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Google's added a new Knowledge Graph card that you can pop-up next to some listings. Basically, any company or web site listed in Wikipedia gets these. But do searchers really need them? And do publishers need yet one more thing on Google that competes with people just going to their web sites?
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Thrive Business Marketing's profile photoAaron Bradley's profile photoSania Ameen's profile photoAl Remetch's profile photo
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Interesting feature, have not seen it in Australia yet.
 
Interesting also haven't seen it in Canada yet either.
 
No they are not needed and yes, publishers don't need the competition. 
 
The (apparent) drive to keep people on the SERP that we've been seeing over the last year or two has been bothering me, I must admit.  As +Danny Sullivan suggests there, if the info is on the SERP, why click anywhere at all.  Is Google slowly becoming all websites? :)
 
I just found out that in case where the logo does not link to a plus page (because there is no matching plus page) it links to the first result of an image search for "xyz logo". 

For example: If you see a result for itunes the logo will link to an article on wired.com because an image search for "itunes logo" the first result brings up the logo at the exact url on wired.com
 
Google's goal in search isn't to direct users to other websites, but to provide the searcher with the best information in response to that query - whether than information is provided inline, or is provided in the form of a link pointing to another resource.

So whether or not "searchers really need" these results is a relevant question (though I think the bar is whether or not these results "useful" rather than "needed"), but whether or not "publishers need yet one more thing on Google that competes with people just going to their web sites" is not.

The first of ten things Google "knows to be true" is not "focus on the publisher and all else will follow."

We've grown up thinking of a "search engine" as something that provides links to other sites in response to a query - reasonably enough, because that for year was the search engine model, driven in large part by the technological limitations on search technology.

But right now a "search engine" is something that provides answers to users as accurately and expeditiously as possible.  The sooner search marketers exorcize this antiquated notion of what a search engine is the sooner they'll be able to attend to optimization tasks circa 2014 rather than 2004 - and to find themselves better equipped to roll with the punches as Google et al. continue to evolve in response to the technology available to them, the technological environment of their users, and the changing needs of users.
 
+Aaron Bradley, that was a damn good post.  But where is the logical endpoint of the argument?  Full integration of all sites into Google?  Letting people buy your products online straight from the SERP?

If Google provides all answers, then the user doesn't need the website.  Of course, Google still needs the site, because that's where the answers come from.  But where does that leave site owners? 

Providing info for Google so that visitors can not visit your site?  (Obviously I realise my post is a bit reductio ad absurdum, and that at some point a balance will be reached, but I still wonder what it will be.)
 
Why Wikipedia? Human edited does not mean factually correct. Why not use a proper encyclopaedia like Britannica?

Consensus is not the way to establish facts! For years on Wikipedia you would find that Alexander the Great was not Greek. Finally that changed recently when they decided to close that article for editing by all and sundry. But there is so much wrong on Wikipedia - putting the results into search gives the impression that what you see is of un-biased truth from a proper encyclopaedia. It is far from it!

Google have said in the past that for some searches (e.g. medical) that the top results should not just be the most "popular" but also factually accurate. But this addition of Wikipedia flies in the face of that concept.
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