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Women In SEO Share Tips On Closing The Wage Gap

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Women In SEO Share Tips On Closing The Wage Gap

We’re back this Women’s Day with even more tips and advice from women in the SEO industry on how to know your worth – and command it.

This piece was originally published in 2021. Now, another year into a global pandemic and amid ongoing socioeconomic unrest the world over, our experts have more to share.

And their insights have never been more important.

COVID has worsened global inequality across the board and in America, this has translated to a deepening wage gap – especially for Black, Native American, and Latinx women.

SEO is constantly evolving according to data, consumer behavior, and algorithm trends.

But when it comes to women being treated as equals, the industry is much less evolved.

SEO is still a male-dominated industry where men outnumber women 2-to-1, according to a study conducted in 2020.

That survey found that:

  • Women are far less likely to be technical SEO professionals.
  • Women are twice as likely to freelance (see: unstable employment) as their male counterparts.
  • Men are more likely to charge monthly retainers; women are more likely to get paid by the hour or project.
  • Men’s retainers are 28.6% higher than women’s.
  • Men’s project rates were on average 66.7% higher than women’s.
  • Median hourly rates for men were 16.8% higher than for women.

And while the sample sizes for various aspects of this research were small, it is also worth noting that the study failed to account for the impact of combined gender and racial bias for Black, Indigenous, and other women of color in SEO (which the study coordinator acknowledges and regrets).

Had that been factored in, we would most likely see even more extreme differences in pay and opportunity for those women.

Despite this, many women continue to be attracted to careers and entrepreneurship in SEO and Digital Marketing.

Our world is fun, challenging, and ever-changing.

And as more women become involved in and grow in the industry, the uphill battle those women face is realized by more and more people.

It can be intimidating to ask for the rates we see in industry benchmarks and to prove our value to the companies or agencies who employ us.

In this column co-authored by Stephanie Gifford, SEO Marketing Manager at Adigma.io, we’ve asked women to share their best advice for peers and things they wish they’d known earlier in their careers.

Check out these tips for knowing your value as digital marketing and SEO professionals, getting paid fairly, and defending the title you’ve earned.

Please note that the job titles listed below reflect those of each contributor when they first submitted.

Knowing Your Value As An SEO Professional

Miracle Inameti-Archibong, Organic Performance Lead At Moneysupermaket Group:

“One of the reasons why women fail to ask for their worth is the feeling that they are not good enough. Work on that imposter syndrome.

Keep track of your accomplishments both big and small throughout the year. Don’t wait until it’s time for your review.

Don’t forget to value your soft skills as much as your hard skills it all impacts the work you do and it’s so unique to you, you deserve to be paid for it.”


Sara Taher, SEO Manager At PDFTron Systems Inc.: Sara Taher

“Being woman wearing a hijab led to my being underestimated in so many situations.

But then I realized, I need to be confident first inside to radiate it from the outside…

Confidence isn’t the same as competence; I know I’m good at my job… and all I need to do is to raise my confidence level to be as high as my experience as an SEO professional…

I’ve been working on that since last year, it’s not an easy journey but I’m getting there hopefully soon!”


Robyn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer Of Marketplace Blueprint: Robyn Johnson

“If I know that I am good at what I do, and believe that I provide a product that will make a difference to a client, I am doing them a disservice if I don’t assertively make that offer.

I found earlier on that I didn’t want to ‘pressure’ people, and then those same customers would go purchase with someone who had slick marketing or a more aggressive sales process even when they had less experience and expertise.

Consider who your customers might go with if you don’t communicate your offer and the value you bring to the table.

You aren’t tooting your own horn to gloat or be prideful; you need to accurately highlight your skills and your value so that your customers or potential employers can determine if your offering will really get the results they need.”


Julia McCoy, Coach & Strategist At The Content Hacker: Women In SEO Share Tips On Closing The Wage Gap

“Give yourself an annual task of re-assessing your rates.

Every year, without fail, audit what you charge and increase as needed. You should be charging more as your experience, skills, and credibility/tenure grows.

Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from claiming your rightful place in the market. Back it up by boldly talking about the work you’ve done, and goals you’ve smashed for clients!”


