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15 Ways To Improve Conversion Rates In Google Ads



15 Ways To Improve Conversion Rates In Google Ads

Are you tired of pouring money into Google Ads campaigns with poor conversion rates?

You’re not alone.

Many businesses struggle to convert ad clicks into meaningful actions like purchases, sign-ups, or leads. But fear not, because in this article, we’re diving into real-life tips and tactics that can make a tangible difference to your conversion rates.

From refining your keyword selection to crafting compelling ad copies and optimizing your landing pages, we’ll explore practical, actionable tips that have proven to help improve Google Ads conversion rates.

Read on to understand how these strategies will help you turn your clicks into conversions.

1. Implement Proper Conversion Tracking

This first one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked by many accounts.

The only way to understand whether your Google Ads campaigns are performing or not performing is to properly set up conversion tracking.

The most common ways Google Ads conversion tracking is implemented is through:

The other key component to proper conversion tracking is identifying what conversions make sense to track.

Oftentimes, brands have one big conversion in mind. For ecommerce, that is likely a purchase or a sale. For B2B companies, it’s likely a lead or a demo signup.

But what about all the other available touchpoints before a customer makes that leap?

Consider tracking “micro” conversions on your sites to really identify the positive impact your PPC campaigns have.

Examples of “micro” conversions to track include:

  • Email newsletter signups.
  • Free samples.
  • Whitepaper download.
  • Webinar signup.
  • And more.

Taking a step back from the ins and outs of the platforms helps you hone in through the lens of a consumer. Setting up accurate measurements from the purchase journey can make a big impact on how you structure and optimize your Google Ads campaigns.

2. Optimize Keyword Lists

The second way to help increase Google Ads conversion rates is continuous optimization of keyword lists.

The Google Ads search terms report is a perfect tool for this. Not only can you see what users are searching for, in their own words, that leads to conversions, but you can see what is not converting.

We’ll get to negative keywords later.

Screenshot taken by author, April 2024

Keep in mind which match types you’re using throughout the keyword optimization process.

Broad match keywords have the biggest leniency when it comes to what types of searches will show for your ad. It also has the largest reach because of its flexible nature.

Turning some of your top-performing Broad match keywords into Exact match can help increase those Quality Scores, which can lead to lower cost per click (CPCs) and better efficiency for your campaigns.

3. Match Ad Copy To Landing Pages

Alright, so you’ve gotten a user to click on your ad. Great!

But you’re finding that not a lot of people are actually purchasing. What gives?

Surely, it must be a problem with the PPC campaigns.

Not always.

Typically, one of the most common reasons users leave a website right after clicking on an ad has to do with a mismatch of expectations.

Simply put, what the user was promised in an ad was not present or prominent on the landing page.

A great way to optimize conversion rates is to ensure the landing page copy is tailored to match your PPC ad copy.

Doing this ensures a relatively seamless user experience, which can help speed up the purchase process.

4. Use Clear Call-To-Actions

If a user isn’t performing the actions you’d expect to after clicking on an ad, it may be time to review your ad copy.

Since the emergence of responsive search ads (RSAs), I’ve seen many redundant headlines and generic call-to-actions (CTAs).

No wonder a user doesn’t know what you want them to do!

When creating CTAs either in ad copy or on the landing page, keep these principles in mind:

  • Use action-oriented language that clearly communicates what you want them to do.
  • For landing pages, make sure the CTA button is visually distinct and easily clickable. It helps if a CTA is shown before a user has to scroll down to find it.
  • Test different CTAs to determine what resonates best with users.

Examples of action-oriented CTA language could sound like:

  • “Download Now”
  • “Request A Quote”
  • “Shop Now”

Try steering away from generic language such as “Learn More” unless you’re truly running a more top-of-funnel (TOF) campaign.

5. Optimize For Mobile

With mobile phones so prevalent in our society, it’s shocking how many websites are still not optimizing their mobile experience!

Creating a landing page with desktop top-of-mind should really be revisited, given that mobile traffic has overtaken desktop.

So, what can you do to help increase your conversion rates on mobile?

  • Use a responsive web design to accommodate different mobile layouts.
  • Make sure the site speed has fast loading times.
  • Create any mobile-specific features like CTA placement to make sure it’s easily viewable for users.
  • Optimize form fills on mobile devices.

6. Experiment With Ad Copy Testing

Ad copy is one of the biggest levers you can control in your PPC campaigns.

Even slight changes or tweaks to a headline or description can have a big impact on CTR and conversion rates.

Having multiple ad copy variants is crucial when trying to understand what resonates most with users.

