Connect with us

SEO

Who’s Winning Super Competitive SERPs & Why

Published

on

One of the reasons SEO is such an exciting space is that we’re constantly being challenged to innovate.

But that doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel. That just isn’t scalable – especially not at the enterprise level.

You need to keep proven tactics in your back pocket that you can adapt and modify to inform your own SEO strategy.

And so I was wondering… what useful insights can we learn in studying the keywords that enterprise-level companies are optimizing for?

This is not an exhaustive study; rather, it’s a high-level view of known ranking factors such as links, content, and user experience.

There’s much to be learned from the brands that are winning in search!

In this column, you’ll learn a process for analyzing SERPs and find tips to improve your own SEO based on what we can see others doing well in Google results.

How I Chose The Keywords For This Assessment

Before we jump into the analysis, I want to share how the keywords were chosen.

First, I searched for a list of the top enterprise companies in the U.S.

An enterprise company is a large corporation with a very large marketing budget that manages thousands of employees – think Fortune 500 companies.

I picked out 21 sites I thought would return general keywords and avoided brand-specific keywords like “iPhone.”

Then, I used Ahrefs to see what organic keywords the sites were ranking for with a keyword difficulty score of 90 and above.

I sorted the list by traffic to the site because this tells me that the web page is most likely relevant to the user’s search query. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have clicked through.

At this point, I had a list of 44 possible keywords to study.

Next, I did a quick Google search to see if there was a variety of websites on the result’s page or if one type of website dominated.

This knocked out some contenders such as “weather,” for example, because it’s a given that the weather channel, national weather service, and new stations will rank.

Finally, I settled on three enterprise-level keywords that cover a broad range of business types:

  • Retail (coffee).
  • Service industry (life insurance).
  • Fintech (NFT).

[Coffee] SERP Insights

The search engine result page (SERP) for the keyword “coffee” interested me because it’s so clean!

The SERP covers just about every possible search intent for the query, “coffee.”

And a few oddities caught my eye that may provide us further insight into how Google’s algorithm works.

This section will cover what makes “coffee” an enterprise SEO keyword with quick stats, jump into a review of what the SERP tells us, and lastly analyze the link profile and content to see what we can learn.

Coffee Keyword Stats

  • Avg. Monthly Volume: 6.6 million in the United States.
  • Difficulty Rating: 96.
  • Average CPC: $1.80.
Screenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_example_coffee

SERP Review

When you search “coffee,” you may see a carousel of shopping ads and a map of your local coffee shops.

You can read a knowledge panel with information from Wikipedia and nutrition facts sourced from the USDA on the right-hand side.

enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serpScreenshot from search for [coffee], Google, May 2022 enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serp

Followed by suggested searches for Starbucks coffee drinks, songs about coffee, and other items people often search for: tea, espresso, drink, etc.

We have Wikipedia, Peet’s Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks, National Coffee Organization, and a healthline.com article in the traditional organic results.

enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serp_2Screenshot from Google search, May 2022enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serp_2

Hmmm, I wonder why Peet’s coffee ($7.9 billion in total sales) is beating Starbucks ($24.6 billion in net revenue).

And how did the healthline.com article squeak in there?

Let’s find out!

Links Review

Peet’s Coffee has 6,900 referring domains linking to the ranking page, while Starbucks has 4,900 referring domains linking to the home page.

referring_domain_comparison_screenshot_ahrefsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022referring_domain_comparison_screenshot_ahrefs

Peet’s Coffee has approximately 1,500 internal backlinks pointing to the ranking page.

440 of the 1,500 internal backlinks have the anchor or surrounding text, including “coffee.”

internal_backlinks_peets_coffee_example_ahrefs_site_explorer_reportScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_peets_coffee_example_ahrefs_site_explorer_report

Starbucks has 13,400 internal backlinks to the ranking page; 9,600+ backlinks include “coffee” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_starbucks_example_site_explorer_ahrefsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_starbucks_example_site_explorer_ahrefs

Content Review

Peet’s home page has “coffee” in the page title and as the first menu navigation item.

Subheaders cover the topic of coffee, from roasting to the history of coffee.

The word “coffee” is counted a total of 42 times on the home page, out of a total of 1283 words.

enterprise_seo_website_example_peets_coffee_homepageScreenshot from Peet’s Coffee home page, May 2022enterprise_seo_website_example_peets_coffee_homepage

Starbucks, on the other hand, appears to use its website as an extension of its retail locations.

The home page really feels like an app to order coffee or a corporate communication board – like the digital version of a break room corkboard.

Coffee is in the page title as part of the brand’s name, but it is not the primary word on the home page.

