Google Knowledge Graph: What is it and what are its Functions?

Dec 5, 2012   //   by Stuart   //   SEO Blog  //  6 Comments

Just this May, Google rolled out a new feature in their search results. Since this is best explained if you can visualise it, here is what you should do:

  • Open up a Web browser
  • Point it to Google
  • Type a name of a person or a place. For this example, let’s just use C. S. Lewis

Are the results you generated similar to this image?

Knowledge Graph

Now, if you take a look at the far right corner, you would notice that it shows a short biography of C. S. Lewis, a list of his works, and a “People also search for” section. All of these things are what you call a Knowledge Graph.

What it is

Basically, it is a way for the search engine giant to give you what you are searching for without leaving the page. However, it is important to note that it does not always appear for every query.

Right now, it only returns results on things, people, and places that Google knows about. And these include art works, celebrities, cities, films, and geographic locations, to name a few.

In short, it is a method devised by Google to enhance the search experience for you, so that you will find the information you want quickly and easily.

If you are wondering how it gets its facts, Google has mentioned that it retrieves information from websites such as the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia. If you look at most of the results, you would notice that most of them come from Wikipedia.

What it does

What is the main reason you would use a search engine ()? The obvious reply would be to learn about something.

It understands what you are looking for

Now, before the Knowledge Graph came into being, when you typed “Taj Mahal” into the search bar, you would receive results based solely on those two exact words. But Google took this to a whole new level and developed a “graph” that understands how entities in the real world are connected to each other.

So, when you search for “Taj Mahal,” it will give you the most likely result that you are looking for, i.e. the iconic structure in India. Below that, under the “See results about” section, it also lists other things that might refer to your search.

Search Result

There are also cases where it just lists the related entities. Let us take Ahab as an example. What is the first thing that comes into your mind when the name is mentioned? Do you immediately think about the biblical character? Or do you know him best as the captain in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick?

Google provides you with all the possible answers!

It gives you pertinent information

Let’s say you need to find all you need to know about the author Charles Dickens. Through the Knowledge Graph, you will be given a brief overview of his life. In addition to that, you will also be presented with facts such as the day he was born, the date that he died, the name of his wife and children, and his body of work.

It allows you to dig deeper

Let us take the information returned about Dickens a little further. If you look at the “People also search for” section, you are given Mark Twain, Jane Austen, and Arthur Conan Doyle as suggestions. For the literary lover, this could mean new writers to discover.

Here is another example. If you want to know “Chinese restaurants” that are closest to your location, Google will give you a list of dining establishments as well as a map showing their locations.

This is also true if you want to find out the next concert of your favourite singer or band. You just type in their name onto the search bar and, if they have new shows, it will be listed under the “Upcoming events” section.

Also, if you want to visit a particular place and want to know famous attractions, this will be listed in the “Points of interest” area.

Points of Interest

The Knowledge Graph also has a carousel feature that allows you to explore further the topic you are searching for. Let us take “museums in London” as an example. It displays a series of images featuring the museums found in London. However, this is not yet available for all Google domains. But if you point your browser to “” and type in a query, you can see this in action.

It allows you to see relationships between entities

This is a relatively new feature added by Google. To help you understand this better, let us use another example. This time it is Kevin Bacon.

Knowledge Graph

If you look at the “People also search for area and hover over the images that you see, it would show you small pop-up with added information. Take the case of Kyra Sedgwick. It would tell you that she is his wife and also mentions a few films that they worked on together.

In his Inside Search blog, Google engineer Golan Pundak states that the search engine giant is starting with the connections between actors, actresses, movies, TV shows, and even family relations.

However, it is also important to note that this does not apply for all search queries. As Pundak adds in his article, “When there is an interesting explanation available, you can now see it at a glance.



The Knowledge Graph  is still in its early stages, having just been released this year. As Google continues to improve upon this addition to its search engine results page, we can only hope to expect changes that would enhance the user search experience in the near future.


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Stuart Pollington is Head of Technical Operations at Smart Traffic an SEO company providing online marketing services for businesses across the globe.

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  • Rusty

    Although google made some big changes on the their search engine and many businesses have been slapped because of being abusive but I think this Knowledge Graph is quite beneficial to internet user.You don’t have to browse the entire search result because everything that is related to your search query is showing of. Google is just making their job so we don’t have to hate them as most SEO’ers are doing right now. 🙂

  • Mick Edwards says:

    The entity relationships is very clever and I can see this kind of thing rolling out for URLs so more in context URL choices can be made – rather than the current SERPs as is.

  • Krinal from

    Stuart – I guess Microsoft quoted this once “The thing about search is that it gets smarter when people use it, and since people use Google more, its hard to beat”

    May be a few words here or there, but it gives me an idea of how Google was able to develop this knowledge graph. It’s because we gave it the power it needed, we helped it connect the dots.

    What if, one fine day, a crazy nerd, out of his mind decides to make use of this knowledge graph and reverse engineers the algorithm, feeds Google with all the wrong data, forces it to believe its true (Don’t forget, it was build to connect the dots per user’s query) and then misuses it for fun may be. I can never imagine the havoc that would be created. No, I am not that geek, nor am I planning to drain your brain here.

    The point is, that not matter how advanced technology can be uses, there is always a very fine line between using and MISusing it, and I think Google should release updates keeping that in mind.

    We already have cases where goons learned how to make bombs on Google, ill-advantages of technology ?

    • Stuart

      Hi Krinal, you sound like an evil genius! I’m not sure how relevant that is to knowledge graphs, but I agree that Google is in a great position to be able to make improvements, with all the user data that they acquire. It’s an unfortunate bi-product of access to so much information, that there is the potential for it to be used for harm rather than good.