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Three must-have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under 30 minutes

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Three must-have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under 30 minutes

30-second summary:

  • If conveying the value to C-suite wasn’t challenging enough, SEOs are now having to deal with the GA4 shift
  • Does your SEO reporting take hours or days? Is it too detailed, or not detailed enough?
  • Buy back some time for a cuppa and a catch-up, use this super-detailed guide that will save you hours and get you the most effective GA4 reports

Have you experienced this… desperately trying to find where your favorite GA3 reports are hiding inside the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4)?

The process can feel daunting for all teams–including SEO teams looking to trace the impact of their search engine optimization efforts on the website’s overall performance. That is because many GA3 (also known as Universal Analytics) reports are either difficult to locate or need to be custom-built from scratch inside the new GA4.

That’s where these three reports come in!

Here are the three GA4 SEO “P” reports we will be creating together in GA4

1. SEO Pages report

Which of our web pages are successfully ranking in the search engines and generating the most traffic, conversions, and sales for the business? With this report, you can instantly pinpoint the pages that need more “SEO” optimization so you can increase your website’s traffic, conversions, and sales.

2. SEO Profiles report

What locations, interests, age groups, and other characteristics define our SEO audience? With this report, you can confidently define or redefine your ideal customer–so you can attract more of them.

3. SEO Paths report

How do our organic search traffic visitors navigate our website? What is their most common path to conversion? With this report, you can quickly discover and remove any roadblocks that are preventing your visitors from converting into leads and customers.

So we’re all on the same page: Throughout this article, I will use the phrases SEO traffic, organic search traffic, and organic traffic synonymously. They all mean people who typed a query into Google, looked through the unpaid (non-ad) search results, and then clicked through to your website.

Step 1: Create your SEO Pages report

One of the time-saving beauties of Google Analytics 4 is the Explore feature which allows us to create fully custom reports from scratch. We will use this feature to create our SEO Pages report. Quick note: Google has announced a new landing page report in GA4 that you can use to build this report as well. For now, let’s keep going with the quick and easy steps outlined in this article.

  1. Click Explore. Click Explore in the left menu
    1673544606 392 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Click Blank. On the next screen, click Blank
    1673544606 701 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
IMPORTANT: Don’t see it? If you do not see the option to click Blank, your access to GA4 is set too low. You need to ask your GA4 administrator to upgrade your access so you can create reports. Once you’ve done that, come back and continue the steps.

 

  1. Name exploration. Under “Variables” change the Untitled exploration to SEO Pages. You have now named your report.1673544606 830 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Create Organic Search segment. Click the + sign next to “SEGMENTS” > User segment > At the top, change the segment name from “Untitled segment” to “Organic Search Traffic” > Add new condition > search for and click on First user medium > click Add Filter > select contains > type and select organic > Apply. You have just created a segment (or filter) that automatically only displays information about your organic search traffic in the report you’re about to create.
  3. We’re going to bulk-add: Now that you have created your organic search traffic segment, it’s time to build a custom report, then apply your segment to it. In the coming steps, we will bulk-add all the metrics and all the dimensions we will need for all three SEO “P” reports.
  4. Add Landing Page dimension. Click the + sign next to DIMENSIONS > in the search box, type landing page and when it appears, check the Landing Page + query string box.
    1673544606 873 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  5. Add additional dimensions. Repeat the previous steps by searching for and checking the checkboxes of the following dimensions:
    1. Device category
    2. Browser
    3. Country
    4. City
    5. Type “demographic” and check all the demographic dimensions you want to report on, such as Age, Gender, and Interests. Note: For these selections to report any data, you will need to enable the Google Signals functionality in GA4 which you can do by opening another tab and going to Admin > Data Settings > Data Collection > Get Started > Continue > Activate. Be sure to read Google’s policy to ensure that it complies with your organization’s privacy requirements If not, skip this bullet.
  6. Import all dimensions at once. After the final dimension’s checkbox has been checked, click the Import button to bulk-import all of the dimensions into your exploration report.
  7. Add Entrances metric. Click the + sign next to METRICS > in the search box, type entrances and when it appears, check the Entrances box.
    1673544607 313 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  8. Add additional metrics. Repeat the previous steps by searching for and checking the checkboxes of the following metrics:
    1. Entrances
    2. Views
    3. Views per user
    4. Engagement rate
    5. Bounce rate
    6. Conversions
    7. Session conversion rate
    8. User conversion rate
    9. New users
    10. Returning users
    11. Total users
    12. eCommerce revenue (if you have an eCommerce website)
    13. Optional step: Add other metrics–If you prefer to use different metrics than the ones listed above, GA4 makes it very easy to do so. Just leave the search box blank and use the “All” column to expand and add additional metrics you’re interested in. Hovering over a metric shows a definition of the metric, which is very helpful. You are free to do this now, or later. For now, let’s keep going.
      1673544607 441 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  9. Import all metrics at once. After the final metric’s checkbox has been checked, click the Import button to bulk-import all of the metrics into your exploration report.
  10. Name the report. Rename the Free form report to Landing pages by clicking and typing over it.
    1673544607 252 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  11. Add dimension to the report row. Double-click the “Landing page + query string” item under DIMENSIONS > this will add it to the “ROWS” section under the “Tab Setting” section.
  12. Add metrics to the report column. One by one, Double-click the following items under METRICS and they will be added to the columns of the report we are building: Entrances, Views, Views per user, Conversions, Session conversion rate, User conversion rate.
  13. Change cell type. Under the “Tab Setting” section, scroll down and change the Cell type to Heat map.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Pages report.

How to read your SEO Pages report

What the SEO Pages report tells you

Because the SEO Pages report uses the Organic Search Traffic segment that we created, here’s what the report tells you: The pages of your website that are responsible for generating the most organic search traffic, conversions, and sales to your business. (You can change the time frame on the left to adjust to different periods.)

Now what? 

Are these the pages you expected? Any pages glaringly missing from the report? This report helps you quickly pinpoint the pages that need more “SEO” optimization.

How? Because if you notice that key pages of your website–perhaps your core product pages, your main service pages, the big blog post your team spent weeks on, etc.–are missing from or are near the bottom of the SEO Pages report, this means those key pages are likely not ranking well in the search engines when your prospects are “googling.”

This tells you that it’s time to optimize these pages so they can start generating more traffic, conversions, and sales for the business. If you’re not sure how to optimize your web pages, see SEO Sprints on SprintMarketer.com.

