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20 Lesser-Known (Yet Powerful) Ahrefs Hacks

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20 Lesser-Known (Yet Powerful) Ahrefs Hacks

Even if you’re familiar with Ahrefs, you probably use one or two tools on a daily basis. But there are more you’re missing out on.

To help you get the most out of Ahrefs, we’ve put together 20 lesser-known use cases that can immediately enhance your SEO efforts.

1. Browse the most popular search queries in each country

Are you wondering what people around the world are searching for the most?

Run an empty search in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and gain access to 19.2 billion keywords across 200+ countries and regions. The U.S. keyword database alone counts ~4.5 billion keywords (the largest one in the whole industry).

Empty search, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

From here, you can use a couple of filters to find high-volume, low-competition keywords in a matter of seconds.

For example, let’s search for topics with these:

  • Keyword Difficulty: up to 20
  • Search volume: between 5,000 and 10,000 visits/month
  • Word count: max. 3 words

Once we’ve done so, our list is narrowed down to ~198,000 lucrative keywords. 

Find most popular search queries in U.S., via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Rinse and repeat for your target country.

2. Find out if you can target multiple keywords with one page

Let’s say you have the following keywords:

Keyword metrics for "whipped coffee" and "whipped coffee recipe," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

They seem to be the same topic. But how do you know whether you should target them with a single page or create separate pages?

We can find out by checking whether Google ranks similar search results for them.

There are two easy ways to see how their SERPs overlap:

A. Put the keywords in Keywords Explorer and go to the Traffic share by pages report.

Traffic share by pages report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

B. Use the SERP comparison tool under the SERP overview.

SERP comparison and similarity score, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

It looks like the top-ranking pages for both keywords are nearly identical (7/10 common results). Something also indicated by our SERP similarity score.

This likely means that Google sees “whipped coffee recipe” as a subtopic of a more general query, “whipped coffee.” Which means you can likely rank for both keywords with a single page.

3. Monitor the pace at which your competitors release content

If your competitors publish a ton of content frequently, it may be difficult to compete with them.

You can find out if that is the case by using the Top pages report in Site Explorer: (1) filter for newly created pages, then (2) use the comparison mode to compare the current output of pages with, say, the one from three months ago.

By following these exact steps, it looks like our content writers have created over 200 pages for the Ahrefs blog in the past three months.

You can also consider using this as an argument to ask for a budget raise and build a larger content team.

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

4. Filter out low-quality backlinks by website traffic (and vice versa)

If you’re a link builder, one of your main strategies is likely to reverse engineer your competitors’ link building tactics.

Rather than going through every backlink your competitor has, you can get quicker wins by filtering the backlinks by domain traffic. This weeds out links from low-quality websites.

For example, there are 760 links pointing at HubSpot’s #1 result for the keyword “seo tools”:

Backlinks report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

We have a post targeting the same topic ranking #3. If we want to rank higher on Google, we can prioritize our link building efforts by reaching out only to the websites that get at least 5,000 search visits per month. This gives us a manageable list of 90 websites. 

Backlinks report with a "Domain traffic" filter applied, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

5. Find podcasts to be a guest on

Podcasts are a great way to build both backlinks and authority in your industry. 

To find potential podcasts to be interviewed on, enter the Twitter URL of a regular podcast guest in your industry. 

We’re using Twitter profiles because the host usually links to a guest’s social accounts.

For example, Rand Fishkin is a popular marketer and entrepreneur who has been featured on many podcasts. So I’ll paste his Twitter profile URL into Site Explorer and head to the Backlinks report. 

To narrow in only on podcasts, set a filter to show referring page titles that contain words like “episode” or “podcast.” And right away, we’ve found over 160 podcasts!

Backlinks report with a "Referring page title" filter applied, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Repeat this for other regular podcast interviewees in your industry and find tons of podcasts to pitch yourself to.

6. Find resource pages to get featured on

Thanks to its simplicity and scalability, resource page link building is still one of the most popular link building tactics.

The tactic works by acquiring backlinks from webpages that curate useful industry resources. 

And what better way to find them than to look at what resource pages your competitor has links to?

