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13 Tips for More Traffic

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13 Tips for More Traffic

For nonprofits and charities, every penny counts. And so does every source of traffic to their websites, including organic traffic from search engines like Google. So what can these organizations do to increase the influx of visitors (and hopefully donors) arriving through that channel? Of course, the answer is to step up their SEO game.

In this article, we’ll cover some definitions, free tools, and 13 SEO tips. You don’t need to be an SEO veteran to apply these tips. Nor do you need to be in the business of generating tons of content like Wikipedia to get people through your door. Ready? Here we go:

What is SEO for nonprofits?

Search engine optimization (SEO) for nonprofits and charities is the process of optimizing websites to increase visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs) when people look for information related to that organization’s cause, e.g., volunteering, fundraising, events, education, etc.

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Basic tools (which are free)

To implement the tips featured in this article, you’ll need a couple of free tools. But don’t hurry to get them now. You can do it later once you choose the tips that you want to use.

  • Ahrefs Webmaster Tools – AWT is our free tool that allows you to improve your website’s SEO performance and get more traffic from search. AWT can show you information like all known keywords your site ranks for, show all backlinks, and perform technical audits automatically, among other things.
  • A keyword research tool – Some free ones are Ahrefs’ free keyword generator, Keyword Surfer, or Google Keyword Planner.
  • Google with search operators – In case you haven’t had the occasion to use those, search operators allow for customizing search results. For example, you can tell Google to only show mentions of your organization on a particular website.

Now that we know what tools to use, let’s look at 13 actionable tips that can boost traffic.

1. Keep your website user friendly and in good SEO health

First things first. Let’s talk about your website’s technical fundamentals. They may need a little work. But if you don’t get them in order first, you risk undermining your SEO efforts in the long run.

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I’m talking about things like issues with crawling and indexing, missing meta tags, slow loading times, and practices that result in bad user experiences (e.g., pop-ups). It happens to everyone, businesses and nonprofits alike.

So before you implement any other SEO tips, do these five things:

  1. Use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools to monitor your website’s SEO health – This tool will regularly monitor your website for over 100 SEO health issues. All you need to do is fix the issues that AWT brings to your attention.
  2. Get rid of pop-ups – Or at least most of your pop-ups. These include sign-up forms, exit forms, etc. Do the same for any banners that shift the layout.
  3. Make sure your website’s layout is clear, consistent, and usable
  4. Optimize your website for mobile devices – Over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. On top of that, Google indexes and ranks content based on mobile versions of the websites (mobile-first indexing).
  5. Optimize your website for Core Web Vitals 

Pro tip

For checking multiple webpages’ speed at scale, you can use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools too. Apart from showing metrics like Time to First Byte (TTFB), it also supports Core Web Vitals.

Pie charts showing data on metrics like TTFB, CWV, etc

The numbers in blue next to the metrics will direct you to exact pages within a certain category. This way, you will know which pages need attention.

Recommended reading: The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO

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2.  Get listed in directories and articles about nonprofit organizations

Keywords related to nonprofits and charities can be extremely competitive.

In times like these, your best chance to be somehow included in that top 10 is to get listed on the pages that rank.

So if there’s a list of charities ranking in the top 10, that may be your best chance to get a piece of that search demand. 

SERP overview for "non profit organization"

Notice any nonprofit organizations you know here? Exactly. Most of the search results for the query “non profit organization” are lists and directories of organizations. As shown above, they are super hard to outrank.

Moreover, that may be your best shot at credibility. In this case, if the search intent suggests that people are looking for a list of nonprofit organizations, a “nonpartisan” result is likely more credible.

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But there’s more to that tactic. Yes, you will get visibility and traffic. But if the site that is going to feature you also links to your website, that will be a new backlink for you. And each additional site that chooses to do things similarly will, of course, give you another backlink.

Why do you need backlinks? Because backlinks are still one of the strongest ranking factors. Generally, the more backlinks a page gets, the higher it ranks and the more traffic it gets (study).

You will be able to see all links pointing to your site using Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.

