What Health Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Knowledge Graph

Tiger_ADDo you know Tiger Woods’ real first name? It’s Eldrick. How about his middle name? No, it’s not Serial Philanderer, it’s Tont. As a weekend hacker and golf enthusiast, I knew about Eldrick, but I had never heard Tont before.

I came across this little nugget when I did a Google search on “Tiger Woods.” In fact, if you do a search on any celebrity, historical figure, artist, movie title, geographic location, etc., the right side of Google’s page will likely display a mini bio of facts, images and links to related information.


Google implemented this feature, which it calls the Knowledge Graph (KG), in May of last year, and it has slowly been evolving to include other verticals. At the end of November, Google got the attention of healthcare marketers when it began including brand and generic drug information into the KG, or what some in the industry have relabeled as the Medication Knowledge Graph (MKG).

MKG results are populated from three primary sources—the FDA, the National Library of Medicine, and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs—and any brand whose drug label information is sent by the manufacturer to the FDA is eligible for inclusion.

The info you’re likely to find will be:

  • Indication
  • Side Effects
  • Warnings
  • Drug Class
  • Related Medications or Related User Searches

Interestingly, there is currently no option for removal or exclusion from the MKG. And while the implications to marketers may at first seem negative—having side effects, warnings and competitor information positioned prominently against your brand—there may be positives as well. For example: the indication, which is always a challenge to present against a brand name because of fair balance requirements, is now being displayed for you. Your brand may show in the MKG of a competitive brand. Some MKG listings have a “May Treat” result, containing potential off-label uses for that drug.

As I mentioned, the format is evolving.  As users become more familiar with the MKG format, and more trusting of the info being provided, the greater the SEM/SEO challenge becomes to gain visibility in the all-important search space. Creative pharma marketers will find ways to complement or feed off of the MKG results. Those who ignore this new format will likely miss out on qualified website traffic.

And no, while we don’t yet know all there is to know about the impact of the Knowledge Graph, we do know that we need to stay in the know—know what I mean? So keep on it, I gotta run—my wife just called and said she got a provocative text message from some guy named Eldrick. Yikes!

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