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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.

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.