3. Look for unlinked mentions of your organization (and turn them into links)

Nonprofits and charities commonly use PR. Hence, they get a lot of coverage from the media and partners. Interestingly enough, that tactic can bring SEO benefits too if the organization’s mentions are turned to links. Of course, that is not always the case:

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Forbes article showing unlinked mentions of WWF

You can find mentions of your organization using Google with the help of search operators. That’s exactly how I found the example above.

Google SERP for WWF mentions on Forbes with search operators applied

Of course, you can search the entire indexed internet for any mentions of your organization in any form.

Google SERP for "wwf" or "world wildlife fund" with search operators applied

The above query goes like this: wwf OR “world wildlife fund” ‑site:wwf.* ‑site:worldwildlife.* This basically means “show me pages that include ‘wwf’ or ‘world wildlife fund’ but exclude any site that starts with ‘wwf’ or ‘worldwildlife.’”

Finding mentions is the first step in the process. You still need to filter those results for unlinked mentions. We cover the entire process of finding unlinked mentions for any site in this tutorial.

Once you find your link opportunities, you need to reach out to the authors or site owners and simply ask them to link to you.

Naturally, the best way to get linked mentions is to ask for them upfront. A small “detail” like this can easily get overlooked in the heat of a PR campaign. Thus, it’s a good idea to include a mention of that in your standard operating procedures.

4. Answer journalists’ requests

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Media coverage is the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations. Naturally, it increases brand awareness and shapes PR. And if that coverage is online, it can also help improve rankings on search engines.

For this tip, I want to focus on a well-known SEO tactic: answering journalist requests on sites like HARO, ResponseSource, ProfNet, or SourceBottle. Additionally, you can scan Twitter for hashtags like #journorequest.

The idea is simple:

  1. Sign up for one of the services mentioned above. Don’t forget to subscribe to the type of requests you want to get.
  2. Answer requests that relate to topics you are an expert on as soon as possible.
  3. If a journalist chooses your pitch, you’ll be quoted in their text and will most probably get a link to your organization.

Why is this tactic effective for SEO? Because links from the media will usually be some of the most authoritative backlinks you can build to your site.

Site Explorer overview showing Forbes has high UR and DR

While services like HARO make the connection between journalists and sources easier, there is another side of that coin: Journalists get a lot of pitches. It can be quite hard to break through. To increase your chances of being picked by journos, we’ve got just the right guide: How to Build Backlinks and Get Press Using HARO [Case Study]. 

5. Do guest blogging to earn links

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This tip is another way to build backlinks and get more visibility while you’re at it.

Guest blogging is about contributing guest articles on third-party websites (not only blogs). And it’s all over the internet. Here’s an example guest article from the American Nurses Association:

Excerpt of American Nurses Association article; picture of healthcare worker in PPE

Whether you’re going to pitch articles for links or for the ability to get in front of somebody else’s audience, that’s entirely up to you. Guest blogging is good for both. However you want to approach it, just remember one thing: aim for high-quality websites.

Finding guest blogging opportunities can be as easy as plugging into Google “[your topic] ‘write for us’” or “[your topic] ‘guest post.’” But if you want to go pro and find these opportunities at scale (plus effectively filter them), see how we do it in this tutorial.

6. Go after educational keywords related to your cause

Here’s a great illustration of this tip. It’s called “Top 10 Facts About Pandas,” and it’s an article from WWF.

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This is how it looks on the front side of things:

Excerpt of WWF article on 10 facts about pandas; picture of panda resting on a rock with lush greenery as a backdrop

Ten interesting facts, 10 absolutely cute pictures, and a call to action: adopt a panda.

And here’s what’s happening under the hood—tons of organic traffic each month:

With this article about pandas, WWF targeted an educational keyword to leverage the search potential of this topic—this is what drives all that organic traffic you see above. Notice the “call to action” button at the top? From 10 facts about pandas to adopting a panda, those are clever ways of increasing awareness about protecting this species.

And by the way, the other button leads to more pages like this. So what we can see here is not just a one-off SEO stunt. It’s an entire strategy.

