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YouTube NewFront 2023 Showcased Shorts

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YouTube NewFront 2023 Showcased Shorts

On Monday, May 1, the annual YouTube NewFront showcased new ways to build awareness with YouTube Shorts to reach Gen Z.

The brands, agencies, and media buyers who attended the event at Google’s Pier 57 in New York City were just beginning four days of presentations.

So, YouTube tried to give the audience three key messages that they would remember by the time TikTok made its presentation on Thursday evening, May 4.

As I walked into Pier 57, it wasn’t hard to figure out what Big Red’s first message was: “YouTube Shorts is now averaging more than 50 billion daily views.”

Later I learned that, out of YouTube’s billions of monthly logged-in viewers, 1.5 billion are watching Shorts.

Image taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

When I opened the YouTube NewFront program, it was obvious what the company’s second key message was: “Gen Z and YouTube go way back.”

Now, Gen Z has never known a world without 24/7 access to content from YouTube creators.

And “74% of Gen Z YouTube viewers agree there is content on the platform they can’t get anywhere else.”

74% of Gen Z YouTube viewers agree there is content on the platform they can’t get anywhere elseImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

To drive this message home, the YouTube NewFront event featured Jon Youshaei, who talked seriously about “What matters to Gen Z viewers.”

And we learned:

  • 77% of this target demographic agree the platform allows them to curate their own entertainment.
  • 73% of YouTube’s Gen Z viewers agree the platform is the best place to get a variety of opinions on a topic.
  • Over half of YouTube’s Gen Z viewers say they like the platform’s creators because they are “real and authentic.”

Then, Youshaei and Asia Jackson, Larray, and Darcei Giles entertained the audience with a game show entitled “Creator Games: The Gen Z edition.”

Creator Games: The Gen Z editionImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

And I didn’t need a secret decoder ring to figure out the third key message: Kristen O’Hara, Vice President of Agency and Brand Solutions at Google, announced two “new ways to build awareness with YouTube Shorts.”

new ways to build awareness with YouTube ShortsImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

The two news announcements were:

  • Expanding Shorts into Video reach campaigns.
  • Introducing the YouTube Select Run of Shorts lineup.

If you want more details, then read “Google Bolsters Advertising On YouTube Shorts.”

So, what insightful analysis or interesting information can I add that is beyond the obvious?

Well, after attending this year’s YouTube NewFront, I kept thinking about what Jim Barksdale, who was the president and CEO of Netscape from 1995 to 1999, had said during the first browser war with Microsoft,

“In a fight between a bear and an alligator, it is the terrain which determines who wins.”

It’s worth asking, “Why did YouTube decide to fight on TikTok’s terrain? Was the decision to showcase new ways to build awareness with Shorts to reach Gen Z a strategic mistake? What were the alternatives?”

Now, to be fair, no one who spoke at YouTube’s NewFront event mentioned the word “TikTok.”

But the emphasis on short-form video, Generation Z, as well as brand awareness and reach, passed the duck test: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck.”

Hey, maybe these are the three key topics that traditional advertising agencies and media buyers want to hear about because these are the objectives that the lion’s share of their clients are giving them for video campaigns.

But research published last month by the CMO Council found,

“More than 70% of marketers don’t feel very confident in their current sales and marketing model to sell effectively in the digitalized customer journey.”

So, telling your audience what it wants to hear could be a strategic mistake. What’s the alternative?

Well, YouTube could have provided a more holistic view of YouTube and video marketing that brands and their digital marketing agencies need to know about.

First, Shorts is just one of the options that creators can use to create content for YouTube’s billions of users.

For example, brands can also use long-form content like “Fursat – A Vishal Bhardwaj film.”

Shot on iPhone 14 Pro by director Vishal Bhardwaj, “Fursat” is a magical story about a man so obsessed with controlling the future that he risks losing what he holds most precious in the present. It’s more than 30 minutes long, but that hasn’t prevented it from getting 144 million views and 339,000 engagements.