Bonus Tip: Sorting

If you want to sort the report by another metric other than Entrances–for example, conversions–simply drag that metric to the top of the “VALUES” list under “Tab Settings.” In doing so, you will be able to quickly report on which pages of your site are responsible for generating the most conversions from SEO traffic.

1673544607 194 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under

Step 2: Create your SEO Profiles report

Because we’ve already created the SEO Pages report, we will use a shortcut to create the SEO Profiles report. Let’s dive in.

  1. Click Explore. Click Explore in the left menu.
    1673544608 162 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Duplicate the SEO Pages report. On the next screen, find your SEO Pages report > click the 3 dots to the right of your SEO Pages report > select Duplicate.
    GA4 SEO reports - SEO Pages
IMPORTANT: Don’t see it? If you do not see the option to click Duplicate, your access to GA4 is set too low. You need to ask your GA4 administrator to upgrade your access so you can create reports. Once you’ve done that, come back and continue the steps.

 

  1. Rename the duplicated report. A new report will appear and it will be named “Copy of SEO Pages” > click the 3 dots to the right of that report > select Rename > change the name to “SEO Profiles” > Submit.
    1673544608 372 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Create your Device category report to profile the devices your SEO traffic uses to access your website.
    1. Open the report. Click on the name of your SEO Profiles report to open it > now it’s time to modify our dimensions so you only see the dimensions that give you insight into the “profiles” of your SEO visitors.
    2. Remove old dimension. Under the “Tab Settings” column, hover over the Landing page + query string dimension located under “ROWS” > then click on the X to remove it from the list of dimensions. This will make your report “disappear” because there is no dimension selected, but not to worry–we will bring it back right away.
      1673544609 611 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    3. Add new dimension. Double-click the Device category dimension. This will move the Device category dimension under “ROWS” in the “Tab Settings” column. Voila, your report has now reappeared.
      GA4 SEO reports - adding new dimensions
    4. Rename your table. Now that your Device category report has been created, you need to change the name of the table from Landing pages > Click on the words Landing pages > type “Device” > click Enter on your keyboard.
      1673544609 368 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    5. Sorting. I prefer to sort this report by Total users so I can know the device preference of my individual users–this way, I’m not sorting by Views, Entrances, Sessions, or other metrics that may be inflated by a small number of users who visit frequently. To sort the report by Total users, simply drag the Total users metric to the top of the “VALUES” list under “Tab Settings.”
      1673544610 90 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    6. You’ve created valuable data. Your new Device category report gives you insight into the profile of your SEO traffic by telling you their preferred devices (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.). This is helpful in case your website experience is faulty or glitchy on certain devices, in which case if that device shows up near the top of your report, it should be a priority to fix those issues.
  3. Create your Browser report to profile the browsers your SEO traffic uses to access your website.
    1. Duplicate. Creating this report will be a breeze because you only need to duplicate the previous report and make some quick changes. Click on the arrow next to “Device” > select Duplicate
      1673544610 583 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    2. Rename table. A new table will appear. Let’s rename it > Click on the words Device in the new table > type “Browser” > click Enter on your keyboard.
    3. Remove old dimension. Under the “Tab Settings” column, hover over the Device category dimension located under “ROWS” > then click on the X to remove it from the list of dimensions. This will make your report “disappear” because there is no dimension selected, but not to worry–we will bring it back right away.
    4. Add new dimension. Double-click the Browser dimension. This will move the Browser dimension under “ROWS” in the “Tab Settings” column. Voila, your report has now reappeared.
    5. Sorting. Make sure your table is sorted by Total users. If not, here’s how: To sort the report by Total users, simply drag the Total users metric to the top of the “VALUES” list under “Tab Settings.”
    6. You’ve created valuable data. Your new Browser report gives you insight into the profile of your SEO traffic by telling you their preferred browsers. This is helpful in case your website experience is faulty or glitchy on certain browsers, in which case if that browser shows up near the top of your report, it should be a priority to fix those issues.
      1673544610 497 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  4. Create your additional profile reports. Follow the steps in bullet 5 to create tables for all the additional dimensions such as City, Country, Age, Gender, Interest, and any other dimensions you may have added in Step 3 when you created your SEO Pages report.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Profiles report.

How to read your SEO Profiles report

What the SEO Profiles report tells you

Each tab of your new SEO Profiles report provides an insight into your SEO audience. For example, you know their device preferences, their browser preferences, their ages, their interests, their top locations, and more. (You can change the time frame on the left to adjust to different periods.)

Now what? 

With this information, you can confidently define or redefine who your ideal customer is and use this invaluable information to:

  • Rework the wording your use on your website so it’s more effective for this group
  • Redefine the audiences you’re using for your ads (if you’re running ads)
  • Update the wording you use in your offline messages to align with your audience and more.

Understanding who your audience is and speaking their language is a marketing superpower that can create emotional connections between you and your potential customers, and drive up conversions and sales.

Step 3: Create your SEO Paths report

IMPORTANT: Do you have events set up? This SEO Paths report requires that you have added events and conversions to your GA4 property. For example, have you configured your “purchase” or “lead” events so GA4 knows how to spot your conversions? If not, search for articles on this site, or see Analytics (GA4) Sprints on SprintMarketer.com.

 

In this step, we will build two powerful reports. The first one is your Traffic Flow report which tells you how all SEO visitors navigate your website, and the second is your Conversion Flow report which tells you how your *SEO visitors who converted into leads or sales* navigated your website.

Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Click Explore. Click Explore in the left menu.
    1673544611 720 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Duplicate the SEO Pages report. On the next screen, find your SEO Pages report > click the 3 dots to the right of your SEO Pages report > select Duplicate.
    1673544611 962 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
IMPORTANT: Don’t see it? If you do not see the option to click Duplicate, your access to GA4 is set too low. You need to ask your GA4 administrator to upgrade your access so you can create reports. Once you’ve done that, come back and continue the steps.