A fair portion of educational keywords is written as questions, making the keywords easier to find. Google even suggests those in almost every search via the PAA box:

1647244724 662 13 Tips for More Traffic

The “People also ask” box for the query “climate change.”

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You can use a keyword tool to get those questions’ SEO metrics and browse them easily:

7. Go after statistical keywords related to your charity (and update regularly)

Statistical keywords imply the use of statistical data to best serve the intent behind the search.

Why should you go after these keywords? Two reasons. First, if there is search demand for them, they can generate organic traffic to your website and make more people aware of your cause. Secondly, they are great “link earners.”

For example, the keyword “human rights issues 2020” is something that is best answered by providing the actual statistics for this problem. And some nonprofits do that:

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Let’s take a closer look at the report ranking #1. This report from Human Rights Watch (one of the many reports in the series) generates over 2.5K monthly visits and about 2K backlinks.

The slope of traffic you can see in the graph above is because the report already became outdated in Q1 of 2021.

This brings us to another point: The important thing to remember about content targeting statistical keywords (including reports) is to keep the content up to date.

Do a small test. Google “human rights issues 2020.” Then “human rights issues 2021.” Now compare the results. I think you will easily spot the same websites with the same kind of content that’s updated according to the year.

8. Invite experts to write for you

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There are certain topics that are best covered by experts. It’s true in life and true in SEO too. We’re talking about the so-called YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics. According to Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines, these topics are:

  • News and current events.
  • Civics, government, and law.
  • Finance.
  • Shopping.
  • Health and safety.
  • Groups of people (information about or claims related to groups of people, including but not limited to those grouped on the basis of race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity).
  • Other topics related to big decisions or important aspects of people’s lives that may be considered YMYL. These include fitness and nutrition, housing information, choosing a college, finding a job, etc.

If you’re creating informational or educational content related to one of these topics, you may want to consider demonstrating E‑A-T to improve your rankings on SERPs.

E‑A‑T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Same as YMYL, this concept comes from Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines, a document used by human quality raters to assess the quality of Google’s search results.

To put it simply, it’s best if that type of content is up to date, is accurate, quotes trustworthy sources, and is written or at least reviewed by an expert on the topic (and information on that expert is transparent and clearly displayed on the page).

To illustrate, here’s an example from Human Rights Watch. This is a news article about Afghan women’s rights activists:

Excerpt of Human Rights Watch article on women's rights in Afghanistan; picture of women holding protest signs about oppression

When we click on the author’s bio, we can clearly see that the article was written by someone who is highly knowledgeable about the issue:

Picture of expert guest poster, Patricia Gossman, who is an associate director

And here’s an example of how you can demonstrate E‑A-T: having a reviewer assess your content. Notice that there’s also a date showing when the review took place:

Excerpt of article on abdominal pain; text shows article was reviewed by a doctor

Recommended reading: What Is EAT? Why It’s Important for SEO 

9. Translate your content to other languages (for global nonprofits)

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Global charities need global visibility. Organic traffic coming from multiple countries can greatly contribute to that goal. Hence, it’s important to implement some good practices of international SEO.

The first thing to note is that ranking high in one country doesn’t necessarily imply getting the same or even similar results in other countries. This is because Google localizes its search results based on the country and language of the query.

Let’s take a look at the results of translating Oxfam’s article about natural disasters. For the English version, the top five countries in terms of keywords and traffic are countries where search queries in English are native or very common:

And this is the same chart for the article’s Spanish version. We see Spanish-speaking countries dominating the top five.

Traffic share by country; list of countries with corresponding data (traffic, share, keywords)

At the same time, the United States, which ranks #2 for the English version, here ranks #10 with only 76 keywords (and all in Spanish).

Here’s another interesting fact. It will be easier to rank for keywords in some countries than in others. So if you think a keyword will be too hard to target in one language, try another language (provided your organization operates in those countries).

List of keyword ideas for "famine" in U.S.

The word “famine” in the U.S. has a KD score of 60. This also means you’ll need backlinks from ~129 websites to rank in the top 10 for this keyword.

