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There are at least two ways for providing rich data about business to Google:

  • Using Google My Business: comes with a convenient web UI and is officially run by Google
  • Using Google Structured Data: meta-data embedded in the site's source code which can provide data about the business

Both are ways to let the so called Rich Cards show up when you search for a business.

Is there a known preference of one way over the other when Google displays business data?

This answer suggests that Google only uses structured data when it's for big brands. But it doesn't really go into detail for the case when a web service provides information for many small business - therefore the individual business are small but the web platform is big. Is there any known experience with this type of web service and its attention paid by Google?

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    Google also takes information about the business from 3rd party sources (like Wikipedia) and uses that information in their results. Sep 22, 2021 at 19:33

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The Knowledge Graph and Google My Business Profiles are Different Things


Knowledge panels are boxes that display information about (named) entities e.g. people, places, organizations, things that exist in the Knowledge Graph.

Knowledge panels for entities typically will include content obtained from a variety of different sources or domains. Ex: a knowledge panel for a corporation might include its logo from the company's website, and the founder(s) / current CEO from Wikipedia. If it's public company we might see its valuation and stock acronym.

McDonald's knowledge panel on Google

A key distinction is that Knowledge Panels cannot be claimed or modified by the associated/represented entity. All of the information shown comes from Knowledge Graph data.


Google My Business Profiles, look similar to knowledge panels, but are specific to businesses that serve customers at a particular location or within a designated service area. Any entity can claim or create a Google My Business Profile and use it for marketing/advertising purposes.

enter image description here

If the profile is claimed, the information contained in a Google My Business Panel in the search results is added by the entity itself (or whoever claimed it), rather than being populated from information that exists in the Knowledge Graph.

If the profile is not claimed, the information will likely come from places like Yelp, MapQuest, or aggregators such as the Yext Network. According to Google:

Information in local listings is compiled from a variety of sources:

  • Publicly-available information, such as crawled web content (e.g., information from a business’ official website)
  • Licensed data from third parties
  • Users who contribute factual information (such as addresses and phone numbers), and content (such as photos and reviews), including business owners who claim local listings through Google My Business
  • Information based on Google’s interactions with a local place or business

Searches that Trigger a Knowledge Panel

In the example above I triggered McDonald's Knowledge Panel by simply searching McDonalds. A key distinction is the scope of its relevance. McDonalds is a globally relevant entity. There is factual information about it all over the place.

If I were to search for McDonalds near me, I'd get a map result with the closest Mc Donald's locations to me. Those are most likely Google Business pages - maybe Mc Donald's has their own way of updating that data, but a lot of less massive franchises typically use Google My Business.


Additional note: If I search "what happens to nature in autumn" I get this:

knowledge graph featured snipped for the search query "what happens to nature in autumn"

That's not a "Knowledge Panel", but it is another Rich Result called the Featured Snippet.


How Exactly are Knowledge Panels Triggered?

Google has a patent on presenting data with search results and deciding when to show that data in a knowledge panel with those search results.

Diagram of how a knowledge panel is triggered from a Google patent

Essentially, when a search is made Google's systems will detect an entity in the search query and try to match it with a particular factual entity for which a knowledge panel is eligible to display with the search results.

You can learn more about the Knowledge Graph, how it's triggered, and the aforementioned patent here.

Does Google only uses structured data when it's for big brands?

In practice, yes. Think of the the knowledge graph like Wikipedia. If there's a Wikipedia page on it, there's very high chance it's in the knowledge graph. We're talking about widely recognized things that have a lot of widely available factual information on them. A small local business typically doesn't have that, unless it is famous for something.

I'm currently visiting family that Missouri - there's a popular corner bar/grill that everyone around here goes to. They sponsor little league teams, and are very locally relevant and well known. If I search for b halls there you go. That's a Google My Business result. Looks similar!

enter image description here

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    We have so many local-SEO questions here that haven't been well answered until now. I'm so glad that you are able to provide great answers in this area! Sep 22, 2021 at 19:40
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    @StephenOstermiller Yeah I noticed that this morning actually when I was browsing before work! I'll start chipping away at em. This one was a particularly good candidate. Sep 22, 2021 at 19:52
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I am assuming that Google does not give higher priority to any of these options. These options complement each other but do not compete with each other. Both of these options provide info for the Google API Knowledge Graph and represent the entities of the content in rich results. I dare to suggest that Google My Business is a little more simplistic than structured data. Structured data, among other things, allows you to create a semantic tree of page content with an indication of the subject and sub-subjects as embedded types. If this tree repeats the structure of the page created with the semantic elements of the HTML, then it can create quite powerful machine-readable semantics of the page.

It is quite important to create the correspondence between the structured data and the business profile panel in the search results, as well as the related data between them.

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