Example Image We’ve all come across Knowledge Graph panels in our day-to-day, online searches. By Google’s definition, Knowledge Graph collects information about objects in the real world, and makes connections on relationships between objects based on submitted queries in order to deliver exactly what users want. Knowledge Graph is most commonly displayed as a panel on the right-hand side of the SERPs, and is a part of a larger initiative of semantic search – connecting user intent with relevant entities to decipher the meaning behind queries, and delivering results that are more conversational and personalized through various types of content (images, videos, traditional listings and panel results).

Since the birth of Google Plus, many have argued on its level of success, and whether or not it's been able to stand its ground against adversaries like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. People have also doubted its capabilities to sustain a community as strong as the other platforms, and if its only purpose is to leverage the benefits of authorship and publisher tags. However, with the complete removal of authorship information in the SERPs, search experts are unsure of the platform's future, now more than ever.

The answer, believe it or not, lies in the Knowledge Graph experience. You'll notice that the most recent social posts on Google Plus brand pages are integrated into the panel, primarily for branded terms like the SERP below.

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Now, if you haven’t already noticed, this blog is all about uncovering various optimization strategies. Optimizing for branded searches should be just as important to your strategy as non-branded searches, and what most people might not get right away is that Google gives brands that opportunity to bridge a gap between branded and non-branded interests by integrating social posts into the SERP itself! Herein lies the first part of the strategy and the true importance of Google Plus.

1. Leverage Google Plus to showcase your most important content at the top of the search engine through Knowledge Graph.

You might not incorporate Google + into your social editorial calendar as often, but when you do, make sure it’s for the highest priority topics for your brand. The most recent post will show up in the panel, which has a high chance of being seen by the user looking for branded information. This is your chance to tie non-branded events, products and services to a branded query and capture that prime real estate so very close to the number 1 spot. A few best practices to ensure successful CTR include:

  1. Using a URL shortener like Google’s, or Google URL builder to track the number of clicks over time in the appropriate analytics platform.

  2. Keeping the URL as close to the beginning of the post as possible to ensure visibility in the Knowledge Graph panel.

  3. Having a clear call-to-action to incentivize clicks.

  4. Keeping the post between 200-450 characters.

  5. Incorporating popular, valuable hashtags related to the topic using tools like Keyhole.co or Hashtagify.me within the post.

  6. Uploading images that are as close to square-shaped as possible.

2. Once you’ve created a strategic Google + content calendar, implement Google Content Recommendations for mobile.

By mapping out a strategic content calendar for your Google Plus page, you’re boosting sharing and engagement value that drives traffic to your site from a platform you own. Once you've fostered a loyal community and established a brand voice, Google Plus Content Recommendations is a great way to continue the user journey throughout other parts of your site. This somewhat of an underdog Google Plus feature that connects search with social information to provide visitors on your site with the most relevant content through a recommendations bar.

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Instructions on implementing this can be found here, but you essentially get two pieces of code to place on your site. You can also specify which pages to exclude as recommended pages, which ones to avoid the bar from being displayed, as well as when to show recommendations, all directly within your Google Plus settings dashboard.

This is a great opportunity to map your posts to related recommended content such as:

  1. Seasonal product and services pages, or content related to the topic that performs well

  2. Related content that may not be performing as well, but will be introduced to the user through a popular and social post.

Authorship is no more, but these two other features are opportunities to turn this platform into a winning channel for your brand.