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14 Ways to Use AI for Better, Faster SEO

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14 Ways to Use AI for Better, Faster SEO

AI can make your SEO efforts faster, better, and more fun—if you know how to use it.

Here are 14 practical ways to get faster, more efficient SEO results with help from your robot overlords friends.

To use AI in the best way (and avoid the mistakes many people make), it helps to understand what we mean when we talk about “AI”. Here’s everything you need to know about AI, in under 60 seconds:

With those ideas lodged in your brain, let’s look at how you can use AI tools for faster, better SEO.

AI is great for brainstorming keyword ideas and helping you to understand precisely what searchers need when they search for a particular keyword.

Suggest seed keywords

“Seed” keywords are words and phrases related to your business that you can use as the starting point for keyword research.

Pick a starting topic and ask AI to suggest related keywords: sub-topics, questions, similar concepts, you name it.

Take your list of ideas, plug them into a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and you can quickly see the estimated traffic potential and Keyword Difficulty for each of these terms:

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Not all of these seed keywords will have meaningful volume, but that’s okay. Switch to the Matching terms or Related terms tabs, and you’ll see hundreds more related keywords that do:

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You can even skip the ChatGPT part entirely and use the built-in AI suggestion feature in Keywords Explorer:

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Here, our AI copilot has brainstormed “subtopics and niche areas” related to our core topic, content strategy:

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Sidenote.

Don’t trust any volume or difficulty numbers AI gives you. Tools like ChatGPT don’t have access to actual keyword data—but they can hallucinate and make numbers up. If you want real data, you’ll need a keyword research tool like Ahrefs.

Analyze SERP intent

AI can help you understand the different types of search intent present in a particular SERP (search engine results page).

This can be useful for working out which type of content you need to create to match the dominant intent (do searchers want an informational guide, or a free tool?).

In the example below, I copy/pasted page titles from the SERP for the keyword “LLM” and asked ChatGPT to categorize them by the different intent types present:

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After a little cajoling and refining, ChatGPT grouped the titles into a few different categories, like definitional (explaining what an LLM is) and comparative (comparing different types of AI models):

1715876766 927 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 927 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

You can take this process to the next level with the Identify intents feature in Ahrefs. For your given keyword, scroll to the SERP overview report, and hit the “Identify intents” button:

14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

This has the benefit of also showing you the percentage of total estimated traffic each intent receives.

In this example, with 82% of traffic, it makes sense to target the keyword “llm” with a definitional article about LLMs, and ignore the lower traffic intent associated with LLM degree programs.

AI can be used to pump out complete articles, but you’ll get better results—and have less risk of a Google penalty—if you use it like a creative sparring partner for your content creation process.

Brainstorm titles and headers

Titles and headers have a crucial indirect role in SEO by encouraging readers to actually click and read through your content. AI can dramatically speed up the process of brainstorming titles and headers.

Here, I’ve pasted the content of my latest blog post into ChatGPT and asked it to suggest title ideas:

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I generally don’t use these ideas verbatim, but ChatGPT regularly generates words or phrases that make their way into my finished titles.

You can also use our free blog post title generator in the same way. Just describe your topic, choose the writing tone, and hit “generate”:

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You can modify and create new ideas at the click of a button:

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Check grammar

AI is great for checking writing for grammar mistakes. Here, I’ve pasted an article paragraph into our free AI grammar checker

1715876766 641 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 641 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

…and a moment later, AI has flagged two possible issues for me to resolve:

1715876766 418 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 418 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

Edit transcripts

Maybe you’ve interviewed an expert and want to add their quotes and experience into your search content. Or maybe your team has created a YouTube video that you’d like to repurpose into a keyword-targeted article.

In either case, you can use AI to tidy up and correctly format transcripts, making it much easier to pull out quotes and ideas.

In this example, I’ve asked ChatGPT to correct a free (and error-prone) transcript from a YouTube video:

1715876766 430 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 430 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

And here’s the edited version, complete with correctly capitalized brand names, removed typos, and grammatically correct punctuation:

1715876766 945 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 945 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

SEO is a never-ending process, and AI can be a useful tool for speeding up some of the ongoing optimization tasks you’ll need to make to keep your pages ranking.

Add missing topics

One way to improve search content’s performance is to ensure that it includes important information that the searcher needs. Common sense can be a useful guide, asking yourself “which topics am I missing?”—but AI can help automate the process too.

