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4 Tips For Planning Your Digital Media Mix

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4 Tips For Planning Your Digital Media Mix

From an agency advertiser’s perspective, our job is fun and exciting but also challenging and laborious in the same breath.

Each scoped campaign, across a myriad of industries and objectives, can present the daunting task of developing the best digital media to approach the right audience and satisfy the client’s needs.

While projects should never be scoped in a templated one-size-fits-all manner, to save you time and worry, your process should.

Understanding The Ask

When confronted with a client’s need, it is essential to understand where we need to be by the end to understand where we can start.

There are often multiple objectives – for example, to build awareness but also generate leads.

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This is not achieved in one fell swoop; effectively, one leads to another.

Ask the client, “What would be considered a success in the end?”

I know that we have all seen so many different marketing funnel variations over the years, but simplified, it should be a part of your initial consideration set.

Understanding Objectives

Awareness

I like to say that often you won’t be paid today for the work you did today – but someday you will.

This is the appropriate mindset to convey to your team and clients.

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The work you do here will pay dividends and result in non-paid benefits in the future, unlike paid lead generation campaigns, where the leads stop when the spend stops.

Tactics to achieve this objective include:

Consideration

The middle ground, or what I call the “considerate audience,” typically knows who you are.

Your job is to help them on their journey to understand that you are a likely candidate for their conversion – that is to say, they should buy from you.

Tactics to achieve this objective include:

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Action

Being present for those who are potentially looking for you is key to closing the loop on a customer journey.

Tactics to achieve this objective include:

Understanding The Journey

Audiences vary so much between industries, products, and service types.

Where one audience may typically have a very short journey, your efforts can be better focused on the action phase with SEO or PPC.

Essentially, be there when they are looking for a first-touch conversion.

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Awareness should be a critical component for a long-journey audience such as car buyers, where there are nearly two dozen touchpoints.

Understand that most of the people who will see your ad will not be a customer this week, month, or maybe even year. Your job is to create familiarity for when their journey will start.

Driving brand awareness early can shore up your total amount of touchpoints needed to convert.

If you don’t necessarily know your audience well – or their journey – do your homework.

There is a wealth of resources out there that can help you better understand audiences, current trends, and behaviors – such as the Consumer Insights section of Think With Google.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to talk to the internal client sales team. They know common behaviors, ideal search terms, and where prospects typically interact with the brand along a journey.

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Scoping Opportunity

By this point in the process, you should understand the ask, the potential customer, and the weighted level of need from across the funnel.

This now will allow you to understand what you should likely estimate within budget.

Media Analysis Tip

While scoping for PPC, SEO, and paid social can typically be a self-serve process, media planning can often take many resources to assist.

It is also best to be prepped with knowledge of campaign length or flighting needs. Understanding geographic needs will also better help to prepare your vendor rep in providing spend insight.

Getting a feel for cost will help you understand where you can advertise. Will your play be print, out-of-home, streaming TV, or all of the above?

For DMA-level advertising, you can use tools such as SQAD to give you population insights for various age groups by gender. It also allows for you to estimate TV and radio costs across desired geographic areas.

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Screenshot from SQAD, November 2023guideline

Social Analysis Tip

We haven’t been given the go-ahead yet to build out social media ads, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot create a prospecting campaign to gain a sense of how large our audience is and what amount of coverage we can gain from this area.

This is available on most of the top social media platforms such as Meta, X, LinkedIn Ads, Snapchat, and more.

Simply begin creating a campaign.

From the earlier “ask” process point, you have a general sense of whether paid social is meant for awareness or for driving traffic.

In this Facebook Ads example, you can see that by inputting your geographic needs, demographics, interests, etc., will give you a general sense of your audience size, estimated reach, or clicks.

Digest these numbers and then divide the impressions by the reach figure to gain a sense of frequency. Are you present at least once a week in front of your audience?

Facebook Ads exampleImage from Facebook Ads, November 2023Facebook Ads example

PPC Analysis Tip

We don’t want to get into a full-scale analysis of PPC competitors; that should come at the stage when you receive approval on your full digital company.

For now, try leveraging a tool like Semrush; ask for direct competitors and review them in a competitive tool like SpyFu. Here, you can gain a sense of their paid keyword coverage.

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You can see how many keywords you may need to target and how much you might need to spend.

Additionally, review the competitors and, in total, all of the keywords that are targeted and how closely these relate to your target audience.

No digital analysis tool is perfect, but a service like this is great for estimated spend vs. pulling a number out of the air.

SpyFu overview of SemrushScreenshot from SpyFu, November 2023SpyFu overview of Semrush
paid competitorsScreenshot from SpyFu, November 2023paid competitors

SEO Analysis Tip

Run your domain through a ranking assessment tool, such as the Performance-Search Console section of Google Search Console, to understand initially how much of your overall keyword presence relates to the client or management ask at hand.

If your niche visibility is severely waning, a cursory glance at the types of content ranking in Organic Search will allow you to understand the ideal amount of content ideation, creation, and promotion that will be needed to suffice.

Google Search Console performance resultsScreenshot from Google Search Console, November 2023Google Search Console performance results

Time Is Something That We All Need More Of

There is no real turnkey solution to the scoping needs of our clients, but it never hurts to craft a process that will save time and resources to give you the best foot forward in your upcoming campaign.

Being able to confront your client objectives with peace of mind in knowing the ask while also understanding your audience coverage is a great feeling!

More resources: 

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Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/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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