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An Introduction to Entities in Semantic Search

David Amerland
David Amerland
David AmerlandOptimist. Resisting Entropy. Loves Westies. Strategic Advisor at Darebee.com, Thyratron.gr,

An introduction to what entities are in semantic search, based upon my presentation as a keynote speaker at the SMX East 2013 conference in NYC.

An Introduction to Entities in Semantic Search

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SEO in the age of the semantic web
SMX East 2013 Conference Presentation in NYC
AN INTRODUCTION TO ENTITIES
David Amerland
IMAGINE, FOR A MOMENT… A TREE
Close your eyes …. and think of everything you associate it with.
IF YOU DID WHAT THE PREVIOUS SLIDE
SUGGESTED YOU KNOW THAT A TREE
• Has categories (deciduous, evergreen, coniferous, wide-leaved)
• Has properties (hard, organic, aromatic)
• Has attributes (it floats on water, burns in the fireplace)
• Is associated with products (paper, buildings, bridges, ships and planes even)
• Brings up personal memories (Christmas tree, a tree you planted in your backyard)
• Can be an abstraction (the deodorizer dangling from your car mirror)
• Can have personal significance (the green movement, forests)
• Is associated with actions (root systems spreading underground, soil support)
• Is also an abstract symbol (endurance, persistence)
AS A MATTER OF FACT…
A tree, in your mind‟s eye, is both a personalized and generic object that has both
personal significance unique only to you and a factual existence that is generic to
everyone on the planet.
Everything you know
about a “tree” is your
own personal
knowledge graph.
That would mean
that the word “tree”
then is an Entity.
Well, almost, but not
quite…
THE WORD “TREE” IS NOT AN ENTITY
To prove this let‟s consider the word “arbre” which means tree, in French, or the word “dendro”
which means tree in Greek.
The moment you learn that those words mean tree, in your mind, you instantly associate
everything in your Knowledge Graph, with that word, even if you cannot express it in that
language.
So really a “tree” in your head is a concept that is divorced from the words you use to describe
it. That concept is defined by all the knowledge associated with it. The moment you learn the
word tree in another language you simply, mentally, remap the Knowledge Graph to that
language.
Essentially that‟s how Entities work in Google‟s semantic search. The Knowledge Graph is
what defines them.
AS SEO PROFESSIONALS WE THOUGHT WE KNEW
HOW THE WEB WORKED …
We look beneath the fabric of the web and see the
code that runs it … the connections that form it.

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An Introduction to Entities in Semantic Search

  • 1. SEO in the age of the semantic web SMX East 2013 Conference Presentation in NYC AN INTRODUCTION TO ENTITIES David Amerland
  • 2. IMAGINE, FOR A MOMENT… A TREE Close your eyes …. and think of everything you associate it with.
  • 3. IF YOU DID WHAT THE PREVIOUS SLIDE SUGGESTED YOU KNOW THAT A TREE • Has categories (deciduous, evergreen, coniferous, wide-leaved) • Has properties (hard, organic, aromatic) • Has attributes (it floats on water, burns in the fireplace) • Is associated with products (paper, buildings, bridges, ships and planes even) • Brings up personal memories (Christmas tree, a tree you planted in your backyard) • Can be an abstraction (the deodorizer dangling from your car mirror) • Can have personal significance (the green movement, forests) • Is associated with actions (root systems spreading underground, soil support) • Is also an abstract symbol (endurance, persistence)
  • 4. AS A MATTER OF FACT… A tree, in your mind‟s eye, is both a personalized and generic object that has both personal significance unique only to you and a factual existence that is generic to everyone on the planet. Everything you know about a “tree” is your own personal knowledge graph. That would mean that the word “tree” then is an Entity. Well, almost, but not quite…
  • 5. THE WORD “TREE” IS NOT AN ENTITY To prove this let‟s consider the word “arbre” which means tree, in French, or the word “dendro” which means tree in Greek. The moment you learn that those words mean tree, in your mind, you instantly associate everything in your Knowledge Graph, with that word, even if you cannot express it in that language. So really a “tree” in your head is a concept that is divorced from the words you use to describe it. That concept is defined by all the knowledge associated with it. The moment you learn the word tree in another language you simply, mentally, remap the Knowledge Graph to that language. Essentially that‟s how Entities work in Google‟s semantic search. The Knowledge Graph is what defines them.
  • 6. AS SEO PROFESSIONALS WE THOUGHT WE KNEW HOW THE WEB WORKED … We look beneath the fabric of the web and see the code that runs it … the connections that form it.
  • 7. SEO IN THE PAST HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT PROBABILITIES • Search returned statistically probable answers to keyword-laden search queries. • To succeed in search, we needed to „load‟ the dice. And we had a variety of techniques in our arsenal on how to do that exactly: • Keywords, links, anchor text, on-page techniques, inbound links … • If something did not work we needed to increase quantity, volume, intensity. It was always a case of having to dial things up.
  • 8. BUT IN A SEMANTIC WEB STATISTICS FADE AWAY The traditional “ten links in search” Are changing, becoming: Personalized Populated by people with familiar faces More accurate
  • 9. SEARCH ITSELF IS CHANGING: • Mobile • Voice • Local • Personal • Conversational • Predictive (Google Now) • Functional (Google Maps) • Infontational (YouTube) Information is growing at an exponential rate and search is changing with it Volume Velocity Variety Veracity all Big Data components play a key role
  • 10. AND ENTITIES ARE THE NEW DRIVER: Entities are generated relational mapping that uncovers the association between different data points. This is RADICAL. Entities become trusted points around which other data revolves.
  • 11. ENTITIES ARE PRODUCED IN A VARIETY OF WAYS: • Imported from trusted sources (Wikipedia, Freebase, Metaweb) • Extracted from web pages • Data mining in the social web • Sentiment mining
  • 13. ENTITIES ARE A CHALLENGE TO SEO BECAUSE: • They provide answers at the search box rather than suggestions
  • 14. OPTIMIZATION APPEARS TO BE REDUCED TO ANSWERING A SEARCH QUERY • But let‟s look at it again:
  • 15. THE „ENTITY‟ THAT IS THE ANSWER TO THE SEARCH QUERY “WHO IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” PRODUCED: • An answer • A biography with associated links • Recent posts with links • Associated entities, complete with links A „one‟ answer result generated a much wider, related field of data than it might have been possible before.
  • 16. ENTITIES: THE CHALLENGE & THE OPPORTUNITY • For SEOs the challengers are as steep as the question is simple: • Changing search interface (screenless computers and keyless devices) • Less reliance on keywords • Deprecation of existing, on-page SEO techniques • Loss of real estate space in SERPs • Reduced reliance on statistical association in results • How do you take advantage of Entities to make up for it all?
  • 17. REVERSE ENGINEER ENTITY AS A DRIVER: • Authority • Trust • Reputation • Influence • If that’s the end result how can it be reduced further into manageable steps? • What actions can be taken at the content-creation interface that will produce these outcomes, and how can this be ensured?
  • 18. THINK: • Volume • Velocity • Variety • Veracity ADD: • Connection • Social discovery • Social Buzz Authorship & ‘Author Rank’
  • 19. DAVID AMERLAND Author of Google Semantic Search http://davidamerland.com Google+ Twitter: @davidamerland