SEO & the Age of Entity-Based Search. What Entities in SEO Mean For Your SERP Strategy

The world of SEO (search engine optimisation) is a little like… well, it’s a little like a shark – stay with us here. It never stops, and it needs to keep moving forward. (But that’s where the similarities end. SEO isn’t about to sneak up on unsuspecting swimmers anytime soon… at least, we hope not.)

entities in seo - The Brains
January 30, 2024
entities in seo - The Brains10 mins to read
entities in seo - The Brains

Tenuous metaphors aside; in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, where things change fast, staying ahead of the curve is the key to dominating the search engine results pages (SERPs). We’ve now entered the age of entity-based search, where the rules of the game are once again being rewritten. If your organisation has been focused on keyword optimisation, you’ve been on the right track. Now is the time to broaden your SEO perspective. It’s time to make like a shark – time to move forward.

Stay tuned, as we embark on a journey through the fascinating world of entities in SEO.

Wait… What Are Entities, in the Context of SEO?

So, what exactly are SEO entities? Picture them as the digital DNA that shapes your online presence. They encompass not only keywords, but also the interconnected web of concepts, relationships, and context that revolve around your brand, content, and user intent.

“SEO experts now also use entity-based SEO to further their ranking efforts. Context and relevance are becoming increasingly important in search engine results, and entities can help improve these factors.”

Neil Patel, ‘Why Entity-Based SEO is a New Way of Thinking About Optimization’

Unlike traditional keyword-centric strategies, SEO entities transcend the confines of single words and phrases. They delve deeper into the semantic web; examining how various pieces of information interconnect in the vast knowledge graph of search engines (like Google).

Consider this: When you think ‘apple,’ is it the fruit or the tech giant that pops into your mind? SEO entities help search engines understand the context and intent behind your query, ensuring they deliver the most relevant results.

Understanding these entities is the foundation of a SERP strategy primed for success. By grasping the intricacies of entities, you unlock the potential to tailor your content, website structure, and user experience with unparalleled precision.

The Evolution from Keywords to Entities

In the not-so-distant past, SEO revolved around a single star player: keywords. Marketers meticulously crafted content to include the right keywords, in the right places, the right number of times, hoping to appease the algorithmic gods.

However, in the age of entity-based search, the game has been elevated to a whole new level. We’ve moved beyond the days of simply appeasing algorithms; we’re now connecting with the very essence of how search engines think. Whoa.

Here’s that put another way: keywords were like puzzle pieces, individual and disconnected. Entities, on the other hand, are like the threads weaving a rich tapestry of big-picture understanding. They’re the glue that binds your content, your brand, and the user’s intent into a cohesive digital narrative.

The Evolution of SEO: From Keywords, to Entities, & Beyond

1990s – The Dawn of Keywords

Search engines like Yahoo begin to surface, relying on keyword matching to deliver search results.

2000s – The Rise of SEO

Google emerges as a dominant force, introducing algorithms likePageRank.

2010s – Content is King

Updates like Panda and Penguin prioritise quality content. Keywords remain important but are now part of a more holistic SEO strategy.

2012 – Knowledge Graph Emerges

Google introduces the Knowledge Graph, a database that connects people, places, and things in a semantic web.

2015 – RankBrain Unleashed

Google introduces RankBrain, a machine learning algorithm that aids understanding the intent behind search queries.

2019 – BERT Takes Center Stage

Google rolls out BERT, a NLP model that comprehends context and nuances within search queries.

2020s – Entity-Based Search

Entities gain conceptual prominence, with search engines favouring content that understands and utilises entities effectively.

Present and Beyond – Entities Rule

Entities are now central to SEO strategies. Brands that grasp the intricacies have a significantly competitive edge.

Imagine you’re searching for ‘London,’ and the search engine magically knows whether you’re interested in travel tips, historical facts, or the latest news. That’s the power of entities at work. They bring context to the forefront, making search results more precise and user-centric.