 

  1. Rename the duplicated report. A new report will appear and it will be named “Copy of SEO Pages” > click the 3 dots to the right of that report > select Rename > change the name to “SEO Paths ” > Submit.
    1673544611 128 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Open the report. Click on the name of your SEO Paths report to open it > now it’s time to modify your report. Let’s dive in.
  3. Start new report. Click the + sign next to the Landing Pages report > Select Path exploration.
    1673544611 320 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  4. Click Start over. Click Start over to clear everything in the existing report.
    1673544611 911 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  5. Delete old report. Click on the old Landing Pages report > click on the arrow next to its name < select Delete.
    1673544612 216 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  6. Rename report. Let’s give your report a more intuitive name. Click on the words Path exploration in the report > type Traffic Flow > click Enter on your keyboard.
    1673544612 857 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  7. Add new dimension. Double-click the Device category dimension. This will move the Device category dimension under “ROWS” in the “Tab Settings” column.
    1673544612 424 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  8. Apply segment. Double-click the Organic Search Traffic segment to apply it to the new report (since we started over).
    1673544613 114 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  9. Remove old metrics. Under the “Tab Settings” column, hover over Event count located under “METRICS” > then click on the X to remove it from the report.
    1673544613 695 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  10. Add new metric. Double-click the Total users metric. This will move the Total users metric under “METRICS” in the “Tab Settings” column and apply it to your report.
    1673544613 505 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  11. Build your Traffic Flow report. This report shows how your SEO visitors navigated your site once they landed on it. This is a fantastic report for confirming whether the path you think people should take is indeed the path they are taking.
    1. Set Starting Point. Let’s begin by telling this report what we consider a starting point for traffic to our website. Click Drop or select node inside the Starting Point text on the report > select Event name > select session_start
      1673544613 413 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under1673544613 495 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    2. Rename steps. Click on the dropdown menu under STEP +1 > select Page title and screen name. This will expose the names of the pages that your visitors visit during their session. The bigger groupings represent the most visited pages.
      1673544613 739 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    3. Reading this report. For example, in the screenshot below, I can see that, for the date range selected, after leaving the Google Online Store, the majority of the SEO visitors navigated to the Home page followed by the Men’s / Unisex Apparel page, followed by several other pages. I now know that people go back to the home page when I don’t expect them to–which could indicate that the calls-to-action on the Google Online Store page may not be clear.
      1673544613 605 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    4. Add more paths. (1) Double-click any blue bar to expose additional visitor paths and see how your visitors navigated from one page to another. (2) Hover your mouse over any blue bar to see that page’s visitor breakdown by Device category. See the screenshot below.
      1673544613 307 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Traffic Flow report.

  1. Build your Conversion Flow report. This report is a superb companion to the Traffic Flow report because it shows how users who converted navigated your site before they converted. This is a fantastic report for verifying if the funnel you think people should take is indeed the funnel they are taking.
    1. Duplicate. Click the arrow next to the Traffic Flow report > Duplicate > Rename the new report Conversion Flow > click Start over to clear the existing report. It’s now time to quickly create your Conversion Flow report.
    2. Set Ending Point. Let’s begin by telling this report what we consider to be an ending point (conversion event). Click Drop or select node inside the Ending Point text on the report > select Event name > search for and choose the event that represents the conversion you’ve set up for your website, for example, purchase, generate_lead, or etc.
      1673544613 313 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under1673544614 736 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    3. Rename steps. Click on the dropdown menu under STEP +1 > select Page title and screen name. This will expose the names of the pages that your visitors visit during their session. The bigger groupings represent the most visited pages.
      1673544614 63 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    4. Reading this report. For example, in the screenshot below, I can see that, for the date range selected, the weakest link in the checkout process is from the Shopping Cart to the Checkout. Now I know that we need to get better at encouraging people to check out once they’ve added items to their cart.
      1673544614 412 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
    5. Add more paths as needed. (1) Double-click any blue bar to expose additional visitor paths and see how your visitors navigated from one page to another.(2) Hover your mouse over any blue bar to see that page’s visitor breakdown by Device category. See the screenshot below.
      1673544614 955 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under

Congratulations! You have successfully created your SEO Conversion Flow report.

How to read your SEO Paths report

What the SEO Paths report tells you

With your Traffic Flow report, you can now observe exactly how your SEO visitors experience your website and make fixes where unexpected behavior might be occurring.

With your Conversion Flow report, you can now observe the most common steps your SEO visitors take while converting into leads or customers–and you can use this knowledge to make fixes where unexpected behavior might be occurring.

Now what? 

How do our organic search traffic visitors navigate our website? What is their most common path to conversion?

Maybe you need to add a call-to-action on one of your drop-off pages, so visitors know exactly what their next step should be.

Maybe you need to add an upsell to your checkout process so you can increase your transaction value.

Maybe you need to remove or completely rework a certain page because it’s proving to have the highest drop-off rate in the funnel.

Understanding and removing roadblocks from your users’ experience is a powerful marketing technique that can help you generate more conversions and sales from your existing traffic without having to generate new traffic.

Let’s summarize

Google Analytics 4 can feel daunting for all marketers, and SEOs are no exception. But with these quick and mighty GA4 SEO “P” reports, those of us who manage search engine optimization campaigns can easily monitor and communicate the impact of organic search traffic on the business.

Bonus: Sharing your GA4 SEO reports

When you first create an exploration, only you can see it. Would it be valuable for you to share your 3 reports with other members of your team? If so, this bonus is for you.

Sharing your Explore reports

  1. Click on the report you want to share
  2. In the upper right, click Share exploration 1673544615 888 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  3. That’s it. Anyone who has a Viewer role (or higher) in your GA4 property will be able to see your report when they log in and go to Explore.
  4. If you’re not sure how to create Viewers or any other roles inside GA4, it’s very easy. Just go to Admin > click Access Management in the Account or Property column > Assign roles to new or existing members. If you get stuck here, check out this access management article from Google.

Exporting your Explore reports

  1. In the upper right, click Export data.
    1673544615 123 Three must have GA4 SEO reports you can build in under
  2. Select the export format:
  • Google Sheets
  • TSV (tab-separated values)
  • CSV (comma-separated values)
  • PDF
  • PDF (all tabs)

When you export to Sheets, TSV, or CSV formats, all the data available in the selected visualization is exported. This may be more data than is currently displayed. When you export to PDF, only the data currently displayed in the visualization is saved.

Happy SEO GA4 reporting!


Mary Owusu is CEO at Sprint Marketer, Professor of Digital Marketing & Analytics, President-Elect at the Digital Analytics Association Board. Mary is also an ATHENA Award Winner and FOUR Under 40 Emerging Leaders (AMA).

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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Google Announces Gemma: Laptop-Friendly Open Source AI

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Google Announces Gemma: Laptop-Friendly Open Source AI

Google released an open source large language model based on the technology used to create Gemini that is powerful yet lightweight, optimized to be used in environments with limited resources like on a laptop or cloud infrastructure.