Part of the beauty of Google’s Responsive Search ads is the number of headline inputs you can have at once. Google’s algorithm then determines the best-performing ad copy combinations to increase conversion rates.

Google Ads also has tools built into the platform for more controlled testing if that is a route you want to take.

You can create ad variants or create an experiment directly in Google Ads for more precise A/B testing.

Where to find experiments and ad variations in Google Ads.Screenshot taken by author, May 2024

It’s also important to test one element at a time to isolate the impact of each change. Testing too many elements at once can muddy up analysis.

7. Utilize Ad Assets

Ad assets are a great way to help influence a click to your website, which can help improve conversion rates.

Assets like callouts, structured snippets, and sitelinks can provide additional detail that couldn’t be shown in headlines or descriptions.

When your Ad Rank is higher, you have a better likelihood of showing ad assets, which helps increase the overall visibility of your ad.

Your ad assets can be customized to fit your campaign goals, and can even show specific promotions, special product features, and social proof like seller ratings.

8. Don’t Be Shy With Negative Keywords

A sound negative keyword strategy is one of the best ways to improve Google Ads conversion rates.

You may be wasting your paid search budget on keywords that aren’t producing conversions.

You may also notice that some broad keywords have gone rogue and are triggering your ads for terms they definitely shouldn’t be showing up for!

As mentioned earlier, the search terms report can help mitigate a lot of these types of keywords.

You can choose to add negative keywords at the following levels:

  • Ad group.
  • Campaign.
  • Negative keyword lists to apply to campaigns.

You also have the ability to add negative keywords as Broad, Phrase, or Exact match.

Alleviating poor-performing keywords allows your budget to optimize for your core keyword sets that lead to conversions.

9. Set Proper Bid Strategies

The type of bid strategy you choose for your Google Ads campaigns can make or break performance.

In recent years, Google has moved towards its fully automated bidding strategies, using machine learning to align performance with the chosen goal and bid strategy.

Currently, Google has five Smart Bidding strategies focused on conversion-based goals:

  • Target CPA (Cost-Per-Action): Helps increase conversions while targeting a specific CPA.
  • Target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend): Helps increase conversions while targeting a specific ROAS.
  • Maximize Conversions: Optimizes for conversions, not focused on a target ROAS outcome, and spends the entire budget.
  • Maximize Conversion Value: Optimizes for conversion value, not focused on a target ROAS outcome, and spends the entire budget.
  • Enhanced CPC: A way to automatically adjust your manual bids to try to maximize conversions.

Choosing the right bidding strategy is just one piece of the puzzle.

The inputs of the chosen bid strategy are just as important, where more context is needed to have a successful campaign.

For example, suppose you choose a Target CPA bid strategy for a search campaign and set the target CPA to $50.

However, in that campaign, you notice that your average CPC ranges anywhere from $10-$20.

Suddenly, your impressions go down, and you’re not sure what’s happening!

It could be your bid strategy inputs.

In the example above, if you have high CPCs but set your target CPA to just slightly higher than the CPCs, that means you need to have a stellar conversion rate in order to stay within that $50 CPA threshold.

Additionally, many make the mistake of setting the same target CPA for all campaigns, regardless of Brand or Non-Brand intent.

Most often, Non-Brand keywords will have much higher CPAs than Brand terms, so the inputs should be set accordingly based on performance.

Make sure you set your Target CPA thresholds high enough initially for the campaigns to gather information to meet expectations.

10. Add Audience Segmentation

As keyword match types tend to get looser, there is more emphasis on leveraging audience segmentation to reach the right people.

Using audience segments allows you to tailor your ads towards specific groups or utilize audiences as exclusions so your ads aren’t triggered.

Examples of audience segments within Google Ads include:

  • Demographics: Can be based on gender, age, household income, education, and other areas.
  • Interests and behaviors: Based on hobbies, lifestyle choices, website browsing behavior, and purchase history.
  • Actively researching or planning: Based on a user’s past or recent purchase intent.
  • Past interactions with your business: Can be based off previous engagements like website visits, add-to-cart, other online interactions, existing customer relationship management (CRM) data, and more.

By segmenting audiences within your PPC campaigns, you can customize ad messaging based on those segments.

This can lead to maximizing relevance and engagement, ultimately increasing conversion rates.

You can also use insights from GA4 to inform your segmentation strategy to identify high-value audience segments.

11. Create A Retargeting Strategy

On average, average e-commerce conversion rates range from 2.5 – 3%.

That means 97% of people leave a website without purchasing. Talk about a missed opportunity!

With a retargeting strategy in place, you have the opportunity to win back those missed customers and turn them into your brand champions.

