CommerceCo Recap: SEO Entities vs. Keywords

Some search engine optimizers believe “entities” have supplanted keywords as the foundation for organic rankings. But it doesn’t mean that keywords are irrelevant.

Within SEO, entities are the people, places, things, organizations, and concepts contained in a knowledge graph, a description of related entities.

Knowledge Graph

Google’s knowledge panel is a visualization of a knowledge graph. Search for the actor Harrison Ford and Google will display a knowledge panel showing a lot of info about Ford personally and professionally. It’s an example of an entity (Ford) and the facts related to it.

Screenshot of Google search results for Harrison Ford, showing a Knowledge Panel.

This knowledge panel for Harrison Ford provides an example of an entity (Ford) and the facts related to it.

You can learn that “Harrison Ford is an American actor, pilot, and environmental activist. As of 2019, the U.S. domestic box office grosses of his films total over $5.1 billion, with worldwide grosses surpassing $9.3 billion, placing him at No. 4 on the list of highest-grossing domestic box office stars of all time.”

You will also discover that Ford has been married three times, has five children, and is expected to appear in two upcoming films, one of which is a new Indiana Jones movie.

It would likely be impossible for Google, or any search engine, to provide this sort of information based on keywords alone. And due to its knowledge graph, Google’s search results for “Harrison Ford” will not include Ford automobiles because Google understands not just the words “harrison” and “ford” but also that Harrison Ford is a person.

The information that we find on Harrison Ford’s knowledge panel comes from Google’s knowledge graph.

Things, Not Strings

“Search is a lot about discovery — the basic human need to learn and broaden your horizons. But searching still requires a lot of hard work by you, the user. So today I’m really excited to launch the Knowledge Graph, which will help you discover new information quickly and easily,” wrote Amit Singhal in May 2012 for Google’s official blog.

“Take a query like ‘taj mahal.’ For more than four decades, search has essentially been about matching keywords to queries. To a search engine, the words ‘taj mahal’ have been just that — two words.

“But we all know that [taj mahal] has a much richer meaning,” Singhal continued. “You might think of one of the world’s most beautiful monuments, or a Grammy Award-winning musician, or possibly even a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Or, depending on when you last ate, the nearest Indian restaurant. It’s why we’ve been working on an intelligent model — in geek-speak, a ‘graph’ — that understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things, not strings.”

The “things” are entities, and the “strings” are the characters that make up a keyword. Thus, as early as 2012, Google was emphasizing entities over keywords.

About Entities

“The idea of semantic search, the idea of a knowledge graph, none of this is new. Google didn’t invent this. Google adopted the concepts,” said Bill Sebald, the founder and managing partner of Greenlane Search Marketing and a Practical Ecommerce contributor. Sebald spoke during a live interview for the CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce community on March 18, 2021.

Sebald believes that Freebase, a Wikipedia-like resource launched in 2007 by MetaWweb, a U.S. software company, is the basis for Google’s use of a knowledge graph and entities within that knowledge graph. Google acquired MetaWeb in 2010.

When it launched Freebase, Metaweb described it as “an open, shared database of the world’s knowledge” and “a massive, collaboratively edited database of cross-linked data.”

The connected items are entities.

Google, Sebald stated, “can take those entities and it can create relationships…I’m from the Philadelphia area ―Carson Wentz isn’t our quarterback anymore― but [Google can recognize] that Carson Wentz is a quarterback on the Eagles….Google knows that the Eagles are part of the NFC East. So Google can, therefore, say Carson Wentz is a quarterback in the NFC East.”

These sorts of relationships allow Google to provide much better search results, and in many cases answer the intent of a person’s search query directly on the search results page.


This does not mean, however, that keywords have lost all of their SEO value. They have at least two important uses.

First, as the artificial intelligence firm Aylien noted, keywords help when an entity is either not known or is little known within Google’s knowledge graph.

In May 2020, Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search, wrote that his company’s knowledge graph contained more than “500 billion facts about five billion entities.”

As large as those numbers sound, they don’t come close to the total number of facts or entities. Thus for lots of things and concepts, keywords are still the way search works.

Second, keywords can help refine an entity search, again according to Aylien, which gave this example: “Combining the entity search ‘Pandora Music’ with the keyword search ‘number of customers’ will really hone your search to deliver exactly what you are looking for.”

Entities 101

I provided an “Entities 101” overview to members of CommerceCo. Here’s a partial recording of that presentation.