Gemma can be used to create a chatbot, content generation tool and pretty much anything else that a language model can do. This is the tool that SEOs have been waiting for.

It is released in two versions, one with two billion parameters (2B) and another one with seven billion parameters (7B). The number of parameters indicates the model’s complexity and potential capability. Models with more parameters can achieve a better understanding of language and generate more sophisticated responses, but they also require more resources to train and run.

The purpose of releasing Gemma is to democratize access to state of the art Artificial Intelligence that is trained to be safe and responsible out of the box, with a toolkit to further optimize it for safety.

Gemma By DeepMind

The model is developed to be lightweight and efficient which makes it ideal for getting it into the hands of more end users.

Google’s official announcement noted the following key points:

  • “We’re releasing model weights in two sizes: Gemma 2B and Gemma 7B. Each size is released with pre-trained and instruction-tuned variants.
  • A new Responsible Generative AI Toolkit provides guidance and essential tools for creating safer AI applications with Gemma.
  • We’re providing toolchains for inference and supervised fine-tuning (SFT) across all major frameworks: JAX, PyTorch, and TensorFlow through native Keras 3.0.
  • Ready-to-use Colab and Kaggle notebooks, alongside integration with popular tools such as Hugging Face, MaxText, NVIDIA NeMo and TensorRT-LLM, make it easy to get started with Gemma.
  • Pre-trained and instruction-tuned Gemma models can run on your laptop, workstation, or Google Cloud with easy deployment on Vertex AI and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).
  • Optimization across multiple AI hardware platforms ensures industry-leading performance, including NVIDIA GPUs and Google Cloud TPUs.
  • Terms of use permit responsible commercial usage and distribution for all organizations, regardless of size.”

Analysis Of Gemma

According to an analysis by an Awni Hannun, a machine learning research scientist at Apple, Gemma is optimized to be highly efficient in a way that makes it suitable for use in low-resource environments.

Hannun observed that Gemma has a vocabulary of 250,000 (250k) tokens versus 32k for comparable models. The importance of that is that Gemma can recognize and process a wider variety of words, allowing it to handle tasks with complex language. His analysis suggests that this extensive vocabulary enhances the model’s versatility across different types of content. He also believes that it may help with math, code and other modalities.

It was also noted that the “embedding weights” are massive (750 million). The embedding weights are a reference to the parameters that help in mapping words to representations of their meanings and relationships.

An important feature he called out is that the embedding weights, which encode detailed information about word meanings and relationships, are used not just in processing input part but also in generating the model’s output. This sharing improves the efficiency of the model by allowing it to better leverage its understanding of language when producing text.

For end users, this means more accurate, relevant, and contextually appropriate responses (content) from the model, which improves its use in conetent generation as well as for chatbots and translations.

He tweeted:

“The vocab is massive compared to other open source models: 250K vs 32k for Mistral 7B

Maybe helps a lot with math / code / other modalities with a heavy tail of symbols.

Also the embedding weights are big (~750M params), so they get shared with the output head.”

In a follow-up tweet he also noted an optimization in training that translates into potentially more accurate and refined model responses, as it enables the model to learn and adapt more effectively during the training phase.

He tweeted:

“The RMS norm weight has a unit offset.

Instead of “x * weight” they do “x * (1 + weight)”.

I assume this is a training optimization. Usually the weight is initialized to 1 but likely they initialize close to 0. Similar to every other parameter.”

He followed up that there are more optimizations in data and training but that those two factors are what especially stood out.

Designed To Be Safe And Responsible

An important key feature is that it is designed from the ground up to be safe which makes it ideal for deploying for use. Training data was filtered to remove personal and sensitive information. Google also used reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF) to train the model for responsible behavior.

It was further debugged with manual re-teaming, automated testing and checked for capabilities for unwanted and dangerous activities.

Google also released a toolkit for helping end-users further improve safety:

“We’re also releasing a new Responsible Generative AI Toolkit together with Gemma to help developers and researchers prioritize building safe and responsible AI applications. The toolkit includes:

  • Safety classification: We provide a novel methodology for building robust safety classifiers with minimal examples.
  • Debugging: A model debugging tool helps you investigate Gemma’s behavior and address potential issues.
  • Guidance: You can access best practices for model builders based on Google’s experience in developing and deploying large language models.”

Read Google’s official announcement:

Gemma: Introducing new state-of-the-art open models

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Photo For Everything



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A Complete Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

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A Complete Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

A mobile strategy is critical to your business presence, considering the saturation of mobile devices.

This is where app store optimization (ASO) comes into play.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What is app store optimization?
  • How does app store optimization work?
  • How do you optimize for Google Play & Apple App Store?

Whether you are new to app store optimization or simply keen to refine your approach to ASO, this post shares practical insights that are proven to maximize app store success.

What Is App Store Optimization?

Downloads, usage, and in-app spending continue to rise, but many users prefer to use a select few apps more consistently.

Discoverability has never been harder, but the rewards of locking in loyal users are bigger than ever – so maximizing visibility in app stores is crucial.

App store optimization (ASO) describes the process of optimizing the listing pages for your mobile app in app stores like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

You may come across alternative phrases like “app store marketing” or “mobile app SEO,” but they all refer to the same thing.

The goal is to maximize the visibility (and downloads) of your app for relevant searches – basically, SEO for your mobile app rather than your website.

In many ways, the optimization process for ASO is very similar to SEO; in others, not so much.

Ultimately, ASO aims to maximize app installs while product development works on monetization, engagement, retention, etc.

An effective app store optimization strategy keeps new users coming in while your development team (hopefully) keeps existing ones active and spending.

With the right retention rates, app store optimization acquires the new users you need to drive meaningful growth.

The goal of ASO is nearly always app downloads, but supplemental goals can include items such as:

  • Increased brand exposure.
  • Positive app reviews and ratings.
  • More frequent and increased volumes of app reviews.
  • Audience engagement.
  • Additional marketing channel diversification.

How Does App Store Optimization Work?

If you’re new to app store optimization, it might help to think of it as SEO for your mobile app.

Except, rather than optimizing a website to show in search engines, you’re optimizing your mobile app listings for the relevant app stores.

In this sense, you could argue ASO is more like optimizing a Google Business Profile to show in Maps and local results.

The other key difference is you’ve got two major mobile app stores to optimize for: Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

These aren’t the only two app stores worth considering, especially if you’re developing apps for other devices (TVs, games consoles, etc.), but they are the biggest – by far.

