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10 Remarketing Lists To Boost PPC Performance

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10 Remarketing Lists To Boost PPC Performance

Remarketing lists are a powerful tool for all Google Ads campaign types – but specifically for Google Search ads.

With the looming, inevitable privacy updates coming to advertising, remarketing lists are a vital part of any PPC strategy.

Remarketing allows you to hyper-target specific audiences who are already familiar with your brand to help maximize return on ad spend (ROAS).

A consumer journey can have countless touchpoints before making a purchase.

Below you’ll learn 10 creative and actionable use cases of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) to capture potential customers earlier in their purchase journey.

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With so many opportunities to use remarketing lists, let’s break down strategies based on where they’re at in the funnel.

Top-Of-Funnel & Awareness Remarketing Strategies

These three remarketing strategies cover the basics of top-of-funnel marketing and utilize different campaign types to help leverage your RLSAs.

1. Target Users Who Have Engaged With A Video Campaign And Encourage Them To Take Action

If you’ve tried YouTube Ads in any form and have struggled to determine or quantify success, then this strategy might be for you.

YouTube ads are a great way to gain awareness of a product, service, or brand – but how do you get a new user to take action from that first touchpoint?

Enter in remarketing lists.

Google Ads allows you to create different types of remarketing lists based on your Youtube videos. There are two key requirements for using this list type:

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  • These lists can only be used in other YouTube or Search campaigns – not Display.
  • Your YouTube channel must be linked to your Google Ads account.

To set up YouTube remarketing lists, navigate to Tools & Settings > Shared Library > Audience Manager.

In Audience Manager, hit the “+” button to start segmenting your YouTube remarketing lists.

Screenshot by author, October 2022Choose to remarket YouTube users in Google Search Ads campaigns.

From there, Google gives a multitude of options to start leveraging your YouTube video engagement for remarketing. These options include engagement from:

  • Views to videos.
  • Subscribes to the channel.
  • Visits to the channel.
  • Likes on videos.
  • Add videos to playlist.
  • Shares of videos.

Further, you’re able to segment further to make your remarketing lists as specific as possible:

Choose from a variety of user engagement options for YouTube remarketing lists.Screenshot by author, October 2022Choose from a variety of user engagement options for YouTube remarketing lists.

To leverage these newly created YouTube remarketing lists, try adding them to your existing Search campaigns as “Observation Only” at first to understand if these users are more likely to interact with your campaigns versus someone who hasn’t seen your YouTube videos.

Taking it a step further, you can create new Search campaigns that specifically target these users.

The benefit is that you can provide different messaging to these users who have already interacted with your brand.

2. Exclude Low Quality Or Irrelevant Website Traffic From Search Campaigns

If you’ve run any type of awareness campaign, you’ve likely seen a boost in traffic overall, including irrelevant webpages or low-quality visitors.

What do we constitute as low-quality or irrelevant webpages?

  • Any page that wouldn’t result in a purchase, such as:
    • Careers page.
    • Investors page.
    • Advertise with us page.
    • Customer Service page.
  • Users who stayed on the website for less than one second.

Excluding these types of website visitors from the get-go can help make your remarketing efforts more cost-efficient in the long run.

3. Create Lookalike Audiences From Your Own First-Party Data

Using Google’s affinity audiences or attributes that consider someone at the top of funnel for your product or service can be daunting, especially if you’re a small business or have a limited budget.

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It may feel that you don’t have a lot of options to reach new users without paying dearly for it.

But, have you ever thought about using your most valuable assets to build awareness?

Leveraging your own first-party data to create Lookalike audiences gives you more leverage than third-party data, such as Google’s affinity audiences, to reach like-minded people of users who already love your brand.

To create an audience like this, there are a few options to consider:

  • Create a remarketing list of past purchasers using Google Ads or Google Analytics.
  • Upload a list of past purchasers to Google Ads.

Depending on the size of these lists, you’ll have the option to create a Lookalike audience and use it for either YouTube, Display, or Search.

