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Entities in SEO: are you missing unstructured data opportunities?

by Joseph McElroy

12 November 2020 21:04pm

As SEO continues to evolve, missed opportunities abound, bringing to mind the question of what are entities? Entities in SEO have been a mysterious discussion for over a decade since the original Google patents arose. Beyond keyword research and linking, entities provide another viable SEO strategy that promises to become increasingly relevant. Are you missing out on unstructured data opportunities? Discover how to hone in on SEO entities for brand awareness, relevance, and increased ranking.

Unstructured Data vs. Structured Data

The first concept to understand is unstructured data vs. structured data. The technical language for recognizing a structured group of data is a schema, making it recognizable during relevant searches. Unstructured data is still unrecognized by Google. Entities are how Google deals with unstructured data. Integrating SEO, keywords, and links to developing viable entities boost targeted traffic and increase conversions.

What Are Entities?

Google patent language provides a specific answer to what entities are. To sum it up, an entity is a concept or thing that is unique, singular, distinguishable, and well-defined. Entities can be places, items, people, concepts, ideas, items, or anything else, and a combination of any or all of these things. Influential SEO strategists can link keywords such as "purple," "New York City," and "fairies" to create a recognizable entity.

The Mystery of Entities

Despite the recent buzz, entities' value is evident since their inception around 2012, and the original patents dating back more than a decade ago. The goal of entities is to go beyond fundamental indexing to improve the overall user experience. SEO strategies that keep the user experience in mind help create entities for business brands, new products, and more. Entities are notable, such as a major city or a titled movie. Additional information, such as famous monuments or co-stars linked to a noteworthy entity, come up during searches.

Technical Side of Entities

Entities based on the Google Knowledge graph are semantic data objects referred to as schema types. Each entity has a unique identifier. Together they are a collection of properties based on a topic they all represent. The entities become links representing a specific topic with its relationship to other entities online. With that in mind, finding related topics to include in web content and articles helps improve their value and boost ranking.

Going Beyond Keywords

Keywords and rich content create recognizable web pages to search engines and targeted searchers. Links connect topics, web pages, and entities. When searchers type phrases and words into the search bar, they want certain information to answer a question or fulfill a need. Users want more than keyword-filled content with no definitive answers and calls to action. Weaving targeted and related keywords into well-written content with links to useful resources do well with consumers and search engines.

Linking It All Together

Keywords can be entities, and entities can be keywords to show the interrelationships between terms for searchers. Linking related topics and concepts helps searchers find what they want. Use resources such as Google Analytics to research consumer trends and habits to maximize SEO entities' possibilities. Adding links to valued and related resources continues to be an effective SEO strategy that also provides an optimal user experience. Consider a searcher looking for marketing events in New York City. An article listing related events drives targeted traffic to the site and provides real value to searchers, creating a new entity.

Relevance and Authority Matter

Relevance and authority are cornerstones to establishing entities. A variety of sub-topics should be included within the main topic to link them together. An example is a list of research links from authoritative websites and existing knowledge bases. Google handles unstructured data by using existing entities to see if they are interrelated to unknown ones. Ranking for widgets in Boston is easier than ranking for widgets in the United States.

Putting Authority to Work

After identifying relevant sub-topics based on research and trends, put authority to work. Establish entities to include a client's brand name and other specific information. With the example above in mind, widgets in Boston can be narrowed down to the color, size, and other factors. If the CEO of the company producing widgets writes informative articles, soon their name will be associated with widgets in Boston as an authority. As a result, the CEO will become an entity along with the localized company brand and specific types of widgets.

Organizing Unstructured Data

A dedicated knowledge panel appears at the top right of Google's search engine results, showing the subject is an entity. If a thing or topic doesn't have a knowledge panel, it is considered unstructured data. Factors Google uses to organize unstructured data include relevance, attribute, relationship, name, class, and entity ID. Gaining a knowledge panel for a new item or idea boosts authority, branding, and SEO. Much like getting a place in "People Also Ask," becoming a SERP suggestion on a knowledge panel establishes authority and drives targeted traffic to the site.

Define the Business for SEO Success

Many SEO experts expert entities to become more important than keywords and links. Building entities and schema markup help marketers stay ahead of the curve. Build a brand as an entity based on Google Knowledge Graph by securing listings in quality directories, such as Yelp. Establish complete business profiles on social media, claim and complete a Google My Business Profile, and work to get links from other respected entities in the industry. Depend on structured data to link a new entity to existing ones.

Craft Rich Content

Rich content is best for user experience and SEO. Include topics searchers find relevant to create a singular piece of content that is a go-to about the subject. Look at existing content on "People Also Ask" and knowledge panels to get suggestions. Wikipedia pages often have a list of resources at the bottom for additional ideas to transform unstructured data into a recognizable entity. Check forums, social media, and news for relevant updates. Survey customers to get into their minds and find out what they want. Craft content providing meaningful answers to their questions.

The goal of search engines is to improve user experience. SEO marketers also must make the user experience a top priority. Users expect more from trusted brands than keyword-stuffed content with outdated facts. Refreshing existing content and regularly creating rich content helps create entities for better branding and SEO today and in the future.

Tags

Google
SEO
unstructured data
what are entities