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List of keyword ideas for "famine" in France

The word “famine” in France has a KD score of 3. We estimate that you’ll need backlinks from ~four websites to rank in the top 10 for this keyword.

Besides translating content, here are some things you can do to improve your international search rankings:

  • Consider a localized URL structure and use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Get links from local sources to your localized content
  • Link to local sources from your localized content
  • Keep in mind that Google isn’t the most popular search engine in some countries

You will find more details and tips for international SEO in our guides:

Pro tip

If you want to easily view depersonalized search results for different countries and different languages, try Ahrefs’ free SEO Toolbar.

Both locally operating nonprofits and global nonprofits can use local SEO to improve their rankings on search engines. Here’s how they can benefit from that.

When people look for your organization with a keyword containing a specific location, your organization’s branch can show up in the local map pack. Here’s an example for the query “unicef new york”:

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Google map pack for keyword "unicef new york"

So a person searching for this query can use these results to easily locate UNICEF’s branches in this region. But since UNICEF also has a page with information for people interested in the organization’s work in this part of the U.S., searchers can also click on these results:

Excerpt of Google SERP showing UNICEF branches

Another way local SEO helps to point people in your direction is search results personalized by location, e.g., “non profit organizations near me”:

Google map pack for keyword "non profit organizations near me"

In this map pack, we have results that don’t show up on the first page of blue link search results. This means that by being featured in the map pack, these nonprofit organizations got a chance to jump over the other pages (no matter how well they were optimized for Google).

So if your organization has branches in different cities, here are the basic things you can do to leverage local SEO:

  • Get a Google Business Profile and encourage some reviews of your local branches
  • Create locally optimized landing pages
  • Get links from local resources (and link to local resources too)

If you’d like to learn more on this topic, head over to our guides:

11. Get a Google Knowledge Panel

This is a Google Knowledge Panel:

Google Knowledge Panel for search term "Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity"

You can find panels like this in many searches, not only for organizations or businesses. The knowledge panel is based on information in Google’s Knowledge Graph, a knowledge base of entities and the relationships between them. In this case, the entity is the nonprofit organization, Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.

Knowledge panels matter for SEO (and for marketing in general) for a couple of reasons:

  • Having a knowledge graph allows you to “own” more SERP real estate. As you can see, it’s really hard to overlook these panels; these panels give your organization’s brand more visibility.
  • Aside from visibility, you can benefit from more credibility. If people want to look your organization up online because they want to volunteer or donate, having Google show this feature is almost like saying, “Yes, this organization is legit.”

Knowledge panels are something that nonprofits and charities should definitely go for. But I must warn you right away. Out of all the tips mentioned here, it’s probably the hardest thing to do. So to increase your chances, see this guide.

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12. Optimize for branded search

Branded search is any kind of query that contains words and phrases associated with your brand, products, or services.

Here is an example of a page that is partly optimized for branded search. If you Google the query “wwf logo” (the famous panda logo of WWF), you will find this page:

Excerpt of "WWF Logo is the Panda" article

Notice anything strange here? Well, there’s no downloadable logo. If there was a logo on this page that visitors could use, they wouldn’t have to go back to the SERP and get the logo from another site. Wasted opportunity.

Why is this page only partly optimized for branded search? Because it ranks #1 for the query “wwf logo.” But it doesn’t fully serve the search intent behind the query, and that is to get a file with WWF’s logo.

The takeaway is quite simple here:

  • Discover the branded keywords people look for to find information about your organization
  • Create content that targets those keywords while serving the search intent

You can find your branded keywords using Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (or Google Search Console). Just open the Organic keywords report and filter the results using your organization’s name.

Organic Keywords report results

In extreme cases, you won’t rank for some of your branded keywords. To find such instances, you will need to use a keyword research tool, such as the ones I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

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13. Don’t forget to interlink your content

So let’s say you already have great content that attracts some high-quality links. As you should already know, those links definitely help that content rank higher on SERPs. But did you know those same links can help other pieces of content rank as well?

I’m talking about link equity, i.e., the “authority” that is passed when one page links to another.

You can pass link authority from one page to another if you link them, provided the links are relevant. These kinds of links are called internal links because they point to other pages in the same domain.