Brands can also use YouTube Live to stream events, teach classes, or give viewers an in-the-moment glimpse into your business.

For example, Sticky, which makes lollies, lets viewers watch their dedicated candy artisans and sculptors make the most fantastic and delicious creations in both short-form and live formats. The Australian brand livestreams on Saturday at 2 P.M. Sydney time. Its most recent livestream is entitled “Dinosaurs In CANDY.”

Sticky uploaded 356 videos in the last 365 days, which got 1.1 billion views and 60.4 million engagements. That means the average video got 3.1 million views and 170,000 engagements, for an engagement rate of 5.4%.

Now, I realize that traditional advertising agencies and media buyers may not be interested in hearing about these creative options, but brands and digital marketing agencies need to know about them.

Second, Gen Z is just one of the targeting options that you can use to reach YouTube’s billions of users. But you shouldn’t put Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers out to pasture – especially if your company or client is in the automotive, business-to-business, consumer packaged goods, finance and banking, retail, or travel and tourism industries.

For example, check out “A Place For Together – Only Your People.”

This video ad got 319 million views on YouTube. But only 15.2% of its audience is 18-24. By comparison, 34.9% is 25-34, 24.0% is 35-44, 11.1% is 45-54, and 13.5% is 55 and older.

And targeting options on YouTube aren’t limited to demographic groups (e.g., age, gender, parental status, or household income).

There are many other ways to slice and dice your target audience, including:

  • Affinity segments, which are based on people’s interests and habits.
  • In-market segments, which are based on recent purchase intent.
  • Similar segments, which are based on interests similar to those of your website visitors or existing customers.
  • Detailed demographic segments, such as college students, homeowners, or new parents.
  • Your data segments, which are based on your customer data or people who have interacted with your videos, video ads, and YouTube channel or visited your website and apps.
  • Custom segments, which are based on the keywords they’ve recently searched on Google.com.
  • Life-event segments, such as moving, graduating from college, or getting married.

Third, brand awareness and reach aren’t the only video campaign goals that you can select. The others include:

  • Build brand consideration when potential customers are researching or shopping for products. With Brand Lift surveys, brands can measure consideration as well as ad recall and brand awareness, enabling them to align their video campaigns with their marketing goals.
  • Drive sales, leads, and web traffic with Video action campaigns. With the advent of engaged-view conversions (EVCs) from YouTube in Google Analytics 4 (GA4), brands can now measure when someone watches a YouTube video for at least 10 seconds and then converts on their website within 3 days of viewing the video.

And there are other video campaign goals that YouTube can help brands to achieve.

For example, at the tail end of the YouTube NewFront event, Anne Marie Nelson-Bogle, the VP of YouTube Ads Marketing, interviewed Esi Eggleston Bracey, the President of Unilever USA, about Dove’s campaign to pass the CROWN Act – the first law to ban race-based hair discrimination at work and in schools.

Anne Marie Nelson-Bogle, the VP of YouTube Ads Marketing, interviewed Esi Eggleston Bracey, the President of Unilever USA, about Dove’s campaign to pass the CROWN ActImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

Dove created a series of videos on the issue, like “As Early As Five | End Race-Based Hair Discrimination.”

The campaign informed viewers that:

  • A Black woman is 80% more likely to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work.
  • Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home or know of a Black woman sent home from the workplace because of her hair.
  • 1 in 2 Black children have experienced hair discrimination as early as five years old – and the impact can last a lifetime.

But Dove also founded the CROWN Coalition along with National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law & Poverty to advance anti-hair discrimination legislation. The coalition has already watched the CROWN Act get signed into law in 20 states.

Now, building awareness with Shorts to reach Gen Z may be what traditional advertising agencies and media buyers want to hear about – because more than 70% of marketers, who don’t feel very confident in their current sales and marketing model, have asked them to do that.