Entities mean you’re not just throwing words into the digital void and hoping for the best. You’re strategically aligning your content with an underlying structure of knowledge, ensuring your brand’s message is not lost in translation.

entities in seo - The Brains

The Role of Entities in Google’s Algorithm

Behind the scenes of every Google search lies a complex and ever-evolving algorithm, the digital maestro orchestrating the symphony of results. Entities serve as the cornerstone of that algorithm’s understanding. They enable Google to go beyond the surface, diving deep into the semantic web of interconnected ideas, concepts, and relationships. This isn’t just matching words; it’s deciphering meaning. Google entities help decode an intricate tapestry of knowledge, ensuring that results align with user intent. When you search for ‘Tesla,’ for instance, it’s not just about the word; it’s about the car company, the inventor, and the electric revolution. Entities also play a pivotal role in context. They help Google understand the circumstances of your query, meaning it can provide more accurate and relevant results. This means you get the information you’re looking for faster and with greater precision. But entities are not static; they’re dynamic and evolving. They adapt to changes in language, culture, and user behaviour. Google’s algorithms continuously learn from user interactions, refining their understanding of entities over time.
entities in seo - The Brains

Entity Optimisation Strategies

When it comes to entity optimisation, the right strategies can make all the difference in elevating your digital presence. Here are two approaches that will set you on the path to success:

1. Leveraging Structured Data and Schema Markup

Structured data and schema markup are the building blocks – no, the raw elements – of entity optimisation. They provide search engines with valuable context about your content, helping them understand the relationships between entities on your web pages. By implementing structured data and schema markup, you can:
  • Enhance Rich Snippets: Structured data can make your search results stand out with rich snippets, such as star ratings, product prices, and event details, increasing click-through rates.
  • Improve Knowledge Graph Entries: For businesses and organisations, schema markup can ensure accurate and comprehensive knowledge graph entries, providing users with essential information.
  • Enable Voice Search Compatibility: Structured data helps voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant provide concise and relevant answers to voice queries, potentially increasing your visibility in voice search results.

2. Creating Content with Entity Relationships in Mind

Content (good content, that is) also sits close to the heart of entity optimisation. Crafting content with entity relationships in mind not only boosts your SEO but also provides a better user experience. Here’s how to do it:
  • Semantic Content: Write content that explores the relationships between entities within your niche or industry. Explain how concepts are interconnected, providing a comprehensive resource for users.
  • Entity-Centric Keywords: Instead of obsessing over single keywords, identify key entities relevant to your content and incorporate them naturally. Think about synonyms and related terms that search engines might associate with your primary entities.
  • Contextual Depth: Dive deep into your chosen topics. Expanding on entity relationships not only establishes your authority but also helps search engines recognise the depth of your content.
entities in seo - The Brains

Spotlight On: Knowledge Graph

You’ll have seen us refer a couple of times already to something called ‘The Knowledge Graph.’ But what is it? And how does it work? “The Google Knowledge Graph is a semantic digital database that connects entities and understands their relationships.  It enriches search results by providing context, enhancing user experience, and improving the accuracy of search queries – ultimately, delivering more useful information to searchers.”

– James McGarry, The Brains

The Google Knowledge Graph, though, is more than just a database; it’s the architect of search context, the navigator of relationships, and the orchestrator of enriched Google experiences. Unlocking Context At its core, the Knowledge Graph is the digital brain behind search engines. It understands that words alone don’t tell the whole story. It’s all about the context, the connections, and the entities that form the web of knowledge. Relationships Matter Knowledge Graph is the matchmaker between entities: whether it’s connecting your search for ‘Mona Lisa’ with art history, or linking ‘Elon Musk’ to SpaceX. These connections paint a holistic picture, delivering results that align with your intent. Enhancing User Experience Ever wondered how Google provides quick answers, knowledge panels, and relevant information at your fingertips? That’s the Knowledge Graph doing its thing. It elevates your search experience by presenting data-rich snippets that save you time and clicks. Search Precision For businesses and brands, the Knowledge Graph is the gateway to an authoritative digital presence. Optimised entities here can mean the difference between obscure search results and prominence on the SERPs.
entities in seo - The Brains

User Intent and Entity-Based Search

Understanding user intent is akin to gaining fluency in the digital language of your audience. Enter entity-based search: a game-changer that sharpens your ability to connect with users on a deeper level.
  • User Intent Unveiled: Entity-based search doesn’t just focus on keywords; it deciphers what users truly seek. By recognising entities and their relationships, it unveils the nuances of user intent.
  • Hyper-Relevant Results: Imagine a world where every search leads to results that align perfectly with what you had in mind. Entity-based search brings us closer to that ideal, delivering hyper-relevant content and answers.
  • Personalised Experiences: The future of SEO is personalised. Entity optimisation allows you to tailor content to individual users based on their preferences, habits, and past interactions.
  • Semantic Understanding: Entity-based search is all about speaking the semantic language of search engines. It’s not just about what users type; it’s about what they mean, enabling you to provide the answers they seek.

