Generally speaking, entity-based SEO is providing you with more precise discoverability. It is using context over just keywords.
The world is changing constantly and so is the SEO world. The concept of entities has become widely contagious on SERP, necessary for you as a digital marketer to understand.
Before looking into entity-based SEO, it is essential to understand the optimization concept in general. There is an enormous number of websites around the world.
In terms of the business world, we know what the ultimate goal of all of us is: to be widely recognized and ranked higher in such a flood of websites. SEO is the key element in developing the best digital marketing strategy.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of optimizing your webpage and its content with the aim to improve visibility on search engines.
If you want your website to appear among top-ranked websites on search engines – which is most frequently Google – you basically have to curate all the information on your webpage to deliver the most accurate information about a specific topic.
This was just a very brief and simple introduction to SEO compared to how broad the term is. Over time we have been discussing SEO frequently from different points of view, and are doing so on an ongoing basis. Learning about crucial techniques or the new Core Web Vitals coming into force in June 2021 are the best steps on your path to getting a deeper and more detailed understanding of this topic.
Seems easy, right? Not yet. Do not rely on using keywords solely, using them will not do the magic for you. If you wish to further your ranking efforts, then you should definitely consider learning about entity-based SEO.
We are starting to realize that entities have a tendency to replace keywords. They are not just a part of optimization, they are changing the whole concept of perceiving SEO.
Let us get started by explaining some crucial terms.
What is a Keyword?
Keywords are what people type in queries – they are clues that enable users to find your website via search engines. They can have a form of a single word, phrase, question, or sentence. Previously, keywords used to be the pivotal aspect in efforts to increase traffic and ensure visibility.
One characteristic of a keyword is being specific to a language. The keyword ‘‘kage’’ in Danish has the same meaning as ‘‘cake’’ in English or ‘‘koláč’’ in Slovak.
Ambiguousness is another typical sign that goes hand in hand when talking about keywords. Remember when we learned in school about homonyms, words that sound the same but carry a whole different meaning? It could be used as an analogy helping to understand the essence of this issue. By ‘‘letter’’, you may mean a character of the alphabet or a piece of paper that is being used as a communication tool.
What is an Entity?
What does entity as a single word mean? According to a more technical definition, an entity is:
‘‘Any singular, identifiable, and separate object. It refers to individuals, organizations, systems, bits of data or even distinct system components that are considered significant in and of themselves.’’
To put it simply, an entity may be an item, a person, a place, a color, a feeling, or an idea. What is important to emphasize here is that, as mentioned, it does not necessarily have to be a physical object, it can also be an abstract concept. Entities are universal concepts independent of a language.
Turning back to the entity-based SEO world, consider your website as an entity that contains other entities such as articles or products you offer.
Keywords vs. Entities
You may still find yourself wondering what on Earth is the distinction between keywords and entities. We can think of keywords as smaller terms that are embodied in entities. The entity, compared to a keyword, carries a meaning.
Needless to say, keywords continue to play an important role as they help you with discoverability, moreover, they connect your content to entities.
On top of that, a combination of both keywords and entities is essential to better serve knowledge graphs, as they complement each other – which eventually leads to increasing search traffic to your website.
Now that you understand what entities and keywords are and the differences between them, we can take an in-depth look into the new way of thinking about optimization: Entity-based SEO.
How Does it Work?
Context. That is what really matters when we say entity-based SEO and what helps users find the results they seek.
Let’s say you are doing a piece of content on Michael Balzary, a founding member and the bassist of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, professionally known as ‘‘Flea’’.
Here, certainly one of your keywords would be ‘‘flea’’. When you type in the term to the search engine, in this case, Google, you can see a couple of things.
Google is not sure what the intention here is because the term you typed in it is not unequivocal. It is not clear whether you are talking about the insect or the musician.
However, if you specify your searched term more precisely, this is what you get: information that is connected exclusively to your primary objective of the search.
While a single word ‘‘flea’’ is just a keyword, attaching the word ‘‘musician’’ to it takes it to another dimension and suddenly the keyword becomes an entity. There is a shift because the intent and the meaning behind the term that is used now changed.
Why Entity-based SEO?
Maybe you are asking why we emphasize entities so much. They are driving search, especially today when the semantic web is being leveraged more and more.
We also know that in today’s marketing world we are not just people but also machines. Entities allow search engines to come up with more precise and accurate results, including rich snippets. Another answer to the ‘‘why’’ question is their significance when speaking about voice search, which is on the rise.
Entities also make online space a more organized place, in a world full of confusion.
What is the Logic Behind Ranking and Search Engine Results?
How the concept of entity-based SEO affects your ranking? Let us break it down by looking into how Google evaluates the results.
Google uses a combination of metrics for each search result to determine the score upon which your ranking depends. Looking into Google’s patent, we learn that the following metrics (4) are being used.
This type of metric is basically about awards and awareness of that particular entity. If we compare an award-winning movie with outstanding reviews and a movie that has been just recently released, the first one will be ranked higher.
The rule here is – the more prizes attached to an entity, the better ranking.
The relatedness metric is determined by the co-occurrence of an entity typed in the search engine query and entities on websites. For example, the co-occurrence of the entity reference ‘‘the capital of Denmark’’ and the entity type ‘‘Copenhagen’’ on websites determine the relatedness metric.
Notable Entity Type Metric
When you think of this type of metric, the popularity of an entity is what matters. According to Google: ‘‘The notable entity type rank indicates the position of an entity type in a notable entity type list’’.
An example for translation could be the following. Different entity types might be recognized within a domain ‘‘skincare products’’: ‘‘day creams’’, ‘‘facial oils’’, ‘‘eye creams’’. The most popular type of product will have the highest ranking.
The contribution metric is determined by the fame of an entity, rankings, likes, or reviews. The higher the value, the more significant influence on the metric. What is important to note is that values from different sources attach different weights to the total score. Professional critic review has a bigger impact than a review from a user.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful; making it easy to discover information from a wide variety of sources. With that being said, you can now see entities that make it possible to fulfill this mission.
Moreover, understanding the metrics we have just introduced helps your digital business prosper.
Understanding what exactly entity-based SEO means is essential in mastering your optimization knowledge today, but most importantly it is a concept that will stay with us for a while in the future, as the web is becoming more and more interlinked. Because of that, ensuring that you give concepts the meaning you intend is the primary purpose here.
Whether it is creating engaging content or building links that are relevant for your website, having in mind that context is the king, you can get the most accurate exposure to the audience you are aiming to reach and eventually improve your ranking on search engines.