Ahrefs’ new experimental Content Grader tool uses AI to automatically analyze the top-ranking articles for a particular keyword, identify the topics present, and score them according to how well they cover the topic.

Here’s an example for the keyword programmatic seo, comparing the content of my article to the content of other top-ranking pieces. We can immediately see a couple of missing topic areas:

1715876766 644 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 644 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

Content Grader can even explain how you should address the topic gap, and share an example from another top-ranking article:

1715876766 252 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 252 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

Write meta descriptions

Good meta descriptions encourage searchers to click on your pages, but Google has a tendency to change and rewrite even the most carefully-crafted meta descriptions.

If you want to generate lots of meta descriptions without sinking tons of time into the process, AI is pretty perfect. Here’s our free AI meta description generator: just describe the contents of your page, choose a writing tone and the number of variations you’d like, and hit generate.

1715876766 724 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876766 724 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

And here are the outputs:

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Make content more helpful

Aleyda Solis created a custom GPT (a specially trained AI model) that reviews content according to Google’s helpful content guidelines.

While I don’t think it’s a replacement for the skilled judgment of a professional SEO, it can offer a quick, automated way to pinpoint obvious problems with content.

Here I’ve asked it to compare my article on programmatic SEO to a competing article:

1715876767 468 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876767 468 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

It’s easy to mess up certain parts of technical SEO, like schema or hreflang implementation. From my experience, AI is better and more reliable than I am in these areas.

Create schema markup

Adding schema markup to relevant content types (like recipes or reviews) can help your pages become eligible for Rich Results, special Google features that include a ton of extra data about your content.

Here, I’ve asked for recipe schema for a chicken soup recipe. With a couple of tweaks (like adding in the recipe author), I could add this to my page and become eligible for rich results (and most likely more clicks):

1715876767 713 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876767 713 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

Generate hreflang

Hreflang is an HTML attribute that tells search engines about the multiple versions of a page for different languages or regions. Here, ChatGPT has written the hreflang tags for four different versions of my blog post:

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AI is great at helping with these analytical and reporting tasks, from digging through performance data to see which tactics work, to sharing your findings in easy-to-communicate ways with your company or clients.

Of all the AI/SEO use cases I’ve covered, these are probably my favorite.

Constructing regex queries

Regular expressions (or regex) allow you to search within text and data for patterns that are otherwise difficult to spot. They can be pretty complicated, but AI is extremely good at writing and troubleshooting very complex queries for you.

Here’s ChatGPT helping me extract URLs from a list of email addresses, combining regex queries with a Google Sheets formula:

1715876767 155 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876767 155 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

And here it’s helping me filter a spreadsheet of URLs by their crawl depth:

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And here it’s written a query to use with Ahrefs Site Audit to help me filter out localized content (pages that have country codes, like /de/ for Germany, somewhere in their URL):

1715876767 886 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876767 886 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

Making Google Sheets formula

SEOs spend a lot of time in spreadsheets, often wrangling lots of data with complicated formulas. ChatGPT can make this process much, much easier.

Here I’ve described the structure of an article reporting spreadsheet to ChatGPT, and asked for a very complicated formula to allow me to filter for certain types of published articles. It doesn’t even break a sweat:

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It’s also great for troubleshooting when things go wrong:

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Writing Python scripts

Python is a popular language for automating SEO processes. Generative AI is pretty darn handy at writing and troubleshooting Python code, and I’ve used it to help speed up some of my SEO processes.

Here, I asked AI to create a basic web scraper for storing data from a given webpage:

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And here I asked for help writing a script to call the Ahrefs API and collect bulk traffic and backlink data for a list of websites:

1715876767 436 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO1715876767 436 14 Ways to Use AI for Better Faster SEO

And yes—both of these scripts worked!

Vizualize performance data

All of the visuals in this section were created with ChatGPT, Ahrefs data, and a little know-how.

For longer explanations (and the prompts used to make these visualizations), check out Patrick’s article:

Here’s a graph of organic traffic over time, with traffic anomalies (usually Google updates) highlighted:

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Here’s a plot comparing desktop and mobile rankings for a selection of keywords:

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And here’s a chart showing seasonal patterns in backlink acquisition:

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AI can help you do SEO, but it’s also changing the industry as a whole. There are lots of myths circulating about the impact of AI. Let’s address the biggest, head-on.

