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SEO Salary Survey 2023 [Industry Research]

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SEO Salary Survey 2023 [Industry Research]

How much do SEOs earn? I wanted to know, so I ran a survey at Brighton SEO and asked 111 attendees what they earned.

Editor’s note

We realize that this is a small sample set and not representative of all SEO salaries as it’s focused on UK and EU data. If you want to be part of the next Ahrefs salary survey, you can submit your details anonymously here.

Here are the top takeaways:

  • The median annual salary for SEOs we polled was $49,211
  • The highest annual salary we polled was $229,652
  • To earn the higher salaries in SEO you need be a technical SEO expert—Heads of SEO, SEO Directors and SEO Leads all said that their main specialization was technical SEO 
  • Only 5.4% of respondents learned SEO through a course—most learned on the job (52.3%) or by themselves (42.3%)
  • 36.9% described themselves as content specialists, 30.6% described themselves as technical specialists, 6.3% described themselves as specializing in link-building
  • 49.5% of respondents worked in SEO agencies, 42.3% in-house and 8.2% were self-employed
  • Most respondents (28.8%) worked in companies that had 11-50 people
  • The average SEO experience of our respondents was 6.9 years
  • Self-employed SEOs earned the most on average ($60,232k)—the median annual salary for in-house roles was slightly lower at $56,789, and agency SEOs had the lowest median annual salary at $44,169

There were also a few surprises:

  • Few SEOs in our survey said that they specialized in link building compared to technical and content. This is despite the fact that links are still one of the most important Google ranking factors.
  • The average level of experience between SEO Directors and Head of SEO is not that different—10.4 years for a SEO Director and 10.6 years for a Head of SEO—but the salary difference between the roles was ~$11,552—quite substantial.

Overview

Role Median annual salary ($USD) Average experience (years) Main specialization Main work location
Head of SEO $92,988 10.6 Technical SEO Agency and in-house
SEO Director $81,436 10.4 Technical SEO Agency and in-house
SEO Lead $38,289 7.4 Technical SEO Agency
SEO Specialist $49,229 5.8 Content In-house
SEO Account Manager $43,850 4.2 Content Agency
SEO Consultant $49,240 6 All-rounder Agency
SEO Executive $31,956 3 All-rounder Agency
SEO Analyst $56,393 5 All-rounder In-house

Here’s how annual salaries broke down across our respondents:

According to the SEOs we polled, most of them learned SEO on the job or were self-taught. 

Chart displaying how individuals learned SEO.Chart displaying how individuals learned SEO.

Average level of experience by role

Most of our respondents had a couple of years of experience under their belts. The amount of experience Head of SEOs had versus SEO Directors was not that different, at around 10 years.

Average level of experience by roleAverage level of experience by role
  • Across all respondents, the average experience was 6.9 years
  • For Head of SEO, the average experience was 10.6 years
  • For SEO Director, the average experience was 10.4 years
  • For SEO Lead, the average experience was 7.4 years
  • For SEO Account Manager, the average experience was 4.2 years
  • For SEO Consultant, the average experience was 6 years 
  • For SEO Executive, the average experience was 3 years 
  • For SEO Analyst, the average experience was 5 years

What areas of SEO do they specialize in? 

Technical and Content were the two top skills that SEOs we surveyed specialized in.

Areas of SEO specializationAreas of SEO specialization

The proportion of SEOs that said they specialized in links was much lower despite links being a major ranking factor.

Our survey showed an almost 50/50 split between the UK and Europe. 48.6% of respondents were from the UK—perhaps not surprising given that BrightonSEO is based in the UK.

Chart of countries SEOs are fromChart of countries SEOs are from

Most of the respondents we spoke to worked in agencies or in-house. It does mean, however, that our salary data was mainly focused on these two employment types.

Chart listing where SEOs workChart listing where SEOs work

How big are the companies they work in?

Across all respondents, the most common company size was 11-50. A large proportion of SEOs also worked for substantially larger companies that had over 1000 employees.

Number of people in the company
Number of people in the company

How much does each SEO role earn?

Here’s the full breakdown of each role.

Head of SEO salary

It’s probably not too much of a surprise that the Head of SEO role was our highest-paying SEO role surveyed. What’s more of a surprise was the variation in salary—our survey showed that a Head of SEO can earn anything from ~$25k to ~$229k. 

head-of-seo-salaryhead-of-seo-salary

Average experience

According to our survey, a Head of SEO has ~10.6 years of experience.

