3 covert reasons why you need to distinguish keyword SEO from entity SEO

Most SEO specialists focus their search engine optimization efforts solely on Keyword SEO. This is particularly a problem because Google has multiple search engine algorithms, of which Keywords make a small portion. In fact, entity SEO, in many ways, is far more efficient than keyword SEO.

keyword SEO vs Entity SEO

Aleph Website expands on 3 covert reasons why you need to adopt Entity SEO as part of your marketing strategy. After reading this article, you will learn why it is important to distinguish between keyword SEO and entity SEO when optimizing web content.

Ultimately, the goal is to increase your organic traffic quantity and quality by developing a Content & SEO strategy that works toward dominating your market niche.

Keyword SEO (String Optimization) vs. Entity SEO (thing Optimization)

First, we need to establish the difference between Keyword SEO, a.k.a. ‘String’ optimization, and Entity SEO, a.k.a. ‘Thing’ Optimization.

To make it as simple as possible, let’s look at some keyword and entity examples:

keyword seo vs entity seo

KEYWORD (String) Search

In order to find anything on the web, you need to type in a keyword that will generate results. For example, if you type ‘Orange’ you will get results related to the keyword you have used.

search engine results fro orange search

The result generated by Google uses a lexical search engine algorithm that looks at the origin of the keyword and delivers results that reflect the query.

You can either search for ‘oranges’ independently or like most people search: using a sentence. These sentences are broken down into logical strings that Google Algorithms use to understand what type of results the user needs:

how search strings work to deliver better keyword results

In other words, strings are used to make sense of the context of the keyword you chose to look up. The string, hence, helps give various results, and snippets that will accurately and quickly solve your needs.

Entity (THING) Search

Let’s say, we are interested in learning more about other fruits, so we type ‘apple’ into the query bar. Here are the results we get:

Search query for the thing or entity 'apple'

As you can see, the results are not for a keyword search! If it was, then we would see only apple fruits. However, the Google algorithm automatically gives us the result of Apple Company – as a THING!

This is why it is important to make a distinction between STRINGS and THINGS.

Conversely, here’s a STRING search for ‘apple’:

string keyword search for apple

As you can see, STRING is used to deliver better results and different snippets that match the searcher’s intent!

Entity SEO for Discover Google Feature

The Discover Feature on Google used to be Google Feed. This type of Google result is generated from the ‘INTEREST’ section on Google. In other words, it uses ENTITIES to understand what the user might also be interested in. So, Discover serves you results you might be interested in.

google discover - google feed - using entity

The Discover feature is not to be underestimated! It can generate a lot of traffic. Once you are eligible for it, it will pop up in Google Search Console, under the PERFORMANCE tab.

Semantic (LSA) vs Lexical Search Engine Algorithms

Contrary to popular belief, Google uses multiple search engines to parse the queries and deliver results. We can see this more prominently when studying Entity Search and keyword Search.

When searching for a KEYWORD, Google uses a LEXICAL SEARCH ENGINE ALGORITHM, and it works like this:

how the lexical algorithm works

As you can see, this algorithm looks at the literal match and provides results that reflect the root keyword!

On the other hand, when searching for an ENTITY, Google uses SEMANTICAL SEARCH ENGINE ALGORITHM, a.k.a. Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) algorithm. This is how it works:

The Semantical LSA algorithm looks at the relationship to other words in the string to derive the meaning of the keyword. This algorithm, basically, sorts the search based on the SEMANTIC Entity that matches the relationship of the whole string:

how relationships in the string search determine which entity we are looking for

Okay. Now that we understand the difference between keywords and entities. Let’s dive into the difference between Keyword SEO and Entity SEO:

1. Entity SEO results in Topical Authority, KEyword SEO results in TERM Authority

One of the most important differences between search engine optimization for keywords and entities is the type of AUTHORITY that you gain from each optimization.

When doing Entity SEO, we are focused on THINGS rather than STRINGS. For that reason, we cannot rank for a search term, but instead, we rank for a whole TOPIC or SUBJECT.

