benefit from generic, location-based searches, such as, “Where is the closest gas station?” or “Where can I get pizza nearby.”

For more advanced integrations with an existing eCommerce site, Google provides guidance on how to add breadcrumbs and markup language that interface with the Knowledge Panel and can display functionality from your platform.

Want to go deeper? Enhance your site to get high marks from Google’s raters.

Web pages are crawled by algorithms to assign rankings, but there’s a human element, too. Raters are real humans who cruise the internet and answer questions about your site and if it’s easy to use, trustworthy and helpful.

Recently, Google made available the criteria they supply to web page raters in a 158 page guide.  If you want to get a sense of how your site is being evaluated by Google, this document provides an interesting peek-behind-the-curtain. The writers over at Intelligent Retail read through the whole guide for you, in case you’d rather not digest the whole thing.

Their report can be summed up like this:  quality sites rank more highly.

Even if you’re hip to most of these techniques, products and services are always changing, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of evolving best practices, such as Knowledge Panels and My Business accounts.

There’s opportunity online and hacking your search results can be as simple as tweaking some data on a free Google platform. It might be one of the best investments you can make.