Google entities may be the most powerful tool in an SEO’s arsenal, but so few professionals know about it that laypeople are completely out of luck finding resources.
We hope to do our part here in this article to change that sad status quo by providing you an overview of what Google entities are, how to use them for SEO, and how to pierce the veil of Google’s mystery ranking factor.
What is a Google Entity?
According to one of its patents, Google defines an entity as, “a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable.”
An entity can be an idea, an adjective, a concept, etc. Anything that can be uniquely defined. The color red for example. Or the Pythagorean theorem. Or this very article. Or the concept of entities that it’s discussing. Or a word on it. Or a letter in that word. Or a pixel in that letter.Dave Davies, Oncrawl.com
Let’s take “Tom Hardy” as an example query that we aim to rank for. Maybe we’re running a movie database-type website, or maybe just a fan club’s official website.
You want to find the entities tied to the entity Tom Hardy. Basically, this means other entities that would help describe your target entity. Almost like you’re playing $10,000 Pyramid.
But how does Google even make sense of this? It’s just code!
We believe Google uses a model called Word2Vec (referenced in this patent regarding keyword extraction) to break down entities, map them to a graph, and assign a unique ID. In a sense, Word2Vec turns language into a mathematical computation, allowing Google to properly identify concepts and map them appropriately – regardless of language – in a way traditional models simply can’t.Brooks Manley, SearchEngineWatch.com
How Do I Know What Google Entities to Use for My Keyword?
Basically, you want to include any and all entities that relate to our targeted keyword. Sometimes, getting the ball rolling is fairly easy. For instance, if you’re writing about The Avengers movie franchise, you probably ought to mention Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and so on, as well as Iron Man and Captain America.
But is that the end of it?
There are a few hacks out there to help make sure you’ve covered your entity bases.
Check Google Image Search
When you perform a Google Image search, you’ll get a selection of images related to your query. But you’ll also be presented some info from Google about how to narrow and refine your search.
These come in the form of buttons with related keywords, almost like categories of your original search, that you can click on to tell Google to filter the results based on those that also fit the new criteria.
Well, those are basically entities. Spend some time, after your keyword research, looking through these filtering options for entities you ought to reference in your fully optimized article.
Visit Wikipedia and you’ll be tempted to fall into a click hole, forever chasing an invisible rabbit to reach the bottom of the knowledge pool.
In other words, every Wikipedia page connects to at least one other Wikipedia page. They’re all interconnected in some way, with various degrees of separation.
Well, take a look at the page most related to your main keyword. Then, figure out all of the internal links, meaning the links that lead to other Wikipedia pages. Each one of those links is an entity worth mentioning alongside your main keyword.
After all, there’s a reason Wikipedia almost always ranks on the top of Google search engine results pages.
Use a Third-Party On-Page SEO Tool
There are a number of tools out there, or SaaS (Software as a Service), that work as content editors or feature content editors. These tools search the results pages for your chosen query and use algorithms to find the most commonly used combination of multiple factors. Such as, how many images does the average first page result have?
But what these tools also do is provide related words often mentioned. While these aren’t for sure entities that Google recognizes, Google seems to like these pages and they happen to reference these entities, so it’s worth incorporating.
While there are many, the most popular tools include:
Why Doesn’t Google Talk About Entities?
Google doesn’t talk nearly enough for many SEOs in the community. Their answers to even direct questions are vague and dodgy.
Search Engine Journal, an industry publication, pieced together its awareness of Google’s use of entities based on multiple patents the company held but hasn’t spoken about.
Don’t get us wrong, Google is pretty transparent as far as mega corporations go. They just keep their algorithm’s details close to the vest. It is a trade secret after all, so we can understand. Still, it makes it difficult for lay people to teach themselves when there’s no official information readily available.
Conclusion: Google Entities
Do your best to incorporate entities into your articles. Think of them as second cousins to keyword synonyms. In general, Google needs context in order to understand your page and where it fits in on the web. The only way it can do that is through the written language used in the article. The more words that hint at the narrowed down, specific subject covered in the article, the better.
What do you think about Google entities? Let us know in the comments below and share your best tips for determining the entities you incorporate into your articles.