Why doesn’t Google know who the CEO of Time Inc. is?

The Google Answer box is the section that appears in Google when you type in a question for which Google has a precise answer. One example would be “What is the capital of Iowa?”

iowa capital knowledge panel

The Google Knowledge Panel is that box of fast facts typically on the right side of a Google results page for companies, brands, movies, well-known people and many other entities.

al gore knowledge panel

To populate these boxes, Google needs to have a database reflecting the correct information. They typically source the information from Wikipedia, Wikidata, and other publicly available and (hopefully) updated sources. Sometimes, they get the information by accessing outdated sources or by parsing text in articles online – a process which can lead to mistakes.

So, when we notice something like this:

CEO of Time Inc.

We wonder what went wrong?

Google reports that the CEO of Time is Joseph Ripp ( but he’s been out since Sept 2016!).

Rich Battista is the actual CEO; see Time’s website or  Wikipedia.

In our work, we often encounter cases where Google takes months or even years to update its answer box and knowledge panel information. Sure, Google provides a feedback link that allows you to report the issue – but often even tens of reports from different users have no impact.

Another option is to raise the issue on Google’s webmaster discussion group which has been successful on a number of occasions.

Sometimes, the confusion comes from the fact that the incorrect information is still housed in many data sources – for example in Wikidata, LinkedIn, Crunchbase, and others.

What’s the best practice to avoid these situations? When the facts change, make sure that the information is updated across all platforms including all of the profiles you control and the databases that you can influence. Even then, the change may not happen.

Meanwhile – it’s clear that a better system is needed unless Google is okay with just getting it wrong.


Google’s New Feature Lets Businesses Double Dip

It’s summer and as I sit at my desk, my thoughts turn to ice cream. Double dipped ice cream, to be specific. For the last couple of years, Google’s been showing recent activity on Twitter for relevant searches. This is a gift to businesses which certainly understand the value of having their own voice on the search page. A single scoop ice cream cone, if you will.

But now Google is giving them a double dip.

Google has recently opened their previously experimental “Posts” feature to all verified businesses in Google My Business. With this feature, businesses can insert their own brand voice into the knowledge panel, the information box on the top right of the Google search results page for their brand. Brands are forced to keep their posts fresh, with posts expiring after a week.

(Not an ice cream example, but chicken sandwiches are yummy too.)

The knowledge panel contains the basic information about the local business and the section below it is where new Google posts appear.

While naturally useful for smaller businesses with physical locations, larger businesses can take advantage of this feature too, by creating posts attached to their corporate headquarters. They can also choose to do posts for each of their physical office locations.  In either case, this is a great new platform to engage with stakeholders of all types.

Go ahead and double dip. Post complementary content on Twitter AND Google Posts. Tell your audience about your new flavors, invite them to download your app, or suggest they try your new service. Go ahead and do all three! Accept Google’s gift of more owned content. Let them hear YOUR brand’s voice, all right there, on the search page.