Entity SEO with Sara Taher

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Show notes

In this week's episode, Jack Chambers-Ward is joined by Sara Taher, an SEO consultant and speaker based in Canada. Sara joins Jack to discuss all things entity SEO including:

  • What is an entity?
  • How can we "optimise our entities"?
  • How important are entities in SEO at the moment?
  • How can schema help tie into entity SEO?

Sara Taher:



Jack: Welcome to episode 49 of season two of the Search with Candour podcast. I am your host for this week, Jack Chambers-Ward, and I am joined by a very special guest, Sara Taher. Sara Taher, if you don't know already, is a fantastic SEO consultant and speaker based in Canada. And this week we are going to be diving into the very interesting topic of entity SEO. Something, I'll be honest, I've not done that much looking into and I don't know that much about, so I'm looking forward to learning a lot from Sara during this episode.

Sponsor - SISTRIX:

Before I get to my conversation with Sara, of course, this week's episode is sponsored by the wonderful people over at SISTRIX and SISTRIX is the SEO's toolbox. You can go to to check out some of their fantastic free tools, such as their search snippet generator, hreflang validator, the all-important Google update radar, and of course checking your site's visibility index.

Something I've been doing a lot recently is creating dashboards on SISTRIX to be able to basically get a snapshot of a particular industry, or a niche, or a group of competitors and things like that for some of my clients, so I can get a really fantastic snapshot of that industry, a niche for my client, and be able to communicate that very easily. And we can see which clients and which competitors are moving in which directions. And basically, after a Google update, has the entire industry been affected? And things like that. It's really, really useful, and a feature I've been using a lot on SISTRIX very recently.

Also, want to give a shout-out to the fantastic Charlie Williams and the latest edition of Sector Watch over on the SISTRIX blog, which he can find at And Charlie is talking about the top domains and content for fitness trackers. So if you are in the tech world, if you have clients who are working in the tech world who sell fitness trackers, if you're working in e-commerce with people who sell fitness trackers, this is the Sector Watch for you. Charlie dives into everything from Argos and curries, to Amazon, to PCMag, and TechRadar, and all kinds of different stuff from both transactional intents and informational intents, and really gets an idea of what content is performing for what kind of search intent for this niche. Sector Watch is perfect for that kind of stuff.

And if you are about to work with a client or about to build a website in that niche, Sector Watch is an amazing way of getting a glimpse into that sector without having to do a ton of research. Charlie has already done it for you and like I said, lays out high-performance content in a really, really interesting and easily-digestible way. So if you want all of that stuff and more, go to and you'll find the latest edition of Sector Watch from the fantastic Charlie Williams and the data journalism team over at SISTRIX right there for you. So without any further ado, welcome to the show, Sara Taher. How are you?

Sara: Great. How are you? How's everything?

Jack: I'm good, thank you. We're recording last thing on a Friday for me here in Norwich. I know it's a little bit early for you in Canada, but still a Friday recording, so hopefully will bring some Friday energy, right?

Sara: Yeah, yeah.

Jack: That's the plan.

Sara: Yeah, everyone on Friday is looking forward for the weekend, so that's the energy.

Jack: Exactly, exactly. So just in case the listeners don't know who you are, Sara, from your speaking projects and things you've done at various different conferences around the world, why don't you give a little intro to who you are and what we're going to be talking about this week?

Sara: Yep. So I'm Sara Taher. I've been doing SEO for eight years now. I work both agency-side and client-side. I've worked with international brands, as well as small businesses. And SEO is not just like a job, it's really a passion. So that's why I'm so invested in it, and I've spent a lot this year, basically, and part of last year building my personal brand. And it's been a great journey so far.

Jack: I can tell you've built your personal brand because I've been following you on LinkedIn for a while now, and you were, in the way that people are on LinkedIn, essentially recommended to me because so many people were liking and reposting your things, and commenting on there and things like that. So I really appreciate, especially, what you've been doing on LinkedIn and Twitter. I think you do some fantastic work and give really good case studies and advice and all that kind of stuff. So keep up the good work.

Sara: Thank you so much, Jack.

Jack: So before we get into the topic, let's discuss a little bit about your career because I think it's pretty interesting. And I like to do this with everybody on the show to get an idea of we all have different paths coming into SEO, we all come through, like you said, whether it's in-house and agency, or just one, or starting with the other or anything like that. So from my understanding, you started off founding your own company in Egypt, is that correct?

Sara: Yes, yes.

Jack: Fantastic. Wow. What was that experience like? Is that your initial jumping in starting in your own company?

Sara: Yeah, I mean starting your own thing is always a challenge. It's not easy, and it requires a wide skillset, so it was really a challenge back then. But the thing that I appreciate the most is this giving me or exposing me to learn SEO, right? Because back then, SEO was this random thing, who's going to pick it up? And I ended up picking it up. And fast forward, I made my career out of it. So I launched my company in Egypt, worked there for a while, then I moved to Dubai. Launched a tech startup. And this was a super different challenging thing because tech startups are... So give me a second, I'm just trying to... Yeah, so tech startups are basically new companies with an innovative product. So you're taking a risk, a big risk, because you are trying to fill or solve a problem that, in theory, no one else tried to solve it the same way you did. Think about Airbnb, think about Twitter. Big companies we see nowadays, they were startups. They were like this crazy idea. So when I launched a startup, it was a big gamble because we all know almost all startups fail. Succeeding is the exception, literally. And it's pretty much different than launching a traditional business. Like if you're launching, I don't know, a restaurant or any... It's pretty much different. So it was a big gamble, and I did learn a lot. I got a lot of awesome experiences. I was not able to raise funds to continue to grow.

