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Hiring an SEO Consultant? Ask These 9 Important Questions

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Hiring an SEO Consultant? Ask These 9 Important Questions

The job of an SEO consultant is to create and manage SEO tasks to improve a website’s performance in search engines. All of this should ultimately lead to increasing the business’s revenue.

Hiring a great SEO consultant can skyrocket your business, as organic search is the main traffic source for many websites. Alternatively, a wrong hire can do a lot of harm that may take a long time to fix.

So what does it take to separate the wheat from the chaff? Ask your candidates the following nine questions to make the right hiring decision:

  1. What’s your track record of success?
  2. What do you do best?
  3. How much can your work impact my business?
  4. Do you guarantee the results of your SEO work?
  5. What’s your approach to Google’s SEO guidelines?
  6. What SEO tools do you use, and how do you use them?
  7. What does your SEO reporting look like?
  8. How much do you cost?
  9. How do you hand over the work when we part ways?

Let’s dive into each of them so you’ll know what to look for in your candidates’ answers.

What’s your track record of success?

There are three ways to come across a potential SEO consultant:

  1. You get a reference.
  2. You get familiar with them based on their online and offline presence.
  3. They reach out to you, offering their services.

If it’s the first case and you really trust the person recommending the consultant, feel free to skip most of the qualifying questions in this article. However, for the second and third cases, you should first focus on a candidate’s track record of success. And that can be tricky sometimes, as people generally present themselves in the best light possible.

So what’s tricky here? Let’s see an example. Last year, I was asked to lead an SEO workshop for one of the Big Four accounting firms. If I had accepted, I’d have just placed its logo on my website and claimed the firm was my client. That would technically be true but also a bit deceiving (regarding my SEO consulting experience).

Any SEO consultant should be able to disclose a few websites they were working on. Most consultants list a few clients on their websites. But this information is not often followed by testimonials or case studies reflecting the consultants’ performance. If you’re missing this information, you can still get it before getting in touch with them.

You can open Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, plug in one of the websites, and check the organic traffic chart in the overview:

Overview 2.0 of Ahrefs' website

If you see an upward trend, then it’s a good first sign. But always discuss a few cases with the consultant when you get in touch with them. They can tell you the periods when they worked for a certain client and even provide the charts and numbers, as anyone can look up the data.

Sometimes, you won’t see much growth or may question the performance in other ways. Let the consultant justify their results. SEO is a long-term game, and you rarely see any significant changes in organic traffic in the first months of cooperation.

There’s no one-size-fits-all SEO consultant. Instead, try to find the best match for your business.

For example, I reject all e‑commerce offers. E‑commerce SEO is a category on its own. I’ve never done it, and there are many other consultants who can do a better job for cheaper rates. I’ve always worked for SaaS businesses, and that’s where I can provide the most value.

Besides a general knowledge of marketing, an SEO consultant should be good at all SEO disciplines (on-page, off-page, and technical). However, very few manage to be experts in all of them, and that’s not necessary. Some consultants focus on just one area like link building or technical SEO. They double down on their strengths and offer a niche service. That’s a good thing.

This question simply helps both sides understand if there’s a good fit between your needs and their focus, knowledge, and expertise.

How much can your work impact my business?

There are a few factors that come into play for estimating the potential impact of SEO on your business:

  • Organic traffic potential – Is there a high search demand in your business category?
  • Marketing strategy – How much should organic search be prioritized among other marketing channels?
  • Developer resources – Do your developers have the room to implement required changes in a timely manner?
  • Content creator resources – Do you have a team to produce SEO content? If not, do you have the necessary budget to hire freelancers?
  • Link builder/PR resources – Do you have a link builder and/or PR specialist? If not, can you afford to hire them?

A good consultant should assess all of these factors when they’re asked about the potential impact of their work. To be clear, don’t expect the consultant to give you any numbers at this stage. For now, your goal is to come to an agreement that investing in SEO is the right choice.

Do you guarantee the results of your SEO work?

If any SEO consultant guarantees their work will skyrocket your organic trafficrun. Yes, this is a dealbreaker.

No matter how good an SEO consultant is, they can’t guarantee any results in SEO. There are just so many variables (ranking factors) involved. Yes, you’re hiring someone to make a positive impact, and there’s a high probability that a good consultant will pay off quite quickly. But it’s never 100%, and you’ll often have to wait many months to see any positive results.

