The Featured Snippet vs. The Knowledge Panel

By   April 10th, 2018

The Featured Snippet vs. The Knowledge Panel

In the last months with the team at WordLift, we’ve been experimenting a lot with the featured snippet and the knowledge panel. Those are two features of Google which are critical because they allow you to have an understanding of how search is evolving toward voice search. Thus, to keep up with how SEO is evolving. In fact, as we’re going toward voice search, it becomes critical to understand what changes this will imply for your content marketing and SEO strategy. In this post, I want to show you the experiments I’ve undertaken with my blog and how you can use the same tactics for yours.

When I Became A Featured Snippet

As explained in this article for SEP, not long ago I wanted to see whether I could trigger a featured snippet on the question “Who is Gennaro Cuofano?”

Long story short that snippet appeared on the search and it followed a framework comprised of five primary tactics:

  • Think like Wikipedia
  • Use the entity-based content model
  • Transform it into data that Google loves
  • Link Outward
  • Link Inward

That featured snippet soon because of a command for the Google, voice assistant.

The Featured Snippet Is The Foundation For Voice Search

In a recent case study, Backlinko analyzed over 10,000 Google Home search results, and it found out that 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet. In short, a featured snippet might be a shortcut to voice search.

True, as of now voice search is something entirely new. And it’s very hard to say how it will evolve. It is true though that Google has spent so many resources in the SERP that it makes sense this will be the foundation from voice search. Yet voice search will also develop on a new whole level.

As highlighted by Aaron Bradley in a recent article:

“Imagine a world in which there was still an internet, but no websites. A world in which you could look for and find information, but not by clicking from web page to web page in a browser.

A world where you could search the web from any internet-connected device without needing to visit a website to start your search.

A world where search engines provided answers directly to your questions, rather than returning a list of websites where an answer might be found.”

In this scenario, it is crucial to know how to structure your content make it ready for voice search. In this perspective, another featured that Google uses to classify content – the knowledge panel – plays a vital role.

Beware: The Knowledge Panel Eats The Featured Snippet

Just a few days after the featured snippet was triggered something interesting happened a knowledge panel showed up. In fact, just a few days before you could see the snippet coming out from my blog web page:

The Featured Snippet vs. The Knowledge Panel

Yet the featured snippet eventually was taken over by the knowledge panel:

The Featured Snippet vs. The Knowledge Panel

What is the knowledge panel and why did this happen?

As specified by Google:

When people search for a business on Google, they may see information about that business in a box that appears to the right of their search results. The information in the box, called the Knowledge Panel, can help customers discover and contact your business.

How do you get the knowledge panel?

Like search results, whether or not a business’s information will appear in the Knowledge Panel is determined by a variety of factors. Relevance, distance, and the prominence of the business all contribute to its standing in local search results. Verifying a business does not guarantee that it will appear in the Knowledge Panel.

However, in my specific case, the strategy I had used for the featured snippet seemed to have triggered a knowledge panel. In fact, it isn’t new that Google uses a knowledge graph to classify the web information into knowledge. This knowledge graph is made of triples, structured data, and open linked data. The same infrastructure that was at the foundation of the web page I had built on my blog.

In other words, while the featured snippet main aim is to provide quick answers to users’ questions. The knowledge panel primary purpose is to give relevant information about a business/brand as quickly and reliably as possible. As in this case my featured snippet also referenced back to my Amazon author page, Google consolidated the data behind the featured snippet to offer a knowledge panel.

That same knowledge panel is now used by Google assistant to answer the question “who’s Gennaro Cuofano.”

The Featured Snippet vs. The Knowledge Panel

Yet, had I not implemented a strategy to get a featured snippet there would be no query in the voice assistant answering to that question.

Key Takeaway

As we’re moving toward voice search it is crucial to understand the logic behind it to implement a holistic strategy that is multi-channeled. In short, we want to structure our content to make it able to be featured across several distribution channels in Google’s search engine infrastructure.

To do that, I believe it is essential to target the featured snippet because by doing so you’re still doing traditional SEO that allows you to position your content on the SERP properly. However, simultaneously you’re thinking toward voice search.

Thus, the step for your content to become voice ready gets shorter. In this scenario, understanding the logic behind the featured snippet and the knowledge panel is critical because they bring you a step ahead.

Structured data and open linked data need to be a critical part of that strategy because those allow your content to be automatically manipulated by search algorithms to be featured not only on the SERP but also in the voice assistants answers.

If you have any question feel free to ping me on LinkedIn.


About the Author: Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is a digital entrepreneur specialized in growing online businesses. He launched and created The Four-Week MBA. He holds a Law Master’s Degree and an International MBA from LUISS Business School and the University of San Diego. In San Diego, he worked as a financial analyst for a real estate investment firm. Now Gennaro is a Business Developer for WordLift.

The Four-Week MBA


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