And as I said, once you're running a business, there's a big range of skills that you need to have. And one of them I didn't have and I struggled with for a very long time. So recently, I started to be able to do is asking for money, asking to get paid. Yeah, I struggled with that. Literally, I had businesses using my startup and I was just, "No, I'm going to pay for that. No, I can't ask him for money."

Jack: It's something I talked about with Tom Critchlow is understanding your value. You have your unique skills, nobody else has your experiences and you are doing your thing because you're an expert in that. Like I said, whether you're classing yourself as a freelancer, or you're in-house, or an agency, or whatever, you are there because you are an expert, you're a specialist or maybe even if you're a generalist. But understanding your worth is such an underrated skill, especially for freelancers. And as soon as you move away from the typical salary structure and start having to determine your own money, basically, and work out how much do I charge per hour or per day? And like you said, I would definitely fall into that category myself of like, oh people won't want to pay for that. No, don't worry about it.

Sara: Yeah, I mean even now... So now, because I focused on my consultancy and so on, I got much, much better. And now I can say no to people that they're not willing to make the investment. I think I'm more... What my work is worth. And I don't feel bad about it anymore or I don't feel like, "Oh, my god, no one's going to pay for this," or that sort of thing. I collected some more courage and a tiny bit of self-confidence, maybe a tiny bit, that I can navigate these situations with. But back then, it was such a big deal. And I mean I did all the crazy things startup founders do. I created an app, there was a website and then an app and then I would get on the subway in the evening and just annoy people on the subway and show them my app and get feedback, literally. And then I went to Apple Store. And I would show it to people who... Because I mean people going to Apple Store probably are using Apple, and it was on iOS at that point. And I annoyed people there as well do, and got feedback. And I wanted it to get better. And we were in the right ways. Just I ran out of funds because it was self-funded, and that was that. It was no way for this... I kept the website for a while, but then I took it down, and that was that. Yeah.

Jack: Cool. And then you moved on to SEO full-time after that, I guess?

Sara: Yeah, from there, I decided I want to do SEO. This is the biggest skill that I've learned or practiced a lot, and I enjoyed as well. So I started looking for SEO roles. And I was really lucky to get into a very good role at a very good company in Dubai. And the experience there was, it was crazy because they were a startup, but in a very advanced phase. And I had a great boss as well, and he would always push me to do things I don't want to do, like go attend a product guys meeting. I'm like, "I don't want to go in product. I'm just doing SEO." "No, you go there and you pick up and learn."

And at one point they even assigned me the role of a website personalization product manager, which was a big thing on top of SEO. So I learned a lot there, not just about SEO, but about how internally you communicate and execute SEO, and that helped me so much. Even today, every time I talk with a CMO, or a CTO, or any person who's looking to hire an agency or to hire me, any person on that side, their concerns are always the same, or frustrations are the same with the agencies, for example, they're working with, or with the consultants they're working with. And I could see why they have these frustrations because of that experience I had.

Jack: Yeah, I can totally picture that being a difficult kind of journey to go through, right?

Sara: Yeah. And then I moved to Canada. In Dubai, I also freelanced. So I wanted to fast track my SEO career. So on top of working full-time, I also worked as a freelancer at an agency on the side. And it was crazy hours because back then, you used to drive to the office. And I drived one hour in the morning. And then you stay in the office for nine hours. It's 9:00 to 6:00.

Jack: Wow.

Sara: And then one hour driving back, and then you work few hours on your projects on top of family commitments and everything.

Jack: I was going to say, that's ignoring all actual life stuff that's happening, right?

Sara: The rest of life. Yeah.

Jack: The rest of life in two hours.

Sara: I remember this because I would be sitting in the living room trying to socialize and check on what my kids are doing, but I still have my laptop. And sometimes I'd just fall. I'd just drop sometimes.

Jack: Did that happen during any client meetings? Be honest.

Sara: No. Luckily not. I know very well you're-

Jack: "Here's why you should invest in me." And the snoring in the background.

Sara: Anyway. Yeah, once I moved to Canada, I focused more on consulting, and then I moved from one agency to the other. Fun fact, I changed jobs four times this year.

Jack: Wow.

Sara: Yeah, I was at an agency and then I went in-house because I wanted to go back to in-house. I felt that my skill set is perfect there. And I wanted to have more control of execution. And had a lot of dreams, and then they all got smashed and it wasn't what they promised me. And then I moved back to an agency, got laid off. And then went back to the first agency that I was, so I'm basically back to square one.

Jack: Oh, wow.

Sara: Yeah. Well, it's weird, but I like to tell myself, I know that this has been a weird situation for me this year, but I tried to tell myself, "It's okay. It's okay. Things happen." So yeah.

Jack: Yeah, that's all part of that journey. I think there's been so much just volatility and difficulty with jobs changing and companies going under and all that kind of stuff over the last couple of years. I think that is a record I've heard in 2022 for four jobs in a year.

Sara: I could have done one more, but I'm like, "No, I'm staying here for now."

