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What To Do When Google's Knowledge Graph Provides the Wrong Data About You or Your Business

08 Apr 2014 Lily Ray

in Google, SEO

Google's Knowledge Graph came into existence in May 2012 to help provide its users with a better search experience by answering the user's query without him or her having to click away from Google. It does this by embedding information on the top of the search results and/or on the right sidebar. The example below shows the Knowledge Graph being displayed for the query "how old is Barbra Streisand?" Google not only very clearly displays the answer to the query on the top of the page, but it also provides other relevant data that may be useful to the user in the right sidebar, effectively giving him or her all the relevant details so he doesn't have to click away from the search engine.

google knowledge graph

Where does Google come up with this information?

The "knowledge" acquired by Google is posited to come from four main resources: Freebase.com, Wikipedia, Google+, and Structured Data (also known as Schema.org markup, rich snippets, microformats, RDF, and more). For this reason, there is one fundamental issue that many individuals, businesses, and marketers find with the Knowledge Graph: its data is often incorrect because the sources it pulls from are inherently imperfect. For example, due to the fact that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone in the whole world at any given time, a Wikipedia article may feature some incorrect data that has yet to be revised. If the Knowledge Graph pulls from that Wikipedia article, it will display incorrect data, too. The same applies for Freebase data, which can also be edited by anyone who creates an account on its site.

What Can You Do If Google Provides the Wrong Information?

Google acknowledges that its own tool is not perfect. In an article titled "Knowledge Graph Search Results," Google states the following:

The information in these sections is compiled by automated systems, so there's always a chance that some of the information is incorrect or no longer relevant.

The instructions it gives users is to make use of its "Feedback " button that it sometimes – not always – includes as a link in small grey text underneath Knowledge Graph information.

Clicking this link will cause a blue link to appear, labeled "Wrong?" next to all the different sections of data in the Knowledge Graph. By clicking on the particular piece of data that needs to be corrected, you can submit your feedback directly to Google. However, there is no guarantee as to when your correction will be displayed – or even if it will be displayed at all.

Another effective strategy would be to ensure that you are using Google+ and Structured Data. Google+ is Google's own social media platform that is easy to set up for both individuals and businesses. Structured Data is on-page markup that is added to your website's HTML to allow search engines to understand the information on your page. What sets these two resources apart from Wikipedia and Freebase is that the data they feed to Google is entirely controlled by the owner of the respective Google+ account or website. As if higher organic search rankings weren't enough of a reason to make use of Google+ and Structured Data, the direct relationship between these resources and Knowledge Graph data shows that these tools are truly invaluable to those who care about their online presence.

Furthermore, utilizing Google+ also enhances your Knowledge Graph listing via an embedded link to "Recent Posts," which pulls directly from your Google+ activity:

google knowledge graph

This could have the effect of increasing engagement with your users and showing them that you have an active online presence.

If you have taken these steps and your Knowledge Graph data is still wrong, the best you can do is simply be patient. While you may want to call Google directly and let them know of the issues you are having, Google doesn't make it easy to contact them directly. And even if you do get a hold of someone, their customer service staff will likely just recommend the steps listed in this article.

What Should You Not Do If Google Provides the Wrong Data?

While it can be frustrating to have Google display the wrong information about you or your business, it is not recommended to escalate the issue through blogs, social media, or even worse: lawsuits. Search Engine Round Table recently published an article titled, "Site Owner: I Am Going To Be Sued Over Wrong Data In Google's Knowledge Graph," wherein a group of lawyers are suing a company because its CEO's name was wrong in the Knowledge Graph. One only needs to glimpse at the comments in this article to see that this action reflected very poorly on the CEO in question. It would have been a better approach to follow all of the methods listed above, and to simply wait for Google to pick up on the changes.

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