Out of a total of 515 words, coffee is counted only 12 times.

enterprise_seo_website_example_starbucks_homepageScreenshot from Starbucks home page, May 2022enterprise_seo_website_example_starbucks_homepage

Technical SEO/UX Review

I did not run a full technical audit for this analysis, so additional factors could be at play here.

I used a schema validator and Page Speed Insights tool to quickly assess what schema is on page and the specific web page’s core web vitals.

Peet’s Coffee uses organization, webSite, Product, and Store schema, and it failed the core web vitals assessment.

Primarily in first contentful paint (FCP) and largest contentful paint (LCP).

The first input delay (FID) and cumulative layout shift (CLS) look good.

web_core_vitals_example_peets_coffeeScreenshot from Web Core Vitals report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_peets_coffee

Starbucks.com home page passes core web vitals in all four areas: FCP, LCP, FID, and CLS however, I did not detect any schema markup.

web_core_vitals_example_starbucksScreenshot from Web Core Vitals report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_starbucks

It was interesting to see position history between May 2020 and April 2021. Starbucks seems to have fallen out of the top 100 for an entire year.

Did Starbucks get hit with a penalty?

position_history_top_100_exampleScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022position_history_top_100_example

Breaking Into A Highly Competitive SERP

We have to talk about what Healthline did because it’s such a great example.

Healthline published an article, “9 Unique Benefits of Coffee,” on January 11, 2022, and began ranking in position 3 for the query “coffee” by March 04, 2022.

enterprise_seo_serp_analysis_example_healthline_coffeeScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022enterprise_seo_serp_analysis_example_healthline_coffee

Wondering how Healthline found the wedge in?

They noticed the missing piece from the SERP.

The SERP covered shopping, local shops, definition, nutrition facts, songs, recipes, and videos but not why people would be interested in drinking coffee – the benefits.

The people also ask (PAA) questions provided a solid hint with questions like: “What are the benefits of coffee?” and “Is coffee good for your health?”

If you search for “coffee benefits” or “benefits of coffee”, the Healthline article leads as an unorganized list featured snippet.

unorganized_feature_snippet_exampleScreenshot from Google Search, May 2022unorganized_feature_snippet_example

Outranking arguably more trusted websites like hopkinsmedicine.org, rush.edu, and harvard.edu.

YMYL sites should pay special attention to Healthline page structure and author profiles.

In the screenshot below, take note of how each sentence uses a “fact-checked” source, followed by a summary explaining it to readers in simple terms.

enterprise_seo_ymyl_page_structure_exampleScreenshot from Healthline web page, May 2022enterprise_seo_ymyl_page_structure_example

This is really well-written content.

One more thing – did you notice anything odd about when the Healthline article ranked?

Nearly two months passed between when the Healthline article was published and when the article ranked.

What gives?

Healthline went hard adding internal links to the “benefits of coffee” page in March 2022 (First seen March 2, 2022) – and pop – the article ranks!

“9 Unique Benefits of Coffee” currently has 266 internal backlinks; 247 include the term “coffee” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_anchor_text_exampleScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_anchor_text_example

Coffee: What We Can Learn

By analyzing the entire SERP, we can see that Google is looking to cover every possible search intent for the very basic query of “coffee.”

While Peet’s Coffee, Coffeebean.com, and Starbucks seem to dance for the top company ranking for the query – healthline.com found an opportunity by focusing on what the SERP did not contain.

However, it seems like the Healthline article did not really gain footing until the site added internal backlinks to the article using the desired search query of “coffee.”

[Life Insurance] SERP Insights

Life insurance is an interesting SERP to study because it showcases the battle of big national brands with a seemingly unlimited marketing budget (if you look at CPC numbers) for what is a relatively lower search volume.

Analyzing “life insurance” is sure to turn out some gems.

Life Insurance Keyword Stats

  • Average monthly search volume: 202k in the United States.
  • Difficulty rating: 90.
  • Average CPC: $30.
keyword_difficulty_enterprise_seo_example_life_insuranceScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022keyword_difficulty_enterprise_seo_example_life_insurance
SERP Review

When you google “life insurance” the recommended search terms are:

  • Companies: Google understands who we are trying to reach.
  • Quotes and policy: Google understands what we want from the company.
  • For seniors: Google understands the primary target audience for life insurance.
enterprise_seo_serp_review_example_life_insuranceScreenshot from search for [life insurance], Google, May 2022enterprise_seo_serp_review_example_life_insurance

Let’s click through to see Google’s search results for our enterprise SEO keyword, “life insurance.”