According to Statista insights from Q3 2022, here are the top three app stores based on the number of available apps:

  • Google Play: 3.55 million.
  • Apple App Store: 1.64 million.
  • Amazon Appstore: 0.48 million.

As a result, most ASO guides focus on optimizing app listings for Google Play and Apple App Store. Aside from being the top two platforms, the optimization process is a little different for each.

This is mostly due to each app store having its own algorithm – much like different search engines.

In practice, most app store algorithms are more alike than they are different. So, the basic principles of app store optimization apply to all of them. However, some stores may use the odd ranking signal that others don’t.

To keep this guide simple, we’ll start by running through the most common ranking signals for app stores, in general.

Then, we’ll take a closer look at Google Play and Apple App Store to see how they’re different.

Organic Optimization: Your ASO Foundation

The key ingredient missing from many ASO marketing delivery approaches is organic search optimization and integration of app stores within the broader organic marketing mix.

There is more overlap between ASO and SEO than direct competition between the two.

The integration of these areas, and the application of consistent focus on ASO, can support numerous search marketing gains.

You may be surprised to discover that many of the traditional search engine optimization tactics that work for search engine performance, such as Google and Bing, can also be directly applied to ASO.

Examples of this include:

  • App name, title, and URL optimization.
  • Keyword research for ASO.
  • App rating and reviews generation and handling.
  • Deep linking within mobile apps.
  • Indexation of Apps in Google search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Click-through rate (CTR) optimization.

The biggest marketing mistake, however, when it comes to integrating SEO and ASO is overlooking the role of the website in driving volumes of referral visits directly to your store page and app downloads section.

Your website should be seen as the driving force behind leading people throughout the information-seeking and buying funnel from your main online entity (your website) through to an engaged, ready-to-buy/download audience (your app store).

As content levels are limited within the app stores themselves, the more you can leverage your website content to increase app awareness and discovery to build external app authority and visibility, the greater the value, traffic, and downloads your app will receive.

The Most Important App Store Ranking Factors

Like search engines, app stores don’t reveal the details of their algorithms to the public.

That being said, the following seven ranking factors are key, functional components of all major app stores:

  • App name or title.
  • App descriptions (including keywords).
  • Installs.
  • Engagement.
  • In-app purchases and events.
  • User reviews.
  • Updates.

You can break these ranking factors into three categories: discovery, conversion, and validation.

Discovery signals help app stores connect your app with relevant searches. This includes your app name /title, description, keywords, and other contextual signals.

Conversion signals tell app stores that your listing compels users to download your app – a strong indicator that your listing should show for more relevant searches.

Finally, you’ve got validation signals (engagement, in-app purchases/events, reviews, reports/flags, etc.). These help app stores determine whether users get a positive experience after installing your app.

Positive validation signals (strong engagement, positive reviews, etc.) are an even stronger indicator that app stores should show your app to similar users.

What Do Users Want From An App Store Listing?

Optimizing your app listing for visibility is one thing; getting users to actually download your app is something else entirely.

The catch-22 here is that installs directly impact your ranking in app stores.

The more people install your app, the higher it should rank. This, in turn, should result in more installs, higher rankings once again – and so forth.

So, what are the key factors on your mobile app page that determine whether users hit the install button?

  • App icon: On most app stores, your app icon is the most visually prominent element on results pages and recommendation lists.
  • App details: This includes your app name/title and, usually, some short descriptive text explaining the purpose of your app.
  • App rating: Most platforms show the average rating/review score for your app in search results and at the top of your app listing page.
  • App description: With Google Play and the App Store, users can see a brief description on your listing page and they can click to see the full description – so that first sentence or two is crucial.
  • Visuals: This includes any feature images, screenshots, and demo videos that you can add to your listing, showcasing the key benefits and user experience of your app.
  • User reviews: Unless users are already familiar with your app, they’re probably going to browse through some reviews from existing users.

Here, you can see this in action.

Screenshot from Google Play, February 2024App Store Optimization Elements for ASO

Much like SEO, app store optimization is a careful balance of optimizing to maximize visibility in app stores while prioritizing the needs of your users.

Google Play Vs. App Store: Key Differences

Google Play and the App Store are more similar than different when it comes to app store optimization.

Firstly, the ranking factors are very similar, and the differences are mostly technical – for example, Google and Apple handle keywords differently.

Here’s a quick summary of the main ranking factors for Google Play and the App Store.

App Store Google Play
Listing Listing
App name App title
Subtitle Short description
Long description
Keywords (app name, keyword field) Keywords (all inputs), incl. keyword density
Ratings & reviews Ratings & reviews
Listing CTR Listing CTR
App performance App performance
Downloads Downloads
Engagement Engagement
Uninstall rate Uninstall rate
In-app purchases In-app purchases
Updates Updates

As you can see, there’s not much of a difference here – in fact, most of your time will be spent on things like specifications for icons, videos, and other assets for each app listing.

As a general rule, Apple is more strict with its developer guidelines and it’s usually harder to get an app approved for the App Store.

So, if you’re promoting iOS and Android apps, optimizing your listings for Apple’s guidelines will often satisfy both app stores while maintaining consistency and reducing workload.

Now, let’s take a closer look at app store optimization for Google Play and, then, the App Store.

App Store Optimization For Google Play

To give your app listing the best possible start, you’ll want to dedicate the most time to the following nine elements:

  • App title.
  • App category.
  • App descriptions.
  • App icon.
  • Feature graphic.
  • Screenshots.
  • Promo video.
  • App rating and reviews.
  • Google Play Android Vitals.

We’ll take a closer look at optimizing each of these elements, but always refer to official Google guidelines while managing app listings for Google Play.

App Title

Optimizing your app title for Google Play will feel familiar if you’re used to optimizing website titles for search.

You want to start with the product/branded name of your app and then include a brief description – in no more than a few words – using your primary keyword.

Google Play SearchScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Search

You can use up to 30 characters in your app title, but try to keep it as short and punchy as possible.

Prioritize accuracy over keyword targeting and highlight the key benefits of using your app.

App Category

Selecting the right category for your app is essential for matching with relevant searches.

For example, let’s say you’re promoting a heart rate monitoring app. In this case, “Health and Fitness” is the most appropriate category.

Google Play example 2Screenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play example 2

When users specifically search for “heart rate monitor,” the keywords in your title are a stronger signal.

However, your app category can help your app show for more general searches like “health and fitness apps” or “productivity apps.”

Crucially, users can also browse categories in the Google Play store to discover new apps without searching.

