Entity SEO – reflections 6 months later
It’s been roughly 9 months since we got excited on entity SEO and we now have roughly 6 months of deployment behind us. We’ve deployed various entity SEO strategies mainly to our international portfolio and respective large websites.. Let’s reflect and explore if we were able to deliver and what our entity SEO endeavor entailed.
As this is a follow-up post, for those unfamiliar with the concept entirely, I recommend a quick glance of the previous post. At the time, I couldn’t resist making a super simplified leap from AI and automation to entities although these are technically very distinct concepts. In essence, entity can be defined as
”Unlike a keyword, which is ultimately just a collection of letters specific to a language, an entity carries meaning and is independent of the language and of the synonymous keywords that designate it.”
In my previous post, I referred to this as a paradigm shift, a transition from keywords to entities, combined with an automated capability to action the respective insights, that got us excited in the first place.
Growing pains – does it really work?
Theoretically the shift from keywords to entities was smooth and easy. Mapping concepts (i.e websites and landing pages) to entities turned out to be a different story. Entities were more abstract and few in count unlike landing pages which were ubiquitous and, well, practical in nature. Therefore, the envisioned automation and efficiency benefits did not materialize from the very start. More human brains and growing pains in the very beginning rather than automation gains.
After the initial push and the pain of unlearning, optimism started to creep in. Entities started to make sense but above all the automation gains started to slowly materialize. No more internal linking labor nor structured data mapping but a system doing all of this heavy lifting in the background. As a bonus, we started to understand the topics and entities of our sites very thoroughly. These continue to support our content strategies and information architectural choices going forward.
For us, and for almost any team for that matter, the automation was a big deal since we needed to get the basics done while allowing us to focus on bigger and strategic initiatives. The automation more or less handled the basics, freeing our capacity to more productive matters which was sort of the point of the entire exercise.
The promised efficiency gains started to materialize as we had planned but we were still unsure of the results and ultimate business impact – where we were able to improve our traffic and monetisation with entity SEO and automation?
Breakthroughs & results
Having run the links, schema and topical (entity) associations for about a month, the needle finally started to move, slowly but surely. Rankings, traffic and monetisation all started pointing to the correct direction.
While we were still fighting plateauing or occasionally even declining traffic in the beginning of the year, Q2 was pretty much a breakthrough. Curves turned and the cohort of pages (~50) we had applied the automation and entity tactics grew their traffic 50% compared to previous year. The cohort represented non-trivial traffic volumes both absolutely and relatively speaking as seen below:
These were also amongst the best monetized pages so the traffic was certainly meaningful in terms of business outcomes as well.
While we deployed a few other optimization measures to these pages in addition (it would have foolish not to) to entity automation, we’d still attribute the majority of the growth to entity automation since the other measures were either direct or indirect consequences of the smart automation in the first place.
The other case study which we can showcase represents the same industry but different website. The context is similar: traffic overall had started plateauing however hadn’t quite turned negative yet as compared to last year – the base rate for the traffic development would be near zero growth and slightly positive.
Analyzing the cohort of entity SEO target pages, the picture turns out to be dramatically different – in a positive way. The snapshot below shows the organic traffic as measured by Search Console compared to previous year.
Both impressions and traffic more or less doubled compared to last year. The traffic volumes are non-trivial and overall the cohort consists of ~30 pages. The best part? Monetisation again followed in line with the traffic growth.
This particular cohort is more nuanced however. Originally, it contained a page type which didn’t deserve a traffic nor monetisation boost of any kind and we made some adjustments and fine tuning down the road. The devil is in the details as they say.
The entity automation now continues to humm on the background generating meaningful business results for the months and years to come.
The ROI is already aligned with our expectations and it almost looks too good to be true. Time will tell.
The automation benefits and the (expected) ROI yield have both materialized so there’s no reason not to continue the journey on the automation road. We’ve only seen at first glance what SEO automation is capable of so we certainly remain bullish.
The deployments are now taking place across the entire portfolio and we hope to provide another update on the results toward the end of year. The team has also started onboarding Finnish clients to the suite (sorry, we have the exclusivity) and Tommi will be your point of contact if you’d like more information – stay tuned!