March 2021 Top 10: Our Most Popular Posts

Since 2005, we’ve published thousands of articles, podcasts, and webinars to help ecommerce merchants. What follows are the 10 most popular articles that we published in March 2021. Articles from early in the month are more likely to make the list than later ones.

Will Social Commerce Disrupt Retail in U.S., Europe?

Social commerce in China combines content, chat, live streaming, and sharing with in-app retail purchases, obliterating the distinctions between social media networks and online stores. China’s style of ecommerce is so successful it has the potential to disrupt retail in the U.S. and Europe. Read more…

Changes to Google Ads Impact Campaign Setup

Google has recently announced three changes that will force advertisers to rethink how they set up campaigns. The changes are: broad match modifier moving to phrase match, responsive search ads becoming the default ad type, the decision to not create alternative tracking identifiers. Read more…

5 Content Marketing Ideas for April 2021

Content marketing is the act of creating content to attract and retain prospects. Opportunities abound in April 2021, with topics as diverse as the Pony Express, National Beer Day, Arbor Day, and TikTok. Read more…

Sustainable Packaging Drives Customer Loyalty

How merchants pack online orders makes a difference. One needn’t look any further than Apple’s product packaging to understand the cherished tradition of unboxing. But packing materials are as important as the overall appearance. More than half of U.S. consumers are concerned about the environmental impact. Read more…

15 Easy-to-use Logo Makers

A logo represents your store, your company, and your mission. A good logo stands out and builds trust. Here is a list of logo makers and design tools. All of these are inexpensive and easy-to-use. Read more…

11 New Ecommerce Books for Spring 2021

Here’s a batch of new ecommerce books for your spring reading list. There are titles on branding, social media marketing, cross-border selling, podcasting, customer experience, transacting on Amazon and Shopify, and selling your business. Read more…

Ecommerce Product Releases: March 1, 2021

Here is a list of product releases and updates for late February from companies that offer services to online merchants. There are updates on live stream shopping, email marketing, managed hosting, and artificial intelligence-powered voice assistance. Read more…

Walmart Expands Marketplace, Challenging Amazon

Walmart’s U.S. ecommerce sales in the last quarter of 2020 increased by 69 percent year-over-year while its total sales grew only 7.3 percent. The message is clear: future growth will depend on ecommerce. Read more…

Will AI for Ecommerce Go Mainstream in 2021?

Buzzwords such as “personalization” and “artificial intelligence” have been around ecommerce for years. But could 2021 be the year these technologies go mainstream? Some industry participants believe so. Read more…

You Can’t Solve Accessibility with 1 Line of Code

Accessibility overlays are third-party web scripts that alter the user experience. Providers of overlays sometimes claim that installing their script will prevent lawsuits in the U.S. under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Let me be blunt: these products will not protect you from lawsuits or necessarily help visitors with accessibility needs. Read more…


Is it worth my time to hunt for free backlinks and guest posts?

Almost everyone is asking for money these days, and I wonder if as a new website I should keep looking for free links/guest posts, pay for them or skip link building and focus only on long-tail keywords.

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Adworkmedia issue. need help.

Hello, I'm new to this and don't know much. But I've been trying to use the link to multiple campaigns to promote and when I click on them to check if they're working they take me to some spammy page instead of the actual offer (which is supposed to be a survey site) that's a issue. Am I doing something wrong? How can I fix this ? I'll leave a link below of a screen recording showing what happens. Thanks!


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Looking for an in depth guide about doing affiliate marketing without being an influencer

I've heard that this should be possible, and im looking for a more in depth guide with tips and tricks. However, i've only been able to find expensive courses, and i was hoping i could find a nice guide for free. Any help appreciated. Thanks!:)

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Econsultancy Live returns in April with ‘What’s next for CX?’

Following on from a successful virtual event in December 2020, ‘Riding the Ecommerce Wave’, Econsultancy Live is returning in April 2021 with a close look at customer experience (CX), its importance, and its future.

What’s next for CX’ is taking place from 27-28 April and will feature 12+ hours of insightful, thought-provoking content, bringing together more than 40 expert speakers, brand leaders, and veteran consultants and analysts to debate, discuss and explore the most pressing questions about CX – a topic that, after years of approaching buzzword status, has never felt more relevant.

