Entities and Entity Search: The Future of SEO?

Ed Pronley


April 19, 2022 (Updated: March 12, 2024)

AI-generated graphic of blue magnifying glass on top of yellow background with linear designs. Concept for entities and entity search: the future of SEO.

Understanding which search engine optimization (SEO) strategies are most important for your content marketing campaign is a hard task; especially when the guidelines change year after year. Luckily, there’s an SEO tactic that seems to be here for the long haul: entity search.

But what is an entity, and how do you create one? And why does it even matter? Good news, it’s possible you’re already practicing entity search and you don’t even know it. With a few purposeful tweaks to your content marketing strategy, your SEO performance could skyrocket.

What Is an Entity?

Google defines an entity as “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable.” There’s a lot that can fit into that definition, but that’s kind of the point. Search engines, like Google, are constantly trying to develop better practices for interpreting search queries and displaying the most relevant websites to the user. Entities help with that, and the singular part of the definition can include many things, such as:

  • People.
  • Places.
  • Things.
  • Organizations.
  • Companies.

The other half, “unique, well-defined, and distinguishable,” is what’s most important for search queries, and it’s what Google focuses on the most.

How does Google build it’s knowledge graph? First, they try to determine what the different entities on the web are. This can be done in a few ways, but primarily Google has the option to either parse through richly structured data like schema, or it can try to recognize entities within unstructured data such as web pages or other documents.They then assess how entities may be related to each other, and how confident they are in that relationship or vector. This is how semantic systems are able to get an approximate “meaning” from text. And the stronger and clearer the connections they find, the more confidence the system can have in that information or meaning being factual.

Callie Scott – Entity building for brands

Why Should Marketers Create an Entity?

Google sometimes uses another word when referring to entities: topics. This is helpful because that’s a term you probably already recognize. For example, let’s say someone wants to find a marketing company for their business, so they type “marketing” into Google.

screenshot of the search term "marketing" to describe entity search

Image via Google

As you can see from the screenshot, that didn’t exactly give them the results they wanted. That’s because this entity or topic is broad and so much information can fall into that bucket. But isn’t the point of using a search engine to find exactly what you’re looking for as easily as possible? Let’s say what that person really wanted help with was social media marketing. Typing that into the search box would give results much closer to what they were looking for.

But how does this affect marketers and business owners? If you’re the owner of a social media marketing company, how do you let Google know so you can appear in the search results? What way can you inform Google you have specific, distinguishable services to offer? By building and establishing an entity.

How Do You Build an Entity With Your Content?

When attempting to establish an entity with your content, the best place to start is by focusing on what your business offers and what industry topics your content should cover. Going back to the previous example, if you run a social media marketing company, it’s helpful to create content around subjects like “social media metrics to measure” and “how to get more social media engagement.” Creating content on these subjects helps search engines identify the entity topic you’re targeting but also understand exactly what your company does.

It’s also important to stay as locked in as possible on your entity focus. For instance, a social media marketing company wouldn’t write an article on how to change a flat tire. Though that information might be helpful to readers somewhere, they’re not within your target audience. That could confuse both people and search engine bots, and damage your SEO and authority-building efforts.

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Entity search is a way that Google and other search engines deliver better results to their users. Humans have a unique way of communicating. We use language and sentence structure to interpret meaning and express ideas. Search engines do this too, but instead of language and sentences, they use structured data. Structured data allows machines and search engines to understand the meaning and determine the topic or entity of your content more easily so they can display it to the right people.

Entity search is a way for bots and crawlers to better understand human language, syntax, and search intent so they know exactly where your content fits in the search engine results page (SERP) or for which queries to match it. Keywords are helpful, but they don’t function in the same way that entities do. This was something we saw in the “marketing” vs. “social media marketing” example. “Marketing” is a keyword, while “social media marketing” is an entity. Experts agree that targeting entities is the future of SEO.

Read the guide: Everything You Need To Know About Structured Data

If you’re currently practicing quality SEO — like researching keywords, improving readability, and generating backlinks — that’s great! Now, add a bit more targeted strategy to optimize entities to your campaigns. And this means you’ll need to review your content and understand the search intent to provide more value to your audience.

It also means analyzing how each piece of content connects to your business, and if each one fits into your chosen entity. Adding entity development strategies to your SEO campaign helps boost your content marketing efforts and allows you to stay up to date with the future of search engine optimization.

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Ed Pronley

CopyPress writer

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