Edwin is a strategic content specialist. Before joining Yoast, he spent years honing his skill at The Netherlands’ leading web design magazine.
Search engines love entities. Entities can be people, places, things, concepts, or ideas and they will often appear in the Knowledge Graph. Lots of search terms can be an entity, but specific search terms can also have different meanings and thus, be different entities. Take [Mars] for example; are you talking about the planet entity or the candy bar entity? The context you give these entities in your content determines how search engines see and file your content. Find out how to link entities to your content using Yoast SEO.
Let’s talk semantics
Semantics is the search for meaning in words. In theory, you could write an article about Mars without ever mentioning it directly. People would understand it if you provide enough context in the form of commonly used terms and phrases. To illustrate this, we’ll take the keyword [Mars]. Mars is a so-called entity, and search engines use these to determine the semantics of a search. You can use structured data to support the discovery of entities on your page.
According to Google’s definition, an 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. Generally, entities include things or concepts represented linguistically by nouns.”
If you search for Mars on Google, you’ll most likely get results about the planet Mars. But why? Why isn’t the Mars candy bar in the top listings? Or Mars the chocolate company? Or the discovery district MaRS in Toronto? Maybe the Japanese movie called Mars? Or one of the many Mars-related movies made over the years? This is because Google makes an educated guess using search intent and your search history. Also, it uses co-occurring synonyms, keywords, and phrases to determine which page is about one of these specific search variations and which ones to show.
Co-occurring terms and phrases
Co-occurring terms and phrases are those that are commonly used to describe an entity. These are the terms that are most likely to pop up in content about that entity. Content about the planet Mars will probably contain mentions of the following terms:
- ‘red planet’
- ‘northern hemisphere’
- ‘low atmospheric pressure’
- ‘martian craters’
- ‘red-orange appearance’
- ‘terrestrial planet’
- ‘olympus mons’
- ‘second-smallest planet in the Solar System’
Pages with Mars candy bar content might feature phrases like:
- ‘chocolate candy bar’
- ‘nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate’
- ‘limited-edition variants’
This article was written by Edwin Toonen and originally published on Yoast • SEO for everyone.