What Google Considers an Entity and How That Affects SEO

‘Entities’ are not new in SEO. They have been around for as long as search engines have been used and continue to be among the most important driving forces behind searches and search engines in general.

Search engine optimizers and specialists should by now be well versed in the concept of entities, which, to many experts, are among the most powerful ideations when it comes to search. It will not be long before entities surpass content and links as a key area of importance and interest for optimization when it comes to pursuing high rankings. Just the same, entities rely on both content and links to carry such influence, which is why it is important to know how to use them in strengthening and connecting entities

What exactly are entities?

Google defines an entity as a singular, unique, distinguishable, and well-defined thing or concept. They are much like your basic nouns—people, places, and/or things. But you have to think beyond ‘what’ or ‘who,’ as entities can likewise refer to concepts, ideas, adjectives, etc.—essentially anything that can be defined in a unique manner. Entities can be a word, a letter in a word, or a pixel in that very letter—anything and everything on the web that is identifiable and can be connected, linked, and ranked based on certain factors.

How are entities ranked?

Entities are ranked depending on critical factors or metrics including relatedness, notability, contribution, and prize.

  • ‘Relatedness’ refers to the frequency of co-occurrence of entities such as when two entities are frequently referenced on the web, such as the case with the search term ‘US president’ and ‘Donald Trump.’ When two entities exist together frequently enough, they produce authoritative and definitive results.

    The same principle and process applies when establishing connections with pluralized entities and terms. A query for ‘US presidents,’ for instance, will yield results that include entities like Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton, etc., as these people are entities associated with the pluralized form of the entity or word, ‘President.’

  • ‘Notability’ is another metric that Google uses to determine entity ranks. This basically breaks down the value of the entity into factors like links, mentions, reviews, and relevance. The more value an entity has, for instance, the more links, mentions, reviews, and relevance it possesses. The less competition there is in the topic or category that an entity is competing in, the more notable it becomes. Notability can be more clearly illustrated by being a big fish in a pond—which gives an entity higher notability than being the same fish in a much larger ocean. 
  • ‘Contribution’ refers to external signals like reviews and links, which are basically used as a measure of a particular entity’s contribution to the topic. A review from established and respected critic, for instance, bears greater weight than a random rant on Yelp.
  • The fourth and final metric used to rank entities is ‘prize,’ which refers to the measure of various prizes and relevant recognitions that an entity has received. Examples of this include an Oscar, Nobel Prize, US Search Award, or a similar accolade. The larger the weight and relevance of the prize or recognition, the higher the value that is attached to the entity.

Google then goes to work, calculating these factors and bringing them together as users request information on a particular entity. When a user enters a query into the search engine, Google runs through the search process by first determining the relatedness of entities and assigning values, determining the notability of entities and assigning values to each of them, determining their contribution and assigning a value to every entity, identifying prizes awarded to entities and still assigning value, and determining applicable weights based on query type so that a final score can be reached for each possible entity until a relevant and accurate SERP is produced.

Need further help understanding entity search and how you can use it to boost your website’s rankings? Contact SEOValley today. Our SEO technicians can give you a full audit of your website.