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17 Awesome Examples Of Social Media Marketing

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17 Awesome Examples Of Social Media Marketing

Technology has made the world seem a lot smaller.

Keeping up with friends and family on the other side of the country or across the globe no longer requires an expensive telephone call or slow, one-way snail mail.

Instead, thanks to the power of social media, in just seconds, you can share updates about your life or check in with anyone who has internet access.

But there’s so much more to the world of social media than just making and maintaining connections – especially for savvy marketers.

Why Is Social Media Marketing Important For Brands?

For business purposes, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram present an opportunity to engage with a massive audience.

Last year, there were more than 4.7 billion people worldwide using social media platforms, which means a whole lot of potential customers.

Social media allows you to tell your story and humanize your brand.

Without a large budget allocation, it lets you build an audience and stay top of mind with your targets.

You can connect and interact with customers, deal with feedback (both positive and negative), and build authenticity just by being active on the right sites.

Not convinced? Here are some key stats about social media marketing:

From paid display ads targeting a highly specific demographic to organic posts that go viral, social media presents an incredible opportunity to evangelize your brand, increase your visibility, and find new customers.

But what separates the companies who are really killing it on social media from the thousands of also-rans who never quite seem to get any traction from their accounts?

In this piece, we’ll take a look at some outstanding ways popular brands are leveraging common platforms to inspire your campaigns.

How To Measure Social Media Marketing Effectiveness

Before we dive into the fun stuff, let’s take a moment to discuss how you can track the results of your social efforts.
Judge the effectiveness of your social media marketing by measuring your KPIs or key performance indicators.

Some KPIs you may consider include:

  • Reach (the number of people who saw your post).
  • Impressions (the number of times your post was seen).
  • Engagement (how many likes, shares, comments, etc., you received).
  • Conversions (button clicks, follow, forms filled out, etc.).

The ones you use to measure success will depend on your goals.

For example, if your goal is increasing awareness, you’ll want to examine your reach and impressions statistics.

If you’re trying to generate leads, you probably want to focus primarily on conversions.

Each brand is different, which means they will not only measure success differently but will also vary in which platforms are most effective for their social media marketing efforts.

With this in mind, we’ve broken down our examples and inspiration by platform. So, with no further ado, let’s jump in.


YouTube

1. Dove: Project #ShowUs

When: 2019

Campaign Outline:

Recognizing beauty comes in many forms, Dove launched Project #ShowUS, a social media campaign intended to challenge stereotypes of what is and isn’t considered beautiful.

Employing women and non-binary people, this campaign is a collaboration with Getty Images and Girlgaze Photographers.

The Numbers:

  • The project has reached over 1.6 billion people with over 660 media pieces in 39 markets worldwide.
  • More than 2,000 women pledged to create a more inclusive vision of beauty.
  • In just the first year, the hashtag #ShowUs was used more than 7 million times on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Why Did It Work?

For generations, media and advertising have presented an image of what beauty is. However, this has left 70% of women feeling like they are not represented by media and advertising.

Dove spoke directly to the feelings of its target audience, engaging with them about the brand’s value and encouraging them to take pride in being themselves.

Strategic delivery helped reach women worldwide.

2. Gillette: “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”

When: 2019

Campaign Outline:

In January 2019, Gillette launched a social media campaign aiming at a modern interpretation of manhood.

The short film posted exclusively on YouTube depicted several cases of men struggling with traditional masculinity that Gillette itself used to glorify: the fear of showing their emotions, sexual harassment, and bullying others.

Then the film shows several examples of positive masculinity, such as standing up for others, caring for your loved ones, and so on.

The campaign was clearly inspired by the #MeToo movement.

On their Instagram, the company also posted positive male role models with short stories about their journey in the world:

  • Organizers.
  • Community leaders.
  • Non-profits’ CEOs.

In addition to that, the company promised to donate “$1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing the most interesting and impactful programs designed to help men of all ages achieve their personal best.”

The Numbers:

  • The short film that launched the campaign has over 30 million views.
  • The #GilletteAd hashtag reached more than 150 million people in one month, according to Awario (disclosure: I work for Awario), a social listening tool.
  • The Instagram posts related to the campaign gathered around 800 likes and 50 comments, which is higher than usual for Gillette.

Why Did It Work?

This campaign managed to tap into an extremely relevant and widely discussed issue.

It juxtaposed the previous branding of Gillette with a new one and showed the willingness to change.