Jack: Oh, okay. You're not going for the world record then?

Sara: No. Oh, my god. I mean in a way people would look at this as a job hopper. In a way, I was worried how that would look like on my resume. And the one job that I got laid off, it was such a short duration and they lost some PPC clients and I got laid off. And I was advised to not even put it on my resume because it's just a few weeks. So I just removed it but I still have it on... I would disclose it. I'm not going to hide it. And then I mean three jobs to four jobs isn't that much an issue. ,

Jack: No, like I said, I think that's happened to so many people over the last couple of years, especially with the shift to remote working and things like that. Being able to hire from around the world and being able to let people go much more easily. You don't have to have that face-to-face meeting and stuff. That's really changed the way I think hiring and working works now, and I think that is kind of a glimpse into our future that was kind of kickstarted and pushed forward by the pandemic.

Sara: And you know what, that's the weird thing. Because I've been interviewing a lot. And so a lot of interviewing processes and people who interview you are, in my opinion, a bit old-fashioned in a way that you get asked weird questions. I don't know. I had an interview focused on keyword difficulty matrix, for example. I'm like, that's not really trending right now. And then hiring, we can have a separate podcast on hiring for SEO roles.

Jack: We should do. Yeah.

Sara: Trust me, it's... And I have a lot of experience as you can see in interviewing. So yeah, I remember there was one role, I finished five interviews and an assignment and I passed all of them. And I got an email from HR that they're sending the contract end of day. And then suddenly they're like, "Okay, we need one more interview." I was like, "Okay." And then I met with, it was HR again. And it was meaningless interview to be honest because there was nothing new to discuss. But then they later emailed me and said I didn't get the role. And I was like, "Okay, is there any feedback for me?" And they were like, "Yeah, we felt that you'd be successful at any role, but you care about... So you want to have this successful role more than you want to be part of our company." I was like, "I want to be successful in your company, but okay, sure."

Jack: Yeah, they thought that the company was bigger than the employees kind of thing?

Sara: Yeah, exactly. You'd be successful, but guys, I just met you. You need to sell me the company a bit. I am interested. And I told them why and it was in the insurance sector, and I did have a very good experience in the insurance sector, so I had a reason to be interested in that. But they were like, "Yeah, you'd be successful anywhere, but why us?" Or something of that sort. I was like, "Okay." So-

Jack: I don't trust that personally. That seems like a rubbish excuse for me, personally.

Sara: The thing is, looking back now, I feel like I wasn't going to be able to... We weren't a good fit. If you have that mindset, if you're willing to let... Because that role was two, three months ago, they're still hiring for the same role.

Jack: Ah, right. Yeah.

Sara: Yeah. And even when I went in-house this year when I first joined, they have been looking for an SEO for months. And it's a very difficult... Are we diverging away from the podcast?

Jack: We are. We'll move on in a second, don't worry. Let's finish this point, and then we'll move on.

Sara: Okay. I'm really sorry.

Jack: I'm still finding it interesting.

Sara: Yeah, it's a difficult niche because the customers are developers, and so it's all technical stuff. A very technical industry and they gave me an assignment. And their only reason they took me is that they said I'm the only one who was able to solve their assignment, and get a grasp of their business. And I was really happy with that, and partially why I am not happy it didn't work out for me there, I just didn't see myself getting what I was promised, so I decided to move on.

Jack: That makes sense. Speaking of moving on, should we talk about the main topic we're here to talk about?

Sara: Yes. And I'm so sorry for diverging. So sorry.

Jack: Not at all. I thought was an interesting discussion.

Sara: And feel free to cut it. You don't need to put all of my life story here. No worries. Just the intro will be great and... Yeah.

Jack: I'll definitely keep a bit. I thought that was interesting, so we'll definitely keep some in. But the main topic we are here to discuss is, funnily enough, something I just watched you talk about earlier today. You talked about earlier this week on the SE Ranking YouTube channel. We're going to dive into a bit of entity SEO. And I guess to start the conversation, let's start with the basics. What is an entity? Let's define that first. And I feel like I have a little bit of an understanding and a bit more of an understanding now I saw your talk, but it's still a very new concept to me. So I'm interested to see your perspective on it and to learn a lot from you here, Sara. So how would you define an entity when it comes to using it in search?

Sara: So I've seen a lot of resources define it in so many different ways. Some people say anything that has a Wikipedia page is an entity.

Jack: You can make your own Wikipedia page, can't you?

Sara: Yeah, right? I mean the reason they say that is because you can refer to that page in the schema markup later. Because a lot of things don't have a Wikipedia page, a lot of even basic concepts... So the best definition I found it's that anything that's a noun and singular, then that's an entity. So any concept, it can be a physical item or something that's not just an idea, anything that's a noun, that you would describe as a noun, it's an entity.

Jack: Right? Yeah, because I've seen a lot of examples. In every talk people use the example of celebrities, well-known people, distinguishable people are entities. But I found it in really interesting, again, touching on the talk you did at SE Ranking, that you discussed things that were kind of more concepts, rather than physical objects. And I think that's something a lot of people don't understand, and I know I certainly didn't straight away. I very much thought of, yeah, it's a physical thing, it's a brand, it's a logo, it's a company, it's a person, whatever. But actually having nouns that are kind of concepts, being able to be entities, what I found really, really interesting as well. So how does that relate to what we do in SEO, basically? That's a cool concept, but how does that actually tie into working with entities in SEO?

