Google’s definition of an entity is “A thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable.”
Many people believe that an entity has to be a person, place or thing, but it’s a misconception about entities having to be a person or object. An entity could include things like, dates, colour, time (both physical time and the time of year – seasons). It can also be a simple as an idea.
Google has laid the foundation of search through creating entities. You could say entities are the most important thing in search, and here’s why. Rich snippets, Zero click search, Link building, Reviews and Local search are all because of ‘entities.’ Gone are the days when Google would simply crawl a website looking for keyword patterns, they’ve evolved to understand the meaning of content. Google laid the foundation for ‘entity search’ when creating knowledge graphs in 2012, and this is when Google shifted to thinking more about looking at using entities as a ranking signal and ranking entities (not just ranking websites). The hummingbird update of 2013 also further strengthened their understanding of semantics around search which cemented the direction Google was shifting as more towards an ‘entity search’ ranking model.
The Google knowledge graph is essentially an entity graph, it features information that Google has collected about entities and their connections. The shift in Google patent releases is all about using ‘real-life’ metrics to rank entities/websites rather than focusing purely on links and content to decide the quality of the search results and ultimately an entity ranking. These connections and their entity relationships could be as simple as internally linking pages (content) from one page to another and showing Google the relationship between these two entities; However it doesn’t stop there. Things like language can also connect entities; whether this be multiple different words for the same singular entity/concept, however using an entity search model means that Google doesn’t simply have to rely on language to understand a certain entity.
What does this all mean for the future of search?
- Rankings will be geared more towards real world signals which cannot be faked or manipulated. Think less about what ‘tricks’ you can do on your website and think more full- circle, focusing more on old school marketing to raise the profile and quality of your brand.
- Voice search isn’t worth getting caught up about. It’s Google’s way to understand conversational queries around entities.
- Mobile search and the nature of mobile searches will continue to make local search vital for everyone. Local search has always been entity based – and the proof to this is because you can rank in local search without a website. The local search algorithm focuses purely on entities. Pay attention to what happens in local search because that is where the rest of SEO is going.
Focus less on writing content for the sake of keywords. Rankings will be focused on you providing the “best answer for the intent of the searcher.” Write content in a way that answers questions in a unique way based on specific searcher intent and less about ranking an individual page based on a set of keywords. Read your content out loud and make sure it sounds conversational.
Think in the mindset of targeting rich snippets; i.e. taking the answer box from a competitor by providing a better answer to the query. Provide the best answer to what you want to rank for.
Regarding link building; links do still matter (and probably always will) but don’t focus solely on links. The future of SEO will make links less important as Google continues to get better at understanding entity signals.
If you have a physical store location or you serve customers in a particular location, you NEED to have a Google My Business (GMB) profile. You GMB account is your direct interface to entity information that Google holds about your business. It’s not just about NAP, pay attention to photos! Google will show photos from random people as well as your own uploaded photos. Make sure they are high quality images as these will be the ones Google choose to show in their search results. Google reviews are important – get reviews from power entities. Start using ‘Google Posts’ within your GMB profile if you aren’t already and should always be promotional offers.
Pay attention to Q&A’s in GMB as anyone can ask a question and any member of the public can answer a question for you. Make sure to create your own Q&As and get them upvoted so this is the information Google is showing users about your entity. Google are already auto suggesting answers on mobile search based on the information it has collected by previous questions and answers that have been asked about an entity.
The cash-strapped marketer’s guide to SEO
My first talk of the day was Helen Pollitt’s talk on small budget SEO and how to make the most of it. During my career I’ve worked on clients where SEO budgets were extremely limited, so I could empathise with some of the points Helen brought up in here talk.
- Do a GAP analysis on your resources and find out where you are already excelling, what you are strong at and how much budget you have to play with. If you have a £300 a month client, you will probably only have a few hours a month to do You need to figure out where this time is best spent. If you know that content is really working for the client and bringing the most results and you can elevate the number of landing pages/ blogs/ inspiration content you are currently producing. Perhaps it’s worth moving any technical time into that activity to get the best “ROI” for the account.
- Start small and scale-up. You might not be able to get the results you want through “traditional” SEO methods but there might be opportunity elsewhere. Look at Video SEO, Local SEO, Amazon SEO, Image Optimisation, App Store Optimisation as other mini channels. All of these will contribute to the organic performance depending on the product/service you are trying to promote. Don’t just focus on getting “best practice” meta descriptions, this isn’t where your limited time is best spent.
- Review structured data and schema as a potential opportunity to enrich your results and get high CTR driving features such as featured snippets and knowledge panels.
- Try to automate as much as you can. Get the robots doing as much as possible to give you enough human time on the account.
- Custom search engines. This was a very cool little trick that allows you to run altered search engine results so that you can compare how your site looks vs competitors in SERPs and find out which specific keywords they are winning on.
Why Translating your keywords and ads is a bad idea in PPC/Paid Media
Every client always wants to increase their reach and, at the end of the day, their turnover, so more and more businesses are looking at the global market and how they can make a dent in it. We have a client that is looking to do just that and expand into Europe, therefore I thought this would be the perfect talk to get some insight at how other agencies are tackling it.
Olivia and the team at Webcertain have a lot of experience working within the international market, in this talk, she spoke about the Do’s and Don’t of launching an international campaign in a foreign language, here is what I learnt:
- Use local search terms – keywords used in the UK may not translate to a search term in another language, a great example used by Olivia was the term ‘Trousers’ while this would result in high traffic in the UK it wouldn’t have the same result in USA where the term ‘pants’ but gain a much higher reach. The same goes for using google translate to French, a direct translation may be useless if French consumers aren’t going to search for it. Olivia’s pro tip – always use native speakers to translate the keywords and give you insight in how the local market would search.
- The same goes for adcopy, an English sentence might make no sense in another language unless it’s translated by a native speaker. Olivia used a brilliant example recently from Parker Pens, rather than stating your pen would never leak, in Spanish it translated to impregnate you. No one wants to be embarrassed and potentially damage the brand.
- Call to actions also need to be considered, in the UK we would use terms such as ‘Book Now’ however in China that could be deemed offensive and would much rather have insightful CTA’s such as ‘Free Delivery’, without using a native speaker or doing your market research this could be unknown.
- Maintain regular search query reports, ensure you aren’t missing outbidding on key terms while making sure your campaign negatives are up to date will ensure your spend is being directed to the right place.
In conclusion, Olivia states that you should always use a native speaker when looking to launch an overseas campaign. In order to build trust in your brand and engage with your audience you need to be using local terms and have the relevant industry insights to ensure you are reaching the correct people, do not underestimate the power of creatives, an easy solution such as google translate does not translate into a good campaign.