There’s no denying that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most complicated aspects of digital marketing. It’s not helped by the fact that SEO keeps changing over time, with Google bringing out new ranking factors and ways of organizing the billions of sites on the web.
With that in mind, you might have heard about something called entity-based SEO. What does this mean and what else do you need to know about it? Needless to say, it’s a crucial aspect of the modern SEO strategy, so you need to know as much about this topic as possible. This guide will walk you through everything you need to understand:
Previously – and we’re talking about the very early stages of SEO – keywords were the main thing used to rank websites. Google would look at how many keywords and synonyms were on your site, ranking you based on similar keyword searches. The more keywords you had, the better you’d perform.
Nowadays, Google has moved away from solely relying on keywords. Instead, context is now a huge part of SEO, helping users find exactly what they’re searching for. You see, the problem with keywords is that, on their own, they provide absolutely no context behind what someone is searching for. A good example is someone searching for ‘Georgia’. On its own, Georgia can relate to so many different things – is the person searching for info on the state or the European country? Do they want to find information on a person called Georgia? There are countless options that can be considered if you look for further context behind the search.
Adding context to keyword searches is, effectively, what entity-based SEO is all about. Instead of just looking at keywords, Google uses SEO entities.
Google defines entities as:
“a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable.”
In more simple terms, it relates to pretty much anything:
The list is endless, but each entity is distinct and independent of all others – and of keywords. From an SEO standpoint, an entity is basically a subject that you can link to the knowledge graphs of search engines. If you’ve done a bit of research into this topic before, you’ll know that Google used Wikipedia as a primary trusted seed for its Knowledge Graph. What this means is that you can basically call an entity a subject that can be attached to a Wikipedia article page. So, if you look something up on Wikipedia, it will have a subject or category, which is basically what an entity is in the SEO world.
An even simpler way of breaking it down is by saying that entities are basically the topics relating to keywords. However, the entity itself must link to a knowledge graph that has information and data across the web. A knowledge graph makes it easier for search engines to scan your site for information.
From both the marketer and the consumer standpoint, entity-based SEO has its benefits. Consumers will be directed towards the most relevant topics and websites for their searches thanks to entities. Going back to the Georgia example, if someone were to type this into Google, the dropdown box would already present a series of suggestions based on different entities. It can show famous people called Georgia, as well as the country of Georgia, and various information on the state in the US. Plus, if someone were to add ‘things to do in’ before Georgia, they’d get searches that showcase everything you can do there. This is because all of the websites include entities that let Google know they are talking about Georgia the place and what people can do there.
For marketers, entity-based SEO gives you a chance to categorize your business better than ever before. You can attach entities to your brand, providing more context behind it and allowing you to use more keywords. If Google knows that your brand name is attached to the ‘business’ entity, you can start using keywords linked to what you sell. This is why companies like Dell can be found when people search for laptops or computers. You can also connect your business to specific place entities, ensuring that only people within that location will find your content. It’s useful when the area you work in has the same name as other places around the world.
In summary, this whole idea lets you refine your SEO strategy to be found by the right people and grow your presence.
For starters, it revolves around your content and the words you use in the text. You can call upon lots of words and phrases that aren’t keywords but add context to the keywords you’re focusing on. As an example, let’s say your business focuses on SEM. You know this term to relate to search engine marketing, but it can also be an acronym for scanning electron microscopy, which is an entirely different thing. How will Google know what you’re talking about? By including lots of content revolving around marketing and search engines it is easy to find the right entity and include your pages in results relating to search engine marketing, rather than the other topic.
Secondly, listing your business online will be a massive help as it defines and creates your entity. Google My Business is a great place to start as Google will instantly recognize your brand and put you in the right category. Other business listing sites will further solidify this, establishing your company name as a business brand and letting you call upon keywords for searches relating to what you do.
Ultimately, it’s all about adding context to your website. Entity-based SEO goes beyond keywords by helping search engines understand what category to put you in when people search. It’s all built around creating a better experience for the user and finding the most relevant sites for their searches. Yes, it can be confusing, which is why it helps to work with a digital marketing agency to fully understand the process and how you can benefit from it.