The example below shows what a remarketing list based on a completed purchase URL looks like when created in Google Ads:

Use URL paths to create remarketing lists of past purchasers.Screenshot by author, October 2022Use URL paths to create remarketing lists of past purchasers.

I personally like to use Google Analytics when creating remarketing lists because you have many more segmentation or filtering options to be as specific as you need to be.

As a reminder, your site must be tagged and linked with either your Google Analytics property or Google Ads tag.

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Consideration Stage Remarketing Strategies

These four remarketing strategies help move the user from the consideration to the purchase phase quicker using different bidding strategies and offers.

4. Increase Bids For Qualified Visitors Of Your Site Who Haven’t Made A Purchase

An easy way to leverage qualified users in your existing Search campaigns is to increase the bid on those users simply.

You don’t need to create separate campaigns for these users if you don’t want to. Segmenting these users and manipulating the bids on them keeps your account management under control.

To use this strategy, you’ll first need to create a remarketing list of users who haven’t made a purchase yet. You can use qualifications only to include people who:

  • Have made it to the cart checkout.
  • Visited a certain amount of pages.
  • Spent a certain amount of time on site.
  • Visited certain categories/high-value product pages.

Once you have created those, it’s time to add them to an existing Search campaign and increase the bid.

What this means is that you’re willing to pay more for their click because they’ve already interacted with your brand in some way.

In your Search campaign, navigate to “Audiences” on the left-hand side.

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In this example, I’m setting the audience at the campaign level, but you can set them at the ad group level as well.

Make sure to choose “Observation” so you’re still able to capture other new users who are researching your brand.

Choose Screenshot by author, October 2022Choose

Once you’ve added your qualified remarketing list, it’s time to increase your bid adjustment.

Still, in the Audiences tab, you’ll see your remarketing list added.

In the columns, you’ll see “Bid Adjustment.” Choose the “pencil” icon to change the bid as you see fit. In this example, I’m going to increase the bid by 15%.

Choose to increase bids on remarketing lists in Google Ads.Screenshot by author, October 2022Choose to increase bids on remarketing lists in Google Ads.

Once you’ve implemented this change, be sure to continuously check back on the audience performance and determine if bids need to be changed based on performance.

5. Increase Bids For Users Who Have Completed A Micro-Conversion

This strategy is similar to the example above, except for the type of user you want to target.

If a user has completed a micro-conversion of any sort, they’re likely a high-qualified user to make a purchase.

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What are examples of a micro-conversion? Depending on your product or service, these could include:

  • Signing up for emails or newsletters.
  • Downloading an ebook.
  • Signing up for a webinar.
  • Requesting a free sample.

These types of conversions show a user is active in research mode and seriously considering your brand.

By increasing the bid in your search campaigns for these users, you’re saying you’re willing to pay more for their clicks because they’re that much more likely to convert.

The process of setting this strategy up is the same as above, with the exception of creating a remarketing list based on the success of these micro-conversions.

6. Test Maximize Conversion Value With Cart Abandoners

This remarketing strategy would require you to create a separate campaign targeting only cart abandoners.

You may be asking, “Why not just use Maximize Conversion Value for everyone?”

If you’ve ever tested out the Maximize Conversion Value bidding strategy in Google Ads, you’ll know exactly why.

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The reasons I don’t recommend using this for all campaigns include:

  • You can’t set any maximum ceiling values.
  • Not all users are ready to purchase.

By segmenting a search campaign specifically for cart abandoners, you can test this bidding strategy at a lower threshold – and with the most qualified users who are most likely to make a purchase.

Similar to the above examples, this strategy tells Google that you’re willing to be more flexible in how much you pay for someone to make a purchase.

And what better way to test this than with users who were almost ready to make that purchase?

To set this strategy into motion, you first need to create a remarketing list of “Cart Abandoners.”

This will look different for everyone, but it will likely be URL-based and able to be created in either Google Analytics or Google Ads.

After that list has been created, it’s time to set up your new search campaign.

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This campaign can be a duplicate of any other search campaign. Just make sure to exclude your Cart Abandoner list from that existing campaign. We don’t want any cross-over here!