Sara: That's an awesome question. So in the past, so Google needed to decide the relevance of a piece of content to rank it. The more relevant it is, the more higher it ranks. And it did this through keyword density. The more you repeat a keyword there, the more it's relevant. So why choose online if you write 10 times on-

Jack: Oh, that phrase we've heard so many times, keyword density.

Sara: Yeah, right? The more you repeat it on a page, the more it was relevant. But this tactic is easily manipulated, and Google wanted to move away from that. So they introduced entities. And using entities, this is how they evaluate the relevance. So for example, if I'm writing a blog post about you, I'm going to talk about Jack and Jack's life. Would you think it's a thorough post if I never mentioned that you work as an SEO at Candour? There are things you need to mention. There's a specific level of information that needs to be there. So we would say this is an in-depth, very relevant because I have described everything that is related to you there. And the way they measure this. Okay, does this blog post include Candor, the company, and then SEO as well? And that sort of thing. Your hobbies and so on. So instead of writing Jack 20 times, we write everything about you, and that's how Google measures relevance today. And the thing is, and it's really weird, but this concept is not new. When I started SEO in 2014, I had a mentor and the guy literally said, and I remember word for word, "You need to include keywords or..." We didn't use the word entities, but we used keywords or terms. He would say, "You need to include keywords or terms that should naturally be present when you talk about a specific topic." And when I talk about Jack, the keyword Jack is not the only thing that should be naturally there. Like SEO, Candour, whatever, hobbies, podcasts and so on. If I'm going to draw a map or a graph of what Jack's interests and who he is and when he was born and so on, it's going to include so much more than Jack. So imagine if I write one or two paragraphs or even 10, and all I'm saying is circular reasoning, and I've seen that back in 2014, where you're like, Jack is a great guy, Jack is smart and you keep saying that over and over, and then compare that to something that's really covering all aspects of your identity or your entity, right?

Jack: Yeah, that's really interesting. I think, again, that's something that relates it to keyword research. And I think they are such a kind of intertangled technique and method and concept, where a lot of people say keyword research, and like you said, they are accidentally doing entity research as well. If you're thinking about it in a natural way and you've got the right kind of idea and you're not, as we said, doing keyword stuffing and just getting phrases and words in there for the sake of it, it almost comes naturally to you when you cover a concept in-depth and you're talking about a particular thing. I know it's something Mark has talked about whenever we get a question from a client of like, "Oh, how long should this article be?" And there is no answer to that question. It's how long it should be to properly cover that topic or answer the question, or whatever the purpose of the article is. There is no, it should be 500 words long and then it will rank kind of thing. You need to cover it and fully answer that question. If you're looking to create FAQ-style content or a guide-style article or something like that, it needs to, like you said, be thorough about it and cover it. And I think a lot of people do almost accidentally do entity SEO without even realising.

Sara: So what's happening is we do it if we're trying to write thorough content, but sometimes we do miss on some entities. And then we don't recommend... When I learned about these things, but as I said, we didn't call it entity, and I moved to the agency side. In my early days at agency-side, I tried to execute that. And it was blocked because no one does that. You cannot send these things to clients, literally. And I literally dropped it. There's no point. You push for it and it's not going anywhere. It's staying on your computer, and you're getting a lot of heat for it. So the thing I see... And there are some tools actually that would help with this, either free or paid. A lot of great tools are available today for us would help with this, We should be actually recommending, specifically when we're updating existing content. Like okay, maybe the first time around you send the keywords and you ask them to do it thorough, but then maybe when you're doing your regular checks every six months or every year, whatever your plan is to audit your content performance, if something is not performing and it's thorough, maybe you need to check your entities. Maybe there is that's... Yeah. And the reason I say that is I know it's very time-consuming and you may not be able to send that in your first round of recommendations, but it's something you need to definitely consider.

Jack: Yeah, I think that client communication side of things is really interesting. And like you said, I think we're moving in the right direction and more and more SEOs are understanding entities, and using them correctly. But I think you're also right that a lot of us need to consciously include them and be aware of where the limits of the existing research is. And like you said, when you go to update something that maybe before you were consciously adding that as part of your content process, oh, now I know about entities, I should go back and update this content or work with this client and do this kind of thing. Are there particular methods and tools you use to do that stage of the entity stuff that are different to what you would use for the typical keyword research?

Sara: So I usually like to do first a brainstorm, when I'm talking about this topic. Like, what should naturally be talked about? And this is really powerful because this would help you get into topics or add information to your article that no one else may have talked about before. And new information is really big. So the reason for that is if it's something new... For example, and it's a sad example, unfortunately, but it does explain the concept. So when Bill Slawski passed away, people were googling a lot about his life. And he didn't have a wife or have children, but some websites put this information there. So they ranked, they started ranking for those queries, even though he didn't have any of those in real life. These are not real information. So new information would help you rank. The only reason other reliable sources didn't have this information is because these don't exist. He didn't have a wife or children. So the only reason the more reliable sources did not appear on the related searches for this specific query was they didn't have that information. So that's why brainstorming is really powerful. And I hope whoever listens uses this in an ethical way.

