Are you aware that Google is now largely an entity (vs a keyword) engine?
Hello. Thanks for listening to SEO tips today.
There are a variety of Google patents that speak to Google’s ability to surface results based on how it understands the essence of your query – the entity mentioned in those string of keywords you use vs just keyword matching.
What are entities?
If you are not sure what an entity is….It is a thing with “distinct and independent existence.”
Google defines an entity in one of its patents as:
[A]n 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.
And if you are not optimizing for entities as a part of your search marketing plan, you are being left behind.
Google’s various patents on entities
Let’s walk through just two of the Google patents on entities (and just and FYI, Bill Slawski, who blogs about Google patents, has 19 separate posts about them, so there’s more than two filed Google patents on entities).
Anyway, there’s one that was written about in 2017 in Search Engine Land (but granted at the end of 2016…so almost 4 years ago).
Here’s the essential part of that patent:
“[T]he system may retrieve entity references associated with the top ten search results. … the ranking and/or selecting is based on a quality score, a freshness score, a relevance score, on any other suitable information, or any combination thereof.”
Later in the patent we see a reference to a unique identifier for each entity to speed up the processing of results. We know that Google was pulling from Freebase which got collapsed into Wikidata.
But as a side note, did you know that there is a unique identifier associated with your brand across all of the Google properties? For instance, my Google Scholar profile has an ID of 2FRMBJkAAAAJ and if you look in your Google My Business listing, you’ll see another ID number.
Anyway, back to the patents. There is also a Google patent on related entities where Google determines the relatedness of entities based on their co-occurence in the same resource.
Cindy Krum from Mobile Moxie talks about Google’s move to entity matching as a way for it to provide results across multiple languages at scale — as well as serve information more effectively on mobile devices and surface image results. She has great presentations online that you should check out.
So how does this impact you and your rankings?
Let’s just start with you as a brand. Have you clarified who you are across the Internet? Have you added all of those machine readable IDs to your Wikidata page?
Let’s talk about how get started with entity optimization
Here’s a quick list of steps that I use to help my clients clarify their entity in search.
Claim all of those Knowledge panels and update all the references.
Look up your Wikidata profile. Unlike Wikipedia, if you create an account and self identify (and you work for the organization or brand) you should be able to add additional machine readable IDs.
Not sure which you might be missing?
Look up your closest online competitor’s Wikidata page and see if they have a few that you don’t. Here are some of the IDs that are somewhat universal which you should look for are ROR, Github, WorldCat and Grid.
If you have local offices or a local business element, claim all of your Google My Business listings, and work with a company like Bright Local to claim and clean up your name, address, phone number everywhere else on the Internet.
Thanks for listening. Come back tomorrow for another SEO tip.