Highlights include a dive into the subject of ‘Retail-tainment in China’ from Alibaba Group’s Miriam Figueiredo; a discussion on earning customer trust, featuring Dyson’s Sophie Dufouleur and Starling Bank’s Rachel Kerron; and a far-reaching look at the future of CX, which will feature TSB’s Emma Stacey and be chaired by Xeim Managing Director Richard Robinson.

Elsewhere, Camila Diaz will speak to the role of empathy in business innovation at Moonpig, and Vistaprint UK & Ireland’s Emily Shirley will discuss understanding customer needs in 2021, together with Zurich’s Monika Schulze and easyHotel’s Rav Dhaliwal.

“Customer experience has been a mega-trend over the last few years – accelerated by coronavirus, where we’re not just dealing with the shift to digital, but omnichannel and hybrid. Understanding the complexity around those journeys and delivering against our customers’ needs is more important than ever,” says Econsultancy founder Ashley Friedlein.

“We’ve brought together an amazing lineup of speakers and experts to tackle those tough CX questions and give you all the insight and information you need to take on the challenges in the year ahead.”

Early bird tickets are on sale until 1st April, while group and annual passes are also available that will allow you to save money on bulk bookings and future Econsultancy live events. Visit the Econsultancy Live website to book your ticket and explore the full agenda.


Is Marketing Just an Art?

Modern commerce marketing can be data-driven and repeatable. It can raise profits and fend off competitors. But at some companies, marketing is unplanned and unorganized.

This came up during a recent job interview. A candidate was applying for a director of marketing position. I was one of the interviewers. I asked how one makes retail marketing repeatable, and the candidate answered that she didn’t believe it could be.

She said, “Marketing isn’t construction work. It is not workmanlike. It is more like art.”

But is it really? Certainly, marketing and advertising should include creativity. But it also requires a workmanlike competency — namely, measuring performance.

Optimize with Measurement

Measurement is necessary to optimize marketing performance. And this is especially true when a business advertises across multiple channels that are not easily measured. Examples include organic search, social media, content marketing, and traditional media, such as television and newspapers. Competent marketing measurement could help a business understand how all of its promotions work together.

Image of a laptop computer with graphs on the screen.

Effective marketing measurement helps a business understand how all of its promotions work together. Photo: Lucas Blazek.

“We look at a lot of interactions,” said Barry Croke, a director at Analytics Partners, a consultancy.

For example, “Consider the relationship between search and all other media channels. We’ll oftentimes build specific search models to help attribute performance to television or whatever channel it is.

“That’s been a big thing for a lot of the omnichannel [advertising] clients we work with. Many have focused on direct-to-consumer media [such as pay-per-click ads], which is very trackable. It’s more of a last click or last touch measurement.”

Measuring the interaction of media, like Croke described, can reduce waste, identify opportunities, and manage how often a prospect sees a similar ad.

The process helps a company analyze advertising budgets for placements, technology, and even agencies. This, in turn, facilitates cost cuts associated with underperforming ads, redundant ad tech platforms, and overlapping firms.

According to Croke, marketers should “develop measurement programs for performance over time to track everything, account for everything, and look for opportunities.”

“Sometimes return on investment is not the best metric,” said Croke. “Say you launch a new product. Marketing for that product will not likely have a strong ROI. You have to be cognizant of those factors…to make sure that the context is there [in your measurement plan] beyond just reporting numbers.”

When a marketing team can report results within the context of an objective, it may be easier to get buy-in from the entire company. When they understand how marketing contributes to the company’s success, other departments are more likely to rally behind additional investment and offer help.

According to a report from Croke’s company, businesses that make marketing decisions based on measurement get buy-in across the company and grow five times faster.

Workmanlike marketing measurement, then, boosts growth.

Customer Experience

Marketing measurement can also contribute to better customer experiences.

Most of us have been bombarded with ads from a single company in, say, one day. The same ad showed up 10 times while watching Hulu, for example. Then it appeared on Facebook. Then it followed you on YouTube and even ended up in your email inbox.

That is not a good customer experience. Likely, the company did not understand how multiple marketing channels interact. Competent measurement can help with that, too.


Clickbank Affiliate Marketing for Noobies with Instagram Free Traffic

Hello everyone, both new and old Affiliate Marketers. This one is specifically for the Clickbank Affiliates though. I have decided to write a full Clickbank tutorial, more for the new Clickbank affiliates looking to make their first few sales with free traffic specifically with Instagram. This is what I started with when I just started Clickbank in order to make my first few sales. In this blog post I go through everything I did to get my first few sales with proof inside. I even recently did this and got a $100+ day on Instagram. If you have any questions feel free to ask, answering as much questions as I can, hope to help out some new comers make their first sale on Clickbank.