Jack: I like to think our listeners are very ethical, right listeners? You're listening right now, you're thinking, "Yeah, I'm going to be really ethical," hopefully.

Sara: Yeah, hopefully.

Jack: I feel like the, I don't know, the tone of the community that Mark has built, and hopefully I've now added to as part of season two, hopefully we have very ethical, lovely listeners out there. Fingers crossed.

Sara: Yeah, because I follow Mark and all his posts and stuff, he has a lovely audience. Yeah.

Jack: Yeah, and I'm just kind of piggybacking off that, basically.

Sara: No worries. No. Yeah, so that's where I would start. Then you have things like image search for example, because many times when you search for something on image search, you get those little suggestions below the search bar. And these are either related search terms or related entities. So you can get inspiration from there. After your brainstorming session, you may get surprised by things you didn't know they were related specifically if it's a topic you're not like an expert in or something. For example, one time I searched for Florida road trips. And then, if I recall correctly, one of the entities was family. So in your blog, maybe you would talk about something, why is this a great trip for families or it's a popular destination... There is something related. Google sees the noun or the entity family related to this in a way or another. So you can also go to use a Google search and check the knowledge panel if there is any. And also the search suggestions at the bottom and auto-complete. You can also use Google Trends. And then there is a Google API that also you can... So you don't need to go to the paid version to try to get the entities, but this is more like you're getting your competitor's entities. You paste a paragraph and get what sort of entities are there.

Jack: That's a really interesting way of looking at it. I think I've done a similar thing with a client before where we basically did a word association game almost, where you talk about the core topic you're going to be talking about, we want to sell podcast microphones. And when you think of podcast microphones, what do you think of? And actually, sitting down with a client, and again, I know it's something a lot of people say where actually getting the client involved and understanding if they're selling products or if they're selling concepts or whatever it is, understanding their product, their sales team, their marketing team. They're going to be the subject experts. So they will come from a particular perspective. And something I've never had the opportunity to do, but I'd love to try it would be actually interviewing customers of your client or of your company if you're in-house in that case, and getting an idea of how different they associate stuff compared to people who actually work at the company. And I think you'd probably get two very different kind of diagrams of what the audience and customers think, and then me coming as an outside agency SEO, and then also people working in-house or part of their internal marketing team coming with different sides there as well. So yeah, that's a really interesting way of doing research and like you said, getting out of just putting words into tools and the, I don't want to say lazy habits, but habits that we get into as SEOs. Actually, going out and literally googling stuff and looking through image searches and seeing auto completes and stuff.

Sara: It's very easy to get trapped in wash, rinse, repeat or that sort of cycle-

Jack: Definitely.

Sara: ... in SEO. It's really very easy to get into that loop. So yeah, definitely breaking that and talking to people and trying things is definitely a bonus.

Jack: So something I touched on with Claire Carlisle when we talked about local SEO, and I know knowledge graphs are a big factor in local SEO. Am I right in thinking they can also be influenced and part of entities as well?

Sara: Yeah, so the knowledge graph is actually built of entities and the relationship between them. So entities connect to each other, and then that's the knowledge graph. And the knowledge graph, if someone is interested to look up and understand more about it, is a semantic network. It connects objects or things, entities and the relationship between them. And that's what Google Knowledge Graph is. It's a semantic network made of entities.

Jack: Yeah, like you were saying earlier, when you are covering all the different details, I don't have a knowledge graph, listeners, I'm not that interesting. But if I did, it would say Candour and there would be a link to Candor. And then he is a podcaster, and there's a link to the podcast and stuff like that. Again, another way of brainstorming and getting that kind of mind map and diagram, and understanding what Google thinks is related to those topics compared to what the audience, what the customers, all that kind of stuff think as well. And you touched on schema earlier as well, how important can schema be to influencing this kind of stuff and in driving entity SEO as well?

Sara: Yeah, so Google has gotten very good at understanding content, but schema is definitely a extremely recommended, super helpful SEO tactic, right? You're just explaining what the content is about and connecting it with, if you would like, you can connect it with the entity you're also talking about. If you mention any specific entity and that entity happens to have a Wikipedia page, you can actually mention that in the schema. And you're making it so much easier for Google to... So what happens is that Google looks at the text and then ideally develops a graph out of it or compares it to the graph it has and matches it, right? And this is also one way Google knows about consensus. If you come and say something that's not said anywhere else, that contradicts what's said anywhere else, then this may for example come off as not reliable. There is a lot of details in there, but generally speaking, schema helps Google understand what the page is about and the entities that are on this page. Yeah, so definitely highly recommend.

Jack: Are there particular schema that are particularly relevant? The one that springs to mind for me is organization is the obvious one, right, if you are thinking about brands and companies and things like that?

Sara: Yeah.

Jack: Obviously, personal ones and things like that as well. Is there anything else that is less obvious, I guess?

Sara: Any type of schema that... So whenever I work with a new client in any industry, what are the product or service? And I try to see what's the most relevant schema to that. So if it's a maybe small business loans service, okay, what's that? Is it a financial service or is just a small business? Which schema is more relevant to that? And to their products as well. Even if it's a location. Is there any schema that's relevant, that describes this location? There is a park schema, for example. So this is one of the things. I go to the bottom of funnel pages and usually bottom of funnel pages are about something or some service. They're not like how-to guides, they're running shoes. They're very specific about what they... And you can match that to an entity. That type of page usually presents a specific entity. One thing, as opposed to for if you're writing a block post about how to plan a road trip, this is not about a... It's planning, road trip. It's not a specific... So this would be different. This is a how-to guide or an FAQ or whatever you want to market. But bottom of funnel are usually very specific entities. So this is where I would like always to start and see what sort of schema should be there.