Chelsea Alves, Sr. Content Marketing Specialist At Rio SEO: Women In SEO Share Tips On Closing The Wage Gap

“As a woman, knowing your professional value not only builds confidence but extends to the work you produce. This in turn leads to higher quality work, increased satisfaction with your job, and likelihood for promotion.

Stagnation can be a career killer. Instead, we must strive to push past our comfort zones.

To do this, I encourage women to continue to enhance your skills, broaden your networks, and ask for mentorship when needed to truly leave your mark in the SEO world.”


Navah Hopkins, President At Navah Hopkins LLC: Navah Hopkins

“On general value: Use data! Before you set rates or go into a salary negotiation, look up what others are charging/being paid.

Don’t be afraid to have different rates for different projects and always make sure you’re accounting for overhead (taxes, utilities, software, etc.).

Here’s to all the amazing power women knowing their value and being paid appropriately for our brilliance!”


Jenise Uehara Henrikson, CEO Of Alpha Brand Media, Home Of Search Engine Journal: Women In SEO Share Tips On Closing The Wage Gap

“When in doubt… go for it. Apply for that job, ask for that raise, ask for more $$$ in your proposal.

In the workplace, women in general tend to hang back and ask for less. A recent LinkedIn study showed that women apply to 20% fewer jobs than men.

Another famous study found women feel they need to meet 100% of the job criteria before they will apply… while men usually apply after meeting ~60%.

Women are twice as likely as men to report a total lack of comfort when asking for a raise. We need to ask for more. And when we don’t get it? Instead of giving up, learn to take a different approach, dust yourself off, and try again.

It’s taken me a long time to evolve my reaction to rejection: that it is not a verdict on me and my worth and I should just stop. Rather, I’m learning from failure, so that I can try again, fail better, and eventually… succeed.”


Ivy Boyter, SEO & Content Manager At GYBO Digital Marketing: Ivy Boyter

“As someone with HR experience from years ago, your title won’t matter as much as the meat you can put into your resume… the data and results that matter to who is looking to hire someone.

Show what you bring to the table by including valuable measurements in your descriptions instead of the day-to-day activities.

In general, though, titles can help you research what pay ranges you may expect.

There are plenty of websites that will help you discover pay ranges based on position, years of experience, where you live, etc. And I agree with PP… negotiate high (read “Never Split the Difference” if you want to learn serious negotiation skills ).

Finally, if you can’t get the $$, benefits like vacation/PTO are sometimes negotiable for the right candidate.”


Negotiating Rates And Raises: Practical Tips From Women In SEO

Rue Walker, Owner Of Walker Web Consultation:Rue Walker

“I work with small businesses who often have tight budgets.

I always want to respect the investment in my services, so I prepare monthly reports that detail exactly what I have provided and show clear results.

Then, when I ask for a raise, I have a record of success.

I will also offer to work for three months at a lower rate of pay with the option to negotiate a raise to my preferred pay scale once I have shown results.”


Motoko Hunt, President – Search Marketing Consultant At AJPR LLC:Motoko Hunt

“Show your value in terms of business data, not just because you’ve been there for X number of years or you put X number of hours but because your work grew (contributed to growing) business X% or increased the revenue by $X.

Also, always keep paper/digital records of communications, projects, etc.; whatever proves what you did/said.”


Shelly Fagin, Director, Growth Marketing At Credit Karma: Women In SEO Share Tips On Closing The Wage Gap

“Never be afraid to negotiate if the offer isn’t right for you. I do believe women tend to negotiate less out of fear of being seen as aggressive or demanding.

On the flip side, if someone isn’t willing to give you what you deserve don’t be afraid to walk away.

If the company or client really understands your value, they’ll work with you. If they don’t, you probably dodged a bullet.”


Anna Crowe, SEO Strategist At Hello Anna Branding: Anna Crowe

“Stop giving away your number.

I’ve worked both in-house and in freelance life.

Over the past four years, after talking to my friends about their salaries and rates, I realized how underpaid I was. I would get to the negotiation and lowball myself.

I was following the motto’s of “Hustle hard” and “Slay your day.” But, in reality, following advice from an Instagram quote doesn’t pay your bills.

I realized it’s all about how you finesse the numbers.

First, I came up with my line in the sand of what I needed to make to survive. Then add a little extra ($10,000-$15,000 per year).

