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The Battleground of Entities & Reviews

June 6, 2017


Today, we’re going to look at an area where both apply: reviews.In this article,we’re not going to dive into specific strategies for acquiring reviews, as those change over time (though I will be linkingbelow to a couple of fantastic pieces that cover well some current approaches).

What are ‘entities?’
Before we get to any of the above, we need to cover what an entity is to really start to wrap our heads around how they play their role.While simple, the impact of entities on search is massive — and it’s sadly one of the most overlooked areas of discussion in SEO.So today, we’ll take steps to remedy that in at least one area.

Let’s talk about reviews
We’re going to begin our discussion in an area we all tend to think of when we think of reviews…

Business entity reviews
From a search standpoint, it can be useful to think of your business the way the law does (if you’re incorporated, at least): it is a thing that is unique and autonomous.It may be connected with other entities, but it is not the same as them, nor does an adjustment of those connections necessarily impact the business entity itself (a business may change its CEO while changing very little, for example).Now we’re getting started in illustrating how entities work.Your business entity is connected to other entities in ways that define many of its characteristics.If you want to simplify it, you can think of them like links to and from that entity.We’ll get a into that further below; for now, it’s enough to understand that a business entity is connected to other entities that define what that business is, where it’s located, who and what it’s connected to and so on.

The vast majority of businesses could not (and should not) attain a 5/5 rating from every demographic. They cater to their audience, and that’s what they should do.A hipster restaurant with craft beer would suit me well now, but back when I was a starving student…not so much.Understanding who’s writing areview and what they expect and enjoy needs to factor in strongly.This recent step with hotels makes sense, but it cannot possibly cover all the variables that would go into a review being fully applicable to me. Rather, Google can weight all the various entity information they have and come up with what they determine to be the most applicable reviews for me.We can get a feel for how much weight each of the factors has, with gender hardly impacting them at all and past ratings of Mexican restaurants factoring in heavily.Remember, we’re looking at a person here and the value of their reviews on my results.Rightfully,whether the reviewer is male or female would have very little impact on the weight of their review; however, their writing of past reviews of other Mexican restaurants, their age being close to mine and having written a large number of reviews would cause more emphasis to be placed on their review.If I’m right, then in the near future we’ll see the review system change to place more weight on reviews where the reviewer is similar to the searcher, and where generic influencer scores will be placed on individuals (human entities).Furthermore, I would suggest it’s highly likely that not only will review weighting be adjusted as a result of personalization, but the actual search results themselves will be more personalized than they are today.

Thinking about products
I’m about to go out on a limb to discuss an area that I feel makes sense, but for which I’m just spit-balling.We’ve been talking a lot about the impact of reviewers on review weighting and relevancy of a site to a specific demographic.But I would suggest that the products a business carries — and how those products are reviewed — may well impact an entity’s overall prominence, too.What I would predict we will see in the near future is that the reviews of a specific product, or “product entity,” will impact a business entity’s status if they sell that product (even if the review is from a different site).If a company were selling only products with low reviews across different sites, I would put forth that that business entity’s overall score would be diminished (certainly for queries related to those products or that product category).One can think of this as tall-tale breadcrumbs.All of these products are understood to be under a specific hierarchy/category, and that category is understood to contain low-quality items (though, again, this could be adjusted based on reviewer demographics).And thus, the Acme Business Entity would be reduced in the value assigned to it for that category of products.

So, what do you do?
We’ve covered a lot here about how entities and reviews can and likely will impact rankings and how review scores will likely be augmented further in the very near future to place more weight on those reviews that more closely match the searcher’s intent and interests.In the end, the point is that we can no longer focus on simply how our business entity is reviewed but must look at how the entities it’s connected to are reviewed and who is doing that reviewing.We’re being forced into an environment where we need to look at our business as a whole, what we offer, who we partner with and who we cater to.While we need to respond to negative reviews as always, we need to be more conscious of who is doing the reviewing and whether they are part of our target demographic.

I hope that if nothing else, this article has given you food for thought.While a lot of this article is based on ideas not yet implemented, most are logical, and we’re starting to see some of the early signs that this is the direction things are about to take.Our job (yours and mine) is to be ready for these things when they come, and being ahead of the curve in understanding what’s happening will help us make business decisions that lead naturally to a better entity status for our companies.Fortunately, there is no downside to following the ideas listed above; it’s simply forcing us to understand the complexity (and simplicity) of the way Google approaches entities as outlined in their many patents on the subject and changes we’re seeing them make every day.


Peter Zmijewski is the founder and CEO at KeywordSpy.His expert knowledge on Internet Marketing practices and techniques has earned him the title “Internet Marketing Guru“ He is also an innovator, investor and entrepreneur widely recognized by the top players in the industry.


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