Retargeting keeps track of website or app visitors who don’t take the desired action you’d like them to. You can create retargeting lists as niche or as broad as you prefer, but keep in mind that audiences must be a certain size before they’re eligible to use.

Examples of utilizing retargeting could be:

  • Creating segmented lists of users based on certain category pages of a website.
  • Users who have added an item to their cart but didn’t purchase it.
  • Users who have viewed at least three to five pages.

These segments can be used to create retargeting campaigns, which show those users ads to help increase the likelihood of them converting. Be sure to set those ad frequencies within the campaign so you don’t annoy your audience, though!

12. Offer Incentives

These days, shoppers are more accustomed to expecting a discount whenever they purchase.

There’s certainly an argument that programming people to buy only during a sale can diminish a product’s value perception.

However, there are strategies that can boost sales and conversion rates without devaluing the product.

If possible, try making the offers more personal towards the user and their behavior.

Additionally, you can set smaller windows of sale times and incorporate real-time purchase behavior so users can see how many people have taken advantage of the sale.

13. Choose The Right Location Settings

One of the easiest ways to waste precious PPC dollars is to set up location targeting wrong.

Google Ads offers multiple ways to geo-target locations within the campaign settings to help reach your goals.

Location targeting allows you to set specific locations for your ads to show, including:

  • City.
  • Region.
  • State.
  • Country.
  • Radius.

For example, if you have products that can only be purchased in the United States, you would likely target “United States” within the campaign setting.

Nowadays, it’s not as easy as just choosing “United States” (in this example). This is where advanced settings come in.

Within the Google campaign settings, you have two location-targeting options:

  • Presence or interest: People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted location.
  • Presence: People in or regularly in your targeted locations.
Google Ads location targeting options.Screenshot taken by author, May 2024

In the example above, it would make sense to choose “Presence” – otherwise, the campaign could show ads in areas where the products aren’t available.

If users in those countries click on the ad but see they can’t purchase when they get to the website, that is a recipe for poor conversion rates.

14. Use Social Proof To Build Trust

Brands can leverage social proof in their Google Ads campaigns to help boost conversion rates.

The goal of using social proof is to incorporate elements that demonstrate positive sentiment from customers, endorsements, or validation that the customer’s needs will be met.

There are many ways brands can add social proof to their campaigns:

  • Seller ratings ad asset.
  • Callout ad assets.
  • Adding customer reviews and testimonials to the landing page.
  • Share case studies and success stories on the landing page.

Additionally, strategies like creating limited-time offers with an emphasis on social proof can help boost sales and conversion rates.

This could mean showing in real-time how many customers have taken advantage of the offer, which creates urgency for the customer to act.

Focusing on social proof and validation can build trust, credibility, and confidence among potential customers – ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.

15. Schedule Your Ads Based on Performance

Ad scheduling is an underestimated tool in Google Ads that helps improve conversion rates.

The beauty of ad scheduling is that you can control when your ad will or will not show.

Make sure to have ample budget and schedule ads when potential customers are most actively searching and are more engaged.

This can lead to higher effectiveness of the campaign and increased conversion rates.

For example, if you run a B2B software company, it’s highly unlikely that potential customers are searching in the middle of the night.

Optimize your spend by not showing ads at certain times of the day (such as the middle of the night) or days of the week (like weekends).

Google Ads scheduling capabilities.Screenshot taken by author, May 2024

If you’re not sure how to start optimizing campaigns by time, consider the following:

  • Use tools like GA4 to understand when most purchases are happening on the website.
  • Look for trends like website traffic, conversion times, engagement rates, etc., by time.
  • Align your ad schedule with peak business operations times, especially if customer service is involved.
  • Adjust ad schedules around key events like holidays or peak seasonality.

In Summary

There’s no magic bullet in Google Ads that will guarantee high conversion rates.

There are many variables that can add up to the overall performance of a campaign.

Small tweaks and optimizations like the 15 examples above can go a long way in increasing your Google Ads conversion rates.

From refining keyword selections and testing ad copy to improving your landing pages for optimal user experience, these strategies can help maximize the effectiveness of your PPC efforts.

More resources: 

Featured Image: The KonG/Shutterstock

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024



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

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




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 has been around since 2011. Back then, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex worked together to create the standardized 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.

  • (2,341,592,788 Entities)
  • (1,429,942,067 Entities)
  • (907,701,098 Entities)
  • (817,464,472 Entities)
  • (712,198,821 Entities)
  • (691,208,528 Entities)
  • (623,956,111 Entities)
  • (614,892,152 Entities)
  • (582,460,344 Entities)
  • (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 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 Types that are not found in Google’s structured data documentation (i.e. MedicalClinic, IndividualPhysician, Service, etc)?

The 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 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 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




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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