At its inception, the Google search engine worked by matching word strings – matching words to other words. In 2012 things changed as Google introduced the Knowledge Graph, which attempted to understand concepts. Google was grasping user intent and the relationship between entities – a baseline source of information.

Knowledge Graphs are sources of information. From that pool, Knowledge Panels can organize and display this information.

Google Search Knowledge Panel

Knowledge Panels are prime real estate in Google search engine result pages (SERPs). They provide immediate access to relevant information, often without clicking on links. Knowledge Panels can boost a law firm's visibility. For example, they can allow people to book an appointment with an attorney directly from the SERP.
 
So, What Is a Knowledge Graph?
 
The Knowledge Graph uses the information on the web to understand real-world connections between the data it collects. As Google explains, they are trying to transition "from being a knowledge engine [to] a knowledge engine." 

Simply put, Google is learning to understand semantics. Google then displays what it thinks is the most relevant information to a user's search in a side panel, referred to as a Knowledge Panel, to the right of the search results.
 
The Knowledge Panels now allow searchers to listen to songs, purchase movie tickets or watch YouTube videos. 

Knowledge Panels are an excellent opportunity for reinforcing brand authority and visibility.

What About Rich Snippets? Are They the Same?
 
Admittedly, there is confusion between a Knowledge Graph result and a rich snippet or featured snippet. The main difference is that you have a greater level of control of the content and can suggest changes to the Knowledge Graph. This is important for law firms when it concerns your brand and identity information.
 
Knowledge Graph Examples

A Knowledge Graph can help drive more people to the website, helps potential clients find you in the real world and offer excellent business opportunities. 

Companies

Branded Knowledge Graph panels about your firm are an excellent business opportunity. These cards help users engage with your firm's brand by grouping good-to-know information, such as cases handled, lawyer's successes and facts about the firm. These cards can easily link directly to your firm's social profiles and the website. 

Influential People 

Some of your firm's attorneys may well be a brand unto themselves, and when their name is searched for, there is a massive amount of information returned. These cards are another great way to link to social media and the law firm's site.
 
Local Business 

Best of all, being a local business, your law firm can gain a lot from the Knowledge Graph. If Google can find the information it needs, it packs it into your card. Some of the information Google will use includes: 
 
• Client reviews
• Law firm hours
• Popular times
• Firm phone numbers
• Directions
• A link to the firm's website
 
Influencing the Knowledge Graph
 
While you can suggest changes to the Knowledge Graph, there is no guaranteed way even to get a Knowledge Graph panel. Google does not have to include a Knowledge Graph in the SERPs. 
 
However, there are some things that you can do to improve your visibility. 
 
1. Using Schema Markup on Your Homepage

While Schema markup is invisible to the website visitor, it is a vital component in assisting the Knowledge Graph in gathering information about your law firm. Put in as much relevant information as you can. Remember to test your Schema markup by using Google's Structured Data testing.
 
2. Get Your Law Firm Listed on Wikipedia and Wikidata.org

The Knowledge Graph uses company descriptions from Wikipedia. Google also used Wikidata to collect some information and then include the Wikidata link in your Wikipedia article.
 
3. Local Business

Optimize your Google My Business listing. Be active on social media, strive to earn local citations and frequently post new reviews.
 
4. Verify Your Social Media Accounts

This may help get a Knowledge Graph if Google can identify and verify the firm's social media accounts. Tip: Have an active YouTube Channel for the firm. It gives you the ability to request changes on the Knowledge Card.
 
5. Request a Change From Google

Once you have a Knowledge Graph, requesting a change has two steps. 

• First, Google needs to recognize you as the official representative of your law firm brand. You are the owner of the website and are signing in as the owner. 
• Second, you need to be specific about the changes you want. You can ask to change logos, social profiles, URLs, images and their sizing, and more. 
 
If your law firm is struggling in Google's SERPs, you just may benefit from a Knowledge Graph card. 

About Author

Kerrie Spencer is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine.

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