Case Study: Images in Knowledge Graphs

Many of you are familiar with the Knowledge Graph. It’s that box that appears on the right side of Google or Bing when you search for something. There’s handy information, a map, reviews, and photos. This is extremely useful for the user to get a quick snapshot of a popular business or location, but optimizing Knowledge Graphs can be pretty tricky. We know we’re able to influence the Knowledge Graph information with Google+, Wikipedia, and that other public database – Freebase, however, some changes are discussed less frequently, such as how to manipulate Knowledge Graph images. 

When reviewing some Knowledge Graph results, I noticed some strange images showing for “Resorts”, a casino in Atlantic City, and wanted to dig further into the matter in order to see if it’s possible to identify how/why an image has been selected to be a part of a brand’s image collection.

Here’s a screen capture of the original results for “atlantic city casinos”.  As you can see, “Resorts” image looks completely different than the rest.  It’s just one guy and he’s making some sort of sign for the camera – doesn’t appear to be the brand’s choice for their marketing materials…. so how did this happen? 

When clicking on the result, the same image comes up in their Knowledge Graph result.

Huh? Who is this man???

Upon further inspection….

A toilet? Probably not the best representation of their casino! That stinks, pun intended (hahaha).

You can see in the top left corner that this was uploaded by a Google User – meaning just that: literally any “Google User”. I visited Resorts’ Google+ page and sure enough, these images were again showing up as photos of Resorts Casino Hotel. More interestingly, when searching for “Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City, NJ”, this Knowledge Graph showed up instead.

As it seems, a branded search is more likely to pull company-uploaded images into the Knowledge Graph while local keyword searches are more likely to show user-uploaded images. Local search seems to be more user-centric in general, showing the button “Write a Review” in the graph.  This may be just one more bit of evidence of Google furthering its personalized results.

What’s the issue?

Poor image choice can be detrimental to your brand. Gregg’s Bakery, a popular UK bakery, experienced this first-hand. Google pulled a user-uploaded fake logo with a less than satisfactory fake slogan into their Knowledge Graph. It was quickly remedied, but had it gone unnoticed, Gregg’s would have been the butt of jokes for quite some time.

Additionally, the difference in which images appear can make brand management more difficult. For instance, “Resorts” may search for their brand name periodically to ensure their knowledge graph displays good information, but may entirely miss the local search results. It’s important for brands to monitor branded, non-branded, and local specific search queries that may lead to their brand.

What about the good pictures?

Having user generated images in your brand’s Knowledge Graph may not always be a negative. For example, it can show popularity of your venue, or examples of your products to potential visitors. If you’re searching for meaningful, user-generated photos for your company, it may be beneficial to run a Google+ photo contest. Ask for images of the user’s favorite images of your company’s venue, their favorite things to do, or their favorite menu items. For instance, Kit Kat’s instagram hashtag #HaveABreak gets users to display their favorite ways to enjoy Kit Kat, whether it be as a lunch snack, in a Pinterest recipe, or by itself. A campaign like this can be easily adapted for Google+, and will populate your page and Knowledge Graph with some great images.

What should I do?

To have more control over what images appear, simply change your Google+ image settings. Google+ is automatically set to allow anybody in your circles to post images of your company. Simply unselect the “your circles” tag within the Photos and Videos section of your page’s settings. You will then be free to view photos before they are posted, and approve or disapprove of photos. You can delete any photos already tagged of you or your company that you don’t want showing up on your profile or Knowledge Graph.

What other photos will show?

In the case of Resorts and a few other casinos, I have not seen any Wikipedia images included in the Knowledge Graph or local carousel. The Knowledge Graph “See Photos” button will simply bring the user to the photos section of Google+. If there are no photos available, only a map will be shown.

That’s it?

That’s it! Hope this gave you some useful insights into what shows up when, and how to better control your brand’s image (and images). 


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