Does Google penalize AI content?

No, not strictly speaking. Google penalizes bad content, and AI makes it easy to make bad content.

Some companies use AI to dramatically scale and automate their content creation. When this content is thin, there’s a chance that Google will issue a manual spam penalty. In this example, a site used AI to publish 1,800 thin articles and received a penalty, tanking their traffic to virtually zero:

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As I’ve written before,

“I don’t think that publishing AI content means an automatic penalty. AI content detectors don’t work, and even if they did, Google is apparently agnostic to AI use—but it is not agnostic to bad content or bad actors. And AI makes it very easy to make bad content.”

Ryan LawRyan Law

It’s a good idea to use AI to improve the efficiency or quality of your content, but not to pump out thin spam content.

Is Google losing market share to AI?

It doesn’t look like it.

Google has always been the main search engine SEOs care about, and in the age of AI… that hasn’t really changed. According to Statcounter, Google’s market share has held relatively steady at a staggering 91%:

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But although Google’s dominance over the search market is pretty unchallenged, there are more alternatives than ever. These are useful for seeing where Google might take inspiration and improve its own search experience in the future:

  • Competing search engines are offering their own AI features (like Bing or our Yep.com).
  • Companies like Perplexity.ai offer an alternative search experience built entirely on AI models
  • Some people are even building their own AI chatbots trained on specific bodies of work—instead of asking Google for health and fitness advice, you could ask a chatbot trained on the Huberman Labs podcast.

Will SGE reduce traffic from certain keywords?

Maybe.

Google has just launched AI Overviews (formerly known as Search Generative Experience, or SGE). AI Overviews seem to work a lot like featured snippets: they try to answer the searcher’s query directly, right there in the SERP, without the need to click on another website.

There’s a concern that many websites will see a decline in search traffic from AI Overviews, and some SEOs even suggest trying to optimize your content for AI Overviews.

While we wait to see what impact AI Overviews has on traffic from Google Search, the best response is to focus on topics that can’t be neatly summarized in a single paragraph.

We call these “deep topics”: areas where AI can’t provide everything the reader needs, because there are lots of possible answers, or it requires firsthand experience.

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Does Google reward first-person experience?

Theoretically, yes.

Google already has a plan for stopping SERPs from being swamped by copycat AI content, and it involves prioritizing content that includes EEAT: expertise, experience, authority, and trust:

 

“There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience on the topic at hand.”

EEAT is used by Google’s Quality Raters, whose experiences may be used to train Google’s machine learning models to help them identify “quality” content.

But Google aside, EEAT is great for readers, so it’s worth incorporating into your SEO strategy even if you won’t see an immediate ranking boost. There are three simple ways we recommend standing out from AI content:

  • Experimentation: create proprietary data.
  • Experience: share your real, lived experiences.
  • Effort: go further than competing content.
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Final thoughts

SEO isn’t something that can be automated to perfection at the click of a button (and any tool that promises otherwise is lying). But AI can help speed up and improve the more tedious parts of your job.

If you want to test out some AI tools in the easiest possible way, try experimenting with our 40 free AI writing tools. They can help with everything from writing clickable titles to generating tons of meta descriptions, and help you separate AI fact from AI fiction.

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You'll Face in 2024

Seen any stressed-out SEOs recently? If so, that’s because they’ve got their work cut out this year.

Between navigating Google’s never-ending algorithm updates, fighting off competitors, and getting buy-in for projects, there are many significant SEO challenges to consider.

So, which ones should you focus on? Here are the six biggest ones I think you should pay close attention to.

Make no mistake—Google’s algorithm updates can make or break your site.

Core updates, spam updates, helpful content updates—you name it, they can all impact your site’s performance.

As we can see below, the frequency of Google updates has increased in recent years, meaning that the likelihood of being impacted by a Google update has also increased.

How to deal with it:

Recovering from a Google update isn’t easy—and sometimes, websites that get hit by updates may never fully recover.

For the reasons outlined above, most businesses try to stay on the right side of Google and avoid incurring Google’s wrath.

SEOs do this by following Google’s Search Essentials, SEO best practices and avoiding risky black hat SEO tactics. But sadly, even if you think you’ve done this, there is no guarantee that you won’t get hit.

