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Entities VS. Keywords in SEO: What is the difference?

As digital marketing continues to evolve, the strategies for optimising content on search engines have grown more sophisticated. 

Traditional SEO has long emphasised the importance of keywords—specific words or phrases that users type into search engines to find relevant content.

However, the emergence of entity-based SEO represents a significant shift, focusing on the context and relationships between data points. 

This evolution prompts a crucial question for SEO experts and digital marketers: What's the difference between keywords and entities, and how can this knowledge improve your SEO efforts?

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are the backbone of traditional SEO. They are specific words or phrases that define the content on a webpage. 

Example: an HVAC company might target keywords like "AC repair services" or "best heating installation near me." These keywords are chosen based on what potential customers are most likely to search for when looking for HVAC services.

Keywords serve as direct signals to search engines, telling them what the content is about and helping match user queries to relevant pages. 

The placement and frequency of keywords within content used to play a critical role in ranking pages. However, as search engines have become more sophisticated, the approach to using keywords has shifted towards a focus on relevance and context rather than just frequency.

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What Are Entities?

Entities are a slightly more advanced concept in SEO. 

They basically refer to any well-defined object or concept that is distinguishable and can be categorised within a database. This could include people, places, concepts, or organisations. 

Example: In the context of an HVAC business, entities could be the brand names of HVAC units, specific parts like "HVAC filters," or even broader concepts like "home heating efficiency."

Entities are crucial because they allow search engines to understand the context and relationships between different pieces of content. For instance, Google uses entities to help its search algorithm understand that a webpage discussing "Freon" and "R22" is likely related to air conditioning systems without the need for those exact keywords to be present in the text.

Differences and Their Importance in SEO

The key difference between keywords and entities lies in their approach to search relevance:

Specificity vs. Context:  Keywords are specific to user queries, often focusing on exact matches or close variations. Entities, however, provide context and can connect different but related concepts. This enhances content understanding beyond just specific phrases.

SEO Tactics: Keyword optimisation often involves placing specific phrases in strategic locations like titles, headings, and meta descriptions. 

Entity optimisation, by contrast, involves creating content that establishes relationships and context around a topic, such as linking to related subjects and providing comprehensive coverage of the topic’s ecosystem.

Search Engine Interpretation: Keywords help search engines match user queries to relevant pages based on text matches. Entities help search engines understand the content's meaning and its relationship to other knowledge domains, leading to smarter and more relevant results.

Applying Entity SEO 

For HVAC professionals, leveraging both keywords and entities in SEO strategies can provide a competitive edge. Here's how:

Content Creation: When writing about HVAC services, go beyond just inserting keywords. Discuss related concepts, such as energy efficiency, seasonal maintenance tips, or the benefits of specific HVAC models. This approach helps search engines recognise your content as authoritative and comprehensive.

Knowledge Graph Optimisation: Google's Knowledge Graph is a system that uses entities and their relationships to produce connected search results. HVAC companies can optimise for this by ensuring their brand is mentioned in relevant articles, linked with authoritative sites, and categorised correctly across the web.

Local SEO: Entities play a significant role in local SEO. For instance, mentioning local landmarks, neighbourhoods, or events in proximity to your service can help search engines better understand and rank your local relevance.

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While keywords remain a fundamental element of SEO, the integration of entity-based strategies allows HVAC companies to achieve more nuanced and powerful search engine visibility. 

By understanding the differences and how to use each effectively, you can ensure that your digital presence is both broad in scope and specific in targeting, bringing better engagement and conversions from potential customers.

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