Google Play Categories ExampleScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Categories Example

For more info on selecting the right app category for Google Play, take a look at this Play Console Help page.

Short & Long Descriptions

In Google Play, your app listing includes two descriptions: A short description that shows under the About this app preview and a full description that users can reveal by clicking on the arrow highlighted below.

Google Play Descriptions - ExampleGoogle Play Descriptions - Example

You can use up to 80 characters for your short description and 4,000 characters for your full description.

In your short description, try to describe the core functionality of your app in the most compelling way possible.

Accuracy is key here, but you want to convince users to install your app – so highlight the most attractive benefits.

Your full description provides a more in-depth summary of what your app offers.

Remember that most people won’t click through to read the full description, and those who do are looking for information, not a sales pitch.

You’ll find Google’s official guidelines for creating app descriptions under the “App descriptions” section of this Play Console Help page.

App Icon

App icons show on the left side of search listings in Google Play and the top-right of app listing pages.

Google Play App Icon ExampleGoogle Play App Icon Example

These are the most prominent elements on app store results pages.

Ideally, you want an app icon that either visually describes the role of your app or leverages your brand image as a differentiator.

Designing a unique icon is more challenging if your app has a specific purpose and many competitors – e.g., a heart monitoring app.

Google Play example 3Google Play example 3

If this applies to your app, use design principles like contrast to make your listing stand out from other results.

Notice how Pulse App’s Heart Rate Monitor app stands out from the other listings above?

This is thanks to a combination of simple iconography with strong contrast, using a black background to stand out from the white Google Play results page.

Compare this to the REPS app, which uses similar iconography without a black background, and the Bodymatter app, which uses a black background but a more complex design.

Google Codelabs has an excellent tutorial on designing and previewing app icons. It includes best practices and tips for making an icon that stands out on results pages and the latest Android features, such as adaptive icons.

Feature Graphic And Promo Video

Feature graphics show on your app listing page and can also show for branded searches, paid ads, or recommendation sections on Google Play.

Until recently, you could only use images as featured graphics, but you can now use promo videos in their place.

Google Play Feature Screenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Feature

This is one of the most visible assets on your Google Play listing, so use feature graphics to capture attention and showcase the best of your app.

Google suggests:

“Use graphics that convey app or game experiences, and highlight the core value proposition, relevant context, or story-telling elements if needed.”

You’ll find more guidance on creating feature graphics under the Preview assets section of this Play Console Help page.

App Screenshots

App screenshots show in the same horizontal panel as feature graphics on your app listing page.

They’re designed to showcase the best features of your apps while showing users what the in-app experience looks like.

Google Play Screenshot ExampleScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Screenshot Example

You can include descriptive text in your screenshots to emphasize the key benefits of your app’s most important features.

Keep things descriptive, though.

Google prohibits the inclusion of performative or ranking text in screenshots, such as “app of the year” or “most popular…” and promotional information like “10% off” or “free account.”

If your app supports multiple languages, you’ll need to provide screenshots for each language version, including any translated descriptive text.

See the screenshots section of this Play Console Help page for more info.

App Ratings & Reviews

App ratings show prominently in results and at the top of the app listing pages in Google Play. Besides this, you’ve also got a prominent Ratings and reviews section as the largest element on your listing page.

Google Play Rating ReviewsScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Rating Reviews

Aside from being a ranking factor, app ratings and reviews are one of the biggest trust factors that help users choose which apps to install.

You don’t need perfect review scores but a positive (3.5+ stars) is a great asset for rankings and installs.

Your review profile also allows users to view the feedback left by others – and how you respond. Once again, how you deal with user problems is often more important than the scores or feedback itself.

You’ll need a framework in place for generating regular reviews and replying to them, engaging with reviewers, and solving user issues.

Your replies are also visible, so avoid generic responses – show new, potential users how good you are at dealing with problems.

In fact, don’t take inspiration from Google’s own support team for Google One. Privacy is great, but the tone of the reply below is more dismissive than helpful, and the exact same response appears throughout replies.

Google Play Review ExampleScreenshot from Google Play, February 2024Google Play Review Example

This feedback can also help you develop a stronger product, and users often edit their reviews, following updates or resolved tickets.

Always remember: Long-term revenue is the goal, which starts with quality app experiences, engagement, and retention.

Google Play Android Vitals

Google provides an extensive toolkit for optimizing your mobile app. Its Android vitals initiative sets out the most important usability metrics that affect the visibility of your app on Google Play.

If you’re used to optimizing websites for search, this will sound a lot like Google’s Core Web Vitals.

The principle Android vitals is similar in terms of performance affecting your search ranking, but this is a far more extensive initiative than Core Web Vitals, as it stands.

Android vitals are broken into two key components:

Core vitals

All other vitals

To maximize the visibility of your app in Google Play, keep the user-perceived crash rate below 1.09% across all devices and 8% per device, with the user-perceived ANR rate below 0.47% across all devices and 8% per device.

Google Play Bad Behaviour ExampleScreenshot from developer.android.com, February 2024Google Play Bad Behaviour Example

Take a look at the official Android vitals documentation page for more information.

App Store Optimization For App Store

For the App Store, we’ve also got nine key elements to optimize, but they’re not quite the same as Google Play:

  • App name.
  • App subtitle.
  • Categories.
  • Keywords.
  • Description.
  • App icon.
  • App previews.
  • Screenshots.
  • App ratings and reviews.

One of the key differences here is how the two platforms handle keywords. While Google analyzes your whole listing for keywords, Apple provides a single field for you to add keywords.

Again, always refer to official Apple documentation when optimizing listings for the App Store.

App Name

In the App Store, your app name simply provides a recognizable and memorable name for your mobile app.

You don’t need to worry about keywords or descriptive text here – that comes later.

App Store NameScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Name

For now, concentrate on coming up with an app name that’s easy to remember and spell while somewhat describing what your app does.

Apple offers the following advice:

“Choose a simple, memorable name that is easy to spell and hints at what your app does. Be distinctive. Avoid names that use generic terms or are too similar to existing app names.”

You can use up to 30 characters for your app name in the App Store, but try to keep it as short and punchy as possible.

App Icon

As with most app stores, the app icon is one of the most prominent elements as users browse the iOS app store. Apple provides extensive design guidelines for app icons and it’s more strict than most.

App Store IconScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Icon

So, if you’re promoting your app across the App Store, Google Play, and any other platforms, you might want to start with Apple first. In most cases, this makes it easiest to maintain a consistent design across all platforms.