If you suspect a website has been impacted by a Google update, the fastest way to check is to plug the domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Ahrefs Site Explorer screenshotAhrefs Site Explorer screenshot

Here’s an example of a website likely affected by Google’s August 2023 Core Update. The traffic drop started on the update’s start date.

Website impacted by Google's August 2023 Core UpdateWebsite impacted by Google's August 2023 Core Update
Hover over the G circles on the X axis to get information about each update.

From this screen, you can see if a drop in traffic correlates with a Google update. If there is a strong correlation, then that update may have hit the site. To remedy it, you will need to understand the update and take action accordingly.

Follow SEO best practices

It’s important your website follows SEO best practices so you can understand why it has been affected and determine what you need to do to fix things.

For example, you might have missed significant technical SEO issues impacting your website’s traffic. To rule this out, it’s worth using Site Audit to run a technical crawl of your website.

Site Audit screenshot, via Ahrefs Site AuditSite Audit screenshot, via Ahrefs Site Audit

Monitor the latest SEO news

In addition to following best practices, it’s a good idea to monitor the latest SEO news. You can do this through various social media channels like X or LinkedIn, but I find the two websites below to be some of the most reliable sources of SEO news.

Even if you escape Google’s updates unscathed, you’ve still got to deal with your competitors vying to steal your top-ranking keywords from right under your nose.

This may sound grim, but it’s a mistake to underestimate them. Most of the time, they’ll be trying to improve their website’s SEO just as much as you are.

And these days, your competitors will:

How to deal with it:

If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to do these two things:

Spy on your competitors and monitor their strategy

Ok, so you don’t have to be James Bond, but by using a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer and our Google Looker Studio Integration (GLS), you can extract valuable information and keep tabs on your competitors, giving you a competitive advantage in the SERPs.

Using a tool like Site Explorer, you can use the Organic Competitors report to understand the competitor landscape:

Organic competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerOrganic competitors screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can check out their Organic traffic performance across the years:

Year on Year comparison of organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerYear on Year comparison of organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can use Calendar to see which days changes in Positions, Pages, Referring domains Backlinks occurred:

Screenshot of Ahrefs' Calendar, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerScreenshot of Ahrefs' Calendar, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can see their Top pages’ organic traffic and Organic keywords:

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerTop pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And much, much more.

If you want to monitor your most important competitors more closely, you can even create a dashboard using Ahrefs’ GLS integration.

Google Looker Studio integration screenshot,Google Looker Studio integration screenshot,

Acquire links and create content that your competitors can’t recreate easily

Once you’ve done enough spying, it’s time to take action.

Links and content are the bread and butter for many SEOs. But a lot of the time the links that are acquired and the content that is created just aren’t that great.

So, to stand the best chance of maintaining your rankings, you need to work on getting high-quality backlinks and producing high-quality content that your competitors can’t easily recreate.

It’s easy to say this, but what does it mean in practice?

The best way to create this type of content is to create deep content.

At Ahrefs, we do this by running surveys, getting quotes from industry experts, running data studies, creating unique illustrations or diagrams, and generally fine-tuning our content until it is the best it can be.

As if competing against your competitors wasn’t enough, you must also compete against Google for clicks.

As Google not-so-subtly transitions from a search engine to an answer engine, it’s becoming more common for it to supply the answer to search queries—rather than the search results themselves.

The result is that even the once top-performing organic search websites have a lower click-through rate (CTR) because they’re further down the page—or not on the first page.

Whether you like it or not, Google is reducing traffic to your website through two mechanisms:

  • AI overviews – Where Google generates an answer based on sources on the internet
  • Zero-click searches – Where Google shows the answer in the search results

With AI overviews, we can see that the traditional organic search results are not visible.

And with zero-click searches, Google supplies the answer directly in the SERP, so the user doesn’t have to click anything unless they want to know more.

Zero Click searches example, via Google.comZero Click searches example, via Google.com

These features have one thing in common: They are pushing the organic results further down the page.

With AI Overviews, even when links are included, Kevin Indig’s AI overviews traffic impact study suggests that AI overviews will reduce organic clicks.

In this example below, shared by Aleyda, we can see that even when you rank organically in the number one position, it doesn’t mean much if there are Ads and an AI overview with the UX with no links in the AI overview answer; it just perpetuates the zero-clicks model through the AI overview format.