For example, let’s use ‘attorney’ as a TOPIC and see what comes up on Google:

thing search and entity optimization results in topical authority

The TOPIC attorney comes back with 3 types of results:

  1. A featured snippet – a definition pulled from the domain with the highest TOPICAL AUTHORITY
  2. People Also Ask snippet – a list of related queries pulled from domains with high TOPICAL AUTHORITY
  3. Knowledge Panels on the right-side – Knowledge graphs generated for different attorney ENTITIES (Occupation, Definition, etc.)

Now let’s take a look at a string search with the keyword ‘attorney’ to see what comes up:

string search and keyword optimization results in term authority

As you can see, position #1 is Aleph Website. That’s us! Hold on… we definitely don’t have a TOPICAL AUTHORITY. So how is this possible???

Turns out that you can rank #1 for specific STRING SEARCHES, where the KEYWORD and its CONTEXT generate results of pages with TERM AUTHORITY!

TopicAL AUthority Results in Domains, while TERM Authority Results in PAGES

Entity-based search will pop up the ‘thing’ you are looking for. The result will be the relevant DOMAIN (or subdomain for huge websites) as a whole. Meanwhile, a Keyword-based search will pop up the ‘string’ you are looking for. The result will be the most relevant PAGE.

2. Entity SEO Generates A knowledge Graph, and Keyword SEO generates A featured Snippet

Knowledge graphs or panels are a collection of informational bits on a single entity. They appear whenever the search engine detects an entity search:

As you can see, for the search query ‘lab dog’ we get a knowledge graph for ‘Labrador Retriever’ that belongs to the category ‘DOG BREED’

Even though we didn’t specify exactly what we were looking for, the search engine categorically serves us this result.

When Google cannot identify the Entity and its respective category, then we get served the best possible results, without a knowledge graph. Instead, we get a featured snippet, which can be:

  • a definition of the term
  • image pack reflecting the term
  • a featured image that reflects the term, etc.

For example, if we search for ‘dog paw’ we get this result:

As you can see, there’s no knowledge graph. Instead, there’s an image pack that shows the image search for the exact term. This is a featured snippet generated using a keyword-based result.

Why are knowledge Graphs so important?

There are multiple benefits to having a knowledge graph for your business, brand, or product:

  1. Appearing on top of SERPs and dominating the Search Viewport.
  2. More clicks, visits, session duration
  3. Google indexing web pages faster (spiders crawl your pages more often)
  4. Establishing authority over a subject and becoming a subject expert
  5. Increasing Trustworthiness as users familiarize themselves with your content
  6. Ranking for subsequent longtail keywords is increased as well
  7. Search marketing is more effective in terms of conversions than Paid Search
  8. Appearing on Google SERPs is most likely going to result in your appearance on other search engines too

3. Entity SEO Connects the domain to the Web While Keyword SEO distinguishes the page from other web results

If you do both entity and keyword SEO you will help Google find a unique place for your website. On one hand, you are connected to other entities and organic search terms that help you rank for the right keywords. On the other hand, you differentiate your website from other similar websites.

example: Aleph Website as an entity (the whole domain) is a Web Design company. As an entity, we connect to the world of web design, development, and SEO. Additionally, we are located in Rochester, NY which helps us rank on Google Maps and local search:

In that sense, Entity SEO helps the domain connect to the world web and get integrated to be featured for locations, services, products, shopping, people, etc.

On the other hand, Keyword SEO does the opposite, it attempts to separate us from other web pages and domains. KEYWORD search results in a hirarchy of values; with #1 being the most important and BEST result:

What tools can I use to do Entity SEO?

Excellent question. There are multiple tools that are great at optimizing your content for a specific entity rather than a keyword.

1. Text Optimizer

Text Optimizer analyzes your text and shows you what entities were found on that particular web page:

text optimizer - identifying entities

It is a great tool, FREE of charge, and you can use it to improve your rankings for specific entities!


In Links is a leading authority in entity optimization and internal linking for SEO. As they explain, their tool optimizes content for the Google RankBrain algorithm.

3. Answer The Public

Answer The Public uses LSA and related keywords to show all related search queries (strings) in such a logical order that helps you determine the entities pertaining to a specific search query, such as ‘keyword SEO.’ See the example below:

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Višnja is a passionate digital marketing advocate that works with Aleph as an author, contributor, and consultant to our clients. She has a degree in psychology and a knack for content marketing.

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