Jack: Yeah, something I think a lot of people would think of when it comes to entities, we've already talked about before, is those big household name brands and things like that. But as we've already discussed, there are a lot of other different types of entities that you don't even realize are entities. So I guess trying to get my head around the concept of how that can work for small businesses. Like you said, if you don't already have your own Wikipedia page for your small business or anything like that, how does that approach differ when it comes to doing that entity research and incorporating that in the content?

Sara: I mean you don't have to have a Wikipedia page, definitely. I mean if you have it, it's great, but if you don't, it's okay.

Jack: It's a nice bonus.

Sara: Definitely it's okay, right? Yeah. That's not an issue at all. Google will identify you as an entity the more links you have, the more reviews you have, the more mentions you have, awards, that sort of thing. So contributions you have. If you're a small local business and you want your name to... And being identified as an entity increases your chances of having a knowledge panel. So if you want to be an entity, the usual SEO process would get you there for your business name. Organization schema or local business schema, and so on, all these things would get you there.

Jack: That's really interesting. Like I said, when you initially think about it, I always think of big brands and celebrities and things like that, but the fact that it can apply to basically any client, basically any website.

Sara: Even having Google My Business is still... Because you are telling Google that that's a place or that's a company located at that place. That's an entity as well, right?

Jack: There's a location, that’s an entity. Yeah.

Sara: So actually, that's a strong signal. I mean Google gathers a lot of information. So if you look on online, there are tons of people online. If you look for Mark William-Cook, probably there are few on the planet, but if you Google-

Jack: Apparently, according to Mark, he is the one and only Mark Williams-Cook, that's why he chose it.

Sara: Yeah. One second-

Jack: We're going to test it live on the podcast. I've also double barrelled my surname when I got married as well, so I followed in Mark's footsteps of being Jack Chambers to Jack Chambers-Ward and he went from Mark Cook to Mark Williams-Cook though.

Sara: Okay, that's a good point. Okay, now I know why he uses his full name, but-

Jack: Building the personal brand, right? Make yourself SEO friendly by making a new name.

Sara: I mean yeah, in theory. In theory. If you are not Mark, if you're someone else-

Jack: You're not a celebrity like Mark.

Sara: Yeah, exactly. So there are so many people online and theoretically, are they entities or not? Is every single person worth being added to Google's Knowledge Graph? It would require a lot of thinking to reach that-

Jack: They can only index so much information.

Sara: Yeah, right. So what I see is that if you want to be... When we say Jack Chambers and you want to come first and appear there, amongst all the Jack Chambers, right?

Jack: Yeah there's an Australian dancer, there's a Canadian film director, and-

Sara: For real?

Jack: ... an Irish politician all called Jack Chambers, who are far more famous than me.

Sara: For real?

Jack: Yeah, the politician is horrible as well, which upsets me.

Sara: Okay. This is going to be super challenging because you need to out... I don't know, you need to out-win them in a way, and it's really hard.

Jack: I'd probably out SEO them if I really try. I've never really sat down and, like you were saying earlier, with your recent push for your personal brand, I've never really sat down and tried to push that. But now because I've added the extra Ward to my surname. I think I'm the only Jack Chambers-Ward. I can add my middle names in there and stuff, make it more unique.

Sara: Yeah. So now, it's much easier. Competition would be much less complicated. But if you want to be known for that name on Google, if you want Google to identify you as the entity matching that, like when you say Diana, or when you say Rihanna, or whatever, that sort of thing, you want to focus on your entity tactics, right? Entity SEO tactics. And for a specific entity, backlinks, as I said, mentions, reviews and so on, all of these things contribute to building your entity. The thing is, you also want to make sure that anyone who mentions you, you go back and make sure that they're linking to your... Sometimes it will link, for example, for the company you work for, not your personal website.

Jack: Yes, of course. Yeah. I've heard before where I've seen people who used to work at one agency, they were linked and then linked to the old agency, and they're working for a different company. Like, "Hi. Yeah. Could you link to my new company now please?" Trying to get unlinked mentions redirected to a new company.

Sara: I'm actually trying to do that right now.

Jack: Oh, really?

Sara: Yeah, literally, I'm going back and I'm like, oh my God, why didn't I launch my website so much... I did it in I think September, so it's really late. I should have started with that, but I didn't care. I don't know why.

Jack: Whenever you're mentioned personally it should go to your website, and not other people's websites.

Sara: Yeah. And right now, what I see is that this is going to cause an entity confusion. Is Sara... That's the website or there's like Sara... A lot of, are these the same thing? So I'm trying to go back actually and reach out to people to replace the links, hope that works.

Jack: Are you the most famous Sara Taher is the question?

Sara: Unfortunately no.

Jack: Oh, no!

Sara: There's another person that I need to knock off SERPs, and I'm going after her. She doesn't know it's coming. Yeah.

Jack: Best competition ever. We're fighting for our-

Sara: I think she can retire. I can reach out to her and tell her she had a great career. It was a great run. She can retire. It's okay. She's a doctor of some sort.