How to deal with it:

You can’t control how Google changes the SERPs, but you can do two things:

Make your website the best it can be

If you focus on the latter, your website will naturally become more authoritative over time. This isn’t a guarantee that your website will be included in the AI overview, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Prevent Google from showing your website in an AI Overview

If you want to be excluded from Google’s AI Overviews, Google says you can add no snippet to prevent your content from appearing in AI Overviews.

nosnippet code explanation screemshot, via Google's documentationnosnippet code explanation screemshot, via Google's documentation

One of the reasons marketers gravitated towards Google in the early days was that it was relatively easy to set up a website and get traffic.

Recently, there have been a few high-profile examples of smaller websites that have been impacted by Google:

Apart from the algorithmic changes, I think there are two reasons for this:

  • Large authoritative websites with bigger budgets and SEO teams are more likely to rank well in today’s Google
  • User-generated content sites like Reddit and Quora have been given huge traffic boosts from Google, which has displaced smaller sites from the SERPs that used to rank for these types of keyword queries

Here’s Reddit’s traffic increase over the last year:

Reddit's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site ExplorerReddit's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site Explorer

And here’s Quora’s traffic increase:

Quora's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site ExplorerQuora's organic traffic increase, via Ahrefs Site Explorer

How to deal with it:

There are three key ways I would deal with this issue in 2024:

Focus on targeting the right keywords using keyword research

Knowing which keywords to target is really important for smaller websites. Sadly, you can’t just write about a big term like “SEO” and expect to rank for it in Google.

Use a tool like Keywords Explorer to do a SERP analysis for each keyword you want to target. Use the effort-to-reward ratio to ensure you are picking the right keyword battles:

Effort to reward ratio illustrationEffort to reward ratio illustration

If you’re concerned about Reddit, Quora, or other UGC sites stealing your clicks, you can also use Keywords Explorer to target SERPs where these websites aren’t present.

To do this:

  • Enter your keyword in the search bar and head to the matching terms report
  • Click on the SERP features drop-down box
  • Select Not on SERP and select Discussions and forums
Example of removing big UGC sites from keyword searches using filters in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerExample of removing big UGC sites from keyword searches using filters in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

This method can help you find SERPs where these types of sites are not present.

Build more links to become more authoritative

Another approach you could take is to double down on the SEO basics and start building more high-quality backlinks.

Write deep content

Most SEOs are not churning out 500-word blog posts and hoping for the best; equally, the content they’re creating is often not deep or the best it can possibly be.

This is often due to time restraints, budget and inclination. But to be competitive in the AI era, deep content is exactly what you should be creating.

As your website grows, the challenge of maintaining the performance of your content portfolio gets increasingly more difficult.

And what may have been an “absolute banger” of an article in 2020 might not be such a great article now—so you’ll need to update it to keep the clicks rolling in.

So how can you ensure that your content is the best it can be?

How to deal with it:

Here’s the process I use:

Steal this content updating framework

And here’s a practical example of this in action:

Use Page Inspect with Overview to identify pages that need updating

Here’s an example of an older article Michal Pecánek wrote that I recently updated. Using Page Inspect, we can pinpoint the exact date of the update was on May 10, 2024, with no other major in the last year.

Ahrefs Page Inspect screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerAhrefs Page Inspect screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

According to Ahrefs, this update almost doubled the page’s organic traffic, underlining the value of updating old content. Before the update, the content had reached its lowest performance ever.

Example of a content update and the impact on organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of a content update and the impact on organic traffic, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

So, what changed to casually double the traffic? Clicking on Page Inspect gives us our answer.

Page Inspect detail screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerPage Inspect detail screenshot, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

I was focused on achieving three aims with this update:

  • Keeping Michal’s original framework for the post intact
  • Making the content as concise and readable as it can be
  • Refreshing the template (the main draw of the post) and explaining how to use the updated version in a beginner-friendly way to match the search intent

Getting buy-in for SEO projects has never been easy compared to other channels. Unfortunately, this meme perfectly describes my early days of agency life.

SEO meme, SEO vs PPC budgetsSEO meme, SEO vs PPC budgets

SEO is not an easy sell—either internally or externally to clients.

With companies hiring fewer SEO roles this year, the appetite for risk seems lower than in previous years.

