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A Complete Guide To Site Taxonomy for SEO

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A Complete Guide To Site Taxonomy for SEO

For those who have been in SEO for some time, you may have heard of site taxonomy as it refers to the website.

When you refer to a website’s structure and how easy it is for users to navigate, you are referring to the site’s taxonomy.

Attention to your site taxonomy is a critical skill for SEO professionals to master.

That’s because a site’s taxonomy not only influences its overall organizational structure but also influences how it’s perceived on Google and how users navigate your site.

Because of this, placing your site’s taxonomy optimization in your queue (in a high-priority position, hopefully) is a critical step toward a solid website architecture.

What, Exactly, Is A Site’s Taxonomy?

When one talks about taxonomy, they usually refer to a classification system.

This classification system will control everything in a site structure from organization to classification – and this is all based on their semantic characteristics and how they relate to each other.

Your website’s taxonomy is something that can play heavily into how Google crawls your site, as well as how your users will perceive their user experience.

It can also heavily impact search engine rankings. It pays to focus on your website’s taxonomy, how it plays out throughout your site, and how it is set up overall.

Your website’s taxonomy can also play into how your site creates internal links, which can also be a significant boost for your website’s success on Google.

Google Guidelines: Create A Clear Conceptual Page Hierarchy

If you were wondering whether or not this could be a black hat tactic, it’s not.

It’s actually a white hat technique.

Because you’re focusing on your content organization, you are not risking anything black hat being interpreted by Google.

In fact, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines state that you should create a hierarchical taxonomy:

Design your site to have a clear conceptual page hierarchy.

Google prefers a clear conceptual taxonomic structure that includes top-level categories pursuant to a site’s content type.

This structure should also include related topics organized within this.

The Different Types Of Taxonomies

There are a couple of different types of taxonomies that can aid you in creating your taxonomic structure. They include flat taxonomies and faceted taxonomies.

Flat Taxonomies

Flat taxonomies, or hierarchical taxonomies, are easily used when you have a group of topics where the semantic relationship is already very well known.

Entities are easily used in a flat taxonomy with one classification dimension.

Using a parent-child relationship for these entities can help Google dive deep into a topic and can help organize things in a logical way for users.

Faceted Taxonomies

You may want to use faceted taxonomies when you have a subject matter with many different dimensions of classification (as opposed to just one).

It’s possible to utilize faceted taxonomies to organize an entire, deep library.

Whether you’re organizing all the different types of dishes in your kitchen, or you are organizing thousands of products with similar and many different dimensions of classification, you may want to use faceted taxonomies.

The interesting thing about faceted taxonomies is that complete knowledge of the semantic relationship between entities is not required.

It’s possible to construct an ad hoc taxonomy that encompasses all of these pieces of content, regardless of where they may fall in the taxonomic spectrum.

Okay, I’m Sold On A Site’s Taxonomy. Why Is This So Important?

Creating a well-organized taxonomy can truly impact how users positively interact with your site. This is especially true when you have a logical organization of your content.

The better a site’s taxonomy, the more reputable a source your users will see you, and the more they will stay and read your stuff.

If a site does not have a specified structure, it will be very difficult for users to understand and consume your content.

Many users will leave a site if it is poorly organized. We want to make sure that users have the easiest time possible when trying to navigate your website.

That’s also critical for SEO because it gives Google a better understanding of your site architecture. Additionally, it provides easier crawling and indexing for bots.

Creating the proper relationships between semantic definitions that apply to Google’s knowledge graph also explains how Google will understand your site.

The easier you can make it for Google to analyze and understand your overall site taxonomy, the better your site’s performance in the search engines and for your users.

Let’s examine this in more detail with an example website about search engine optimization (maybe you own ilovedoingseoonallthethingsintheworldsosueme.com).

Say that you have your site targeting a variety of topics within the search engine optimization field. They may include things like:

  • SEO.
  • Content Writing.
  • Content Marketing.
  • Link Building.
  • Technical SEO.
  • Social Media Promotion.
  • Pay per click (PPC).

These would all be categories that you can use to organize your content.

If any of your users are looking for topics on SEO, content writing, or content marketing, the taxonomy might look like this:

  • https://example.com/seo/page-name-here/
  • https://example.com/content-writing/ten-tips-for-content-writing-greatness/
  • https://exampe.com/content-marketing/the-ultimate-guide-to-content-marketing/
  • And so on.

The first part of the URL (/content-writing/) is the category.

And if someone is looking for something like content writing, they would likely go to this category page, where they can find all the articles on the topic that are organized into this category.

It’s important that closely related topics are organized within this hierarchical navigation.

Site Taxonomy: Best Practices For Creating The Navigational Hierarchy

The absolute prime directive here is to ensure that your site’s taxonomy is good for users and search engines.