There are paid ads at the top, followed by a sentence-structured featured snippet for Geico.com/life-insurance that defines what life insurance means and how it works.

life_insurance_serp_screenshotScreenshot from Google Search, May 2022life_insurance_serp_screenshot

People Also Ask common questions are:

  • What are the three main types of life insurance?
  • What is life insurance and how does it work?
  • What is the average life insurance cost per month?
  • What is life insurance used for?

Knowing the recommended search terms and reading the PAA questions, we can conclude that people who search for [life insurance] want to know what life insurance is for and how much it costs.

Let’s see what we can learn from Geico’s featured snippet compared to competitors.

Links Review

Geico has 367 referring domains to the ranking page.

And has 155 of the 1,200 internal backlinks pointing to the ranking page, including “life insurance” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_example_geicoScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_example_geico

Investopedia is a contender for the top-ranking site and has significantly more referring domains than Geico or Liberty Mutual.

Significantly more, 1,100 referring domains versus Geico’s 367 and Liberty Mutual’s 300.

referring_domains_ahrefs_screenshotScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022referring_domains_ahrefs_screenshot

Of Investopedia’s 726 internal backlinks, 711 are going to the ranking page, including the term “life insurance” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_anchor_text_example_InvestopediaScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_anchor_text_example_Investopedia

Content Review

Geico’s home page H1 reads, “Life Insurance Quotes,” followed immediately by an H2 that reads, “See how affordable a life insurance policy can be.”

The first paragraph of the Geico web page addresses the primary question, “What is life insurance?” as an H2.

The paragraph leads off with “Life insurance is…,” and these first two sentences are pulled into the featured snippet for the life insurance search query.

enterprise_seo_description_example_life_insuranceScreenshot from Geico website, May 2022enterprise_seo_description_example_life_insurance

The term life insurance is used 49 times on the page with a total word count of 1922, which pales in comparison to Investopedia’s 5504 words!

Investopedia’s Page title is SEO perfection.

Note how it includes the keyword and its three support terms, life insurance, policies, and companies.

seo_title_tags_example_investopediaScreenshot from Investopedia page source, May 2022seo_title_tags_example_investopedia

The page content starts with no introduction, just jumping right into an H1 “What is Life Insurance?

We find a definition for life insurance (just like Geico), “Life insurance is a contract between an insurer and a policy owner….”

enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_investopediaScreenshot from Investopedia web page, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_investopedia

To highlight the pattern for this SERP a little bit more, I’m also showing you the fourth-ranking web page Liberty Mutual.

Just like Geico, Liberty Mutual stacks an H1 “Life Insurance” on top of an H2 “Ensure financial security for your family.”

Followed by a CTA box for starting a quote.

Scroll a bit further down the page and you will see an H2 for “What is a life insurance policy?”

Note that the header includes the additional word “policy.”

This approach didn’t pay off as Geico took the featured snippet for the search query, [What is a life insurance policy?] as well.

enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_liberty_mutualScreenshot from Liberty Mutual web page, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_liberty_mutual

The trouble for Liberty Mutual is that the text following the H2 is not a definition.

It is sales language, explaining what the user gets when purchasing a life insurance policy.

Technical SEO/UX Review

Geico uses FAQ schema page markup for the accordion questions and answers at the bottom of the page.

This does not give the webpage a boost as it is not ranking on the first page for those queries.

Running the page path through Google’s page speed insights tool and Geico fails the core web vitals assessment.

Doing significantly poorly in the areas of first contentful paint (FCP) and largest contentful paint (LCP).

web_core_vitals_example_geicoScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_geico

 

Investopedia (position 2) uses article schema and passed core web vitals with all four areas in the green.

web_core_vitals_example_investopediaScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_investopedia

Liberty Mutual Insurance (position 4) uses breadcrumb and financial product schema. It passed the mobile core web vitals assessment by Google, with all four areas in the green.

web_core_vitals_example_liberty_mutualScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_liberty_mutual

Life Insurance: What We Can Learn

By analyzing the featured snippet, we can see that the result Google is looking for is a definition.

The top-ranking pages all have the first H2 as “What is life insurance…” and the following subsequent text “Life insurance is (insert definition here.).”

Now, why is Geico outranking Investopedia when Investopedia is faster, and the quality of content is significantly better?

Well, step back and consider the singular web page in the context of Google’s full understanding of the website.

The Geico website is a company that sells insurance.

The Investopedia website educates consumers on all things related to finance.

Remember the common theme among related search queries and the PAA?

It gives us an additional hint about who people want to hear from when they search “life insurance.”

Google has determined that people want to know what life insurance is AND how much it costs.

Google has also determined that the closest recommended search query is “life insurance companies,” meaning that people are searching for:

  • What life insurance is?
  • How much does it cost?
  • And for a company to purchase life insurance from.