Generally speaking, the same design principles apply. Keep it simple and impactful with intelligent use of iconography, color, and contrast.

Look at your competitors and try to come up with something that stands out from the other apps your target audience is likely to see.

Subtitle

Your app subtitle provides a brief description below the app name. Use this to highlight the purpose and benefits of your app in the most compelling way possible.

App Store SubtitlesApp Store Subtitles

This is your first opportunity to excite potential users about your app, so try to make an impression here. You’ve only got 30 characters to work with, which means punchy subtitles tend to do best.

You’ll want to test and refine your subtitles over time, paying close attention to CTRs and installs as you try different variations.

Categories

As with Google Play, categories are key for discoverability in the App Store.

You can assign primary and secondary categories for iOS apps to help users find your app; the primary category has the strongest weight. – so choose the most relevant one.

App Store Categories Screenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Categories

Apple provides extensive guidance for choosing app categories. Make sure you follow Apple’s guidance because selecting the wrong categories violates the App Store guidelines.

In some cases, you may find multiple categories that match your app.

For example, if you’re running a photo-sharing social media app, you could select either Photo & Video or Social Networking as your primary category.

In such cases, Apple suggests considering the following:

  • Your app’s purpose: Your primary category should be the one that best describes your app’s main function or subject matter.
  • Where users look for an app like yours: Understanding your audience will help you identify the category in which they will likely look for your app. Will they consider your app more of a social network or a photography app?
  • Which categories contain the same type of apps as yours?: Research how similar apps are categorized — users may already know to visit these categories to find this type of app.

If multiple categories accurately reflect the purpose of your app, you’re unlikely to run into any violation issues.

At this point, it’s more a question of which category matches the search and everyday use of your app – not only to maximize visibility but also to set the right expectations for users who install your app (think engagement and retention).

Keywords

While Google Play looks for keywords throughout your app listing (similar to how Google Search analyses web pages), the App Store provides a dedicated keywords field.

You can use up to 100 characters to add keywords (separated by commas – no spaces) to help users discover your app. Apple offers the following advice for choosing keywords:

“Choose keywords based on words you think your audience will use to find an app like yours.

Be specific when describing your app’s features and functionality to help the search algorithm surface your app in relevant searches.”

Apple also recommends considering “the trade-off” between ranking well for less common terms versus ranking lower for popular terms.

The most popular keywords may generate a lot of impressions and traffic, but they’re also the most competitive, which can impact CTRs and installs.

App Description

Your app description should provide a short, compelling – and informative – description of your app, highlighting its main purpose and benefits.

Similar to Google Play, you can use up to 4,000 characters in your app description, but users can only see the first two lines (and most of the third) without clicking to see more.

Apple suggests the following:

“Communicate in the tone of your brand, and use terminology your target audience will appreciate and understand. The first sentence of your description is the most important — this is what users can read without having to tap to read more.”

App Store Description ExampleScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Description Example

If you want to update your app description, you’ll have to resubmit your app listing, so it’s important to try and get this right and only make considered changes.

You can also add up to 170 characters of promotional text to the top of your app description.

Crucially, you can change this text at any time without having to resubmit your app listing, making this a great place to share the latest news and info about your app – such as limited-time sales, the latest features, or fixes from the last update.

App Previews

App previews are the App Store equivalent of promo videos.

You can add up to 30 seconds of footage to illustrate the key benefits of your app and the experience of using it.

App Store App PreviewScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store App Preview

Again, Apple has strict guidelines and specifications for app previews – make sure you tick all the right boxes.

As with most things, if you’re listing your app in the App Store and Google Play, getting your app preview approved for the App Store first should mean you can use the same format for Google Play – as long as you include footage from the Android version of your app.

Screenshots

You can add up to 10 screenshots to your app listing for the App Store.

If you don’t have an app preview, the first one to three screenshots will show in search results, so make sure these highlight the core purpose of your app.

App Store ScreenshotScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Screenshot

In your remaining screenshots, you can focus on the main features or benefits of using your app.

Try to stick to one feature or benefit per screenshot to communicate each purpose clearly.

App Ratings & Reviews

Once again, app ratings and reviews are important for maximizing visibility and installs in the App Store.

If anything, user reviews are more prominent in the App Store than Google Play, but we can’t say whether this has any meaningful impact on downloads.

App Store ReviewsScreenshot from App Store, February 2024App Store Reviews

The same general principles apply here: try to develop a regular stream of reviews and manage a positive app rating.

Again, you don’t need perfect scores, but you do need to respond to user reviews and address potential issues.

Prioritize negative reviews and respond as quickly as possible with responses that deal with issues – avoid generic, unhelpful responses.

Extra App Store Optimization Tips

App store optimization is an ongoing process that needs ongoing attention. Getting your listings approved for app stores is only the beginning.

Maximizing visibility and – more importantly – revenue from your mobile apps requires a complete product development strategy.

Here are some final, additional tips to help you drive long-term success from app store optimization:

  • Know your KPIs: Don’t get distracted by the wrong metrics and KPIs – know what you’re optimizing for and center every decision around your business goals.
  • Prioritize user experience: Visibility is one thing, but you’re not going to maximize it or take full advantage of it if people uninstall your app or rarely use it – so make sure quality product development and UX design are at the heart of your ASO strategy.
  • A/B test key app store elements: Test and optimize the most important elements on your app listings to increase visibility, CTRs, installs, and retention (descriptions, videos, screenshots, reviews, etc).
  • Master each app store’s analytics system: Google Play and the App Store both provide capable (albeit in different ways) analytics systems to help you improve visibility, revenue, and product quality – so make full use of them.
  • Promote your app with ads: Both Google and Apple provide dedicated ad systems for their respective app stores to get your app in front of more eyes.
  • Promote your apps outside of app stores: Use other marketing channels to promote your apps – social media, app directory websites, app review websites, affiliate marketers, tech publications, etc.
  • Localize your app listings: App stores can connect you with global audiences, but only if you optimize your listings for each target language and location (this is called localization) – with translated text, screenshots, videos, etc.

Conclusion

The mobile app industry still shows growth despite smartphone penetration being way past saturation.

Smartphones aren’t the only devices in people’s lives anymore, either.

Apple Vision Pro launched with over 600 compatible apps, opening another space for mobile experiences beyond the confines of traditional smartphones.

App store optimization (ASO) will become more complex as new devices and app stores emerge.