When you’re asked for a number, ‘What is your budget?’ or ‘What are your salary requirements?’ Flip the script. Ask your client or potential boss what their budget or salary range is.

You might be surprised with the number you get back.

The first time I did this, I was going to quote $3,000 per month.

By the end of the conversation, I had more than tripled my money. It’s like poker, don’t show your cards. I had undercut my company, my self-worth, and my time. I was just happy to win a client.

Now, I understand my bottom line. And, I’m comfortable saying no, whether it be to clients or a project.”


Robyn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer Of Marketplace Blueprint:

Robyn Johnson

“Don’t base your prices on what you are ‘worth.’ I know that sounds counterintuitive but what if you have self-worth issues? That made me tend to underprice my services.

Instead of focusing on ‘What I am worth?’ I now ask myself, ‘How much value will I bring to this client?’

Focusing on the value I bring to the customer allows me to separate my service fees from how I might be feeling about myself on any given day.”


Bibi Raven, Founder Of Bibibuzz: Bibi Raven

“I think a lot of women have the notion that negotiation has to be confrontational, so they try to avoid going into it full-heartedly.

They also don’t like putting themselves in the spotlight and feel that talking about their accomplishments is a bad thing.

What I’ve learnt works best is this:

Assess your own worth, and then double that (as you’re probably aiming too low, and the negotiation result might end up lower).

Determine your BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. This is one of the pillars of the Harvard Method. It means that prior to a negotiation, you determine when you will walk away from the table.

It’s a great safeguard against agreeing to something you’re not comfortable with.

Don’t take it personally. Separate what you do for work and business from your personal worth. Rejection in a negotiation does not say anything about who you are.

Of course, the other party might mean it personally, but you don’t have to play along. Water off a duck’s back.

Be as laidback as possible. The weird thing is, when the other party notices you’re relaxed, they often tend to agree with you. If you don’t know what I mean, watch the movie “Office Space.”

Use “okay, and…” when the other party offers something you don’t want but it’s not quite at BATNA level, create an opening for yourself.

Don’t say no right away, but create an opening by countering with a demand that will make theirs acceptable.

For instance, when they say: we want you to start working full-time, then you say: Hey cool, but I’d like three months paid leave with that.

If you have this idea stuck in your head that you’re simply not that kind of person to ask for things, pretend you’re someone else that you admire and channel them.”


Why Titles Still Matter In SEO

Angie Nikoleychuk, Content Marketing Manager at Search Engine Journal: Angie Nikoleychuk

“Titles are as much about your pay and your responsibilities as they are a signal to others.

In the early days of my career, for example, I quickly learned that marketing my services as a “freelancer” seemed to reduce the quality of the jobs coming in and the pay for that work.

It improved significantly after listing myself as a copywriter and content provider.

And while a title can signal your level of experience and expertise to others, that quickly dissipates when you get down to work.

Holding a title doesn’t always equate to the levels of confidence, support, and money you need to do your job.

No matter what title you hold, you won’t be able to achieve great things without a team that supports your efforts and has confidence in your abilities.

It also depends on your ability to speak up and demonstrate your value. Don’t be afraid to brag in a tasteful way and make sure you claim credit for your work.

Women have traditionally been taught to avoid conflict and not make waves, but it’s difficult to stand out if you spend all your time blending in. It pays to be bold in the right moments.

After all, if you’re not comfortable with your work and fail to recognize its value, no one else will. Title or not.”


Libby Stonehawk, Co-owner Of Stonehawk Digital: Libby Stonehawk

“I seriously undersold myself at the start by calling myself ‘junior’ in my job title and charged way too little, working myself to a plump while over-delivering.

I soon realized that many so-called experts (usually male) knew about as much as me but would mystify clients with SEO jargon so they would not ask any questions!

When my husband started to freelance with me under the name Stonehawk Digital, during client pitches a lot of the more technical questions were directed to my husband even though I had the formal training.

If I could go back I’d say leave out the ‘junior’ designation, charge more, and connect with other women in tech earlier for advice and support.”


Navah Hopkins, President At Navah Hopkins LLC:

Navah Hopkins

“Never allow yourself to be called ‘associate’ or ‘junior’ anything. You’re a strategist, consultant, or specialist at entry-level.

If you’re a rockstar individual contributor with no desire to manage people, get a ‘senior’ or ‘team lead’ added to whatever function you perform.