SEO can also be slow to take impact, meaning getting buy-in for projects is harder than other channels.

How long does SEO take illustrationHow long does SEO take illustration

How to deal with it:

My colleague Despina Gavoyannis has written a fantastic article about how to get SEO buy-in, here is a summary of her top tips:

  • Find key influencers and decision-makers within the organization, starting with cross-functional teams before approaching executives. (And don’t forget the people who’ll actually implement your changes—developers.)
  • Adapt your language and communicate the benefits of SEO initiatives in terms that resonate with different stakeholders’ priorities.
  • Highlight the opportunity costs of not investing in SEO by showing the potential traffic and revenue being missed out on using metrics like Ahrefs’ traffic value.
  • Collaborate cross-functionally by showing how SEO can support other teams’ goals, e.g. helping the editorial team create content that ranks for commercial queries.

And perhaps most important of all: build better business cases and SEO opportunity forecasts.

If you just want to show the short-term trend for a keyword, you can use Keywords Explorer:

Forecasting feature for keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerForecasting feature for keywords, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer
The forecasted trend is shown in orange as a dotted line.

If you want to show the Traffic potential of a particular keyword, you can use our Traffic potential metric in SERP overview to gauge this:

Traffic potential example, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerTraffic potential example, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And if you want to go the whole hog, you can create an SEO forecast. You can use a third-party tool to create a forecast, but I recommend you use Patrick Stox’s SEO forecasting guide.

Final thoughts

Of all the SEO challenges mentioned above, the one keeping SEOs awake at night is AI.

It’s swept through our industry like a hurricane, presenting SEOs with many new challenges. The SERPs are changing, competitors are using AI tools, and the bar for creating basic content has been lowered, all thanks to AI.

If you want to stay competitive, you need to arm yourself with the best SEO tools and search data on the market—and for me, that always starts with Ahrefs.

Got questions? Ping me on X.



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Why Now’s The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

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Why Now's The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

There is no better time for organizations to prioritize Schema Markup.

Why is that so, you might ask?

First of all, Schema Markup (aka structured data) is not new.

Google has been awarding sites that implement structured data with rich results. If you haven’t taken advantage of rich results in search, it’s time to gain a higher click-through rate from these visual features in search.

Secondly, now that search is primarily driven by AI, helping search engines understand your content is more important than ever.

Schema Markup allows your organization to clearly articulate what your content means and how it relates to other things on your website.

The final reason to adopt Schema Markup is that, when done correctly, you can build a content knowledge graph, which is a critical enabler in the age of generative AI. Let’s dig in.

Schema Markup For Rich Results

Schema.org has been around since 2011. Back then, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex worked together to create the standardized Schema.org vocabulary to enable website owners to translate their content to be understood by search engines.

Since then, Google has incentivized websites to implement Schema Markup by awarding rich results to websites with certain types of markup and eligible content.

Websites that achieve these rich results tend to see higher click-through rates from the search engine results page.

In fact, Schema Markup is one of the most well-documented SEO tactics that Google tells you to do. With so many things in SEO that are backward-engineered, this one is straightforward and highly recommended.

You might have delayed implementing Schema Markup due to the lack of applicable rich results for your website. That might have been true at one point, but I’ve been doing Schema Markup since 2013, and the number of rich results available is growing.

Even though Google deprecated how-to rich results and changed the eligibility of FAQ rich results in August 2023, it introduced six new rich results in the months following – the most new rich results introduced in a year!

These rich results include vehicle listing, course info, profile page, discussion forum, organization, vacation rental, and product variants.

There are now 35 rich results that you can use to stand out in search, and they apply to a wide range of industries such as healthcare, finance, and tech.

Here are some widely applicable rich results you should consider utilizing:

  • Breadcrumb.
  • Product.
  • Reviews.
  • JobPosting.
  • Video.
  • Profile Page.
  • Organization.

With so many opportunities to take control of how you appear in search, it’s surprising that more websites haven’t adopted it.

A statistic from Web Data Commons’ October 2023 Extractions Report showed that only 50% of pages had structured data.

Of the pages with JSON-LD markup, these were the top types of entities found.