However, the rewards will also grow, and the companies already mastering ASO for today’s app stores will be first in line to benefit as emerging technologies bring new opportunities.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

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My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

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My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

I’ve used Ahrefs since 2016. I thought I was a power user, but since joining the team, I’ve discovered a bunch more use cases that I can’t imagine living without.

Here are five of my favorite ways to use Ahrefs for content marketing:

Let’s be honest: we all snoop on our competitors to see what’s working (and isn’t). But today, a lot of the most exciting content strategies live outside of the company blog: free tools, app integrations, programmatic content, you name it.

For most websites, you can use the Site structure report in Site Explorer to quickly see how the website is structured, and which parts generate the most organic traffic.

In the example below, we’re looking at Copy.ai’s site structure. We might expect their blog to drive most of their organic search traffic, but according to the Site structure report, it only accounts for 4% of organic traffic. Instead, their /tools subfolder drives almost 60% of their traffic:

Click deeper into the site structure, and you can see the individual pages generating the most traffic. In this case, three tools alone account for an estimated 20% of the entire website’s organic search traffic:

1708502174 559 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 559 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

We can even compare metrics from today to a point in the past and see how their strategy has changed. Compared to a year ago, Copy.ai has grown traffic to its /tools subfolder but removed 195 pages from its blog:

1708502174 652 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 652 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

It’s easy to track the performance of any blog as a whole. Add the URL into Site Explorer, and a second later, you’ll see key metrics:

1708502174 4 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 4 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

But for big blogs (ours has some 2.5k indexed pages), it’s harder to answer questions like:

  • Which authors are driving the most traffic?
  • How does link acquisition differ between SEO content and thought leadership content?
  • Does updating our articles with an on-page SEO tool improve performance beyond just updating them normally?

Enter Portfolios. Portfolios allow you to group a list of URLs together and view their aggregated metrics. I use one portfolio for tracking the performance of my articles:

1708502174 611 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502174 611 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

And another for tracking recent articles published by my team:

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And another still for monitoring the search performance of some of the biggest “parasite SEO” publishers (to see whether or not Google is really doing anything to combat it):

1708502175 763 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 763 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

In every case, you can click into your portfolio and see the same detailed metrics you’re used to from Site Explorer:

1708502175 207 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 207 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Portfolios has become my default way of using Ahrefs, and there are tons of use cases:

  • Compare articles written by freelancers, in-house terms, and (dare I say it) AI tools
  • See which article topics drive the most traffic
  • Analyze the performance of different content types (helpful for separating out the impact of search content and thought leadership content)
  • Monitor the performance of key competitor articles
  • Measure the impact of newly updated or rewritten articles
  • Track experiments (create one portfolio as a control and another for the articles you want to experiment on)

The hardest part of keyword research (at least for me) is always generating seed keywords.

When you have a few terms to explore, it’s easy to find long-tail variations, matching terms, related terms, you name it. But coming up with those first few topics? Not always easy, and it becomes even harder once you’ve exhausted obvious topics.

But now, we can just use a little AI brainstorming power to turn a blank page into dozens and dozens of seed keywords. In Site Explorer, just ask our little AI friend for help:

1708502175 13 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 13 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Let’s use the bog standard keyword “content marketing” as an example. Here are technical and specialized terms related to content marketing:

1708502175 654 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502175 654 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Here are emerging trends:

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And now controversial and debate-generating keywords (“quality vs quantity”—going right for the meaty topics):

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With our big list of seed keywords, hit “Search” and we’ll see the estimated search volume, keyword difficulty, and a bunch of other data points for our ideas. Click the Matching terms or Related terms reports and our list of possibilities will grow massively:

1708502176 245 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 245 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Not every idea will be a home run in terms of significant search volume, but many will—and they might be ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have considered.

It’s pretty tricky to refine a list of 300 target keywords to a realistic selection of article ideas. Many keywords will have overlapping intent, others might be subtopics that make more sense to mention as part of another topic. Tricky!

Here we’ve used AI to brainstorm seed topics and used the Matching terms report to find even more ideas. We’ve wound up with 1,622 keyword ideas in about 30 seconds of research:

1708502176 487 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 487 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Great, but also totally overwhelming. But we can make life much easier by using the Cluster by Parent Topic tab.

Parent topic aims to cluster keywords with similar or the same search intent, so you can target them all on one page instead of many.

If we wanted to target the keywords “content marketing audit” and “content audit definition”, we could instead target the parent topic “content audit”—and also rank for “content marketing audit” and “content audit definition”.

Three keyword rankings, one article.

In the image below our 1,622 keywords are grouped by their parent topic. We’ve gone from 1,622 keywords to just 162 clusters—much more manageable:

1708502176 236 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 236 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Just one of these clusters, content audit, contains 43 keywords. So by writing one article targeted at content audit, we stand to rank for 43 of the keywords we were interested in:

1708502176 706 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 706 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

Competitive SERPs are usually a never-ending game of content optimization and updating. Competitors publish new articles, or update their existing ones, and you have to update your content to avoid sliding down the rankings.

When you formulate your plan for updating an article, it’s useful to see exactly how competitors have updated their articles.

Here’s the organic traffic graph for Zapier’s most popular blog post, How to Use ChatGPT. We can see a huge increase in organic traffic starting in November 2023:

1708502176 649 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 649 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

This begs an obvious question: what happened in November? What caused the massive traffic increase? Is it something that we can learn from?

Well, good news: we can use the Page inspect report to find out.

By default, you can see the current HTML and page text for your chosen URL:

1708502176 871 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 871 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

But more importantly, we can use Page inspect to compare the on-page text at specific points in time: like just before and after their big traffic surge in November 2023. In a couple of clicks, we can actually see if Zapier updated the page in a way that might have triggered the traffic increase.

In this case, we can see entirely new sections of text that were added to the article around the time of the traffic increase, like this collection of “how to” content:

1708502176 729 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers1708502176 729 My 5 Favorite Ahrefs Use Cases for Content Marketers

There are plenty of factors that can improve search performance, but this is a powerful way of isolating the impact of on-page changes. If we were writing an article on the same topic, or refreshing an article Zapier had dethroned, this is exactly the kind of section I would consider adding.

Final thoughts

I’ve used Ahrefs for keyword research, link building, and reporting since forever, but these new-to-me workflows have made my life much easier. If you’re a content marketer, they might help you too.

Got any interesting Ahrefs workflows to share? Let me know on X or LinkedIn!



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