When creating the new campaign, this is where you’ll set the bid strategy to “Maximize Conversion Value” in the settings.

Where to set bidding strategy to Maximize Conversion Value in Google Ads.Screenshot by author, October 2022Where to set bidding strategy to Maximize Conversion Value in Google Ads.

Google Ads does give you the option to set a target return on ad spend, giving you somewhat control over campaign performance.

Depending on how much flexibility you have in your marketing budget, you can either leave that blank or set a target.

If you do set a target ROAS, make sure not to set it too high right away. Otherwise, the campaign won’t be able to effectively learn.

7. Create Offers Based On The User’s Interaction Timeline

Did you know you can create the same remarketing list of users but segment them by the number of days?

Say you had a cart abandoner and wanted to move them toward purchase ASAP. You may be willing to give them a higher discount since the purchase was still new in their mind.

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If they still haven’t purchased within three days, you may choose to still give them a discount, but not as high as the first offer.

After seven days, you still want them to keep your product top-of-mind, but that discount or offer may change again because they’ve waited so long.

So, how do you go about setting up this strategy?

First, you’ll want to create three different remarketing lists (for this example only).

Create cart abandoner audiences separated out by one day, three days, and seven days.

In Google Ads, you simply change the “membership duration” for each list. An example of where to change that during list creation is below:

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Choose different membership durations in remarketing lists.Screenshot by author, October 2022Choose different membership durations in remarketing lists.

Once these lists are created, I recommend setting up different ad groups for each list. You’ll want different ad groups because the offer will be different for each list.

The last crucial piece of targeting cart abandoners is to exclude purchasers from your campaign. You will do this in the “Audiences” tab of your campaign and add your “Purchasers” remarketing list as an exclusion.

Post-Purchase Journey Remarketing Strategies

Once a user has made a purchase, that’s not necessarily the end of their journey!

These remarketing strategies enable past purchasers to become your most valuable asset and opportunities for repeat purchasers to become brand advocates.

8. Cross Promote Other Products Based On A User’s Purchase Behavior

One of the best ways to create a repeat purchaser is to recommend complementing products based on a user’s purchase.

For example, say you’re a makeup brand, and a user just purchased their first tube of lipstick and mascara from you.

An effective remarketing strategy would include creating lists of past purchasers segmented by product category. This enables you to cross-promote other products and exclude product types they’ve just purchased.

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In this example, you may create a remarketing list of users who have bought lipstick or mascara. You can then use that list to remarket products like foundation or eye shadow to encourage a repeat purchase.

These lists and strategies would work well in Dynamic Remarketing Ads or Google Shopping Ads. Because these products are much more visible, you’d want to use those campaign types to your advantage.

9. Exclude Past Purchasers To Maximize Spend Efficiency

As mentioned in strategy no. 7, you’ll want to exclude past purchasers from current acquisition campaigns to maximize spending efficiency.

An example of lazy remarketing is for a user to see an ad for a product they have already purchased.

Not only does that create a bad taste for the user, but that means you’re wasting valuable marketing money on people who have already purchased.

Now, there are certainly times when you’d not want to exclude past purchasers, especially if your product is a repeat purchase.

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But, in these examples, your search campaigns are likely going after new users.

To exclude past purchasers, go to Audiences on the left-hand side of your campaign, then find the “Exclusions” table.

Exclude past purchasers from Google Ads campaigns.Screenshot by author, October 2022Exclude past purchasers from Google Ads campaigns.

10. Create Brand Advocates From Your Existing High-Value Customers

It’s true when they say that your customers are your best advocates. They have put their trust in you to deliver a high-value product or service that they have come to know and trust.

So, how do you turn them into advocates?

This remarketing strategy still includes utilizing that same past purchaser list. A few different options you could potentially offer past purchasers:

  • Create a referral program and give discounts for each person who purchases.
  • Offer discounts based on providing a positive public review.

Just because someone has purchased from you once does not mean they become a loyal customer. Sometimes it takes additional motivation to want to purchase again.

Loyalty or referral discounts are a great way to keep your existing customers coming back to you, as well as utilizing their own referral vehicles to generate new customers.