For example, let’s check moz.com’s backlink profile under the Backlinks report. But this time, I will filter for the referring page URLs that contain “resources.html” and “resources.php.”

Backlinks report with a "Referring page URL" filter applied, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Here, we have 250 links; we can potentially reach out to their site owners and request them to include Ahrefs as a resource.

7. Get a top-level view of your competitor’s SEO strategy

Gain valuable insights on what pages (product pages, category pages, etc.) bring the most organic traffic to your competitors.

Use the Organic pages by traffic chart under Overview 2.0 to see pages distributed by their organic search traffic.

For example, six pages are responsible for almost 25% of the traffic coming to Ahrefs’ blog. If you were a direct competitor, you could potentially compete with us and replicate those pages.

"Organic pages by traffic" widget, via Ahrefs' Overview 2.0

8. Find low-competition topics with high traffic potential

Low-competition topics with high traffic potential are the dream of every content marketer (especially those in saturated markets). But how can you discover such low-hanging fruits?

Just open Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, search for a broad topic like “backpacking,” and apply these two filters:

  • Referring domains: Up to 5
  • Page traffic: At least 1,000

This gives me a list of relevant pages that get lots of organic traffic and are easy to rank for.

Search results for "backpacking" with filters applied, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

From here, you can dig further into the keywords driving the organic traffic and fill your content calendar for months to come.

"Organic keywords" tab for a search result, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

Tip

You can also find low-competition keywords with high traffic potential by going to the Top pages report under Site Explorer and setting a maximum KD filter of 20.

Top pages report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

9. Find video topics to rank on Google

To get more views for your videos and improve their rankings on Google, the key is to target topics with video intent. If Google is showing videos for a particular search query, it means searchers prefer to watch a video rather than read.

To find such topics, open Content Explorer and paste the following query:

site:youtube.com inurl:watch title:[your topic]

We’ll go for “makeup.” From here, sort the pages by Page traffic and find video topics with traffic potential.

Video search results, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

Note

Pay close attention to page traffic numbers, as some of them might be cached. In such cases, look at the organic traffic trends instead to check the consistency of the traffic over longer periods of time (6+ months).

Page traffic numbers

What’s left is to check the keywords the page ranks for to get guidance on both on-page and video optimizations.

10. Get internal linking suggestions

Most SEOs sleep on internal linking and fail to realize what a valuable tactic it is.

Perhaps, its most noticeable benefit among numerous ones—from helping Google discover your pages to passing link equity—is that you control the target location of the link itself.

But finding potential internal linking opportunities is time consuming. Wouldn’t it be great to get internal linking suggestions on autopilot? You can, thanks to Ahrefs’ Site Audit

Run a site crawl, and the Internal link opportunities report will identify internal link opportunities by taking the top 10 keywords for your ranking pages—then find mentions of them on your other pages. This includes important keyword metrics and the keyword context.

Internal link opportunities report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

We won’t suggest a link if one already exists between the pages. 

11. Discover local citation opportunities

A good practice to improve your local SEO is to get local citations. Those are mentions of your business’s name, address, or phone number on popular directories that help searchers find your business online.

To find them, check the directories where your competitors’ business profiles are mentioned.

Let’s say we own a plumbing company in Toronto. 

If you already know your competition (if not, Google your niche followed by the city you live in), go to Site Explorer and open the Link Intersect report.

Paste your competitors’ websites in the top section and yours at the bottom.

This will show you all the websites that link to your competitors’ URLs, but not to yours. Usually, the more targets the referring domains are linking to, the more likely it’s a business directory. As is the case with websites.ca.

Link Intersect report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Next, reach out to them.

12. Find missed keyword opportunities 

Missed keyword opportunities are those keywords where your competitors rank for, but you don’t.

To increase your chances of ranking higher in search results, you need to close this content gap between you and the top-ranking pages (aka your organic search competitors).

To do so, open Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and search for a keyword that you know you don’t rank for in the top three. For us, this would be “affiliate marketing,” as seen in the SERP overview below.

SERP overview for the keyword "affiliate marketing," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Next, select all the top-ranking pages and send them to our Content Gap tool, which will give you a list of lucrative keywords that your website should be ranking for.