You want to provide a balance between being easy to use and easy to navigate.

If users can’t navigate the site and find the organized content, you may only get so far in your site’s growth.

That’s why we separate this kind of content into these categories: to better organize and present them to users and bots.

The easy two-fold navigation is a win, both from an engineering perspective and the human factors perspective.

Make Sure You Do The Relevant Keyword And Topic Research

A solid foundation for any successful SEO strategy is doing the right keyword research and researching your topics. One cannot exist without the other.

Keyword research is needed to know more about what your audience is searching for online.

Topic research is needed to find out more about your audience’s interests.

The combination will help you organize your taxonomy into useful categories and content written to those categories.

By doing things in this fashion, you don’t miss anything and hit on all the pain points your audience might be experiencing elsewhere – delivering a much higher-quality experience than otherwise.

All of these keywords that you research should be related to any content you might produce that will show up on these pages.

You will pick one topic for the taxonomic category. Then, you will choose topics and keywords to cluster underneath this.

That will help you build a relevant topic cluster that will reinforce your topical focus across certain topics on your site.

However, it’s important to note that you don’t have to optimize things as much as you may have in the old days.

You don’t have to include your target keyword in every single paragraph, sentence, or whatever. Instead, you want to ensure that your content is organized and structured around the topic, and that you write naturally.

Google’s algorithm will help make extrapolations about the meaning and understanding of your content as a result of crawling it.

But, you still want to include keywords. And you still want to optimize based on what software like Frase tells you.

You just don’t want to keyword stuff.

It’s helpful to read about entities also once you grasp keywords. As you create your site taxonomy, it will help inform your topical entity map.

Keep Your Site Taxonomy Simple

Building a taxonomy with hundreds of categories and subcategories is an exercise in futility. You only make things worse for your site in the search engines and make things more difficult for both Google and your users.

The worse you make your site structure, the harder it is for Google to crawl and index – and the longer it takes. It may take your users eons to find what they are looking for.

While it is possible to come up with such a taxonomy structure regardless of your niche, the reality is that this just adds friction between what your users want and what Google wants to see.

The more friction you add, the more difficult it becomes for users and search engines. An ideal site taxonomy is easily navigable, focused on topics, and simple enough for users.

Keeping your taxonomy simple also means making sure that you have fewer main categories and where these categories can have other sub-categories.

It’s possible to have a higher-level category that’s focused entirely on on-page SEO, and the content you post in that section will all be about on-page SEO.

There are different ways that you can set up your taxonomy structure.

You can have a pure category structure that’s only focused on organizing pages within that category, or you can have a more granular drill-down structure to organize your topics within a true physical silo.

The possibilities may be endless, but results tend to show that simpler taxonomies are preferred compared to the more complex issues that having hundreds of taxonomies can bring.

Don’t Forget About Your Audience When Creating Your Taxonomy

This should be common sense, but more often than not, it’s not so common.

To create the most effective site taxonomy, it’s important to know exactly who your audience is and why they are on your site.

You also need to know their needs and how they typically search. In addition, you may want to figure out how they use websites in general.

This way, you can structure your content within the appropriate taxonomy properly.

Buyer personas are a great tool that you can use to identify these facts.

For example, if your audience searches for SEO, it’s useful to know what they expect regarding that navigation.

You can find this out by looking at already-optimized websites in your niche, or you can use a site like usertesting.com to have real users navigate your site and provide feedback on this.

In addition to resolving how to present information about their main topic, you also want to know what supporting topics they might want to know about and include those in your navigation.

Continuing with “example.com,” for instance, is there anything that can help enhance the topic at hand?

By spending time diving into your users, you can make sure that your overall site is designed accordingly and that it will be able to facilitate their needs much better.

You Also Want To Leave Enough Room For Growing Your Site

If you only have a finite number of categories, and you only deal with those topics, eventually, you will run out of things to talk about.

This is why ensuring that you leave enough room for growth in your site’s taxonomy is critical.

It’s not just about ensuring you have enough topics to discuss, although that’s a large part.

Your taxonomy is likely to change as your overall business grows.

As new types of content are created, you will likely need to move some categories around to ensure that everything is still interrelated.

You also need to make sure that you have room for new content pieces.

For example, say that you have an existing taxonomy that covers certain blog topics.

You hire new team members. They are all well-versed in related topics in this regard.

But, you don’t have them within your taxonomy. As you expand your team, who are subject matter experts, then you will also need to expand your categories throughout your blog.

It’s also possible that you may change your mind and find that some categories are not quite as strong as you thought initially.

That’s why being open to change, and adapting as your situation changes, is so important.

You don’t want to be so rigid that you’re not open to the possibilities of your audience changing (and they will).

On the other hand, you don’t want to constantly change your site’s taxonomy either because you will lose stability in the search results.