Creating referral programs is a low-cost and efficient multi-channel awareness strategy that is mutually beneficial for you – the brand and the customer.

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Summary

Remarketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. In today’s age, it requires thoughtfulness, tactfulness, and segmentation to be successful.

Thinking outside the box on your remarketing strategies can result in more cost-effective advertising, higher ROAS, and faster growth if you utilize them correctly.

Sometimes, the power of remarketing lies within the list setup and campaign segmentation.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Andrii Yalanskyi/Shutterstock

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Google On Hyphens In Domain Names

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What Google says about using hyphens in domain names

Google’s John Mueller answered a question on Reddit about why people don’t use hyphens with domains and if there was something to be concerned about that they were missing.

Domain Names With Hyphens For SEO

I’ve been working online for 25 years and I remember when using hyphens in domains was something that affiliates did for SEO when Google was still influenced by keywords in the domain, URL, and basically keywords anywhere on the webpage. It wasn’t something that everyone did, it was mainly something that was popular with some affiliate marketers.

Another reason for choosing domain names with keywords in them was that site visitors tended to convert at a higher rate because the keywords essentially prequalified the site visitor. I know from experience how useful two-keyword domains (and one word domain names) are for conversions, as long as they didn’t have hyphens in them.

A consideration that caused hyphenated domain names to fall out of favor is that they have an untrustworthy appearance and that can work against conversion rates because trustworthiness is an important factor for conversions.

Lastly, hyphenated domain names look tacky. Why go with tacky when a brandable domain is easier for building trust and conversions?

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Domain Name Question Asked On Reddit

This is the question asked on Reddit:

“Why don’t people use a lot of domains with hyphens? Is there something concerning about it? I understand when you tell it out loud people make miss hyphen in search.”

And this is Mueller’s response:

“It used to be that domain names with a lot of hyphens were considered (by users? or by SEOs assuming users would? it’s been a while) to be less serious – since they could imply that you weren’t able to get the domain name with fewer hyphens. Nowadays there are a lot of top-level-domains so it’s less of a thing.

My main recommendation is to pick something for the long run (assuming that’s what you’re aiming for), and not to be overly keyword focused (because life is too short to box yourself into a corner – make good things, course-correct over time, don’t let a domain-name limit what you do online). The web is full of awkward, keyword-focused short-lived low-effort takes made for SEO — make something truly awesome that people will ask for by name. If that takes a hyphen in the name – go for it.”

Pick A Domain Name That Can Grow

Mueller is right about picking a domain name that won’t lock your site into one topic. When a site grows in popularity the natural growth path is to expand the range of topics the site coves. But that’s hard to do when the domain is locked into one rigid keyword phrase. That’s one of the downsides of picking a “Best + keyword + reviews” domain, too. Those domains can’t grow bigger and look tacky, too.

That’s why I’ve always recommended brandable domains that are memorable and encourage trust in some way.

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Read the post on Reddit:

Are domains with hyphens bad?

Read Mueller’s response here.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Benny Marty

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Reddit Post Ranks On Google In 5 Minutes

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Google apparently ranks Reddit posts within minutes

Google’s Danny Sullivan disputed the assertions made in a Reddit discussion that Google is showing a preference for Reddit in the search results. But a Redditor’s example proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten of the search results within minutes and to actually improve rankings to position #2 a week later.

Discussion About Google Showing Preference To Reddit

A Redditor (gronetwork) complained that Google is sending so many visitors to Reddit that the server is struggling with the load and shared an example that proved that it can only take minutes for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten.

That post was part of a 79 post Reddit thread where many in the r/SEO subreddit were complaining about Google allegedly giving too much preference to Reddit over legit sites.

The person who did the test (gronetwork) wrote:

“…The website is already cracking (server down, double posts, comments not showing) because there are too many visitors.

…It only takes few minutes (you can test it) for a post on Reddit to appear in the top ten results of Google with keywords related to the post’s title… (while I have to wait months for an article on my site to be referenced). Do the math, the whole world is going to spam here. The loop is completed.”