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Addressing email accessibility: The 3 key steps

Jessica Bolton, Enterprise Customer Success Manager at Iterable, shares some advice on closing the accessibility gap via three email campaigns fundamentals – content, code and visuals.

We need to talk about accessibility.

Brands spend a great deal of time perfecting their email campaigns, spending weeks and sometimes even months ensuring every little detail is perfect. But what’s the point of spending time and money if your campaign excludes a large proportion of your customer base?

Ensuring your email campaign is accessible ensures that you are including, not excluding, your customers. Over one in five people in the U.K. are reported to have a disability, however, research by Litmus found that despite 77% of marketers seeing email accessibility as a prime concern for their brand, only 8% follow best practice on accessibility.

Close the gap in accessibility application in marketing by focusing on making the three fundamentals of email campaigns – content, code and visuals – accessible to the entire audience.


Let’s start with the heart of the matter. Ensuring your content is accessible to everyone is the top priority for an email campaign. When it comes to subject liners and pre-headers, it’s easy to focus solely on common best practices, like ensuring they are concise and efficient. In the spirit of accessibility, keep them short, but avoid abbreviations, as these have the potential for being misunderstood by a screen reader.

When it comes to the main body of content, more brands are making use of emojis and GIFs as a way of livening up their emails. Whilst GIFs can add some flavor to content, they must be approached with caution; ask, “How will this GIF be interpreted by assistive technologies?”, before you push send. Components that have strong visual appeal might encounter difficulty in delivery when being interpreted by a screen reader. Fast or flashy animations, for example, might cause those with a visual sensitivity to experience dizziness or vertigo, or even contribute to a seizure for a person with epilepsy.


First, you focus on the front-end. Next you focus on technicalities – code! There are a number of actions relating to the technicalities of an email campaign that can help increase accessibility. If you can, it’s good practice to use semantic code, which is programming that focuses on meaning to clearly define the content. Semantic code makes it far easier for screen readers to navigate and creates a much better user experience.

Setting a language attribute within your HTML is another step that can help screen readers identify the correct language profile and use the appropriate accent and pronunciation. It’s a minor, but often overlooked, step that can vastly increase the accessibility of your emails.


Once your coding and content meets best practices for accessibility, it’s time to look at visuals. Aesthetically speaking, a poorly constructed colour scheme or flamboyant and distracting visual layout can undermine all the pre-work done to make email content accessible. Best practices state that the colour contrast ratio, or the correlation between the brightest and darkest shades of colour being used, should be at least at a ratio of 4:5:1, making them as clear to the visual eye as possible.

Remember to also consider readers with colour vision deficiencies. While colour is a great branding technique, relying solely on visual representation for brand communications can exclude some of your customer base. Common color usages – like indicating a hyperlink with the colour blue – are not as accessible as they may seem. Avoid these mistakes by ensuring links are underlined, and other intentions are communicated in evident, non-colour-reliant ways. Your foresight will offer a more engaging and rewarding experience for this segment of your audience.

A helpful tool to use in increasing visual accessibility is “alt text”. Alt text is the copy displayed when an image fails to load, offering a description of what visual should usually be there. What is lesser known is that it’s what screen readers use to convey visual elements! Alt text is an important part of every brands’ online communications and should always be used behind images in email campaigns.

The Path Forward

Steps taken to make your campaigns more accessible may seem minor in workload, but are meaningful in impact. They can go a long way in making an email campaign truly accessible. Keep these three considerations – Content, Code, and Visuals – in mind when crafting your next campaign. This will ensure your email campaigns follow accessibility best practices and are inclusive to your entire customer base.


14 Brands on TikTok, for Inspiration

Contributor Kaleena Stroud’s recent TikTok articles help merchants produce videos on that platform and drive sales. In addition, following the TikTok tactics of leading brands can generate ideas for your own promotions.

Here is a list of top brands on TikTok to inspire your production and marketing. There are product launches, creative user campaigns, contests, and lots of short and funny videos with music.

Washington Post

Screenshot of Washington Post video on TikTok

Geoffrey Fowler @washingtonpost

Washington Post posts its news content mainly through tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler. His short-sketch delivery explains news issues and highlights the depth of the newspaper. Fowler’s presence personalizes and adapts the brand for TikTok. Washington Post has 906.9 thousand followers and 36.1 million likes on TikTok.


