Having an unclaimed Google knowledge panel is so 2015. Yet many small businesses overlook this fundamental step in brand engagement. Whether it’s a lack of knowledge or time, an unclaimed knowledge panel doesn’t just reduce your audience reach, it also leaves you susceptible to potential misinformation. Our content strategist, Dany Petraska, has put together a guide to claiming your knowledge panel on Google.
You first need to know the difference between a knowledge panel and your Google business profile, and how and why they’re there.
Knowledge panels are found on the right side of the screen (or at the top #1 spot on smaller screens) in Google SERPs — search engine result pages.
Knowledge panels contain a collection of knowledge and resources about one subject, or “entity,” such as Thomas Jefferson, the Olympics, Madrid, the Mona Lisa — or your business — as compiled by Google from sources across the internet.
If Google decides a knowledge panel is needed for a specific business, Google compiles the knowledge from multiple authoritative locations.
Once the panel is created, anyone can suggest edits to the information in these panels by clicking on the Feedback link found just below the panel at the bottom right.
If the knowledge panel is about you — if you’re actually Taylor Swift or Bill Gates, for example — or your business, you can claim your knowledge panel and, once verified, have access to suggest edits through your Google business profile.
Anyone will still be able to suggest edits, but once claimed, the claimant is notified of user suggestions and can influence Google’s decision to make the change by confirming or disputing suggested edits.
Tip: Maintain Consistency Across Platforms!
Google believes in their automated system for compiling information about an entity, including your business. If it’s wrong or not-quite-right in your knowledge panel, you can make edits but they aren’t updated right away. Google will first need to approve the edits — and if the information contradicts theirs, it can get complicated.
What this means is you need to stay on top of online references to your business NAP — Name, Address, and Phone — plus your website’s URL, which can begin with http or https (hopefully the latter), and include or not include www. This especially applies to local citations, which are any online mention of your NAP on local business directories, websites, apps, and social platforms.
Successfully claiming your knowledge panel means you’ll have access to your Google business profile, which will allow you to manage your online presence (including search and maps) across Google.
How to claim? If you have found the knowledge panel you wish to claim, you can start the process directly from the “Manage this listing” link.
Or you might see a “Claim this knowledge panel” button link below the panel.
Why Bother? Because Organic Search is Responsible for 53% of All Site Traffic
If Google has created a knowledge panel for a specific business or organization — claimed or unclaimed — it can make an appearance when you search for that specific business name (I say can appear because SERPs change constantly). This sounds obvious, but it’s important to understand. You may be unknowingly missing out on a valuable resource.
Studies vary, but they will all tell you that the highest traffic numbers are from organic search, followed by “other,” paid, and then social. “Other” includes direct traffic and referrals.
According to a 2019 study from BrightEdge:
- Organic search share of traffic has increased to 53.3% on average across industries
- In B2B, combined search averages 76% of traffic
- B2B companies generate 2x more revenue from organic search than any other channel
- Organic search usage and share is outpacing growth in other channels
Given the potential impact, picture this:
Someone does a Google search for your business name. Your website will likely appear in the organic search results on the left (often more than once). You might even have a Google ad at the top above the organic results. Now add a knowledge panel with your business profile to the mix; this is probably the most eye-catching to the user.
Whomever this person is, they know your business name. They could be doing a search because they’re researching solutions and you’re in the running for their business:
- Acme reviews
- Acme competitor comparison
- Acme locations
Or they could be angry:
- Acme customer service
- Acme complaints
- Acme sucks
I think you get the picture. For any scenario, you can see that your business profile can influence a potential — or disgruntled — customer, which means it’s a good idea to give it the attention it deserves.
If you are a local business offering storefronts or other face-to-face contact, it’s essential.
What You Can “Control” By Claiming Your Knowledge Panel or Business Profile
First, let’s be honest. There is no absolute control, especially when it comes to Google. Google holds the ultimate reins here, but we can work with the tools they provide to try and steer the ship.
If you don’t claim your business profile, descriptions are usually pulled from a Wikipedia listing or from the CIA World Factbook, and may include:
- Stock price
- Customer service phone number
- Headquarters location
- Number of other locations
- Key executives
- Founding date
- Date Founded
- Number of employees
If you have claimed your business profile, a search will most likely display the information you provided through Google My Business:
- Business name
- Service areas
- Opening date
- Events and other posts: Offers, updates, products.
What users can do is suggest edits to most of this information, upload photos and videos, write reviews, ask a question, and if you opt in, contact you via Google Assistant or by messaging (requires Google My Business app).
With this in mind, shouldn’t you stake your claim and be as much of an influence on your listing as possible?
For service businesses, most of the basics need only be set up once, with a follow-up as needed if anything changes, such as adjusting your hours or marking your business as temporarily or permanently closed. But do make sure to review user reviews (Google will alert you by email when a new review or photo is posted).
There’s more time needed to manage your business profile if you choose to opt in to messaging directly from customers and accepting Google Assistant calls.
One Last Note ...
There is some confusion about whether you can claim your Google My Business listing if you don’t have a physical storefront.
No, you do not need a physical storefront. But you do need an address.
It’s not surprising that this is confusing. Google’s basic guidelines state:
In order to qualify for a Business Profile on Google, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.
And there’s a Catch 22 in the Google My Business location form that indirectly forces you to confirm one of two situations:
- You provide home services or deliveries, or
- You can accept customers at your door.
Our question is: Does provide deliveries include delivering a new app or website?
While you do need a physical address to be verified, you can remove your address from your listing if your service area is the U.S. (or the world). Here’s how:
- In Google My Business click on Info in the left menu, then your location (next to the icon
- Locate and click on Clear Address
3. This will display a message saying “Removing your address hides your business location on Google. Customers in your service areas will still be able to search for you.” Click Apply.
4. In your Info, it will then show the update and note that it is “Under review.”
Are You Convinced?
If I haven’t convinced you of the importance of claiming your listing, let me know and I’d be happy to hear about your particular situation and offer any additional guidance. Reach out to us on Twitter at @pri_agency.
Now get out there and claim that profile!
If you haven’t already, be sure to register your website with Google Console. This is in addition to Google Analytics, and is used to understand and monitor how Google displays information about your site in organic search results.
Google My Business
Sign up for your free business profile to manage how your business appears on Google search and maps.
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