Type of company

46.7% of respondents worked for an agency, and 46.7% worked in-house. 6.7% were self-employed.

Education

66.7% of respondents said they were self-taught, 26.7% said they’d learned on the job, and 6.7% said that they had learned SEO from a course.

Specialization

40% said that they specialized in technical SEO, 33.3% in Content, and 13.3% said they were a generalist. The remaining 13.4% said they focused on people management. 

This is surprising, as it implies that 73.3% of people in Head of SEO roles are actively providing SEO services for their clients rather than focusing on managing a team.

Company size

There were two company sizes that were most popular for Head of SEOs to work in. 40% of respondents said they worked in companies with 11-50 people, and 20% said they worked in companies with over 1001 people. 

Location

40% of respondents were from the UK, 13.3% were from the Netherlands, and the remainder were from mainland Europe.

SEO Director salary

The salary variation wasn’t quite as extreme for SEO Directors, but salaries ranged from ~$42k to ~$121k—still quite a difference.

SEO Director salarySEO Director salary

Average experience

SEO Directors in our survey had 10.4 years of experience on average.

Type of company

There was a 50/50 split between SEO Directors’ backgrounds, with 50% from agency and 50% from in-house

Education

62.5% of SEO Directors described themselves as self-taught, and 37.5% said that they learned SEO on the job.

Specialization

75% of them specialized in technical SEO, whilst 25% described themselves as generalists or Other.

Company size

According to our survey, SEO Directors typically work in medium to large companies. 25% said that they worked in companies that had over 1000 people, and 25% said they worked in companies that had 51-100 employees.

Location

Most SEO Directors we surveyed were from the UK (62.5%). The rest were equal splits between India, the U.S., and Germany (12.5%).

SEO Lead salary

SEO Leads typically have a lot of experience, but our survey shows that they only earn slightly more on average than SEO Specialists.

SEO Lead salary
SEO Lead salary

Average experience

SEO Leads in our survey had 7.4 years of experience on average.

Type of company

50% of SEO Leads came from an agency background, 41.7% came from in-house, and 8.3% were self-employed.

Education

69.2% learned on the job, 23.1% were self-taught, and 7.7% learned SEO through a course.

Specialization

30.8% of SEO Leads specialized in technical SEO, 23% specialized in content, and 23.1% specialized in links. 15.4% described themselves as generalists. The remaining 7.7% described themselves as specializing in SEO strategy.

Company size

46.2% worked in companies that had 1001+ people, and the remaining 53.8% worked in smaller companies.

Location

23.1% of SEO Leads came from the UK, with the remainder coming from the Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden (15.4% each) and 30.7% from other European countries.

SEO Specialist salary

SEO Specialists we surveyed had around 5-6 years of experience, but they typically got paid better than SEO Leads. Based on my experience, this may be due to in-house roles paying better than agency roles in the UK.

SEO Specialist salarySEO Specialist salary

Average experience

SEO Specialists in our survey had an average of 5.8 years of experience.

Type of company

41.2% of SEO Specialists came from an agency background, while 58.8% said that they were from an in-house background.

Education

58.8% of SEO Specialists said that they had learned SEO on the job, 35.3% said that they were self-taught, and 5.9% said that they had learned SEO through a course.

Specialization

52.9% of SEO Specialists specialized in content, 29.4% focused on technical, 11.8% described themselves as all-rounders, and 5.9% described specialized in links.

Company size

41.2% of SEO Specialists said that they worked in companies that had 11-50 people. Only 17.6% of respondents said that they worked in companies that had 1001+ people. 23.6% said they worked in companies between 51-500 people. The remaining 17.6% worked in smaller companies with less than 10 people.

Location

23.5% of SEO Specialists said that they were from the UK, with the remainder from Europe.

SEO Account Manager salary

SEO Account Managers in our survey were one of the most consistent salary bands earning between ~$40k and ~$55k.

SEO Account Manager salarySEO Account Manager salary

Average experience

SEO Account managers in our survey had 4.2 years of experience on average.

Type of company

85.7% of respondents worked for an agency, and 14.3% worked in-house.

Education

71.4% of respondents said they learned SEO on the job, and 28.6% said they were self-taught.

Specialization

42.9% said that they specialized in content, 28.6% described themselves as an all-rounder, 14.3% said they were technical SEO, and the remaining 14.2% said they specialized in links.

Company size

42.9% of respondents said they worked in companies with 11-50 people, and 28.6% said they worked in companies with over 1001 people. The remaining 28.6% was split equally between people who worked in companies with between 2-11 people or 51-100 people.