But brands and digital marketing agencies need to know that they can use YouTube to do all this and a whole more to sell effectively in the digitalized customer journey.

But wait, there’s more!

At YouTube’s NewFront event, O’Hara mentioned that 52% of ad-supported streaming watch time on connected TVs among people aged 18+ was on YouTube.

YouTube Accounts statsImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

I asked a Google spokesperson, “Can you tell me about any new developments, case studies, or research for brands or business that want to reach audiences on the biggest screen? (e.g. What is the latest data on the total audience reached by YouTube CTV? And how is the YouTube NFL Sunday Ticket likely to leverage that?)”

A Google spokesperson said:

  • As linear TV viewership shifts towards streaming, YouTube’s momentum continues.
  • According to Nielsen’s Total TV Report, YouTube is the leader in streaming watch time.
  • According to data from Nielsen NMI, over 30% of YouTube viewers aged P18+ could not be reached by other ad-supported streaming services in October 2022.
  • In the United States, over 65% of YouTube CTV watch time is on content that is 21 minutes or longer.
  • It’s also the viewers’ first choice when it comes to streaming!
  • In a Kantar survey of weekly video viewers, over half said YouTube is the first app they open on their CTV. That means there are more Americans gathering around the living room to stream YouTube and YouTube TV than any other platform.
  • This is because YouTube has an always-on, always-fresh stream of diverse creator content in addition to a wide selection of traditional and studio-produced content, and, later this year, NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV and Primetime Channels!
  • YouTube also offers a variety of ad solutions that advertisers can leverage to reach viewers streaming YouTube on CTV.
  • If you want to be aligned with what’s popular, YouTube Select gives you access to the top content that viewers can’t get enough of.
  • If you want to own the moment, First Position Moments play your ad first, tying your message to the content viewers love at the moment that’s right for your brand.
  • As mentioned during NewFronts – these solutions are now coming to Shorts!

And IAB’s 2022 Video Ad Spent & 2023 Outlook just reported that:

“CTV continues to distinguish itself within the TV/video landscape by being the go-to channel for audience targeting, measurement, and scale.”

So, don’t forget the big screen in the family room when setting your video campaign goals.

Also, at this year’s YouTube NewFront, Youshaei mentioned that YouTube paid $50 billion to creators, artists, and media companies in the past 3 years.

$50 billion YouTube revenue paid out to creators, artists, and media companiesImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

 

I asked a Google spokesperson, “To what extent does this give YouTube an advantage over competitors in attracting and retaining creators and influencers?”

A Google spokesperson said:

  • As mentioned, Americans gather around the living room to stream YouTube and YouTube TV more than any other platform. This has a lot to do with our YouTube creators!
  • Creators give viewers something they can’t get anywhere else – choices and variety.
  • Creators are this generation’s content studios, and they’re uploading new hits every day, by the minute – fueling an always-on stream of fresh content that keeps viewers engaged. YouTube creators are constantly innovating to keep their audiences engaged, flexing their creativity across Shorts and long-form, vertical and horizontal, low-fi and high production.
  • In today’s on-demand world where viewers, not networks, ultimately determine what’s popular, our creators are building passionate fan bases which fuel viewership. As long as viewers are in control, YouTube will be where the best content lives.
  • For all these reasons, YouTube remains a major platform for brands.

So, which business model is more likely to sustain the creator economy this year, next year, and the year after that?

Finally, in the back of the program that Big Red handed out at the YouTube NewFront in 2023, there was a two-page spread from Google Creative Works, the one-stop shop for the latest creative effectiveness research from Google.

The ad’s headline read, “Only 30% of ads on YouTube follow creative best practices.”

NewFront stats about creative best practicesImage taken by author from NewFront 2023, May 2023

If this topic merited two out of the eight pages in the program, then I would have thought that the best practices for your YouTube video ads merited at least a mention during the YouTube NewFront event itself.