It makes sense that Google would place a website that sells insurance above a website that provides information.

It would be interesting to see what happens if Investopedia places a form for life insurance quotes on its web page.

Or, if Liberty Mutual updated their definition for what life insurance is.

[NFT] SERP Insights

Crypto and NFT were two terms that had made it into the initial top 40 enterprise SEO keywords.

Given the virility of the queries, I had to include at least one in this review.

NFT had greater search volume, a higher difficulty rating, and a more interesting SERP.

Crypto.com was winning for “crypto.” Not much fun.

NFT Keyword Stats

  • Average monthly search volume: 1.6M in the United States
  • Difficulty rating: 96
  • Average CPC: $1.10
enterprise_seo_keyword_example_nftScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_example_nft

SERP Review

Google the acronym for a non-fungible token (NFT) and you’ll likely see something different depending on the day.

It’s a really volatile search with frequent position changes.

At the time of this analysis, there was a sentence-structure featured snippet by Reuters defining what NFTs are at the top of the SERP.

Note: The featured snippet changed hands three times as I wrote this article, and last I checked, it looks like the Wall Street Journal has since snagged the featured snippet.

Followed by a knowledge panel with information pulled from Wikipedia and “People also ask” questions:

  • What is NFT and how does it work?
  • What is NFT crypto?
  • What does NFT stand for in NFT?
  • What does it mean to own NFT?
enterprise_seo_keyword_serp_example_nftScreenshot from Google Search, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_serp_example_nft

We can see that Google also (currently) thinks that users searching for [nft] are looking for a definition.

After the PAA, there are informational articles from news sites The Verge and Forbes.

The first company you will find is a marketplace, OpenSea.io.

The article by Forbes is of specific interest here because Forbes began ranking for the term “NFT” on April 9, 2022, after an update to the page made on April 8, 2022.

The kicker is the original article published on April 29, 2021.

Almost an entire year earlier.

So, what switch did Forbes flip?

enterprise seo_NFT_published dateScreenshot from Forbes source code, May 2022enterprise seo_NFT_published date

Links Review

Forbes has 2.31k referring domains and 16 internal backlinks pointing to the article, 14 including the term “nft” in the anchor or surrounding text.

All backlinks (from referring domains or internal pages) were added on or after April 8, 2022.

internal_backlinks_by_anchor_text_first_seen_screenshotScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_by_anchor_text_first_seen_screenshot

Content Review

I used the web page’s core web vitals to play “find the difference” and see if I could spot any of the edits to the content made on April 8th.

I didn’t see anything.

The page title, headers, and general page structure appear exactly the same.

And, it does not appear as though any edits were made to the Forbes article before April 2022.

wayback_machine_website_updates_screenshotScreenshot from Wayback Machine, May 2022wayback_machine_website_updates_screenshot

Tech SEO/UX Review

Forbes includes NewsArticle schema and failed core web vitals assessment by Google’s page speed insights tool.

It’s honestly really close to passing though, having passed FCP, LCP, and FID. Only failing cumulative layout shift (CLS).

Forbes_web_core_vitals_screenshotScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022Forbes_web_core_vitals_screenshot

What We Can Learn

In the case of Forbes’ article on NFTs, it appears that the article sat stale for nearly a year before getting the link love it needed to rank.

Don’t forget to link to your content! Google has confirmed that internal links are a ranking factor.

Final Thoughts

Google’s algorithm is constantly changing (thousands of times a year), so there’s no magic SEO formula or tool that can rank – and maintain the rank – of high-performance keywords.

By studying enterprise SEO wins, we can gather insights into how to best optimize our web pages:

  • Analyze what Google has determined to be the user intent.
  • Look for content opportunities left on the table.
  • Use internal backlinks to tip the proverbial search result scales in your favor.

More resources: 


Featured Image: G Stock Studio/Shutterstock

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s)
{if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};
if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′;
n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,’script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);

if( typeof sopp !== “undefined” && sopp === ‘yes’ ){
fbq(‘dataProcessingOptions’, [‘LDU’], 1, 1000);
}else{
fbq(‘dataProcessingOptions’, []);
}

fbq(‘init’, ‘1321385257908563’);

fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);

fbq(‘trackSingle’, ‘1321385257908563’, ‘ViewContent’, {
content_name: ‘enterprise-seo-whos-winning’,
content_category: ‘enterprise seo-strategy ‘
});

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

SEO

The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024

Published

on

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.



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

Why Now’s The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

Published

on

By

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: 


Featured Image by author

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Published

on

By

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

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Olga Strel

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending