There has recently been a shift from relying only on keywords to entity SEO.
SEO experts can now use entity-based SEO to increase their rankings on SERPs and capture broader keywords that search engines previously felt were irrelevant to their websites.
To add, contextual relevance and user intent are becoming far more emphasized as factors in search engine results, leading to better search proficiency and user experience. So, in this article, we delve into what entity SEO is, why it matters, and how to use them.
What is Entity SEO?
Google defines an entity as “ a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable.” In other words, a search entity refers to an object or concept that targets a user’s search query. It could be a person, place, thing, idea, or any other idea a user searches for information about. It can be physical objects too, like a car, or abstract concepts, like a musical genre.
Entities have become vital in improving SEO share of voice, keyword rankings, and quality of content.
However, search engines use various techniques to identify the search entity in a user’s query and return relevant results. These techniques may include natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, and semantic analysis. The goal is to match the user’s intent and provide the most relevant information related to the search entity. For example, if a user searches for “who acted in the film, Harry Potter,” the result page immediately provides a knowledge panel featuring “Daniel Radcliffe.”
The graph also mentions “ J.K. Rowling”, the novel writer from which the film was coined.
Google provided the result without us mentioning Daniel Radcliffe or J.K. Rowling.
Entity-based SEO connects entities and their context or intent to build knowledge graphs from Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Wikidata, Google knowledge graph, and more.
Does This Mean Keywords Are Obsolete?
Simple answer, no!
Keywords have long been one of the pillars of SEO, and their relevance hasn’t depreciated.
Neil Patel says, “Keywords still matter because they connect your content to queries. Keywords have long been the backbone of SEO because search engine algorithms need clear, concise directions to populate relevant search results.”
Search engines’ shift from emphasizing entities over keywords has provided room for more accuracy in results. Search engines have not moved away from keywords; they are still used to define certain entities.
For instance, the search term “blackberry” provides mixed results. You have results describing a brand; the other talks about a fruit, while the other talks about a movie. To get accurate results, you would need to add more contextual keyword/s to tell the search engine which entity you’re referring to.
So, how do entities and keywords work together?
In simple terms, keywords help entities become defined.
Also, keywords make connecting your content with related entities easy for search engines.
How to Implement Entity-Based SEO for Better Ranking on SERPs
1. Perform an Entity Audit
The first step to optimizing entity-based SEO is ensuring your site covers the proper entities associated with your brand.
That’s why an entity audit comes first.
Essentially, this type of audit helps you analyze your entities, compare them with your competitors, and ensure you cover your site’s perfect entities.
But how do you find relevant entities for your site? The evolution of AI has made entity research easy!
John Butterworth, Head of SEO at Viddyoze, shares how he collects relevant entities using AI.
“The launch of ChatGPT has transformed how I collect relevant entities and insert them into my content. Tools such as SurferSEO are great for finding NLP terms to insert into your content, but they rely on correlation SEO to provide recommendations.
In other words, they scrape the competing pages already at the top of SERPs and then decipher the most relevant terms based on their usage in those articles. This means SurferSEO can’t recommend entities that competing pages are not using.
But what if all competing posts are missing entities that Google considers highly relevant to your target keyword? That’s where ChatGPT comes in.
Using this prompt, created by myself, you can find hidden entities that will power up your content:
I will provide you with a keyword. I want you to list semantically relevant entities concerning the provided keyword based on: people, competitors, institutions, concepts, locations, occasions, tools, and future predictions. The keyword is: [enter your keyword].”
2. Enhance Your Knowledge Graph Card
In May 2012, Google released the knowledge graph update with the slogan, “Things, not strings.”
“Google’s search results sometimes show information from our Knowledge Graph, our database of billions of facts about people, places, and things. The Knowledge Graph allows us to answer factual questions such as “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?” or “Where was the 2016 Summer Olympics held.” Our goal with the Knowledge Graph is for our systems to discover and surface publicly known, factual information when it’s deemed useful.”
The Google knowledge graph is an extensive database of information that allows Google to provide immediate and actual answers to user search queries about real-world topics, otherwise known as entities. The introduction of the knowledge graph has also established the importance of semantic SEO. Optimizing your site for knowledge graphs provides more visibility, improved user experience, and better search results.
How do you improve your knowledge Graph?
- Use Structured Data
Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. One of the best ways to use structured data is schema markup. By using schema markup, you can improve the description of the data on your website so that it will be more easily found in search engine results.
You can use schema.org to find different entities for your website, including:
- Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TV series
- Embedded non-text objects: Audio Object, Image Object, video object
- Health and medical types
- Place, local business, Restaurant
- Product, offer, aggregate offer
- Review, aggregate rating
- Action and more
Aside from enhancing your knowledge graph card, structured data markup increases a site’s ranking on search engine result pages.
Brady Kirkpatrick, Founder of Gunmade.com, shares an interesting experience:
“At GunMade.com, we have used structured data markup to highlight product prices, which has helped us to rank higher on SERPs. We have also optimized our content around relevant entities, such as gun manufacturers and models, to make it easier for Google to understand our content.
Before implementing entity-based SEO, we needed help to rank higher on SERPs. However, after optimizing our website using structured data markup, we saw a significant improvement in our rankings. We went from page 2 or 3 to consistently rank on page 1 for many of our target keywords.”
- Take Advantage of Open Data Sources
Google commonly uses open data sources like Wikipedia, DBpedia, wiki data, and more as a resource to connect to reliable websites and resources. Besides, the Knowledge Graph card has a direct connection to Wikipedia materials. So build a Wikipedia page for your business if it still needs one.
- List Your Business on Directories
You can leverage directories such as Google Business Profile or Yelp to boost your business visibility and presence on search engine result pages. Again, Google Business Profiles is a data source for Google knowledge graphs.
As you can see, Google Business Profile requires that you provide business entities such as your brand’s location, service options, and more. More so, it looks like a knowledge graph.
Note: A Google Business Profile is not an automatic pass to be listed in the knowledge graph.
3. Optimize Your Content With Relevant Entities
One of the best ways to leverage search entities is by optimizing them in your content. However, you need to know that the same way Google frowns against keyword stuffing, the same principle applies to entity stuffing.
“Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.”
Entity stuffing portrays your content as optimized for robots and not humans. This act reduces the authenticity of the content and lowers its ranking on search engine result pages.
4. Metadata Optimization
Metadata helps describe the information on your pages for search engines and readers to understand.
You can enhance your metatags with relevant entities. For instance, you can optimize the title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, and more with relevant entities related to the context.
We won’t want to dive deep into metadata, but you can read our well-detailed article about metadata and the common mistakes people make.
Benefits of Entity-Based SEO
Entity-based SEO is beneficial to both search engines and website owners. Let’s dive into the benefits.
For Search Engines
Better Search Results
Search entities have improved search results and, in turn, enhanced searchers’ experience. For example, “How high is the Eiffel Tower” or “What to do in the Eiffel Tower” relates to Paris and Gustave Eiffel. Even without including Paris, which is the location (an entity), Google provides a tailored result based on previous entity knowledge.
More so, entity-based SEO has improved mobile search results and has made the introduction of new search methods, such as chatbots and voice search, possible.
Builds Google’s Knowledge Graph
Google uses entities to build its knowledge graph. As discussed earlier, these graphs don’t just provide the standard search results with the blue links but a summary of the basic information of the search term.
For example, a knowledge graph about the Eiffel Tower features its location, address, contractor, height, architects, and more. These details are entities compiled together as compact information.
For Site Owners
- Better Ranking
Firstly, businesses can now rank for keywords that search engines formerly felt were irrelevant to their site. For example, several restaurants now rank for “chicken tenders.”
Secondly, by implementing semantically related words, you can optimise your content with related entities to demonstrate relevance and boost rankings on SERPs.
We requested that some SEO experts share their practical experience with entity-based SEO and its impact on their sites. Here is one of the responses:
“Our gamified language learning app and website implement entity-based SEO strategies. We use context-based keywords based on language-related topics and user queries we gather through our email and in-app feedback forms. We also utilize analytics and CRM data to determine common user intent, inquiries, and behaviors to boost our entity-based SEO strategies further.
Our editorial team creates and includes entity-based contextual terms, aside from primary and secondary keywords, across all our digital content. Most importantly, we highlight the features and benefits of our app through SEO-optimized, compelling content. With regular KPI monitoring, unique content creation, and media partnerships, we kept our SERP ranking and domain authority (from 26, we reached 43 to date, which is highly competitive for my business niche).” Simon Bacher, CEO and Co-founder Ling App
Despite the mind-blowing benefits of entity-based SEO, some practices can limit its effectiveness.
Let’s examine a few of them.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Entity-Based SEO
1. Ignoring Structured Data Markup
Structured data markup adds detail-rich relational attributes to your site. Most importantly, it helps to relate content entities to other pages, which improves your presence on search engine result pages. Ignoring or overusing them brings the opposite result.
2. Using Irrelevant Entities
It’s better not to implement search entities rather than optimize irrelevant ones. Also, some site owners focus on generalized entities over specific ones directly related to their brand and target audience.
This practice dilutes your effort and affects the overall impact of your entity-based SEO strategy. More so, it makes it difficult for search engines to understand the context of your pages, and this can lead to a drop in ranking.
Lastly, this practice will negatively affect your users’ experience, leading to a high bounce rate.
3. Creating Content Around Entities Only, Not the Topic
One of Google’s primary goals is to satisfy their searchers’ intent ( we will discuss this factor later in this article). That’s why sites that provide well-detailed and relevant information based on the search intent rank high on SERPs.
An entity-based SEO’s success hangs on the content’s value and how well the entities are optimized in the content, not entity stuffing.
4. Overusing Entities
The focus is to create content for humans and not robots.
Maria Harutyunyan, Head of SEO at Loopex Digital, says, “One of the biggest blunders I’ve seen is overstuffing content with entities. Remember, we want to optimize for humans first and foremost. So, ensure that the integration of entities feels natural and seamless rather than forced.”
Your entity-based SEO’s success depends on the quality of your content. It would be best to examine how to create content Google will beg to rank in its result pages.
Primary Requirements for Creating the Most Accurate Content for SERPs
Note: We can’t overlook the power of having a defined SEO content strategy before creating content. Content strategy helps you plan your content and fosters effective results.
Once you have this option ticked, you can create your content.
1. Focus on Search Intent
Let’s start with this foundation; the performance of your content on SERPs is based on how much it matches Google’s primary goal.
“…to provide users with the most relevant, highest quality results based on user search queries.”
The user search query is otherwise known as search intent. Backlinko defines it as a user’s primary goal when typing a query into a search engine.
Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines show us that Google is obsessed with user intent as a ranking factor.
Besides, in a case study involving SEO experts, including James Dooley, Matthew Woodward, and more, they concluded that search intent is a critical ranking factor.
So, your content must be tailored to satisfy the searchers’ intent. In other words, let your content answer the readers’ questions.
But how do you get the search intent?
You can analyze the top ranking pages for the topic, check the People Also Ask segment of the result page of the topic, and other SERP features.
2. Get to the Point Quickly
If people get to your page and their first impression doesn’t validate whatever they thought they would read on your page, they turn back immediately. The result is an increase in bounce rate, which affects the page ranking on SERPs.
Some readers want basic information, while others want you to provide in-depth stuff. You need to understand your audience’s needs and quickly and effectively delve into what they wish.
3. Write for Humans, Not Robots
Humans understand natural language, while robots understand computer languages. Omit ambiguous words in your content and build up your points in a humanly-understandable format. Also, avoid keyword stuffing – it’s a black-hat SEO practice. Gone are the days when Google ranked a page based on how well they used a keyword repeatedly. This practice is easily noticeable, and it pisses readers off. Don’t forget; Google’s primary goal is to satisfy its users.
4. Optimize Relevant Keywords
Take note of the word relevant. Keywords remain a crucial part of SEO today. In addition, keywords give us clues to who people are and what they want, allowing us to meet their needs better. The foundation of SEO is keyword research.
Optimizing your content with the right keywords increases the relevance of your content to the search query and attracts searchers interested in your content. Besides, Google stated that keyword optimization is a major ranking factor on SERPs.
5. Create Comprehensive and Up-to-date Content
The quality of your content compared to your competitors is a ranking factor on search engine result pages.
Your content should be an all-around solution center. Everything a user is looking for around a search query should be covered on your page. In other words, create link bait content, i.e. content other sites can link to.
Also, a report from Google shows their emphasis on content freshness. “Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.”
Track your content on search engine result pages. You need to know your site’s SEO share of voice, i.e. understand how your pages are faring on SERPs compared to your competitors. This practice helps you measure the performance of your entity-based SEO and gives room for improvement. Most importantly, it enables you to review what is working for your competitors and hidden hacks to outsmart them.
That’s why thousands of SEO experts opt for Keyword.com.
Keyword.com is a share of voice rank tracker that details how a site appears on search engine result pages for specific keywords. In addition, it’s a keyword rank tracker that tracks how a site ranks for particular keywords.
It takes you off the frustration of keyword fluctuations by providing daily ranking updates and strategies to outrank your competitors.
Want to become a Keyword Master? Check out our Keyword Training Guides, learn the industry lingo in our SEO Wiki and discover more advanced SEO techniques in our SEO Keyword Academy.