  • http://schema.org/ListItem (2,341,592,788 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/ImageObject (1,429,942,067 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Organization (907,701,098 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/BreadcrumbList (817,464,472 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/WebSite (712,198,821 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/WebPage (691,208,528 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Offer (623,956,111 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/SearchAction (614,892,152 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/Person (582,460,344 Entities)
  • http://schema.org/EntryPoint (502,883,892 Entities)

(Source: October 2023 Web Data Commons Report)

Most of the types on the list are related to the rich results mentioned above.

For example, ListItem and BreadcrumbList are required for the Breadcrumb Rich Result, SearchAction is required for Sitelink Search Box, and Offer is required for the Product Rich Result.

This tells us that most websites are using Schema Markup for rich results.

Even though these Schema.org types can help your site achieve rich results and stand out in search, they don’t necessarily tell search engines what each page is about in detail and help your site be more semantic.

Help AI Search Engines Understand Your Content

Have you ever seen your competitor’s sites using specific Schema.org Types that are not found in Google’s structured data documentation (i.e. MedicalClinic, IndividualPhysician, Service, etc)?

The Schema.org vocabulary has over 800 types and properties to help websites explain what the page is about. However, Google’s structured data features only require a small subset of these properties for websites to be eligible for a rich result.

Many websites that solely implement Schema Markup to get rich results tend to be less descriptive with their Schema Markup.

AI search engines now look at the meaning and intent behind your content to provide users with more relevant search results.

Therefore, organizations that want to stay ahead should use more specific Schema.org types and leverage appropriate properties to help search engines better understand and contextualize their content. You can be descriptive with your content while still achieving rich results.

For example, each type (e.g. Article, Person, etc.) in the Schema.org vocabulary has 40 or more properties to describe the entity.

The properties are there to help you fully describe what the page is about and how it relates to other things on your website and the web. In essence, it’s asking you to describe the entity or topic of the page semantically.

The word ‘semantic’ is about understanding the meaning of language.

Note that the word “understanding” is part of the definition. Funny enough, in October 2023, John Mueller at Google released a Search Update video. In this six-minute video, he leads with an update on Schema Markup.

For the first time, Mueller described Schema Markup as “a code you can add to your web pages, which search engines can use to better understand the content. ”

While Mueller has historically spoken a lot about Schema Markup, he typically talked about it in the context of rich result eligibility. So, why the change?

This shift in thinking about Schema Markup for enhanced search engine understanding makes sense. With AI’s growing role and influence in search, we need to make it easy for search engines to consume and understand the content.

Take Control Of AI By Shaping Your Data With Schema Markup

Now, if being understood and standing out in search is not a good enough reason to get started, then doing it to help your enterprise take control of your content and prepare it for artificial intelligence is.

In February 2024, Gartner published a report on “30 Emerging Technologies That Will Guide Your Business Decisions,”  highlighting generative AI and knowledge graphs as critical emerging technologies companies should invest in within the next 0-1 years.

Knowledge graphs are collections of relationships between entities defined using a standardized vocabulary that enables new knowledge to be gained by way of inferencing.

Good news! When you implement Schema Markup to define and connect the entities on your site, you are creating a content knowledge graph for your organization.

Thus, your organization gains a critical enabler for generative AI adoption while reaping its SEO benefits.

Learn more about building content knowledge graphs in my article, Extending Your Schema Markup From Rich Results to Knowledge Graphs.

We can also look at other experts in the knowledge graph field to understand the urgency of implementing Schema Markup.

In his LinkedIn post, Tony Seale, Knowledge Graph Architect at UBS in the UK, said,

“AI does not need to happen to you; organizations can shape AI by shaping their data.

It is a choice: We can allow all data to be absorbed into huge ‘data gravity wells’ or we can create a network of networks, each of us connecting and consolidating our data.”

The “networks of networks” Seale refers to is the concept of knowledge graphs – the same knowledge graph that can be built from your web data using semantic Schema Markup.”

The AI revolution has only just begun, and there is no better time than now to shape your data, starting with your web content through the implementation of Schema Markup.

Use Schema Markup As The Catalyst For AI

In today’s digital landscape, organizations must invest in new technology to keep pace with the evolution of AI and search.

Whether your goal is to stand out on the SERP or ensure your content is understood as intended by Google and other search engines, the time to implement Schema Markup is now.

With Schema Markup, SEO pros can become heroes, enabling generative AI adoption through content knowledge graphs while delivering tangible benefits, such as increased click-through rates and improved search visibility.

More resources: 


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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

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