What is an entity?
"An entity is a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. For example, an entity may be a person, place, item, idea, abstract concept, concrete element, other suitable thing, or any combination thereof".
This definition of an entity comes directly from a Google patent and is therefore the only one that matters in the context of search engine optimization. If you see another definition, ignore it :)
Types of entities supported by Google NLP
Google's Natural Language Processing API can identify 12 different types of entities. The table below shows these different types of entities.
|Google NLP Entity Type
|Work of art
||10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA, UK
||July 4th, 1776
* - The 'Other' category indicates that Google NLP believes that this term is an entity but cannot tell which type of entity it is
Now that you know what an entity is in the SEO context, let's understand how Google uses entities and how we can use them to take our content SEO to the next level.
The Google Knowledge Graph
Google's Knowledge Graph is a continually updated database that represents entities (nodes) and the relationships (edges) between these entities. This graph is Google's way of representing its collective knowledge about entities in a structured format.
When you enter a search query that is related to an entity, Google leverages the Knowledge Graph in multiple different ways. Here are a few:
- Question answering: Trying to answer your question without requiring you to visit additional webpages
- Knowledge panels: Generating knowledge panels containing information about the entity in your query
- People also search for: Sharing information about entities related to your search query
- Content relevance: Identifying if your content contains relevant information to the specific query
Our focus here is on content SEO, so let's dive into that last point, and look at how to use our understanding of entities and Google's knowledge graph to optimize our content.
How related entities help your content SEO strategy
Related entities are entities that are semantically related to the search query. By including related entities in your content and discussing them in the context of the topic you are covering, you accomplish the following goals:
- Disambiguation of content: Including related entities in your content helps to disambiguate it, making it easier for search engines to understand which search queries your content is relevant to. To illustrate this point, let us say that your content discusses various different Formula 1 racing drivers but you don't actually use the specific term 'Formula 1 racing drivers' or any subset of it. Google's Knowledge Graph knows that these drivers are all entities associated with the sport of Formula 1, ensuring that your content is considered relevant to the search query 'Formula 1 racing drivers'.
- Topic completeness: Google's Knowledge Graph is at least one of its sources for topics and sub-topics that are related to the search keyword. Ensuring coverage of the related entities in your content makes your content a more complete source of information on the topic of interest, and increases its relevance to the search query.
- Usefulness to the user: When searching for information, we humans tend to skip ahead to different sites if we don't find related information on the page we are currently on. By comprehensively covering all the entities related to a topic, you can increase the usefulness of your content to the reader. This, as we know, has a direct impact on your content's ability to rank higher in search.
Putting it all together with ContentAced
With our 'Entity Analysis' feature, you can easily analyze all the entities that are relevant to your content. All entities are extracted from top-ranking content by using Google's NLP for entity analysis. We show you entities both in a table and in an interactive Entity Graph. For each Google recognized entity, you can:
- 1. Understand which type of entity a given entity is
- 2. Refer to the Wikipedia URL of the entity, where applicable
- 3. View example usage of the entity in a sentence, along with a URL for the content including the entity
- 4. Visually understand the salience (relative importance) of all entities relative to each other
- 5. Visually interpret how strong (or weak) the sematic relationship is between entities
- 6. Identify entity groups relating to the same concept or idea
Using the Entity Analysis feature is straightforward and intuitive, so we have three simple recommendations for you:
|Use the entity graph to grasp the relative importance of the entities and their relationships.|
|Cover entities in your content at a higher priority than you would other ideas and concepts.|
|Remember that your audience is most interested in knowing how the entities tie in with the topic you are writing about, not how well you can clone Wikipedia.|
That's all, it really is that simple!
(Note: The 'Entity Analysis' feature will be released within the next few weeks. Until then, feel free to mess around with the interactive entity graph above :))