Jack: Oh, she's a doctor?

Sara: Yeah, I don't remember. I don't check her profiles a lot because I mean she's there, that's enough for me. I'm like, "You're not staying here for long."

Jack: Just know there's a professional SEO coming for your position right now.

Sara: Okay, here's the thing also, and I like that example. When you search for Sara Taher or you search for Apple, is it the same as you search for Apple? Do you mean apple the fruit or Apple the company? And for Google, you'll get Apple, the company, results because Apple, the company, is more notable and than apple, the fruit. Which is crazy that companies are so famous online and more mentioned online, talked about online than the fruit, which is something like... We don't even think about it.

Jack: Yeah, I wonder if that's an element to it because I would think of apple the fruit as something I would talk about far more in person. I don't think I've ever googled just the word apple to find the fruit because-

Sara: Well, think about recipes-

Jack: Because you know what an apple is, right?

Sara: Yeah. But think about recipes, think about... I mean there is a lot of things, but obviously not enough to beat Apple, the company, so...

Jack: They are one of the biggest companies in the world.

Sara: If you search for alphabet, what does it show now? You want to try it?

Jack: Oh, I'll do that. I'll do that live on the podcast. Let's do that right now. Is it going to be the company? Is it going to be...

Sara: Because there's a lot of kids, I know they go online and ask me.

Jack: I have got a language writing type, which is the alphabet letters, so not the company.

Sara: Oh, I'm sad for Google.

Jack: I know. See results about Alphabet Inc. There we go. So their own see results about at the bottom there.

Sara: Someone beat them at their own game.

Jack: There is a... What am I getting here? "Alphabet is a leader in sustainable business mobility solutions. Reduce your carbon footprint and add flexibility." I'm giving you a free advert to another company called Alphabet here. They're apparently a business car leasing and fleet vehicle management company, who outrank the company that owns Google. That is bizarre.

Sara: Imagine.

Jack: I guess because Alphabet, the company who owns Google, again, it's that thing of being a household name, almost a similar way with fruit, the apple.

Sara: But I feel like people talk about Google as Google more than Alphabet.

Jack: Definitely, yes.

Sara: Very rarely we talk about Alphabet. I feel like Google is... Yeah.

Jack: It's an interesting thing because it was introduced after Google was a common phrase and a common noun. It's the same way of if I was very, very famous as Jack Chambers and then when I got married I changed my name to Jack Chambers-Ward, people would still search for Jack Chambers to find me as an entity, as a celebrity. But then it would be like, "Did you mean Jack Chambers-Ward?" Yeah, maybe. But yeah.

Sara: I think there would have been situations where something that has changed in real life and remained the same in Google Knowledge Graph in the results for a while. I just don't have any on my mind right now. I'll try to remember, but... Yeah.

Jack: Yeah, I feel like I've definitely seen examples of that as well. I know we try and pull out weird and funny examples when Mark and I do the podcast together. I know Mark absolutely loves that kind of stuff. I will bring up like, "Oh, there's this example from recent news that Barry Schwartz or Lily Ray has written about," whoever it is. And Mark will go, "I'm going to go find my own example." And he will go off and do a research and dive straight into Google, and find out what he can find out. And I love having that kind of... Like I said, we're doing live Googling right now on the podcast as we're recording. I love being able to do that, and that's part of that process. Coming back around to talking about entity research and stuff. I would probably have assumed that Alphabet, the company, would have their knowledge panel there. But alphabet as a concept in language is quite a big deal, I suppose. That's pretty important, right?

Sara: Yeah. So the thing is you have tons of kids going online, and they like to see the same thing over and over, especially if it's a YouTube alphabet song or something, so it's really hard to beat that.

Jack: Now, that's a very good point. Some of the most viewed things in the history of YouTube are little kids clips and stuff, right?

Sara: Yeah, I mean and if you see all the gaming... There are tons of games for young kids and apps and stuff to teach them alphabet and that sort of thing. And a lot of them are very profitable businesses, and so it's hard to read that.

Jack: That's a really interesting idea. So just looking at the keyword suggestions here, because I've got the, again, not sponsoring the show, I've got the ahrefs Chrome extension on the side telling me other keyword ideas to do with alphabet. And Alphabet, company, Alphabet Google are the second and third. Then alphabet in English. Then Alphabet Cars, which is the car leasing company I mentioned earlier as well. So they finally show up despite ranking first in organic position, alphabet letters, alphabet A to Z, alphabet phonetic, Alphabet vans. So we've got kind of a mixture of the three different things there. The small company, the global company, and then this wider concept that defines our language of English, basically, and so many other languages.

Sara: Yeah, and the reason we're getting those recommendations, even when I typed in the search bar, alphabet, I got in the suggestions or the auto complete company and Alphabet Google. So it's trying to remove any confusion, trying to narrow down what you're looking for, to be able to return the most relevant. But if you're just typing alphabet... Yeah.

Jack: Yeah, I guess there's a little advice there. Almost like we were saying with the names, if you are starting a small business and you want to be a factor in entity SEO, come up with a unique name.