Open search results in Content Gap tool, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

And we’ve got ~1,550 keywords that we can potentially target in our affiliate marketing post.

Content Gap tool, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

13. Analyze which subfolders drive the most organic traffic

The Site structure report under Site Explorer breaks down a website’s structure into a tree-like format to help you make useful discoveries.

For example, three of our translated blogs (Italian, German, Spanish) generate almost as much traffic as our top blog article in English.

Site structure report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can go one step further and select the Columns dropdown to include certain metrics, like paid ones, which will lead to further discoveries.

Column dropdown for paid metrics in Site structure report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Let’s go this time with monday.com. If we compare the paid metrics with those from three months ago, we can actually monitor the ad spend over time for each top folder.

It looks like most of the ad spend went toward the blog, particularly the “task management” subfolder.

monday.com's blog structure, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

14. Target featured snippet opportunities

The best way to shortcut your way to the top position in Google without building backlinks is to target featured snippet opportunities.

To increase your chances of ranking for them, open the Organic keywords report under Site Explorer and filter for organic keywords in positions 2–8. Then check the filter “SERP features: where target doesn’t rank for.”

Featured snippets in the Organic keywords report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

For the Ahrefs Blog, there are 4,803 keywords with high chances of ranking for a featured snippet—which requires less effort than ranking at position #1.

15. Reveal affiliates for a product

If you’re looking for affiliates, this is for you. This works best when you know the affiliate URL for a product. Most affiliate links have a “?” followed by the vendor’s ID, which may or may not be repeatable. 

If you already know it, (1) paste the repeating part of it into Site Explorer in the Path mode, (2) go to the Backlinks report, and (3) sort by Page traffic.

List of all affiliates for bluehost.com, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

In return, you’ll get the top SEO affiliates for a given product. If you were a competitor of this product, you might increase your reach by partnering with them.

16. Discover keywords that have a “weak” page ranking high

A “weak” page is a page that ranks in the top 10 but has a lower authority—aka fewer referring domains.

This means that if you already have a website with higher authority, you can (in theory) easily outrank it.

To find such links, search for a keyword with high business potential in Keywords Explorer and open the Matching terms report. I’ll go with “marketing.”

Then apply the next filters:

  • Keyword Difficulty: Minimum 50
  • Lowest DR: Up to 50 in top 5

With these filters, we’re specifically looking for outlier pages that are ranking for a competitive keyword despite a lower website authority. 

"Lowest DR" filter, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

For example, we’ve found a listicle from mastermilk.com ranking #2 for “marketing courses” with only 11 referring domains.

17. Build links with images

If you’ve created unique images for your website (charts, graphs, infographics), chances are people are linking to them and not to the pages where they were initially featured.

To find and claim improper image attributions, enter your website into Site Explorer and head over to the Backlinks report. Then search for .PNG or .JPG in the “Target URL” filter.

Backlinks report with a "Target image URL" filter applied, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

18. Find broken link building opportunities for large websites

Broken link building involves finding a dead page with lots of backlinks and asking those linking to the page to swap the link to one of your website’s pages.

To put this tactic to work:

  • Check the Best by links report under Site Explorer for your competitor’s website
  • Set the “HTTP code” filter to 404 Not found
  • Sort by Referring domains
Best by links report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

For example, if you are a competitor of Canva (the design tool), you can potentially create a better resource for “zoom virtual backgrounds” or “resumes.”

After you’ve created the content, you can ask linkers to the broken page to link to you instead.

Best by links report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

19. See if a website has linked more times to your competitors than it did to your website

Publishers may favor some solutions or websites, which leads to more visibility (and eventually leads) for them.

Your job is to identify such publishers and build better relationships with them.

To compare how many times a website links to another website, go to the Linked domains report in Site Explorer.

Then add your and your competitor’s website URLs under the “Linked domains name” filter.

Example: thedigitalprojectmanager.com, one of the largest resource websites for digital project managers, links to 103 pages from monday.com and only about a third of that to asana.com.

Linked domains report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Asana can potentially reach out and work with this website to see if it can increase its visibility on this platform. 

