There are thousands and thousands of businesses on the Internet and owners are always on the move to stay relevant and visible. If you don’t have a brand that people trust, how can they take a chance on your product? If your business can’t be found in one Google search, how can they buy your product? How can you project your reputation and build a connection?
Good thing there’s Google’s Knowledge Panel. Just so you know, Knowledge Panel is one of the must-haves in the world of SEO. It is every business’ dream to have one. If your business or your key employees still doesn’t have one, then you’re missing a lot on marketing opportunities and click-throughs. Take a look at the Knowledge Panel of Penguin Random House.
It details all the things that are needed to know about the company in just one Google Search. It has the name of the CEO, the products it sells, its subsidiaries, its headquarters, among others. Do you think your company can afford not to have that?
The world of SEO is not new to me. Believe me, I’ve been studying the developments in this field that long that my friends encourage me to make it my career focus. And because I know the inner workings of SEO, Google granted me a prestigious Knowledge Panel in December 2017. In the world of SEO, you can say that someone or something is legit when they have been granted a Knowledge Panel. That that business or person must have something to say to past Google’s standards.
Unfortunately, Google does not make it easy to grant anyone or anything a Knowledge Panel. Even though the brand is considered famous in a specific area, it still can’t get the coveted KP. Unless, of course, it has a well-structured SEO strategy. It takes a lot of hard work, time, and patience to be granted one.
Since I was given a Knowledge Panel, it kind of validated my personal branding as a professional. It gave my business a nod and a sense of legitimacy. Moreover, it boosted my relevance and visibility. One time when I was interviewing at a company, the hiring manager was impressed because they easily found me on Google. A Knowledge Panel is like a snapshot of my résumé but is cooler. I am a legit “Filipino journalist” in the eyes of Google LLC. You want to know how someone as unknown as I am managed to have it? I’ll walk you through the steps I took to get a Knowledge Panel for entities—book authors and artists. The first two steps might not be applicable for businesses, so you may skip them and go to number three instead.
Metadata is a set of information about a book, song, movie, TV series, or other works of creation. If you distribute them on the web, Google picks them up. The keyword here is “signal.” You have to send a lot of signals to Google as much as possible.
In 2017, I self-published my very own poetry collection. You can know more about it here. Since I uploaded them to the world’s global stores like Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, etc. and on the famous social media site Goodreads, I unknowingly sent out metadata to these data providers. This is one of the ways how Google scrapes data. When you send your product on these providers, you give Google some signals.
Promote Your Work
When I self-published my book, I also pitched it to a lot of book reviewers in order for it to be critiqued and talked about. Some ten reviewers were sold and agreed to honestly review my book. They posted their reviews on their respective websites along with my author bio. As a result, it increased my visibility on search engines because a lot of websites are mentioning my name. I also made a good point to link their reviews to my website. Google then picked the signals again. It did well to favor me.
Create Your Own Website
This is a must-have. If a business does not have a website or if it has a terrible SEO strategy, it should better shut its doors. Googlebots are crawling your website from time to time, so make sure you make it easier for them.
Since I control how content appears on my website, I write blog posts that apply the best SEO practices. You know the drill: backlinks, keywords, meta description, images with alt text, exclusive content, among others. It is very important that you have your own domain—particularly a .com one. It increases your conversion. My blog posts garner a lot of views, and Google notices me again.
Understand Technical SEO
Your web presence doesn’t stop by just creating a website and optimizing posts for SEO. You have to configure the non on-page SEO areas to make it SEO-friendly.
I applied tricks like writing my own Schema code (structured data) in JSON-LD format and putting it on the header.
My JSON-LD code sends signals to Google what I am and what industry I am in. It also tells Google that I own the social media accounts written on the code. You can find a lot of resources online on how to write and validate your code.
Moreover, install the Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress. This is a no-brainer. This plugin takes care the SEO part on your content as well the techical one.
You can also submit a sitemap. Don’t worry as Yoast SEO generates a sitemap of your site. My website’s sitemap is arvyncerezo.com/sitemap_index.xml. Once you finally have your sitemap, all you have to do is tell Google its location. You can do so by going to this link and pasting your sitemap URL or via your Google Search Console dashboard (please see #6).
Don’t forget to also include your sitemap on your robots.txt. Yoast SEO is very handy plugin. It also lets you edit your robots.txt without going through your File Manager on your host. Just don’t make the mistake of adding the following code when you encounter it on some fake SEO sites:
The code above tells Googlebots and other search engine bots to ignore your website. That counters our efforts to make your site visible.
Lastly, improve your site’s speed and performance to make it easier for Google to crawl it. You can do this by some advanced tricks like using a CDN (Cloudflare is a good start!) and caching plugins if you’re using WordPress; minifying your CSS and JS; optimizing your images; adding an HTTP Expires Headers; and monitoring your site with tools like GT Metrix and Pingdom. Please do a research about all of these because it’s really an extensive process.
Verify Your Site on Google Search Console
This is probably the easiest thing to do. You can accomplish it by verifying with either a meta tag, html file, or DNS records. By verifying your site on Google, you get unparalleled statistics like page views, search terms, and the number of pages indexed. It also allows you to temporarily hide your website from Google when making significant changes like website redesigning or excluding single or multiple URLs. It also spots 404 errors that can consume your crawling budget.
Claim Your Identity
Just four months after publishing my book, Google provided me a Knowledge Panel—without much info on it. It was still bare. That’s why when I found out that Google allows entities to claim and edit their Knowledge Panels, I immediately took the opportunity. After being approved as an owner of my KP, it took me sometime to suggest changes. Google needs a lot of evidences to what you’re suggesting to them, so you need to back up your claims first with URLs.
During my first tries to suggest an information, Google outright rejected me. Yes, it was really that difficult even though it’s your own Knowledge Panel. Google takes this business seriously. But after providing proofs like my website’s URL, my featured photo was approved along with a first batch of additional information. Having a website also increased my chance of getting approved.
To tell you honestly, it was not a one-night or one-day process since Google reviews suggestions thoroughly. It may take you up to a year or so to have a detailed Knowledge Panel. It might also depend on some factors like press mentions and social media activity.
Yes, social media helps a lot with getting a Knowledge Panel. Since what I was applying is an “author,” I created profiles on Amazon Author Central and Goodreads complete with my bio and photo. I also made sure to use the same photo on my social media accounts for consistent branding.
If you have the resources, make sure to create a Wikipedia entry of your company so that Google will display a snippet on your Knowledge Panel. However, of course you have to abide by the rules of the Wiki community. Good luck with that.
So you see. It’s really that difficult to achieve that Knowledge Panel dream for your branding strategy. It takes a great deal of effort and patience to get your brand in the eyes of customers. You may follow all of these and yet you may not still be granted one. However, if someone like me passed Google’s standards, what’s stopping you to try it?
Now, are you ready to take control of your branding?