Sara: Yeah, definitely. It's really a bad... I wouldn't say bad, but I mean it's not the best thing to do if you go after something that is... You don't want to compete against others for your brand name. And right now, SEO brand search is really big topic and really trending after years of being told that SEOs should not get credit for branded search. Right now it's a big thing. It's a lot of the ways brands are surviving in hard times branded search. And you definitely don't want to be wasting your... Because in many times, especially when you're launching a new business, your branded search is the result of PPC or ad campaigns you run on Facebook or whatever, and you don't want to waste that. Okay, they either click on Facebook or they're going to go to search and search for you. You don't want to see other competitors' ads there, or not even competitors, people who are selling something totally different, right?

Jack: Yeah, definitely. I've seen some clients that have had... How do I word this? Inappropriate abbreviations for their company names that if you Google it is not safe for work, shall we say? And they didn't realize that until I told them and I was like, "Hey, you should probably not use that abbreviation for your product because that means something else on the internet, and that is not a thing you want associated with your brand."

Sara: Definitely. Yeah. And that's why it's ideal if you're launching a new business to book one-time consultation even. You don't need to get the whole plan, but at least a one-time consultation and understand what you need to consider at that stage because you don't want to go back and say, "Okay, I'm going to change that." It's a waste if you're going to change that later, right?

Jack: So to wrap things up here, Sara, I kind of want to dig into how we would measure success for an entity-driven strategy for content. Because you touched on branded stuff there, and I think that's something, like you said, for so many years, so many SEOs have said, "Don't worry about branded stuff. That doesn't count. We don't get credit for that, so don't include that in your reports," or however you want to put it. What would be your advice to people who are thinking about going into and understanding entities better, now using it in their content strategies and then reporting that to the executives at their company or their clients in that way? What's the best way of translating that to clients and understanding this is why we have succeeded and why the entity is working?

Sara: So to be very transparent with you, it's really hard to attribute specific results to specific SEO tactics. Like this specific tactic moved that. It's really hard.

Jack: Definitely.

Sara: So what you can do is obviously you can say, "Okay, this content strategy resulted in that impact." And generally speaking, when I report, I don't like to report month over month. In a perfect world, you should report... Or more perfectly, you should be looking at this month this year compared to the same month last year because you want to take into a contribution, seasonality, and that sort of thing. Month over month is good, but it can be impacted... Because as I said, seasonality, it cannot be... You can actually do a good job and you're actually performing better, but it shows worse because it's just a low season. Yeah, so I would just talk about the general SEO strategy we followed, and then these are the results. And you may want to do, if you would like to, try it on a few URLs and then compare to the URLs that you didn't touch, and show that these ones that we optimized using those tactics got, for example, that performance increase. And then you get buy-in to execute more. Yeah, because quick example, I had a struggle to convince clients to, for example, add footer links. I was like, okay, let's add few and compare them to few blogs we did... Blog posts, oranges to oranges, blog posts against blog posts, once you put those links in the footer, you can see on the graph, they're just moving up and the others are just the same. So yeah. That's a summary.

Jack: Yeah. I think that's a really interesting thing, being able to, essentially, do that testing, like you said, compare the oranges to oranges there and have that way of... Again, like you said earlier, talking about updating content as well. If you can go back, update a blog post with your newly gained entity research and you can see success from that, oh look, now it's moved up so many spaces in the rankings or driven this amount in traffic or conversions or whatever, that's a really, again, objective way and filtering it through and getting through to that data-driven strategy. I really like that idea. Cool.

Sara: Yeah. Yeah.

Jack: Well, we're about an hour in terms of recording. I know, listeners, I've turned this into an hour-long show. It used to be a 30-minute show before I started. But I like-

Sara: Before meeting me.

Jack: Sara and I have talked a lot. We spent the first 50 minutes just talking about companies and stuff. Some podcasts are already finished by then, but we are just getting started and that's why I appreciate about you coming on the show, Sara. I really enjoyed this conversation.

Sara: Same here. Same. Thank you for having me, and I'm super happy to have this talk today.

Jack: Thank you very much for joining. Where can the listeners find you across the internet? You mentioned your personal website, we should definitely give a shout-out to that. And how can people follow you on social media and things like that?

Sara: Yeah, or LinkedIn. If you search for hashtag #SEORiddles you'll find me, so that's in summary.

Jack: You've got the brand down. I like it. Just in case, listeners, all those links will be included in the show notes at as well. So if you need to go and watch Sara's talk from SE Ranking, if you want to get into more details about Sara's social posts, which I highly recommend by the way, very, very excellent stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter, go and follow Sara on there in the links in the show notes.


And that's all the time we have for this week. Thank you again to Sara for joining me this week. It was an absolute pleasure to talk about entity SEO. I learned a lot this week. I know I say that a lot, but that's why I have these interesting people on the podcast, right? I'm here to interview them and learn from them, and hopefully, listeners, you learned as well throughout the episode. I'll be back next week. The plan is for Mark and I to do a kind of summary and recap of 2022 in search and cap off the year before we go away on our Christmas break, and basically discuss our highlights and the particularly interesting things that caught our eye throughout the year in both SEO, PPC and the search industry as a whole.

And then of course, we'll be back in January in 2023 with loads more guests, lots more news and more live streams coming up soon as well. We're working on some monthly live streams with SISTRIX we'll be doing in 2023, and we will keep you up to date with the dates and announcements for all of that coming in the next few weeks as well. So thanks very much for listening, and have a lovely week.