For example, the ABCDs of effective video ads are:

  • Attention: Hook viewers from the beginning with an immersive story.
  • Branding: Brand early and often with a broad range of elements.
  • Connection: Help people think deeply or feel strongly about something.
  • Direction: Ask people to take action or do something next.

Conclusion

Let me sum up the opportunity facing you with the classic parable of the blind men and an elephant.

This a story of a group of visually impaired men in the ancient Indian subcontinent who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and imagine what the elephant is like by touching a different part of the elephant – but only one part, such as the side, tusk, trunk, knee, ear, or tail.

Well, the moral of this story is as relevant today as it was in ancient India: To be an effective marketer, you need to see the whole elephant. If all you touch is the trunk, then you might mistakenly think, “The elephant is very like a snake!”

That doesn’t mean YouTube should have ignored Shorts, Gen Z, or brand awareness and reach during last week’s YouTube NewFront event. But these topics could have been highlighted within the context of a much larger story.

Back on March 1, 2023, YouTube’s new CEO, Neal Mohan, released a lengthy letter on YouTube’s 2023 priorities that outlined plans to support creators by expanding subscription, shopping, and digital goods offerings while investing in new features and AI.

For more details, read “YouTube’s Priorities For 2023: New Ways To Make Money, AI Tools.”

And that jumbo-sized story could have been the elephant in the room.

So, I came to the YouTube NewFront event on May 1 hoping to learn about YouTube’s strategic direction.

But most of what I heard – with a couple of notable exceptions – was a tactical discussion that left the impression that YouTube is very like TikTok. That made TikTok the elephant in the room.

That’s why I think the decision to showcase new ways to build awareness with Shorts to reach Gen Z was a strategic mistake.

What was the alternative?

To go back to my earlier zoological analogy, providing a more holistic view of YouTube’s strategic direction would have shifted a fight between a bear and an alligator to terrain where YouTube can win.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock



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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

LinkedIn is launching several new features for people who publish newsletters on its platform.

The professional networking site wants to make it easier for creators to grow their newsletter audiences and engage readers.

More People Publishing Newsletters On LinkedIn

The company says the number of LinkedIn members publishing newsletter articles has increased by 59% over the past year.

Engagement on these creator-hosted newsletters is also up 47%.

With this growing interest, LinkedIn is updating its newsletter tools.

A New Way To View & Comment

One of the main changes is an updated reading experience that displays comments alongside the newsletter articles.

This allows readers to view and participate in discussions more easily while consuming the content.

See an example of the new interface below.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Design Your Own Cover Images

You can now use Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool to create custom cover images for their newsletters.

The integration provides templates, size options, and suggestions to help design visually appealing covers.

More Subscriber Notifications

LinkedIn is improving the notifications sent to newsletter subscribers to drive more readership.

When a new issue is published, subscribers will receive email alerts and in-app messages. LinkedIn will also prompt your followers to subscribe.

Mention Other Profiles In Articles

You can now embed links to other LinkedIn profiles and pages directly into their newsletter articles.

This lets readers click through and learn more about the individuals or companies mentioned.

In the example below, you can see it’s as easy as adding a link.

1718346362 491 LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter ToolsScreenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Preview Links Before Publishing

Lastly, LinkedIn allows you to access a staging link that previews the newsletter URL before hitting publish.

This can help you share and distribute their content more effectively.

Why SEJ Cares

As LinkedIn continues to lean into being a publishing platform for creators and thought leaders, updates that enhance the newsletter experience are noteworthy for digital marketers and industry professionals looking to build an audience.

The new tools are part of LinkedIn’s broader effort to court creators publishing original content on its platform amid rising demand for newsletters and knowledge-sharing.

How This Can Help You

If you publish a newsletter on LinkedIn, these new tools can help you design more visually appealing content, grow your subscriber base, interact with your audience through comments, and preview your content before going live.


Featured Image: Tada 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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