‘Director’ and above tends to be faster to secure at smaller companies, and typically demands you have just as much business strategy at your back as digital marketing.

For agency owners: you’re a CEO unless you’ve handed control to someone else. We all tend to think of CEOs as the boss. President can work, too!”


Rachel Libby, Marketing Director at Buy Box Experts: Rachel Libby

“I learned early on that if I wanted to quickly progress and grow in my career, I had to be hungry for opportunities and proactively seek out paths that took me where I wanted to be.

Those experiences weren’t going to fall in my lap simply by paying my dues and sticking to routine. I had to chase each opportunity, take risks, and pursue the things that ultimately gave me the growth I desired.

I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with colleagues that saw my talent, ultimately helping me realize my full potential and what I was capable of achieving. That encouragement has always been helpful to me when the road inevitably gets tough.

Ultimately, my advice is to really think about where you’d like to be in 10 years. What are you doing? How much money are you making? What does your work/life balance look like? What makes you happy?

Then create a plan that gets you there little by little with small, doable, daily goals. Be flexible with your dreams and patient with yourself and your journey.

Lastly, surround yourself with a supportive network that believes in you and sees your potential. That encouragement will get you through the growing pains that always inevitably come.”


Top Takeaways For Women In SEO

Know Your Value:

  • Keep track of your success with measurable data.
  • Have confidence and work on combating imposter syndrome.
  • Communicate and accurately highlight your skills.
  • Review and re-evaluate professional rates and pricing annually.
  • Continue to hone your skills and build connections.

How To Negotiate More Successfully:

  • Show your growth in experience in skills through data.
  • Keep records of results of successful projects and results.
  • Don’t be afraid to push back and negotiate more for the right price or walk away if it isn’t right for you.
  • Know your bottom line and ask the right questions.
  • Focus on the value you bring to clients.

Why Titles Still Matter In SEO:

  • Don’t undercut yourself by accepting titles with ‘associate’ or ‘junior’ in it, titles can always be tweaked to not feel like it’s selling yourself short.
  • At entry-level, focus on ‘strategist’, ‘specialist’, or ‘consultant.’
  • ‘Director’ and above can be more easily attained in smaller companies but requires equal parts technical expertise and business and marketing strategy.
  • Envision your ideal career path and take incremental steps to get there.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together.

We need to remember that the value we bring to the companies and clients we work for and with, is different than our value as individuals.

Keeping track of our successes and the results will push us all forward to better advancement and futures to show the value we bring to the table.

It can be challenging to find and link up with other women in the industry, so we would like to provide some additional resources to connect with more women in SEO.

These are among the solid and supportive communities we use to connect with women in SEO:

More Resources:


Featured Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock




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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You’ll Face in 2024

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The 6 Biggest SEO Challenges You'll Face in 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with it:

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

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

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

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

Ahrefs Site Explorer screenshotAhrefs Site Explorer screenshot

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

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

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

Follow SEO best practices

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

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

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

Monitor the latest SEO news

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

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

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

And these days, your competitors will:

How to deal with it:

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

Spy on your competitors and monitor their strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And much, much more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with it:

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

Make your website the best it can be

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

Prevent Google from showing your website in an AI Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s Quora’s traffic increase:

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

How to deal with it:

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

Focus on targeting the right keywords using keyword research

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

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

Effort to reward ratio illustrationEffort to reward ratio illustration

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

To do this:

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

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

Build more links to become more authoritative

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

Write deep content

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

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

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

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

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

How to deal with it:

Here’s the process I use:

Steal this content updating framework

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

Use Page Inspect with Overview to identify pages that need updating

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was focused on achieving three aims with this update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How long does SEO take illustrationHow long does SEO take illustration

How to deal with it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

Got questions? Ping me on X.



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Why Now’s The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

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Why Now's The Time To Adopt Schema Markup

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

Why is that so, you might ask?

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

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

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

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

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

Schema Markup For Rich Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: October 2023 Web Data Commons Report)

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

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

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

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

Help AI Search Engines Understand Your Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Control Of AI By Shaping Your Data With Schema Markup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use Schema Markup As The Catalyst For AI

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

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

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

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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

Home Activities Rich Results

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

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

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

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

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

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

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

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

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

Home activities

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