Here’s another example. I got involved in consulting for a website. It didn’t get back on track after being severely hit by Google’s algorithm update despite having great SEO consultants all along. I’ve found some new opportunities and helped fix a few things. But I can’t attribute any success to these efforts because it still took another six months for the organic traffic trend to look good again:

Line graph showing gradual improvement of the website

An extreme example of a website that was managed by great SEO consultants but saw its organic traffic improve only after a long time. Screenshot from Overview 2.0 report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

By the way, the surge in traffic happened after another algorithm update. We, SEO consultants, have done good work. It just took a lot of time for the results to kick in (almost two years in this case).

What’s your approach to Google’s SEO guidelines?

There’s no right answer. But leaning toward the extremes (doing everything/nothing according to Google) should be taken with caution.

Google has become much better in SEO recommendations and documentation in the past few years. However, every good SEO disagrees with Google’s guidelines now and then. Some more than others.

For example, the main topic of disagreements between Google’s statements and SEOs is link building. What works in practice when building links and what Google recommends are sometimes two completely opposite approaches.

A good sign is hearing about a few examples where the consultant disagrees with Google and why.

What SEO tools do you use, and how do you use them?

Every good SEO consultant needs to use one of the three leading all-in-one SEO toolsets: Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz. Hearing one of these brands is a good start for this question. Using Google Search Console and Google Analytics is taken for granted.

However, having access to the best SEO tools is just the beginning. Let the consultant tell you a bit about their processes. How do they audit a website? How do they find link building opportunities? What about keyword research?

There can be countless right or wrong answers on using the tools. If you’re not an SEO expert, you won’t be able to judge them. But whatever the answers are, they should build more confidence and rapport.

What does your SEO reporting look like?

You can easily tell a good SEO consultant from a bad one based on their SEO reports. If they provide an example report, here’s what you should look out for. A good report is concise and easy to go through; you should also understand the gist of it in a few minutes. Here’s an example of a good slide taken from my SEO report template:

Powerpoint slide containing key highlights of the SEO progress

But most consultants won’t send you other clients’ reports due to non-disclosure agreements and sensitive data. Inquiring about their SEO reporting process is the second-best choice here.

What to look for here specifically? Well, see if they talk about SEO KPIs and how they approach them. That’s a dead giveaway. You want to hear about metrics tied to your business growth. These are, most universally, organic conversions and share of voice (search visibility).

Beware that organic traffic growth alone shouldn’t be a KPI unless you monetize all your website traffic using display advertising networks.

Sidenote.

What I’m talking about here only applies to hiring someone for overall SEO consultation. If you’re hiring a link builder or a technical SEO, then they probably can’t tie any of their metrics to your business growth directly.

Another crucial thing is the combination of data sources. Every good SEO consultant should create reports by combining metrics from Google Search Console, Google Analytics (or alternatives), and independent SEO toolsets like Ahrefs. That’s because every tool has its unique data. Also, some metrics are just more accurate in one tool than another.

It’s best to have some pricing estimates as soon as possible so that neither side wastes time. Some consultants disclose their rates publicly, but you always need a quote for your specific needs.

You’ll mostly encounter three types of pricing:

  • Hourly rate – This is the most straightforward pricing model. It’s the most common one in the Czech Republic (where I live). But it’s not so popular in the West, according to my observations.
  • Project-based pricing – This is most likely to be used if you need SEO help in a certain area for a shorter period of time.
  • Monthly retainer – This is popular for long-term cooperations. You agree on a block of time the consultant will provide each month to your business and how much it will cost you.

Some consultants use all three pricing models, while others stick to just one. You should also talk about the minimum contract length and payment terms.

SEO can be a lucrative profession, so expect the best consultants to be quite expensive. On top of that, it’s likely the demand is higher than what they can meet, so some consultants are picky about new clients.

Of course, the pricing will drastically vary depending on the country. In the U.S. (and other countries with a high purchasing power parity), you should expect to pay at least $100 per hour to get a solid SEO consultant. To hire the best English-speaking consultants, you can expect to be charged $200+ hourly rates.

Recommended reading: SEO Pricing: ~350 Agencies, Consultants, and Freelancers Reveal How Much SEO Costs

How do you hand over the work when we part ways?

You won’t work with your consultant forever. Any consultant should try to do their best to hand over their work and ensure an easy transition when you hire someone new. You want to be certain your consultant will do that.

Actually, one of the first things any good consultant should ask you at the beginning of your cooperation is your SEO history. Has anyone already done keyword research? Is there a content plan? What about a list containing the statuses of technical SEO issues and opportunities? Link prospecting and outreach lists? What do your past reports look like? What has been done and why?

You see, there’s a ton of information and data you can provide to your new consultant that can save time and money. It can also reveal potential issues that may hinder your SEO performance.

PRO TIP

Make sure that you own your data and don’t grant admin access to people outside of your organization. I’ve heard horror stories about consultants and even agencies that created or overtook Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts and then refused to hand over the access.

Final thoughts

Judging the expertise of a potential SEO consultant isn’t easy when you’re not familiar with SEO yourself. But you can very well assess their communication skills based on the nine questions above.

If they don’t explain the SEO stuff with ease, just say “it depends” without going into more details, or give iffy answers that just don’t feel right, you’re probably better off hiring someone else.

So where do you find the best consultants? It may be tempting to use Google because, well, ranking at the top must mean that it’s good at SEO, right? Yes, but you’ll be missing out on potentially better fits. After all, there are way more great consultants than top search results.

I recommend you ask people who have hired SEO consultants in the past, your social circles, or SEO experts. Even if you don’t hire them for SEO consulting, they can help you with some recommendations.

Any questions? Or more ideas to qualify SEO consultants? Ping me on Twitter.




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What Is Schema Markup & Why Is It Important For SEO?

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What Is Schema Markup & Why Is It Important For SEO?

Schema.org is a collection of vocabulary (or schemas) used to apply structured data markup to web pages and content. Correctly applying schema can improve SEO outcomes through rich snippets.

Structured data markup is translated by platforms such as Google and Microsoft to provide enhanced rich results (or rich snippets) in search engine results pages or emails. For example, you can markup your ecommerce product pages with variants schema to help Google understand product variations.

Schema.org is an independent project that has helped establish structured data consistency across the internet. It began collaborating with search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex back in 2011.

The Schema vocabulary can be applied to pages through encodings such as RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. JSON-LD schema is preferred by Google as it is the easiest to apply and maintain.

Schema is not a ranking factor.

However, your webpage becomes eligible for rich snippets in SERPs only when you use schema markup. This can enhance your search visibility and increase CTR on your webpage from search results.

Schema can also be used to build a knowledge graph of entities and topics. Using semantic markup in this way aligns your website with how AI algorithms categorize entities, assisting search engines in understanding your website and content.

This means that search engines should have additional information to help them figure out what the webpage is about.

You can even link your entities directly to sites like Wikipedia or Google’s knowledge graph to build explicit connections. Using Schema this way can have positive SEO results, according to Martha van Berkel, CEO of Schema App:

By helping search engines understand content, you are assisting them in saving resources (especially important when you have a large website with millions of pages) and increasing the chances for your content to be interpreted properly and ranked well. While this may not be a ranking factor directly, Schema helps your SEO efforts by giving search engines the best chance of interpreting your content correctly, giving users the best chance of discovering it.

Listed above are some of the most popular uses of schema, which are supported by Google and other search engines.

You may have an object type that has a schema.org definition but is not supported by search engines.

In such cases, it is advised to implement them, as search engines may start supporting them in the future, and you may benefit from them as you already have that implementation.

Google recommends JSON-LD as the preferred format for structured data. Microdata is still supported, but JSON-LD schema is recommended.

In certain circumstances, it isn’t possible to implement JSON-LD schema due to website technical infrastructure limitations such as old content management systems). In these cases, the only option is to markup HTML via Microdata or RDFa.

You can now mix JSON-LD and Microdata formats by matching the @id attribute of JSON-LD schema with the itemid attribute of Microdata schema. This approach helps reduce the HTML size of your pages.

For example, in a FAQ section with extensive text, you can use Microdata for the content and JSON-LD for the structured data without duplicating the text, thus avoiding an increase in page size. We will dive deeper into this below in the article when discussing each type in detail.

JSON-LD encodes data using JSON, making it easy to integrate structured data into web pages. JSON-LD allows connecting different schema types using a graph with @ids, improving data integration and reducing redundancy.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you own a store that sells high-quality routers. If you were to look at the source code of your homepage, you would likely see something like this:

Once you dive into the code, you’ll want to find the portion of your webpage that discusses what your business offers. In this example, that data can be found between the two

tags.

The following JSON-LD formatted text will markup the information within that HTML fragment on your webpage, which you may want to include in your webpage’s

section.



This snippet of code defines your business as a store via the attribute"@type": "Store".

Then, it details its location, contact information, hours of operation from Monday to Saturday, and different operational hours for Sunday.

By structuring your webpage data this way, you provide critical information directly to search engines, which can improve how they index and display your site in search results. Just like adding tags in the initial HTML, inserting this JSON-LD script tells search engines specific aspects of your business.

Let’s review another example of WebPage schema connected with Organization and Author schemas via @id. JSON-LD is the format Google recommends and other search engines because it’s extremely flexible, and this is a great example.



In the example:

  • Website links to the organization as the publisher with @id.
  • The organization is described with detailed properties.
  • WebPage links to the WebSite with isPartOf.
  • NewsArticle links to the WebPage with isPartOf, and back to the WebPage with mainEntityOfPage, and includes the author property via @id.

You can see how graph nodes are linked to each other using the"@id"attribute. This way, we inform Google that it is a webpage published by the publisher described in the schema.

The use of hashes (#) for IDs is optional. You should only ensure that different schema types don’t have the same ID by accident. Adding custom hashes (#) can be helpful, as it provides an extra layer of insurance that they will not be repeated.

You may wonder why we use"@id"to connect graph nodes. Can’t we just drop organization, author, and webpage schemas separately on the same page, and it is intuitive that those are connected?

The issue is that Google and other search engines cannot reliably interpret these connections unless explicitly linked using @id.

Adding to the graph additional schema types is as easy as constructing Lego bricks. Say we want to add an image to the schema:

{
   "@type": "ImageObject",
   "@id": "https://www.example.com/#post-image",
   "url": "https://www.example.com/example.png",
   "contentUrl": "https://www.example.com/example.png",
   "width": 2160,
   "height": 1215,
   "thumbnail": [
     {
        "@type": "ImageObject",
        "url": "https://example.com/4x3/photo.jpg",
        "width": 1620,
        "height": 1215
      },
      {
        "@type": "ImageObject",
        "url": "https://example.com/16x9/photo.jpg",
        "width": 1440,
        "height": 810
      },
      {
        "@type": "ImageObject",
        "url": "https://example.com/1x1/photo.jpg",
        "width": 1000,
        "height": 1000
      }
    ]
}

As you already know from the NewsArticle schema, you need to add it to the above schema graph as a parent node and link via @id.

As you do that, it will have this structure:



Quite easy, isn’t it? Now that you understand the main principle, you can build your own schema based on the content you have on your website.

And since we live in the age of AI, you may also want to use ChatGPT or other chatbots to help you build any schema you want.

2. Microdata Schema Format

Microdata is a set of tags that aims to make annotating HTML elements with machine-readable tags much easier.

However, the one downside to using Microdata is that you have to mark every individual item within the body of your webpage. As you can imagine, this can quickly get messy.

Take a look at this sample HTML code, which corresponds to the above JSON schema with NewsArticle:

Our Company

Example Company, also known as Example Co., is a leading innovator in the tech industry.

Founded in 2000, we have grown to a team of 200 dedicated employees.

Our slogan is: "Innovation at its best".

Contact us at +1-800-555-1212 for customer service.

Our Founder

Our founder, Jane Smith, is a pioneer in the tech industry.

Connect with Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Us

This is the About Us page for Example Company.

Example News Headline

This is an example news article.

This is the full content of the example news article. It provides detailed information about the news event or topic covered in the article.

Author: John Doe. Connect with John on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If we convert the above JSON-LD schema into Microdata format, it will look like this:

Our Company

Example Company, also known as Example Co., is a leading innovator in the tech industry.

Founded in 2000-01-01, we have grown to a team of 200 dedicated employees.

Our slogan is: Innovation at its best.

Contact us at +1-800-555-1212 for Customer Service.

Example Company Logo

Connect with us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Our Founder

Our founder, Jane Smith, is a pioneer in the tech industry.

Connect with Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Us

This is the About Us page for Example Company.

Example News Headline

This is an example news article.

This is the full content of the example news article. It provides detailed information about the news event or topic covered in the article.

Author:

Example image

This example shows how complicated it becomes compared to JSON-LD since the markup is spread over HTML. Let’s understand what is in the markup.

You can see

tags like:


By adding this tag, we’re stating that the HTML code contained between the

blocks identifies a specific item.

Next, we have to identify what that item is by using the ‘itemtype’ attribute to identify the type of item (Person).


An item type comes in the form of a URL (such as https://schema.org/Person). Let’s say, for example, you have a product you may use http://schema.org/Product.