At the same time, it was also quite controversial – some people didn’t agree with how the short film portrayed men and thought that it was offensive.

They even started a #boycottgillette hashtag. However, it only took up around 3.5% of all the conversations around the campaign on social media.

 

3. BuzzFeed x Friskies: Dear Kitten

When: 2016

Campaign Outline:

If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s cat videos.

Buzzfeed and Friskies tapped into this sentiment with their “Dear Kitten” videos, in which an older house cat teaches a kitten how to be a cat.

The Numbers:

  • The launch video has been viewed on YouTube more than 32 million times.
  • 12 follow-up videos have been viewed upwards of 3 million times each.
  • The campaign led to viral TikTok parodies, with the hashtag #DearKitten receiving more than 3.6 million views.

Why Did It Work?

You don’t have to have genius-level insight into the human psyche to understand why this campaign was so successful. It has cute cats and a funny script.


Instagram

4. Apple: The Shot on iPhone Challenge

When: 2015

Campaign Outline:

The world’s most popular smartphone manufacturer, Apple, takes great pride in the quality of images that can be captured on its devices.

To highlight the great photos that it can take, it launched a competition that asked iPhone users to “capture the little things in a big way.”

Photographers were then invited to share their images on Instagram and other social media sites using the hashtag #ShotOniPhone.

A panel of judges then selected 10 winners from tens of thousands of entries, which were then featured on Apple’s website, the company’s Instagram, and on 10,000+ billboards in 25 countries.

It has since become an annual campaign for the brand.

The Numbers:

  • The first round of the campaign had more than 6.5 billion impressions.
  • It was mentioned by 24,000 influencers, with a 95% positive comment rating.

Why Did It Work?

User-generated content (UGC) is a low-investment way for companies to promote their brand on social media, but this isn’t the reason for this campaign’s success.

Instead, Shot on iPhone encouraged people to discuss the campaign, which closely aligned with Apple’s reputation for creativity, lifestyle, and innovation.

It encouraged existing users to participate in product launches and built a sense of excitement about being part of the iPhone community.

Additionally, it gave iPhone users a sense of being part of something cool, which everyone likes.

5. Starbucks U.K.: #WhatsYourName

When: 2019

Campaign Outline:

Starbucks U.K. partnered with Mermaids, an organization to support transgender and gender-diverse youth, for a #WhatsYourName campaign focused on trans rights.

The campaign builds on a well-known aspect of the Starbucks experience – having your name written on the side of your cup – by committing to respect the names that customers want to be called by.

In addition to that, Starbucks started selling a mermaid tail cookie to raise funds for Mermaids.

Social media users were encouraged to use the hashtag on Instagram to tell about their experience with gender.

The Numbers:

  • The YouTube ad gathered 605,000+ views (with less than a thousand YouTube subscribers).
  • The Instagram post gathered 1,000+ comments, with an average comment rate for the Starbucks U.K. Instagram profile being around 40 comments.

Why Did It Work?

The team behind the campaign created a simple, clear campaign hashtag.

And they led with their values, which helped this campaign make a real, emotional impact.

Many brands avoid politicized topics, but ultimately, your employees and customers want you to take a stand.

Specifically, they want companies to lead on issues of diversity and community.

6. Spotify: #YearWrapped

When: 2019

Campaign Outline:

Three years ago, Spotify launched a campaign where its users could see the most important musical highlights on their website.

The special webpage Spotify Wrapped showed you your most listened artists, genres, songs, and other fun data discoveries.

You could even see how the music you listened to coincided with your life events that year.

Once you went through all the data analysis, Spotify suggested you share these highlights on social media, specifically Twitter and Insta Stories, and tag your favorite artist of the year.

The Numbers:

  • According to Twitter, the campaign has been mentioned in at least 1.2 million posts in the launch month.
  • More than 60 million users engaged with the in-app story experience.
  • There were nearly 3 billion streams from Wrapped playlists.

Why Did It Work?

Spotify combined two big psychological triggers in this campaign: personalization and FOMO.

Firstly, the app provided a personalized story for each user – you could see how your music taste developed through the year and what songs accompanied you in your life.

Secondly, by enabling and encouraging sharing on social media, Spotify amplified the campaign’s reach.

People naturally wanted to show off their highlights to their friends, thus making more people eager to try this experience.

7.  Netflix: Wanna Talk About It?

When: 2019

Campaign Outline:

Recognizing the importance of mental health and overcoming traumatic experiences, Netflix launched Wanna Talk About It?, a weekly Instagram LIVE series and accompanying website that addresses topics ranging from sexual violence and abuse to gender identity and suicidal thoughts.