Improving Click-Through Rates with Entity-Based SEO

Entity-based SEO isn’t just about optimising for search engines though; it’s also a gateway to captivating your audience. By understanding user intent and crafting content that aligns with entities, you can dramatically enhance your click-through rates (CTRs).
  • Relevance Reigns: When your content directly addresses the entities users are seeking, it’s not just relevant – it’s irresistible, indisputable, unignorable. This relevance piques user interest and entices them to click through to your website.
  • Rich Snippets: Entity optimization often results in rich snippets in search results. These eye-catching snippets can include star ratings, product prices, or event details, making your listing more appealing and encouraging users to click.
  • Clear Intent Matching: Entity-based SEO ensures that your content closely matches user intent. This clarity minimises bounce rates and encourages users to explore further, ultimately boosting CTRs.
By combining the power of entities with a user-centric approach, you’ll not only climb the SERPs but also entice users to take that crucial step – clicking through to discover the value your website offers.
entities in seo - The Brains

Measuring Entity-Based SEO Success

In the realm of SEO, success means harnessing the power of entities to enhance visibility, relevance, and user intent alignment. But how do you measure the success of entity-based SEO efforts? Let’s delve into the metrics and KPIs that matter.
  • Visibility on Knowledge Graph: Measure your website’s presence on the Knowledge Graph, Google’s digital brain. A higher presence indicates that your entities are well-recognised by search engines.
  • Quality Scores: Gauge how relevant your content is to user intent by assessing quality scores. Higher scores indicate that your entity optimisation aligns well with what users are searching for.
  • Structured Data Implementation: Track the implementation of structured data and schema markup on your website. This can be done using tools and audits to ensure that your entities are properly structured for search engines.
  • Keyword to Entity Mapping: Analyse how effectively your keywords are mapped to entities. The closer the alignment, the better your content matches user intent.
  • Knowledge Panel Appearance: Monitor how often your brand or entity appears in Knowledge Panels. An increased presence in Knowledge Panels indicates that your entity optimisation is resonating with search engines.
  • Click-Through Rates (CTR): Evaluate CTR from search results. High CTR suggests that your entity-based optimisation is enticing users to click through to your content.
  • User Engagement Metrics: Assess user engagement metrics, including time spent on page, bounce rates, and conversion rates. These metrics indicate how well your content fulfils user intent.
  • Algorithm Patents: Keep an eye on algorithm patents related to entity optimisation. Understanding Google’s patents can provide insights into the evolving landscape of entity-based SEO.
entities in seo - The Brains

Around the Bend: Future-Proof Your Strategy With Entities in SEO

In the dynamic, driving world of SEO, the rise to prominence of entity-based search is nothing short of a digital revolution. As we’ve seen, the intricate web of entities, knowledge graphs, and semantic understanding illuminate a future of SEO that is firmly rooted in this paradigm shift. Expect search engines to become even smarter, deciphering user intent with ever-more astonishing accuracy. As entities continue to evolve, personalised search experiences will become the norm, delivering results tailored to individual preferences. And keep an eye on other trends in search. Voice search will continue to gain traction, making entity optimisation crucial for voice assistants. Mobile optimisation will also remain a priority for Google, and video / visual searches are poised to reshape how entities are leveraged. So, how can you navigate this entity-driven landscape and ensure success in SEO?

Crafting a Future-Proof Search Strategy

It begins with a deep understanding of your audience’s intent. Craft content that speaks the semantic language of search engines and resonates with your users. Leverage structured data and schema markup to provide context and enhance visibility on the Knowledge Graph. Continuously monitor metrics, adjusting your strategy to align more closely with entities.
The future is entity-driven, and the possibilities are endless. Are you ready to seize them? If your organisation is ready to harness the power of entity-based SEO, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us here at The Brains to start a journey that transforms your digital presence, enhances user experiences, and ensures your brand thrives in the age of entity-based search.

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