For example, here is an article from Oxfam about how the pandemic pushed more people into famine-like conditions. Notice how it links to a relevant report on the issue:

Excerpt of Oxfam article

The best way to add relevant internal links is to do that as you write. You can just search through your existing content for articles that target certain keywords and link them to relevant (important!) articles. Or you can do it more strategically by designing a content hub.

But if you want to find relevant internal link opportunities to your existing content, you can automate the process using Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. Just sign up, crawl your site with Site Audit, and go to the Link opportunities report. This will show you relevant internal linking opportunities across your site.

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Link opportunities report results

Recommended reading: Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide         

Final thoughts

These 13 tips are by no means an SEO course. Nor are they a complete list of things nonprofits and charities can do for SEO. If you’re an SEO beginner or just want to revise your fundamentals, I highly recommend Ahrefs’ complete guide to SEO. I’m sure that you’ll come up with some more SEO ideas after reading it.

I’d like to conclude with a tip that is partly about SEO. If the competition on the SERPs gets too tough, nonprofits can use Google Ad Grants ($10K/mo) to jump over other search results.

Example of Google ad in SERP

On top of that, Google Ads is a tried and tested way to get backlinks for some types of content.

Got questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter.




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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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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

Whether you are new to paid media or reevaluating your efforts, it’s critical to review your performance and best practices for your overall PPC marketing program, accounts, and campaigns.

Revisiting your paid media plan is an opportunity to ensure your strategy aligns with your current goals.

Reviewing best practices for pay-per-click is also a great way to keep up with trends and improve performance with newly released ad technologies.

As you review, you’ll find new strategies and features to incorporate into your paid search program, too.

Here are 10 PPC best practices to help you adjust and plan for the months ahead.

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1. Goals

When planning, it is best practice to define goals for the overall marketing program, ad platforms, and at the campaign level.

Defining primary and secondary goals guides the entire PPC program. For example, your primary conversion may be to generate leads from your ads.

You’ll also want to look at secondary goals, such as brand awareness that is higher in the sales funnel and can drive interest to ultimately get the sales lead-in.

2. Budget Review & Optimization

Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and reevaluate the distribution of their paid media budgets.

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

  • Reconcile your planned vs. spend for each account or campaign on a regular basis. Depending on the budget size, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually will work as long as you can hit budget numbers.
  • Determine if there are any campaigns that should be eliminated at this time to free up the budget for other campaigns.
  • Is there additional traffic available to capture and grow results for successful campaigns? The ad platforms often include a tool that will provide an estimated daily budget with clicks and costs. This is just an estimate to show more click potential if you are interested.
  • If other paid media channels perform mediocrely, does it make sense to shift those budgets to another?
  • For the overall paid search and paid social budget, can your company invest more in the positive campaign results?

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

If you can shift or increase your budgets, why not test out a new ad platform? Knowing your audience and where they spend time online will help inform your decision when choosing ad platforms.

Go beyond your comfort zone in Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads.

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

  • LinkedIn: Most appropriate for professional and business targeting. LinkedIn audiences can also be reached through Microsoft Ads.
  • TikTok: Younger Gen Z audience (16 to 24), video.
  • Pinterest: Products, services, and consumer goods with a female-focused target.
  • Snapchat: Younger demographic (13 to 35), video ads, app installs, filters, lenses.

Need more detailed information and even more ideas? Read more about the 5 Best Google Ads Alternatives.

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

Recently, trends in search and social ad platforms have presented opportunities to connect with prospects more precisely, creatively, and effectively.

Don’t overlook newer targeting and campaign types you may not have tried yet.

  • Video: Incorporating video into your PPC accounts takes some planning for the goals, ad creative, targeting, and ad types. There is a lot of opportunity here as you can simply include video in responsive display ads or get in-depth in YouTube targeting.
  • Performance Max: This automated campaign type serves across all of Google’s ad inventory. Microsoft Ads recently released PMAX so you can plan for consistency in campaign types across platforms. Do you want to allocate budget to PMax campaigns? Learn more about how PMax compares to search.
  • Automation: While AI can’t replace human strategy and creativity, it can help manage your campaigns more easily. During planning, identify which elements you want to automate, such as automatically created assets and/or how to successfully guide the AI in the Performance Max campaigns.

