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An entity is a thing or a concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable. Today’s internet is truly a semantic web of linked data. It also allows people to search for information faster and more easily. Entities are extremely important to your SEO strategy because they enable us to give meaning to documents so a machine can understand them. 

What Is Entity-Based SEO?

An entity is a unique, identifiable concept, or thing. In the context of search engine optimization, it’s crucial for search engines to understand and process information. Entities form the foundation of semantic search, a system where machines can comprehend and interpret content similar to humans.

The semantic web is a network of linked data that gives meaning to online content. By using structured data formats like schema markup, websites can provide clear information to search engines. This allows machines to understand the content’s meaning and topical relevance more accurately, leading to better search results.

Here’s an analogy:

In the sentence, “My name is Ryan, and I work at SMA Marketing,” there are two distinct entities. One is “Ryan” (a unique and definable person), and another type of entity is “SMA Marketing” (an organization). The English language, like many languages, has rules so we can formulate sentences and communicate meaning.

Because we understand the English language and the syntax of a sentence, we can infer from the sentence that Ryan works at SMA Marketing. Ryan is the name of a person, and SMA Marketing is the place where he works. 

Entities can be a person, place, thing, institution, abstract concepts, etc. 

Entities vs. Keywords

While keywords remain important for SEO, entities offer a more precise way to communicate with search engines. Entities are machine-readable concepts that carry specific data, unlike keywords, which are human-centric terms. Using entities helps control the message and effectively target user intent.

Why Are Entities Important?

Content creators clarify intent using relevant entities. For example, using “person” markup for “George Washington” helps search engines differentiate between the person and the state. This clarity improves search rankings and user experience. Entities also connect to Google’s Knowledge Graph, providing richer information and context.

Examples of Entities in SEO

As marketers, we are in the job of communicating the meaning of our messages, and entities help us do that. Let’s say you’re writing content on George Washington and one of your keywords is “Washington.” However, if your search query is “Washington,” it may create confusion. Here’s why:

  • Google infers that you may be looking for the state of Washington, so the user search brings up a URL for that state.
  • You’ll also see a link to The Washington Post, a newspaper based in Washington, D.C.
  • Then, below, you’ll see the Wikipedia link for the state of Washington.
  • In the “people also ask,” there’s information based on Washington state and Washington, DC.

Google is not sure of the intent of this query because it is too broad.

You’ll have to use the search term “President George Washington.” Then, you’ll see that he was the first president of the United States. The knowledge graph and rich snippets include other pieces of information, like his portrait, his inauguration cabinet, and more.

When you create content about the person Washington, you’ll need to use “person” markup so search engines understand your meaning.

Knowledge Graphs

Entities are the building blocks of the semantic web, and the Knowledge Graph is a prime example of how they’re utilized. Google’s Knowledge Graph is a vast database of interconnected entities, forming a complex web of information. By understanding and building relationships between entities, search engines like Google can process information more intelligently, delivering highly relevant search results. Entities provide the structure and context that enable search engines to grasp the meaning behind keywords, going beyond simple keyword matching to deliver a more comprehensive and informative user experience.

Take a look at the knowledge graph about George Washington:

Knowledge graph of George Washington

The increasing reliance on the semantic web makes entities crucial for future SEO success. By leveraging entities, businesses can enhance their online visibility, reach the target audience more effectively, and stay ahead of search engine algorithm changes.

Structured data plays a vital role. Entities are at the core of that, and leveraging them increases online visibility. Again, if you have questions about how to create an entity-based SEO strategy, please contact us. And until next time, happy marketing.

SMA Marketing Foundational SEO
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