To make things easier, you can browse a list of item types here and view extensions to identify the specific entity you’re looking for. Keep in mind that this list is not all-encompassing but only includes ones that are supported by Google, so there is a possibility that you won’t find the item type for your specific niche.

It may look complicated, but Schema.org provides examples of how to use the different item types so you can see what the code is supposed to do.

Don’t worry; you won’t be left out in the cold trying to figure this out on your own!

If you’re still feeling a little intimidated by the code, Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper makes it super easy to tag your webpages.

To use this amazing tool, just select your item type, paste in the URL of the target page or the content you want to target, and then highlight the different elements so that you can tag them.

3. RDFa Schema Format

RDFa is an acronym for Resource Description Framework in Attributes. Essentially, RDFa is an extension to HTML5 designed to aid users in marking up structured data.

RDFa isn’t much different from Microdata. RDFa tags incorporate the preexisting HTML code in the body of your webpage. For familiarity, we’ll look at the same code above.

The HTML for the same JSON-LD news article will look like:

vocab="https://schema.org/" typeof="WebSite" resource="https://www.example.com/#website">

Our Company

Example Company, also known as Example Co., is a leading innovator in the tech industry.

Founded in 2000-01-01, we have grown to a team of 200 dedicated employees.

Our slogan is: Innovation at its best.

Contact us at +1-800-555-1212 for Customer Service.

https://www.example.com Example Company Logo

Connect with us on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Our Founder

Our founder, Jane Smith, is a pioneer in the tech industry.

Connect with Jane on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Us

This is the About Us page for Example Company.

https://www.example.com/about

Example News Headline

This is an example news article.

This is the full content of the example news article. It provides detailed information about the news event or topic covered in the article.

Author: John Doe Profile Twitter LinkedIn

Example image

Unlike Microdata, which uses a URL to identify types, RDFa uses one or more words to classify types.

vocab=”http://schema.org/” typeof=”WebPage”>

If you wish to identify a property further, use the ‘typeof’ attribute.

Let’s compare JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa side by side. The @type attribute of JSON-LD is equivalent to the itemtype attribute of Microdata format and the typeof attribute in RDFa. Furthermore, the propertyName of JSON-LD attribute would be the equivalent of the itemprop and property attributes.

Attribute Name JSON-LD Microdata RDFa
Type @type itemtype typeof
ID @id itemid resource
Property propertyName itemprop property
Name name itemprop=”name” property=”name”
Description description itemprop=”description” property=”description”

For further explanation, you can visit Schema.org to check lists and view examples. You can find which kinds of elements are defined as properties and which are defined as types.

To help, every page on Schema.org provides examples of how to apply tags properly. Of course, you can also fall back on Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

4. Mixing Different Formats Of Structured Data With JSON-LD

If you use JSON-LD schema but certain parts of pages aren’t compatible with it, you can mix schema formats by linking them via @id.

For example, if you have live blogging on the website and a JSON-LD schema, including all live blogging items in the JSON schema would mean having the same content twice on the page, which may increase HTML size and affect First Contentful Paint and Largest Contentful Paint page speed metrics.

You can solve this either by generating JSON-LD dynamically with JavaScript when the page loads or by marking up HTML tags of live blogging via the Microdata format, then linking to your JSON-LD schema in the head section via “@id“.

Here is an example of how to do it.

Say we have this HTML with Microdata markup with itemid="https://www.example.com/live-blog-page/#live-blog"

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We can link to it from the sample JSON-LD example we had like this:



If you copy and paste HTML and JSON examples underneath in the schema validator tool, you will see that they are validating properly.

The schema validator does validate the above example.The schema validator does validate the above example.

The SEO Impact Of Structured Data

This article explored the different schema encoding types and all the nuances regarding structured data implementation.

Schema is much easier to apply than it seems, and it’s a best practice you must incorporate into your webpages. While you won’t receive a direct boost in your SEO rankings for implementing Schema, it can:

  • Make your pages eligible to appear in rich results.
  • Ensure your pages get seen by the right users more often.
  • Avoid confusion and ambiguity.

The work may seem tedious. However, given time and effort, properly implementing Schema markup is good for your website and can lead to better user journeys through the accuracy of information you’re supplying to search engines.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
Screenshot taken by author

 

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Chuck Price

Founder at Measurable SEO

Looking for a Content Marketing Solution to Increase Traffic and Revenue? I’m the founder of Measurable SEO and former COO ...

Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete Guide



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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

Featured Image: rafapress/Shutterstock

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

Featured Image by Shutterstock/sutlafk

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