It features stars from several Netflix movies and series, it was initially launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Numbers:

  • Wanna Talk About it? Works with 150 organizations in 45 countries, offering information, videos, downloadable guides, and nonprofit helplines in 26 languages.

Why Did It Work?

The global lockdown was a difficult time for many people. Unable to leave their homes, streaming services were a major source of entertainment.

With this campaign, Netflix addressed the mental health issues many were suffering through, giving them celebrities to whom they could relate.

8.  Daniel Wellington: #WheresWellington

When: 2016

Campaign Outline:

Swedish watch manufacturer Daniel Wellington was one of the first brands to recognize the power of social media influencers.

The company sent free watches to some of the most-followed individuals on Instagram, with the only requirement being that they post one photo on their feed using the hashtag #WheresWellington. Followers were then asked to guess the location where the photo was taken.

This, in turn, generated a significant buzz around the brand, which increased in popularity with teenagers and young adults.

The Numbers:

  • The Where’s Wellington content saw significantly higher engagement than the watch company’s normal social media posts.

Why Did It Work?

By gamifying visual content on social media, Daniel Wellington gave followers a reason to engage with its posts, whether in the form of a like, a comment, or a share.

Guessing formats is a simple yet powerful way to encourage interaction on platforms like Instagram, while a branded campaign hashtag makes it easy to track success.


Facebook

9. BuzzFeed: Tasty

When: 2016

Campaign Outline:

You’ve probably seen these quick and easy recipe videos popping up all over your Facebook news feed.

Screenshot from Facebook, December 202217 Awesome Examples Of Social Media Marketing

BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos are essentially cooking shows for the social media generation.

These videos, typically lasting less than two minutes, deliver on-trend recipes to a highly engaged audience.

The Numbers:

  • Nearly 15 months after launching, Tasty published 2,000 recipe videos, giving the brand a steady stream of new content.
  • Videos reach around 500 million users monthly.
  • 100 million Facebook fans.
  • In September 2016, Tasty generated more than 1.8 billion views of its videos. BuzzFeed now has a team of 75 people dedicated to producing content for Tasty.

Why Did It Work?

For starters, there’s the content.

“It taps into a simple truth: People love tasty foods and the kind of foods that remind them of their childhood, comfort food, or food that reminds them of an experience,” according to Frank Cooper, BuzzFeed’s chief marketing officer.

But more importantly, Tasty and Proper Tasty have exploded on Facebook because the content is tailor-made for that platform.

The videos are optimized for Facebook’s autoplay feature, which starts playing videos without the sound on. You don’t need sound to see, for example, a 45-second guide to making a cheese-stuffed pizza pretzel.

Within 24 hours, that video had 37 million views, 650,000 likes, and 750,000 shares. (It’s now up to 117 million views.)


Twitter

10. Houseparty: Fortnite Trivia Challenge

When: 2020

Campaign Outline:

Epic Games combined two of its most popular offerings in the online game – Fortnite and the now-discontinued social networking app Houseparty – to create a trivia challenge.

Members of the Fortnite community collectively answered more than 20 million trivia questions about the game to unlock a special in-game skin for all players.

Running from April 10-16, it received thousands of engagements on Twitter.

The Numbers:

Why Did It Work?

Gamers are nothing if not loyal to their favorite video game.

By adding both a community element and gamification, Epic was able to generate significant engagement with its tweets about the campaign under both Fortnite and Houseparty accounts.

And by offering a tangible, exclusive, and limited-edition reward, it encouraged sharing and participation.

11. Getty: The Getty Museum Challenge

When: 2020

Campaign Outline:

The Getty Museum is home to thousands of works by some of history’s greatest artists, including Rubens, Monet, Rembrandt, and Cezanne.

In 2020, the Los Angeles-based Museum took to Twitter and other social media platforms, challenging people to recreate famous artworks with just objects from their homes.

The Numbers:

  • The initial tweet saw more than 10,000 retweets, close to 3,500 quote tweets, and over 25,000 likes.
  • Thousands of recreations were submitted, including some recreating renaissance art with lasagna noodles and a vacuum serving in place of a harp.

Why Did It Work?

It was the pandemic’s beginning, and people were bored and looking for a creative outlet.

Getty’s Challenge allowed them to demonstrate their sense of humor while creating a positive diversion.

