Recent news has come out around Google’s recent patent on relating entities to one another. This surprised some but is just a logical next step in the world of search. In fact, David Mihm spoke about this in detail in his Local U presentation back in 2015 in Williamsburg. Part of the reason I value Local U so much as one of the best sources of information out there to keep you ahead in the SEO world. In fact, their recent local podcast touches on entity search in local as well. I would even say it is even more relevant to local than to bigger national brands.
Though not quite as far ahead of it as David Mihm, I wanted to touch a little on what it is and what it means for search.
What Do We Mean By Entity Search?
Everything we may search or interact with has certain qualities. In the case of search, they can exist beyond a specific website. We tend to get caught up in our own websites and traffic to them. If you think of Google as a business intended to provide the best answer to a search query, you realize that they need to understand entity relationships more than anything.
For example, if you are an English speaking person on vacation in France and want to find a seafood restaurant, wouldn’t it be a great user experience for Google to recognize “seafood restaurant” as an entity and understand that French translation of “seafood restaurant”, then find that in local information in France, retrieve the information, and then deliver it back to you in your native English, with the ability to show you the closest and best options?
This is just one example but consider the phrase seafood restaurant. It has many qualities that Google must understand and relate to each other. One is that “seafood restaurant” has a distinctly different translation in different languages. Two is that a seafood restaurant in any language is a restaurant, and therefore has a local and geographic component to the searcher. Finding a seafood restaurant in Paris isn’t helpful to someone searching in Lyon. Lastly, as a restaurant, the searcher may want to see reviews and specific proximity on a map, as well as directions. These are all qualities or data points related to the seafood restaurant that Google tries to understand and then present back to the searcher in their native language with translation. Understanding how all of these pieces relate and add value to the searcher is a big part of all of this and is believed to be a big part of algorithm changes in the coming years.
Entity Search For Local Businesses
In the above restaurant example, we already see where local business search comes into play. If you are a local business owner, you may already get it. Furthermore, Google must understand that the same business may be represented in a number of ways. We all know we have Yelp pages and Chamber listings and Google Business pages and BBB listings to worry about and monitor. Google understands there are many representations of the same business entity out on the internet, and the algorithm decides which one best matches the search query. Often, and in increasing frequency, Google chooses their on business page as the best option. In fact, they are offering more and more options for business owners to add more information to their Google Business pages so that searchers never have to leave the Google results.
What does this mean to small business owners? Well, part of this is that it is more complicated to measure effectiveness. It isn’t all about website visits, especially if you are a business just looking for a phone call or contact. Google is providing that information more and more from the Google Business page, making it unnecessary to even visit your website. Is this a bad thing for you. Maybe, or maybe not. If you are optimizing your entity, you are still touching these searchers, just from different locations on the internet. Some of which you may not own, but you can control our presence in some format.
As often is the case when listening to David Mihm speak, I remember thinking this all makes sense, but being ahead of the curve, it took some time to really start to hit. Now it is hitting and local businesses have to know how to harness this, use it for their own gain, and sometimes most complicated, measure it. Is a drop in visits to your homepage coupled with a large growth in views of your Google Business page something you can understand and compare?
Those that care about this in the business will continue to measure and improve small business performance on the internet. At the heart of it all is providing the best user experience for the searcher, so if we need to put more information on the Google Business page or be sure to bake asking for a review into our business process, it is important to remember that your presence on the internet is not just your website. People can find you in a myriad of ways, and you should be aware of those ways and how to present yourself best in those circumstances.
I look forward to hearing what all of the folks are Local U have to add to this discussion when I attend later this week. I’m sure David and the others will have plenty more to add to the current situation, as well as another glimpse into the crystal ball.