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Entity SEO 101: What is Entity SEO?

Rory Hope
Rory Hope
3 min read
Entity SEO 101: What is Entity SEO?
Photo by Alina Grubnyak / Unsplash

What is Entity SEO?

Entity SEO helps search engines to understand the entities within your content.

This will then work to ensure your content is included in Google's search results when processing of a user's search query related to that entity (e.g. a topic like 'cryptocurrency').

By organising information into entities, Google is becoming more proficient in providing relevance and quality in its search results, especially for ambiguous queries.

Context and relevance are such important factors for succeeding with SEO. Optimising your content with entity SEO can help to improve your content's relevance to what you want to rank for.

So let's explore the tactics for optimising through entity SEO.

How do I optimise for entity SEO?

  1. Research the keywords relevant to your audience(s) using a tool like Semrush, ahrefs or Google Ads keyword planner.
  2. Use tools like InLinks to identify how a search engine (e.g. Google) classifies entities, and their relationships. Use this and your keyword research to inform your SEO content strategy.
  3. Plan an SEO content strategy that adopts the hub and spoke model, where the hub page covers everything related to an entity, and the spoke pages address the long-tail related topics for that entity.
  4. Internally link between the pages that are relevant to a specific entity, or entity group.
  5. Use structured data to inform a search engine about what your content is relevant to. You can even reference specific entities here.

What is the difference between a keyword and an entity?

An entity is "A thing or concept that is singular, unique and well-defined and distinguishable." This can include physical objectives, concepts and more.

A keyword can represent an entity, or it can be a search query that relates to a component of a wider entity network.

Essentially, you can search with keywords to access information related to an entity. A search engine will consider that entity, and it's related entities to provide relevant information in a format that best suits the searcher.

Common misconceptions about entity SEO

Entity SEO is not the modern day keyword stuffing. You cannot just simply add references to related topics of your primary topic and expect to rank.

It's also not just about adding internal links between your blog content that shares a similar theme.

Why is Wikipedia a useful source for understanding entity SEO?

Wikipedia is a useful entity database source to understand how a search engine may determine entities and understand their relationships.

You can analyse Wikipedia's related topics to understand how a human would categorise information and then use that to inform your SEO work around entities.

Are topics actually entities?

Topics are entities because they are a 'concept', the key is to optimise your content so that a search engine can clearly understand the well-defined and distinguishable entity or entity cluster that it is relevant and authoritative for.

Internal linking can be a highly effective tactic for informing search engines of the entities your website is authoritative and relevant to. This is where the topic cluster or hub and spoke model has been found to be effective by many SEOs in recent years.

Links are signals to search engines that content A is relevant to content B.

Links convey a significant amount of messages to a search engine about the quality, relevance and freshness of web content. As a result, links connect entities on the web and this is one of the key techniques that Google uses to understand the relationship between entities.

RankBrain determines which entity metrics and relationships are most important

RankBrain is AI that can determine which entity metrics and relationships are the most important to deliver quality, authoritative and relevant content to users.

4 factors Google analyses to influence the ranking of entities

There are four factors that Google analyses to influence the ranking of entities for queries input by users.

  1. Relatedness
  2. Notability
  3. Contribution
  4. Prizes

Why are entity databases important for SEO?

Google purchased Metaweb, an entity database, to improve its understanding of entities, their relationships and using that to prioritise certain entities over others when users input ambiguous queries.

Entity databases help Google to be more efficient when processing search results whenever a user enters a query. An entity database stores entities and their connections, these connections can be understood via backlinks and using entity databases.

Entities are ranked using a quality score. This quality score is determined by freshness, incoming links, outgoing links and a users selection history.

Google can infer context for multiple entities with the same name by analysing auxiliary keywords such as "where is", "how to" and "when did". This technique enables Google to determine entities and their relationships when processing unstructured data (information that is not organised in a pre-defined manner or data model).

By understanding the relationships between entities, determined by analysing entity databases and backlinks, Google can prioritise certain entities over others.

Which tools can you use to optimise for entity SEO?

There is an ever increasing array of tools that SEOs can use to identify entities, and their relationships between each other. Here are some to check out:

  • InLinks
  • MarketMuse
  • Frase