Entity-Based Search For Advanced SEO

The popularity of entity-based SEO demonstrates how websites are moving beyond the standard search box, and are starting to think outside the box. A well-structured website unlocks opportunities in search that are still relatively new for many brands. Even if you aren’t in the first position of a search engine results page, there are many advantages to creating context and relevance for your brand. In this article, we will outline what entity-based SEO is, how it relates to building content on your website, and how mapping entities can benefit your brand in search.

Entity-Based Search in Advanced SEO

While keywords play an important role in content SEO, they can be limiting when it comes to performing in the search engine results pages. Pivoting to an entity-based strategy means more context, robust content, and a greater return on investment.

Google describes an entity, or named entity, as a single, well-defined thing or concept. That being said, you’ll find that Google hardly ever uses the term entities, instead calling them topics. This is helpful to know from a content perspective, where entities can be thought of as topics that become well defined by referencing other related things.

For example, Paris is the capital of France but it is also a town in Ontario, Canada. Your content could mention Paris in relation to the Nith River, which empties into the Grand River in Ontario where the town of Paris is situated.

Paris, Ontario

Or your content could mention Paris in relation to the Louvre Museum in France.

Paris, France

How your content mentions Paris in relation to other locations or landmarks makes it explicit which of these entities the mentioned Paris is.

From a technical SEO perspective, one of the most effective ways to create strong connections is through schema markup. It’s important to note that utilizing schema by itself does not create entities. Rather, specific identifiers (@ids aka URIs) can be used to define objects as distinct entities with their own properties and relationships to other entities. For example, LocalBusiness markup requires an @id, defining the location as a unique entity.

Once defined, entities can be linked to a search engine’s knowledge graph through structured data like schema markup. Knowledge graphs represent the linking of information and data across the Web, providing context for search engines as they crawl your website.

Here is Schema App co-founder, Martha van Berkel, visualized as a knowledge graph.

Martha van Berkel Knowledge Graph

Google explains knowledge graphs as containing nodes and edges, where a node is an entity and edges are the relationships between entities. Martha is the central entity of her knowledge graph, and her relationships with other entities make her unique from other Marthas in the world. Other entities are connected to her through her relationship to them, such as her nationality, her education, and her employment history. By linking the content on your website to resources across the Web, search engines begin to understand and contextualize the information.

Contextualize Your Website Content

Entity search is all about specificity, but it’s also about context. Entities make it possible for search engines, like Google, to connect the world’s information together, regardless of the language. In turn, this helps search engines deliver more relevant results to queries in search engine page results.

One effective way to contextualize your content is to link the information on your website to other entities in knowledge graphs with high E-A-T like Wikipedia. Of course, not all entities exist on Wikipedia pages. Other types of entities, like you, your brand or your company, can be linked to knowledge graphs like LinkedIn. This linking won’t necessarily increase your page rank in search engine optimization, but it will help to establish your brand authority in search.

Linking entities creates context, and the more context you can provide, the more relevance you’ll receive for entity-based search. So if someone searches for a product or service that your brand provides, they’ll find just what they’re looking for.

Approach Content With Entities In Mind

Fundamentally, search engines are a resource for users to find answers. User intent is always evolving, and search engines are becoming more sophisticated to keep up. Traditional SEO practices are becoming less important as search engine algorithms get smarter.

Entities have become stronger than keywords in SEO because they provide more insight for search engines in their relationship to other words in a search query. When writing, consider and establish the relationship between the entities you’re targeting in your keyphrase. The goal is to provide enough context that search engines can associate your content with their knowledge or entity graphs.

To translate your website content into entities and connect them to other entities for search engines to understand, many brands utilize the power of schema markup. Schema markup, or structured data, is the practice of marking up your website content in a language that search engines can understand, and the dictionary is Schema.Org. This markup connects the established and related entities in your content to search engine knowledge graphs.

As your website changes and you link more entities, it’s extremely important to update your schema markup. The number one rule for this type of structured data is to only markup content that exists on your web page. Enterprise solutions like the Schema App Highlighter can do all of the technical work for you, and our expert team of customer success managers will guide you every step of the way.

The return on investment in your website content and structure is evolving, and semantic search is right in the middle of it.
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