Google working to disable knowledge graph hack that shows misleading search results

January 9, 2019

google-working-to-disable-knowledge-graph-hack-that-shows-misleading-search-results Theme Builder Layout

An old knowledge graph trick we reported on in 2017 is getting a lot of attention now after more recent reports about how it can be used to manipulate, confuse and trick searchers. In short, it is possible to show any site for any query in the knowledge panel area.

How it works. Bring up a site’s knowledge panel in Google and click on the share link.

google-working-to-disable-knowledge-graph-hack-that-shows-misleading-search-results-1 Theme Builder Layout

Copy and paste the link in the search bar and click go. It will take you to the same page. But the URL will have a new set of parameters, specifically something like this &kgs=55f82ac435f6919c&q=

Right after the q= is the original query, you can change it to anything. In the example above, I changed it to q=king+of+seo and clicked go. Then Google changed the search results box to say “king of seo.”

google-working-to-disable-knowledge-graph-hack-that-shows-misleading-search-results Theme Builder Layout

What Google told us. A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “We share the concern about the potential for bad actors to create misleading distortions of our search results pages, and are working to fix this issue.”

We believe Google is now working on preventing this sort of manipulation in the search results. But we do not know how long it will take to resolve. Google has been aware of the issue for years but seems to now only be acting on it.

Why it matters. Anyone can claim that they rank number one for any query by sharing links on social media, sending an email with a link to a Google search results page, or other method. The technique could be used in a variety of questionable and alarming ways: to show search results to fraudulently impress prospects, to trick people into thinking one site is an official site for a query, to perpetuate fake news or facts or much worse.

People are sharing both funny and worrisome examples online of this manipulation in action:

Share this article:

eHost-square-ad Theme Builder Layout

We’re listening.

Have something to say about this article? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn:


Related Posts

google-testing-car-rental-comparison-ad-unit-in-search-results Theme Builder Layout

Google testing car rental comparison ad unit in search results

The car rental comparison box appears among the ads at the top of the search results. Screenshot: SEMRushGoogle is testing a sponsored widget for car rentals in the search results. Spotted by SEMRush, the ad unit allows users to enter the kind of rental they’re...

Get ALL Your SEO, WordPress & Divi News

Join Our Daily Roundup

SEO News and More

Subscribe ToThe Weekly SEO Trade News Updates

Get the latest SEO, SEM and SMM marketing intel, tips and tricks from one of the best SEO Gurus online. 

Every Tuesday morning we send out an aggregated email listing all new posts on SEO Trade News.

Excellent! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.