12. Greggs: #VeganSausageRoll

When: 2019

Campaign Outline:

Greggs is a British bakery chain loved by the Brits.

In January, they introduced their new vegan sausage roll, with a clever video ad parodying Apple ads.

However, it’s not the ad itself but the events that made the campaign memorable.

Piers Morgan, a controversial public figure, retweeted Greggs’ announcement and expressed irritation at the existence of a vegan sausage roll.

That made both pro-vegan roll and anti-vegan roll British people join the social media battle of the year!

Greggs responded to Piers Morgan along with 9,000+ other Twitter users.

And they didn’t shy away from responding both to sausage roll lovers and haters with witty remarks.

As a result, the vegan sausage roll became one of the most popular Greggs products that year.

The Numbers:

  • On Twitter alone, the Greggs vegan sausage roll conversation saw over 516 million impressions, according to Brandwatch.
  • The announcement tweet was retweeted more than 15 thousand times.
  • Greggs jumped 9.6% in sales in the first seven weeks of the launch.

Why Did It Work?

Even though the success of the campaign partly happened because of an organic retweet and not an action planned by Greggs, it once again shows us the power of influencer marketing.

Even a negative opinion expressed by an influencer draws an incredible amount of attention to your brand.

Plus, if it’s an influencer that most people hate, you only win due to this retweet.

Another lesson to take away from this campaign is the advantages of being witty on social media.

Greggs’ funny responses to haters are what won over a new audience, and it’s a good practice not to take yourself too seriously on social media.

13. Planters: The Death of Mr. Peanut – #RIPPeanut

When: 2020

Campaign Outline:

Perhaps one of the most bizarre social media campaigns: The beloved mascot of Planters snack food company died at the beginning of January.

His death was announced with a tweet and later explained in a video ad posted to YouTube.

Apparently, Mr. Peanut sacrificed his life to save his commercial co-stars, Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes.

You could win some snacks by replying to a tweet with a #RIPPeanut hashtag.

The brands and regular social media users alike played along with the campaign, and it even got a mention on SNL.

The campaign was inspired by the reaction to celebrity deaths on social media.

It aimed to repeat the same level of engagement that Tony Stark’s death caused in “Avengers: Endgame.”

Later Mr. Peanut was reborn as a Baby Nut and now happily tweets from the Peanut Jr. account.

The Numbers:

  • The tweet announcing the death of Mr. Peanut gathered almost 50,000 retweets.
  • The hashtag was used more than a million times on Twitter.

Why Did It Work?

The campaign’s premise was so crazy that it immediately became a meme.

Many comedians and funny Twitter personalities “were making jokes about Mr. Peanut’s departure.”

This specific brand of internet humor makes certain things go viral – and it worked.

14. Airbnb: #GoNear

When: 2020

Campaign Outline:

Another pandemic-birthed campaign, Airbnb introduced its Go Near campaign as an initiative to promote local travel and help the economy recover from the lockdown.
The travel industry was particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and the short-term rental company launched the campaign on social media using the #GoNear hashtag to remind people that there are lots of fun destinations near where they live.

The Numbers:

Why Did It Work?

Recognizing not just its own livelihood but the income of the people who depend on it as a revenue stream, Airbnb reacted to the pandemic quickly.

The company deeply understood its audience’s needs and created data-driven content to address them.

Airbnb also focused on creating personal connections that humanized the brand at a time when many were feeling isolated.


TikTok

15. P&G: #DistanceDance

When: 2020

Campaign Outline:

@charlidamelio

Stay home & do the distancedance. Tag me & the hashtag in your video. P&G will donate to Feeding America & Matthew 25 for first 3M videos #PGPartner

♬ Big Up’s (feat. Yung Nnelg) – Jordyn, Nic Da Kid

Created during the pandemic (seeing a trend here?), Proctor and Gamble took to TikTok with a campaign designed to encourage social distancing.

Under the hashtag #DistanceDance, the company teamed up with social media and former competitive dancer Charli D’Amelio to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

For the first 3 million videos posted to the short-form video apps, P&G donated to Feeding America and Matthew 25 Ministries.

The Numbers:

  • The hashtag has generated more than 18 billion views to date.
  • Charli D’Amelio’s video received almost 7 million likes and had more than 143,000 comments.

Why Did It Work?

Recognizing that to reach a younger audience, they needed to reach them on their platform of choice, P&G jumped fully into this TikTok campaign.

Partnering with an established influencer helped the company reach an audience it would otherwise have struggled to connect with.

