Search Engine Optimization: Chapter 4
How SEO is Shifting Gears
Welcome to the fourth segment of the search engine optimization series! Throughout the chapters, I have discussed the importance of SEO, internal and external links, as well as performing an in-depth SEO audit for your business. Now, I want to switch gears to focus on how the SEO game is shifting from using keywords to entities. That’s not to discredit the importance of keywords for your search engine optimization strategy; keywords still play a vital role. The fact of the matter is, Google’s algorithms are constantly improving and evolving to deliver its users more relevant and personalized search results, and the way in which this is occurring is through the use of entities. It’s essential for your business to also evolve with these changes in order to benefit from your SEO efforts as much as possible.
When I was in the bait shop helping Bob with his SEO audit , we began to realize that most of the content on his webpages was optimized for specific keywords, rather than entities. Phrases such as “live bait,” “fishing line,” and “bass lures” were prominent throughout the content on his site. While including such keywords is crucial to Bob’s website, I pointed out that the way in which users are searching for what they need is changing. When I had conducted my own research on lures to buy, I searched for “best largemouth bass lures in New Hampshire” rather than just “bass lures.” In order for Bob to gain the traffic to his site that he desires, he needs to prioritize optimizing his content for entities and keywords simultaneously. This will help those who love to fish find the products they need.
What is an Entity?
Google defines an entity as “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable.” This includes a wide variety of elements, which for example can include a person, place, or organization, as well as even a date, currency, or idea. While each entity is independent, each also relates to other entities based on similar attributes. This connection between entities is developed within knowledge graphs, such as Google’s, which is a network of entities and their relationship to one another.
Entities vs. Keywords
Traditional SEO relies heavily on the keywords users enter into the search bar and the user’s intent behind those keywords. This approach is quite simple. Modern entity SEO , on the other hand, dives deeper to explore entities and the relationships between them. These entities are stored in a database that saves Google the time of processing the top results each time a query is entered into the search bar. While entities and keywords are not the same, they work in tandem. Oftentimes, keywords are ambiguous, with multiple interpretations or meanings behind them. Through the use of entities, search engines can better understand user intent, as well as the context and relationship between words because they are machine-readable. Machine learning helps Google understand language in order to interpret pages and entity relationships. This helps to create a better experience for web users when they are searching for what they need, and helps you gain more relevant traffic. Entity SEO greatly depends on artificial intelligence (AI), as well as natural language processing (NLP). Artificial intelligence helps to identify patterns in data while natural language processing works to understand the meaning of the text. Through these advancements in technology, entities also understand synonyms, homonyms, and translations (context clues) that exist for the words individuals use when searching. This eliminates the need to constantly rephrase or translate words throughout your webpages.
Metrics to Rank for Entities
Google developed a patent in 2015 regarding entity SEO. SEO expert, Dave Davies, analyzed this patent quite deeply. In doing so, he determined four factors that actually lead your business to rank for entities on search engine results pages (SERPS). These four factors include:
1) Relatedness is defined as the co-occurrence of entities. When two entities appear frequently together on other sites with authority, they are considered to be closely linked to one another. The most related entities are awarded the highest ranking.
2) Notability of entities is determined by elements such as links, reviews, relevance, and mentions. Essentially, when an entity is placed within a category that doesn’t experience much competition, the notability is higher, leading to improved rankings.
3) Contribution is an entity’s contribution to a topic, which is determined through external signals such as backlinks and reviews. When backlinks or reviews are received from websites known for their authority, more consideration will be taken into account than those that are received from lower quality sites.
4) Prize metrics are the relevant prizes or awards that an entity has received, such as a Nobel Prize, Academy Award, or multiple of these suitable awards. Such prestigious awards contribute to the significance of an entity, leading to higher rankings.
Why Entity SEO Matters For Your Business
Entities are changing the search engine optimization game, and rather quickly. Understanding entities and the role they play within your SEO strategy will allow you to better serve your current and prospective customers. Your business will also receive more relevant traffic , helping users find what they need, leading to increased profits over time. Overall, implementing entity-based SEO will grant you the ability to stay ahead of your competitors, and will contribute to your business’s success.
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