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Reddit Post Ranked Within Minutes

Another Redditor asked if they had tested if it takes “a few minutes” to rank in the top ten and gronetwork answered that they had tested it with a post titled, Google SGE Review.

gronetwork posted:

“Yes, I have created for example a post named “Google SGE Review” previously. After less than 5 minutes it was ranked 8th for Google SGE Review (no quotes). Just after Washingtonpost.com, 6 authoritative SEO websites and Google.com’s overview page for SGE (Search Generative Experience). It is ranked third for SGE Review.”

It’s true, not only does that specific post (Google SGE Review) rank in the top 10, the post started out in position 8 and it actually improved ranking, currently listed beneath the number one result for the search query “SGE Review”.

Screenshot Of Reddit Post That Ranked Within Minutes

Anecdotes Versus Anecdotes

Okay, the above is just one anecdote. But it’s a heck of an anecdote because it proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank within minutes and get stuck in the top of the search results over other possibly more authoritative websites.

hankschrader79 shared that Reddit posts outrank Toyota Tacoma forums for a phrase related to mods for that truck.

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Google’s Danny Sullivan responded to that post and the entire discussion to dispute that Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums.

Danny wrote:

“Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums. [super vhs to mac adapter] I did this week, it goes Apple Support Community, MacRumors Forum and further down, there’s Reddit. I also did [kumo cloud not working setup 5ghz] recently (it’s a nightmare) and it was the Netgear community, the SmartThings Community, GreenBuildingAdvisor before Reddit. Related to that was [disable 5g airport] which has Apple Support Community above Reddit. [how to open an 8 track tape] — really, it was the YouTube videos that helped me most, but it’s the Tapeheads community that comes before Reddit.

In your example for [toyota tacoma], I don’t even get Reddit in the top results. I get Toyota, Car & Driver, Wikipedia, Toyota again, three YouTube videos from different creators (not Toyota), Edmunds, a Top Stories unit. No Reddit, which doesn’t really support the notion of always wanting to drive traffic just to Reddit.

If I guess at the more specific query you might have done, maybe [overland mods for toyota tacoma], I get a YouTube video first, then Reddit, then Tacoma World at third — not near the bottom. So yes, Reddit is higher for that query — but it’s not first. It’s also not always first. And sometimes, it’s not even showing at all.”

hankschrader79 conceded that they were generalizing when they wrote that Google always prioritized Reddit. But they also insisted that that didn’t diminish what they said is a fact that Google’s “prioritization” forum content has benefitted Reddit more than actual forums.

Why Is The Reddit Post Ranked So High?

It’s possible that Google “tested” that Reddit post in position 8 within minutes and that user interaction signals indicated to Google’s algorithms that users prefer to see that Reddit post. If that’s the case then it’s not a matter of Google showing preference to Reddit post but rather it’s users that are showing the preference and the algorithm is responding to those preferences.

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Nevertheless, an argument can be made that user preferences for Reddit can be a manifestation of Familiarity Bias. Familiarity Bias is when people show a preference for things that are familiar to them. If a person is familiar with a brand because of all the advertising they were exposed to then they may show a bias for the brand products over unfamiliar brands.

Users who are familiar with Reddit may choose Reddit because they don’t know the other sites in the search results or because they have a bias that Google ranks spammy and optimized websites and feel safer reading Reddit.

Google may be picking up on those user interaction signals that indicate a preference and satisfaction with the Reddit results but those results may simply be biases and not an indication that Reddit is trustworthy and authoritative.

Is Reddit Benefiting From A Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loop?

It may very well be that Google’s decision to prioritize user generated content may have started a self-reinforcing pattern that draws users in to Reddit through the search results and because the answers seem plausible those users start to prefer Reddit results. When they’re exposed to more Reddit posts their familiarity bias kicks in and they start to show a preference for Reddit. So what could be happening is that the users and Google’s algorithm are creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

Is it possible that Google’s decision to show more user generated content has kicked off a cycle where more users are exposed to Reddit which then feeds back into Google’s algorithm which in turn increases Reddit visibility, regardless of lack of expertise and authoritativeness?

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Kues

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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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