Recent updates to the Google algorithm appear to have heralded the arrival of Entity Search, something that has a number of webmasters running scared and announcing “The end of Search Engine Optimisation”.
You may be thinking “What on earth is Entity Search?”, or more worryingly “Why should I care?”, but Selesti are here to give you the lowdown on how this will really affect your site.
What is Entity Search?
Entity Search is a new phenomenon that has slowly entered into Google’s algorithm in recent months, but has recently achieved prominence thanks to new updates that go beyond the usual Penguin and Panda changes.
Last month (the 26th September if you want to split hairs) Google delivered the latest addition to its rapidly expanding menagerie of animal themed updates, titled Hummingbird. This algorithm change is just one part of Google’s aim to transform search from being ‘search term based’ to ‘intention based’, delivering more detailed answers to user queries from Google’s own bank of information.
For example, searching “How big is Norwich?” will deliver a Google answer to your query, like so:
However, there are implications for ‘intention based’ search far beyond finding out the size of everyone’s favourite regional capital.
The best way to explain this was presented by David Amerland at SMX East, a search marketing conference held earlier this month (yes, they exist and we like to attend when we can, or at least read the slides when we’re too busy looking after our clients’ campaigns).
He asked his audience to think of a tree. Now, whilst many of you might think of a green leafy organism, he pointed out that search marketers might lean more towards picturing ‘trees’ like this:
Similar, but certainly not the same. And if this is what you were faced with when expecting to see a lovely English Oak, you might be a bit shocked.
Therefore predicting intent is the future, as search marketers and the people behind Google begin to realise that language and search keywords are increasingly seen as potentially unreliable indicators of users’ intentions.
What search engines need to do is put the information on websites users have visited in the past to good use, identifying the intentions around their search terms, rather than taking them too literally. And this is exactly what Entity Search is designed to do.
But, how do we optimise for user intentions?
You may have heard it before, but a Google staple catchphrase has always been “Content is king”. Therefore, ensuring that your website and each page on it effectively answers a user’s query, and has an overall targeted ‘theme’ will be a reliable approach to ensure that your web page is ready for search engines in future.
But don’t abandon keyword research just yet, as unless you have psychic powers you need some way of targeting user intentions with some form of compelling language. Just make sure you don’t place too much stock in keyword volumes and start to really think about what it is a user might be searching for when they come to your page, test the effect of your changes as you go, and you should have the recipe for a nicely optimised page.
This also doesn’t mean that technical optimisation is no longer relevant, so you still need to make sure that your site is up to speed and navigable by search engine bots. That means looking at redirects, H1 tags, and all sorts of other coded elements to ensure your site is ready to be crawled by search engines.
Stay tuned for more blog posts from the Search Marketing team here at Selesti, helping you to keep up to date with the latest from the world of SEO. But if you just can’t wait until we write you another exciting instalment, why not get in touch with us today?