20. Optimize your internal link structure for conversion pages (using the TIPR lite model)

Conceived by SEO Kevin Indig, the True Internal PageRank (TIPR) model is a way to improve internal linking by identifying weak points, specifically: 

  • PageRank “wasters” – Pages with lots of internal links that don’t link out too much.
  • PageRank “hoarders” – Pages with few internal links that link out a lot.

He then came up with the TIPR lite model that is much easier to execute.

Here’s how to set it up in Ahrefs:

1. Crawl your website using Ahrefs’ Site Audit. Then head over to the Page explorer report to view all the raw data collected from the past crawl.

Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

2. Apply a filter Is valid (200) internal HTML page to show only links with 200 (OK) HTTP status codes. This has narrowed down our crawled pages from ~50,000 to ~8,000.

Advanced filter in Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

3. Click on Columns to customize the report.

Columns in Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Add the following columns in this order:

  • No. of inlinks dofollow
  • No. of internal outlinks dofollow
  • No. of backlinks dofollow
  • No. of referring domains
Saving column preferences in Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Then hit Apply. The last two mentioned columns are not necessary but useful for filtering out spammy/low-quality links, according to Kevin. 

"Page explorer" column headers, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

4. What’s left is to check for PageRank “wasters” and “hoarders” to either add or remove links.

To do so, export the Page explorer report into a spreadsheet.

Export Page explorer report, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

Add an additional column for deltas between inlinks and outlinks. Then sort by the highest or lowest delta.

TIPR lite model for ahrefs.com

From here, compare the deltas with the number of backlinks.

A page with lots of incoming links and few outgoing links may link to other relevant pages. While a page with few incoming links and few outgoing links that has a lot of backlinks can be a great discovery.

Sidenote.

There are some exceptions to this model, such as the homepage, terms of service, and so on. Just remove or ignore them.

Final thoughts

Without doubt, you can do even more with Ahrefs. But these handy use cases should help you crush your SEO tasks with less effort.

Have more Ahrefs hacks to share with us? Ping me on Twitter. 😊



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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


Featured Image: DIA TV/Shutterstock

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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

Many advertisers have a tight budget for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, making it challenging to maximize results.

One of the first questions that often looms large is, “How much should we spend?” It’s a pivotal question, one that sets the stage for the entire PPC strategy.

Read on for tips to get started or further optimize budgets for your PPC program to maximize every dollar spent.

1. Set Expectations For The Account

With a smaller budget, managing expectations for the size and scope of the account will allow you to keep focus.

A very common question is: How much should our company spend on PPC?

To start, you must balance your company’s PPC budget with the cost, volume, and competition of keyword searches in your industry.

You’ll also want to implement a well-balanced PPC strategy with display and video formats to engage consumers.

First, determine your daily budget. For example, if the monthly budget is $2,000, the daily budget would be set at $66 per day for the entire account.

The daily budget will also determine how many campaigns you can run at the same time in the account because that $66 will be divided up among all campaigns.

Be aware that Google Ads and Microsoft Ads may occasionally exceed the daily budget to maximize results. The overall monthly budget, however, should not exceed the Daily x Number of Days in the Month.

Now that we know our daily budget, we can focus on prioritizing our goals.

2. Prioritize Goals

Advertisers often have multiple goals per account. A limited budget will also limit the number of campaigns – and the number of goals – you should focus on.

Some common goals include:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Leads.
  • Sales.
  • Repeat sales.

In the example below, the advertiser uses a small budget to promote a scholarship program.

They are using a combination of leads (search campaign) and awareness (display campaign) to divide up a daily budget of $82.

Screenshot from author, May 2024

The next several features can help you laser-focus campaigns to allocate your budget to where you need it most.

Remember, these settings will restrict traffic to the campaign. If you aren’t getting enough traffic, loosen up/expand the settings.

3. Location Targeting

Location targeting is a core consideration in reaching the right audience and helps manage a small ad budget.

To maximize a limited budget, you should focus on only the essential target locations where your customers are located.

While that seems obvious, you should also consider how to refine that to direct the limited budget to core locations. For example:

  • You can refine location targeting by states, cities, ZIP codes, or even a radius around your business.
  • Choosing locations to target should be focused on results.
  • The smaller the geographic area, the less traffic you will get, so balance relevance with budget.
  • Consider adding negative locations where you do not do business to prevent irrelevant clicks that use up precious budget.