Location

85.7% of respondents were from the UK, and 14.3% of the remainder were from Europe.

SEO Consultant salary

SEO Consultants we surveyed earned up to ~$87k, which was lower than I was expecting—because our SEO pricing post suggested that SEO consultants charge between $100-150 per hour. 

But as the data is UK-focused, the likely reason for this is the £85k VAT tax threshold

SEO Consultant salarySEO Consultant salary

Average experience

SEO Consultants in our survey had 6 years of experience on average.

Type of company

63.3% of respondents worked for an agency, and 36.7% worked in-house.

Education

45.5% of respondents said they were self-taught, 36.4% said they’d learned on the job, and 9.1% said that they had learned SEO from a course. The remaining 9% said they’d learned from other ways.

Specialization

27.3% said that they specialized in technical SEO, 27.3% in content, and 27.3% said they were a generalist. The remaining 18.1% said they focused on management and strategy.

Company size

SEO Consultants typically worked on their own or in smaller agencies according to our survey — 36.4% of respondents said they worked on their own, and 27.3% said they worked in companies with 51-100 people. The remaining 36.3% said they worked in companies with between 2-50 people.

Location

36.4% of respondents were from the UK, 27.3% were from the Netherlands, and the remaining 36.3% were from Europe.

SEO Executive salary

SEO Executive salarySEO Executive salary

Average experience

SEO Executives in our survey had 3 years of experience on average.

Type of company

80% of respondents worked for an agency, and 20% worked in-house.

Education

80% of respondents said they were self-taught, and 20% said they’d learned SEO from a course.

Specialization

40% said that they specialized in technical SEO, 20% in Content, and 40% said they were a generalist. 

Company size

80% of respondents said they worked in companies with 11-50 people, and 20% said they worked in companies with 1001 or more people.

Location

80% of respondents were from the UK, and 20% were from Belgium.

SEO Analyst salary

SEO Analysts typically had a few more years of experience than SEO Executives, but it looks like they earned roughly the same as them.

SEO Analyst salarySEO Analyst salary

Average experience

SEO Analysts in our survey had 5 years of experience on average.

Type of company

33.3% of respondents worked for an agency, and 66.7% worked In-house.

Education

33.3% of respondents said they were self-taught, and 66.7% said they’d learned on the job.

Specialization

33.3% said that they specialized in technical SEO, 33.3% in Content, and 33.3% said they specialized in News SEO.

Company size

33.3% of respondents said they worked in companies with 101-200 people, and 66.7% said they worked in companies with over 201 people.

Location

SEO Analysts came from a range of locations 33% of respondents were from Portugal, 33.3% were from Brazil, and the remainder were from Serbia.

Sidenote.

We didn’t get many respondents for the SEO Analyst role—so take these results with a pinch of salt.

Final thoughts

SEO salaries aren’t often discussed in detail within the industry, so getting a snapshot of their current state from one of the biggest SEO conferences in the UK was insightful.

For our next salary survey, we’ll be opening it up to all SEOs. If you’d like to take part—you can enter here.

Got questions? Ping me on X (formerly known as Twitter)



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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You'll Face in 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with it:

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

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

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

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

Ahrefs Site Explorer screenshotAhrefs Site Explorer screenshot

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

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

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

Follow SEO best practices

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

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

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

Monitor the latest SEO news

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

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

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

And these days, your competitors will:

How to deal with it:

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

Spy on your competitors and monitor their strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And much, much more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with it:

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

Make your website the best it can be

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

Prevent Google from showing your website in an AI Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s Quora’s traffic increase:

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

How to deal with it:

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

Focus on targeting the right keywords using keyword research

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

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

Effort to reward ratio illustrationEffort to reward ratio illustration

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

To do this:

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

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

Build more links to become more authoritative

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

Write deep content

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with it:

Here’s the process I use:

Steal this content updating framework

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

Use Page Inspect with Overview to identify pages that need updating

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was focused on achieving three aims with this update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long does SEO take illustrationHow long does SEO take illustration

How to deal with it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

Got questions? Ping me on X.



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Why Now’s The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

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Why Now's The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

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

Why is that so, you might ask?

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

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

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

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

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

Schema Markup For Rich Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: October 2023 Web Data Commons Report)

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

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

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

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

Help AI Search Engines Understand Your Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Control Of AI By Shaping Your Data With Schema Markup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use Schema Markup As The Catalyst For AI

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

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

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

More resources: 


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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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

Home Activities Rich Results

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

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

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

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

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

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

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

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

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

Home activities

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