Finding that balance that works for your users and your company’s growth is key.

Consistency Is Always Core To A Successful Strategy

As you get better at creating taxonomies, you will refine your own consistency, which is a very important factor for SEO.

If your site is poorly organized or contains irrelevant content, it may be considered something that’s not of very high quality.

Google is intelligent enough to understand the semantic relationship between your content, and you should ensure that your navigational hierarchy is organized enough to facilitate these taxonomic semantic relationships.

By making sure that you create a consistent, structured taxonomic hierarchy, you create a simple and easy website structure that Google (and your users) can follow.

It aids significantly in content findability and allows you to arrange your content items within that taxonomic structure.

This hierarchical structure is also search-engine-friendly, with plenty of “spider food” to feed Google, so it understands exactly what your entire site contains.

A well-planned taxonomy is also consistent by nature because it lends itself to more consistent topical navigation and ensures you easily present your content to readers.

A navigation menu organized into a well-planned taxonomy makes it much easier to ensure a consistent and
high-quality content findability factor.

Your URL Taxonomy Can Significantly Impact Your Site’s Architecture

Making your site easier to navigate for both search engine spiders and your users is the ultimate goal (or should be) of any enterprising SEO professional.

Your URL taxonomy can mean the difference between the success and failure of your site.

By creating a hierarchical taxonomy that includes the full semantic relationship between your topical entities, it’s possible to keep feeding Google the right signals while also making sure that your site is not too difficult to understand.

Let’s take a look at the following examples of taxonomy to further clarify our taxonomic preferences:

Examples Of Bad URL Taxonomy

Like most SEO practices, there are good URL taxonomies and bad URL taxonomies. Terribly bad (worst of the bad) URL taxonomies include ones like the following:

  • https://example.com/2022/03/14/random-blog-name-loosely-related-to-topic/
  • https://example.com/2021/02/11/random-blog-name-loosely-related-to-topic-and-more-stuff-too/
  • https://example.com/2020/06/05/random-blog-name-loosely-related-to-topic-about-this-topic-with-more-comprehensive-information

The problem with these URL taxonomies is that they are very complex and could lead to some devaluation of your site – because Google can’t bother with understanding the complexity of these URLs.

That’s why it’s preferable to always utilize a simple taxonomy, where possible, and not to get overly complex.

In addition, these types of taxonomies do not group everything together properly, nor do they group your blog posts under a single website section.

Also, they do not have relevant content based on the URLs that are shown within this particular taxonomy.

Examples Of Good URL Taxonomy

A good URL taxonomy, however, creates an easy-to-understand structure that’s easy to crawl and users can easily read. For example:

  • https://example.com/seo/differences-between-crawling-indexing/
  • https://example.com/link-building/advanced-guide-to-link-building/
  • https://example.com/content-writing/how-to-write-great-content/

Good URL taxonomies (such as the ones above) are preferable because they – again – aid in your content findability.

They also help users because if they see your URL in Google’s search results, it’s shorter and more memorable.

They help spiders because they use less processing power.

Focusing on ensuring that you stay consistent with a good URL taxonomy makes it possible to cater to both users and search engines.

Creating The Relationship Of Your Content Within The Silo

When you focus on the relationship of your content within a silo, you want to group all of your related pages into an organized silo.

This helps build a better taxonomy foundation for your site.

Organizing your content by taxonomy allows for easier content discovery, especially if they are organized within the proper silo.

When you organize your content based on the relationship of that content within this silo, then you provide Google with a better understanding of your content.

Google will then figure out that any of your content grouped within this silo must be related in some way.

Using this hierarchical structure to organize your content pages in a silo also provides more content discovery ability.

Create Internal Links Across Content Silos

Don’t forget to create internal links across your content silos.

Internal links are a powerful tool that can help you think about website taxonomy.

Creating internal links across different content silos helps give Google more context about the relationship between different types of content.

You want to, ideally, utilize links with the proper contextual content surrounding them so that you can provide the all-important contextual relevance about that link.

This practice will help aid both users and search engines when it comes to helping them learn more about the relationships between the topics on your site.

Make Your Site Future-Proof With The Right Taxonomies

Creating the right site taxonomies is something that will help future-proof your site.

Not only will it help with topical relevance and topical focus, but it will also help with ensuring that search engines discover your content in the correct way that you want them to.

In addition, it aids in creating topical authority.

Because your site is organized in this fashion, you also build topical authority through the links and contextually relevant URLs that you create.

Ensuring you create the right taxonomies reinforces your site’s authority on the topic.

You also create an organized, hierarchical taxonomic structure that Google loves and provide a contextual home for all of your content.

What do you plan to do with your next site’s taxonomy implementation?

More resources:


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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.


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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.

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