If the reporting reveals targeted locations where campaigns are ineffective, consider removing targeting to those areas. You can also try a location bid modifier to reduce ad serving in those areas.

managing ppc budget by location interactionScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

4. Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling also helps to control budget by only running ads on certain days and at certain hours of the day.

With a smaller budget, it can help to limit ads to serve only during hours of business operation. You can choose to expand that a bit to accommodate time zones and for searchers doing research outside of business hours.

If you sell online, you are always open, but review reporting for hourly results over time to determine if there are hours of the day with a negative return on investment (ROI).

Limit running PPC ads if the reporting reveals hours of the day when campaigns are ineffective.

Manage a small ppc budget by hour of dayScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

5. Set Negative Keywords

A well-planned negative keyword list is a golden tactic for controlling budgets.

The purpose is to prevent your ad from showing on keyword searches and websites that are not a good match for your business.

  • Generate negative keywords proactively by brainstorming keyword concepts that may trigger ads erroneously.
  • Review query reports to find irrelevant searches that have already led to clicks.
  • Create lists and apply to the campaign.
  • Repeat on a regular basis because ad trends are always evolving!

6. Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is a game-changer for efficient ad campaigns. Powered by Google AI, it automatically adjusts bids to serve ads to the right audience within budget.

The AI optimizes the bid for each auction, ideally maximizing conversions while staying within your budget constraints.

Smart bidding strategies available include:

  • Maximize Conversions: Automatically adjust bids to generate as many conversions as possible for the budget.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This method predicts the value of potential conversions and adjusts bids in real time to maximize return.
  • Target Cost Per Action (CPA): Advertisers set a target cost-per-action (CPA), and Google optimizes bids to get the most conversions within budget and the desired cost per action.

7. Try Display Only Campaigns

display ads for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

For branding and awareness, a display campaign can expand your reach to a wider audience affordably.

Audience targeting is an art in itself, so review the best options for your budget, including topics, placements, demographics, and more.

Remarketing to your website visitors is a smart targeting strategy to include in your display campaigns to re-engage your audience based on their behavior on your website.

Let your ad performance reporting by placements, audiences, and more guide your optimizations toward the best fit for your business.

audience targeting options for small ppc budgetScreenshot by Lisa Raehsler from Google Ads, May 2024

8. Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max (PMax) campaigns are available in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.

In short, automation is used to maximize conversion results by serving ads across channels and with automated ad formats.

This campaign type can be useful for limited budgets in that it uses AI to create assets, select channels, and audiences in a single campaign rather than you dividing the budget among multiple campaign types.

Since the success of the PMax campaign depends on the use of conversion data, that data will need to be available and reliable.

9. Target Less Competitive Keywords

Some keywords can have very high cost-per-click (CPC) in a competitive market. Research keywords to compete effectively on a smaller budget.

Use your analytics account to discover organic searches leading to your website, Google autocomplete, and tools like Google Keyword Planner in the Google Ads account to compare and get estimates.

In this example, a keyword such as “business accounting software” potentially has a lower CPC but also lower volume.

Ideally, you would test both keywords to see how they perform in a live campaign scenario.

comparing keywords for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

10. Manage Costly Keywords

High volume and competitive keywords can get expensive and put a real dent in the budget.

In addition to the tip above, if the keyword is a high volume/high cost, consider restructuring these keywords into their own campaign to monitor and possibly set more restrictive targeting and budget.

Levers that can impact costs on this include experimenting with match types and any of the tips in this article. Explore the opportunity to write more relevant ad copy to these costly keywords to improve quality.

Every Click Counts

As you navigate these strategies, you will see that managing a PPC account with a limited budget isn’t just about monetary constraints.

Rocking your small PPC budgets involves strategic campaign management, data-driven decisions, and ongoing optimizations.

In the dynamic landscape of paid search advertising, every click counts, and with the right approach, every click can translate into meaningful results.

More resources: 


Featured Image: bluefish_ds/Shutterstock

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