While exploring new features, check out some hidden PPC features you probably don’t know about.

5. Revisit Keywords

The role of keywords has evolved over the past several years with match types being less precise and loosening up to consider searcher intent.

For example, [exact match] keywords previously would literally match with the exact keyword search query. Now, ads can be triggered by search queries with the same meaning or intent.

A great planning exercise is to lay out keyword groups and evaluate if they are still accurately representing your brand and product/service.

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Review search term queries triggering ads to discover trends and behavior you may not have considered. It’s possible this has impacted performance and conversions over time.

Critical to your strategy:

  • Review the current keyword rules and determine if this may impact your account in terms of close variants or shifts in traffic volume.
  • Brush up on how keywords work in each platform because the differences really matter!
  • Review search term reports more frequently for irrelevant keywords that may pop up from match type changes. Incorporate these into match type changes or negative keywords lists as appropriate.

6. Revisit Your Audiences

Review the audiences you selected in the past, especially given so many campaign types that are intent-driven.

Automated features that expand your audience could be helpful, but keep an eye out for performance metrics and behavior on-site post-click.

Remember, an audience is simply a list of users who are grouped together by interests or behavior online.

Therefore, there are unlimited ways to mix and match those audiences and target per the sales funnel.

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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  • LinkedIn user targeting: Besides LinkedIn, this can be found exclusively in Microsoft Ads.
  • Detailed Demographics: Marital status, parental status, home ownership, education, household income.
  • In-market and custom intent: Searches and online behavior signaling buying cues.
  • Remarketing: Advertisers website visitors, interactions with ads, and video/ YouTube.

Note: This varies per the campaign type and seems to be updated frequently, so make this a regular check-point in your campaign management for all platforms.

7. Organize Data Sources

You will likely be running campaigns on different platforms with combinations of search, display, video, etc.

Looking back at your goals, what is the important data, and which platforms will you use to review and report? Can you get the majority of data in one analytics platform to compare and share?

Millions of companies use Google Analytics, which is a good option for centralized viewing of advertising performance, website behavior, and conversions.

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

It’s time to reevaluate your essential PPC key metrics and replace or add that data to your reports.

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

  • Are we still using this data? Is it still relevant?
  • Is the data we are viewing actionable?
  • What new metrics should we consider adding we haven’t thought about?
  • How often do we need to see this data?
  • Do the stakeholders receiving the report understand what they are looking at (aka data visualization)?

Adding new data should be purposeful, actionable, and helpful in making decisions for the marketing plan. It’s also helpful to decide what type of data is good to see as “deep dives” as needed.

9. Consider Using Scripts

The current ad platforms have plenty of AI recommendations and automated rules, and there is no shortage of third-party tools that can help with optimizations.

Scripts is another method for advertisers with large accounts or some scripting skills to automate report generation and repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts.

Navigating the world of scripts can seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is a post here on Search Engine Journal that provides use cases and resources to get started with scripts.

Luckily, you don’t need a Ph.D. in computer science — there are plenty of resources online with free or templated scripts.

10. Seek Collaboration

Another effective planning tactic is to seek out friendly resources and second opinions.

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Much of the skill and science of PPC management is unique to the individual or agency, so there is no shortage of ideas to share between you.

You can visit the Paid Search Association, a resource for paid ad managers worldwide, to make new connections and find industry events.

Preparing For Paid Media Success

Strategies should be based on clear and measurable business goals. Then, you can evaluate the current status of your campaigns based on those new targets.

Your paid media strategy should also be built with an eye for both past performance and future opportunities. Look backward and reevaluate your existing assumptions and systems while investigating new platforms, topics, audiences, and technologies.

Also, stay current with trends and keep learning. Check out ebooks, social media experts, and industry publications for resources and motivational tips.

More resources: 

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Featured Image: Vanatchanan/Shutterstock

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