The give-back component also created a feel-good reason to participate in the hashtag challenge.

16. UN Australia: #EmpowerMoves

When: 2021

Campaign Outline:

@unwomenaust #EmpowerMoves is the dance that’s also self-defence. Join the movement today #UNWomenAust ♬ Good Things (R3HAB Remix) – Wafia

United Nations Australia embraced the full potential of the short-form video site by creating a basic self-defense “dance” for women.

Consisting of four basic self-defense movements, #EmpowerMoves is intended to give women and girls the confidence and support to protect themselves and shape a strong and equal future.

This campaign follows on the heels of another UN Women Australia campaign, “When Will She Be Right?,” which seeks to accelerate progress toward gender equality.

The Numbers:

Why Did It Work?

TikTok has been home to popular dancing videos since its inception.

UN Australia capitalized on this by working with choreographers and celebrities to create movements that not only look good in time with the music but can also keep women safe.

It also serves as a rallying point for women who will no longer take a back seat to men or accept being a victim.


LinkedIn

17. Harvard Business Review: Special Coverage: Coronavirus

When: 2020

Campaign Outline:

Because it’s so commonly used as a professional networking site, it’s easy to forget that LinkedIn is a social media platform just like Facebook or YouTube.

Harvard Business Review recognized it could fill a valuable role during the height of the pandemic by offering resources about the coronavirus.

Gathering many resources in one convenient place, they provided a credible source of information at a time when misinformation was running rampant.

The special coverage included information about developing work-from-home policies, responding to new variants, and helping find a new normal.

The Numbers

  • The HBR has almost 14 million followers, many of whom benefited from this information.

Why Did It Work?

From fears of microchipping to governmental conspiracies, the sheer amount of outright false information about COVID-19 was staggering.

On top of this, this was uncharted territory for businesses of all types.

Leveraging the credibility of its parent institution, HBR provided quality, factual advice for dealing with a wide variety of pandemic-related issues.

Key Takeaway

While many of the campaigns featured here had COVID-ties, that’s about the only thing they had in common. Otherwise, they ran the gamut of platforms and audiences.

But something else tied these brands together: They all found innovative ways to appeal to their targets. And they gave something in return.

From the video game skin in the Houseparty Fortnite Trivia Challenge to the entertainment of the Dear Kitten videos to the mental support of Netflix’s IG live series, they all provided value for their audience.

Keep this in mind as you strive to create your own social media campaigns. And who knows? Maybe next year, you’ll be featured here.

More Resources:


Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

LinkedIn is launching several new features for people who publish newsletters on its platform.

The professional networking site wants to make it easier for creators to grow their newsletter audiences and engage readers.

More People Publishing Newsletters On LinkedIn

The company says the number of LinkedIn members publishing newsletter articles has increased by 59% over the past year.

Engagement on these creator-hosted newsletters is also up 47%.

With this growing interest, LinkedIn is updating its newsletter tools.

A New Way To View & Comment

One of the main changes is an updated reading experience that displays comments alongside the newsletter articles.

This allows readers to view and participate in discussions more easily while consuming the content.

See an example of the new interface below.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Design Your Own Cover Images

You can now use Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool to create custom cover images for their newsletters.

The integration provides templates, size options, and suggestions to help design visually appealing covers.

More Subscriber Notifications

LinkedIn is improving the notifications sent to newsletter subscribers to drive more readership.

When a new issue is published, subscribers will receive email alerts and in-app messages. LinkedIn will also prompt your followers to subscribe.

Mention Other Profiles In Articles

You can now embed links to other LinkedIn profiles and pages directly into their newsletter articles.

This lets readers click through and learn more about the individuals or companies mentioned.

In the example below, you can see it’s as easy as adding a link.

1718346362 491 LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter ToolsScreenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Preview Links Before Publishing

Lastly, LinkedIn allows you to access a staging link that previews the newsletter URL before hitting publish.

This can help you share and distribute their content more effectively.

Why SEJ Cares

As LinkedIn continues to lean into being a publishing platform for creators and thought leaders, updates that enhance the newsletter experience are noteworthy for digital marketers and industry professionals looking to build an audience.

The new tools are part of LinkedIn’s broader effort to court creators publishing original content on its platform amid rising demand for newsletters and knowledge-sharing.

How This Can Help You

If you publish a newsletter on LinkedIn, these new tools can help you design more visually appealing content, grow your subscriber base, interact with your audience through comments, and preview your content before going live.


Featured Image: Tada Images/Shutterstock

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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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