Screenshot of Chipotle video on TikTok


Chipotle has various content on TikTok to showcase food its production, new products, and customers. The video clip above announces the arrival of new quesadillas with screaming audio, which turns it into something more than an ad. Chipotle also launched a #ChipotleRoyalty contest with influencer David Dobrik. The winners had their orders featured and won $10,000. Chipotle has 1.5 million follows and 28.2 million likes.


Screenshot of Gymshark video on TikTok

@gymshark @ginascarangella_

Gymshark is an exercise apparel and accessories brand that posts gym-related content, including silly workout challenges, memes, videos, and impressive gym feats. Gymshark has 2.5 million followers and 38.6 million likes on TikTok.

Too Faced Cosmetics #TFBornThisWay

Screenshot of Too Faced Cosmetics video on TikTok

@laurieelle @toofaced #tfbornthisway

Too Faced Cosmetics ran the #TFBornThisWay campaign with influencers to promote its Born This Way line of makeup foundation. Clips also include an augmented reality effect to highlight a user’s photo-ready appearance. More than 450,000 videos were created for the challenge, which received 2.6 billion views.

Mastercard #PricelessWave

Screenshot of Mastercard video on TikTok

@harrietfreestyle #PricelessWave

Mastercard launched the #PricelessWave campaign to celebrate the return from the pandemic of the UEFA Champions League and European football. Users joined the biggest wave ever, raising their arms and showing off some sports skills, and then applying a Priceless effect to add celebration graphics. The campaign has generated 2.1 billion views.

Converse #ConverseAllStar

Screenshot of Converse video on TikTok

@photomum #ConverseAllStar

Converse ran the #ConverseAllStar contest, calling on followers to apply their creative skills to a Converse canvas. The prize was a ticket to the Converse Creative All-Star Series event in London to work and learn from influential creatives. The campaign has 68.7 million views.

Guess #inmydenim

Screenshot of Guess video on TikTok

@ourfire #inmydenim

Guess ran the #inmydenim campaign, challenging followers to display their style in denim with before-and-after videos, from “mess to best-dressed.” Fashion content performs well on TikTok, and the challenge gave people the chance to show off their creativity. The campaign has generated 52.7 million views.


Screenshot of NBA video on TikTok

@nba #halftimeshow #magic

The NBA uses TikTok to show stupendous dunks and playmaking. But it also shows funny behind-the-scenes content and unusual game flubs. NBA has 12.4 million followers and 286.8 million likes on TikTok.

San Diego Zoo

Screenshot of San Diego Zoo video on TikTok

@sandiegozoo #elephantastic

San Diego Zoo shows short clips of its animals. The videos are not only inspirational and educational, but they also use creative filters and meme text graphics. San Diego Zoo has 1.8 million followers and 24.1 million likes on TikTok.

Red Bull

Screenshot of Red Bull video on TikTok


Red Bull has long produced and supported extreme sports. Its TikTok clips are sports-related highlights. However, many clips are from viewer requests, which adds to the channel’s experience. Red Bull has 5.4 million followers and 86 million likes on TikTok.

Target #TargetChallenge

Screenshot of Target video on TikTok

abbieherbert_ #TargetChallenge

Target is a destination for users to display what they’ve purchased and show their personal style. Recently the #TargetChallenge has trended with its simple, interactive game format — couples buy and reveal items for each other based on a list of parameters (e.g., favorite drink, favorite color). #TargetChallenge has over 400 million views.

Crocs #ThousandDollarCrocs

Screenshot of Crocs video on TikTok

@crocs #ThousandDollarCrocs

Crocs generated amazing results with its #ThousandDollarCrocs campaign. Users showed their “$1,000 Crocs,” displaying creativity and flair, which is what TikTok is all about. The campaign has generated 3 billion views.


Screenshot of SNL video on TikTok


Saturday Night Live posts sketch highlights from recent broadcasts, as well as classic moments from SNL’s nearly 50-year history. The format is ideal for TikTok’s short format. SNL has 2.7 million followers and 30 million likes on the platform.


Screenshot of Amazon video on TikTok


Amazon does not have a very active TikTok page. However, Amazon is developing its TikTok presence through its partnerships with influencers. Its sponsored ad with comedian Jason Nash has generated 12.7 million views.