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6 Best Niches for Affiliate Marketing in 2022 (Profitable and Uncompetitive)

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Everyone knows that niches like fitness, travel and tech are lucrative affiliate marketing opportunities. But big broad niches like this are also fiercely competitive, making it hard for new sites to compete. 

For example, you’re hardly likely to outrank the likes of TechRadar, Wired, and The Verge anytime soon with your generic “tech” affiliate site. 

If you want to stand any chance at competing and getting traffic, you need to go narrower.

Here are a few affiliate niches that I think are crying out for a market leader: 

  1. Vacuum cleaners
  2. Hotels with jacuzzis
  3. Travel car seats
  4. Golf equipment
  5. Headphones and earbuds
  6. Zero waste

You’re probably already thinking that this niche sucks if you hate cleaning as much as I hate cleaning. But with an estimated 69K monthly searches for “best vacuum cleaner” according to Keywords Explorer, one thing’s for sure: this is a high ticket niche with plenty of traffic potential. 

Even better, competition is relatively sparse.

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Here’s a DR25 site getting an estimated 37.7K monthly organic visits:

High traffic to a low DR vacuums affiliate site.

Who are the current players?

Most of the obvious keywords like “best vacuum cleaner” and “best robot vacuum” are hypercompetitive, with SERPs dominated by brands like Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, and Good Housekeeping. But there are plenty of sites getting decent traffic from lower competition long-tail queries. 

Here are a few of them: 

Although the monthly organic traffic numbers for these sites aren’t astronomical, it’s mostly affiliate content attracting that traffic. 

For example, ~83% of the organic traffic to Home Vacuum Zone goes to URLs containing the words “best,” “vs,” and “review”:

A vacuum reviews website with 80%+ of its traffic to affiliate posts.A vacuum reviews website with 80%+ of its traffic to affiliate posts.

It’s a similar story for Popular Vacuums, with 84% of traffic going to the same kinds of pages:

Another vacuum reviews website with 80%+ of its traffic to affiliate posts.Another vacuum reviews website with 80%+ of its traffic to affiliate posts.

However, if you look at the sites themselves, you’ll realize that they’re far from anything special. Most of them are ugly and feature typical affiliate content from folks who haven’t used the products. 

Example of a typical, ugly affiliate site in this niche.Example of a typical, ugly affiliate site in this niche.

There’s a serious opportunity to become the go-to resource for vacuum reviews for anyone willing to put in the effort and actually test some of these products. 

How much can you earn?

Most of the affiliate programs for vacuum cleaners offer somewhere between 3-8% commission. 

  • Amazon: 3%
  • Walmart: 4%
  • Bed Bath and Beyond: 7%
  • Target: up to 8%

That might not sound like much, especially at the lower end, but remember that vacuums are high-ticket items typically costing anywhere between $50 and $1,000. As a result, even a measly 3% commission from Amazon would net you between $1.50 and $30 a pop. 

Promote Bed Bath and Beyond’s affiliate program, and that rises to $3.50-$70.

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You only have to sell a few vacuums through your affiliate links to make bank here.

How to do keyword research for this niche 

Besides reverse-engineering some of the sites above in Site Explorer, you’ll want to use a keyword research tool like Keywords Explorer to find three types of keywords:

  1. General comparison keywords. These follow the format “best [product type]”. E.g., “best vacuum cleaner,” “best robot vacuum cleaner,” etc.
  2. Branded comparison keywords. These follow the format “product [a] vs product [b]”. E.g., “roomba i3 vs i7,” “dyson hp02 vs hp04,” etc.
  3. Product review keywords. These follow the format “product [review]”. E.g., “dyson v15 review,” “irobot roomba 692 review,” etc.

Here’s how to do it for this niche:

General comparison keywords

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter the terms “vacuum” and “vacuums”
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “best” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
General comparison keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.General comparison keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.

You can also add the word “for” to the Include filter to hone in on keywords aimed at a specific demographic or task—which tend to be low competition. 

Low competition general comparison keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.Low competition general comparison keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.

Branded comparison keywords

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter vacuum cleaner brands like “miele,” “roomba,” “dyson”
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “vs” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
Branded comparison keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.Branded comparison keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.

Product review keywords

The process here is the same as for branded comparison keywords. Just add the word “review” to the Include filter instead. 

Product review keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.Product review keywords for the vacuum cleaner niche.

According to Keywords Explorer, there are an estimated 41K monthly searches for “hotels with jacuzzi in room” in the US. And the top-ranking page for this keyword gets an estimated 150K monthly visits:

Estimated traffic to the top-ranking page for 'hotels with jacuzzi in room.' Estimated traffic to the top-ranking page for 'hotels with jacuzzi in room.'

That’s an awful lot of people looking for hotels with jacuzzis, and there are also many searching for much the same thing in other, less competitive ways.

Who are the current players?

Quite a few low-authority sites are getting decent traffic in this niche:

If we check the Top Pages report for one of these sites, we see that pretty much all traffic goes to pages for specific locations: 

Estimated traffic to location-focused hotels with jacuzzis posts.Estimated traffic to location-focused hotels with jacuzzis posts.

Most of these pages are pretty much the same content-wise. They list a few hotels with hot tubs in the area, show a few photos, give a brief description, and link to an affiliate for “more information and prices.” 

One of the current players in the hotels with jacuzzis niche.One of the current players in the hotels with jacuzzis niche.

Other sites in the niche do almost the same thing:

Another player in the hotels with jacuzzis niche.Another player in the hotels with jacuzzis niche.

As with vacuum reviews, none of these sites look particularly nice or have much of a recognizable brand. They’re about as basic as it gets. This spells opportunity for any ambitious affiliate marketers out there. 

How much can you earn?

Many travel sites are quite secretive about their commission rates, with some simply stating the percentage of commission you get on their commission. This isn’t particularly useful, as who knows what their commission is? 

Nonetheless, here are a few popular travel sites with affiliate programs:

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  • Agoda – 5% commission 
  • Expedia – up to 6% commission
  • Hotels.com – 4% commission
  • TripAdvisor – 50% commission (on their commission)
  • Kayak – 50% commission (on their commission)
  • Booking.com – No commission rate is stated, but most of the current players in this niche are promoting this program.

How to do keyword research for this niche

Most of the opportunity in this niche comes from searches for hotels with jacuzzis in various cities and states. Here’s how to find these in Keywords Explorer:

  1. Enter ‘hotel’ and ‘hotels’
  2. Go to Matching Terms report 
  3. Add ‘jacuzzi’ and ‘hot tub’ to the Include filter (make sure to select “Any word”)
  4. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)

It’s then simply a case of skimming the ideas for popular locations:

How to do keyword research for the hotels with jacuzzis niche. How to do keyword research for the hotels with jacuzzis niche.

You can also reverse-engineer current players in Site Explorer, as these have pretty much done the work for you already.

Although this might sound like a super small niche, there are tens of thousands of searches for travel car seats every month. Just look at the traffic potential for “travel car seats” alone: 

Estimated traffic potential for the keyword 'travel car seats' via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.Estimated traffic potential for the keyword 'travel car seats' via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.

Who are the current players?

Despite the seemingly limited nature of the niche, quite a few low-authority sites are attracting a good amount of monthly search traffic:

If we check the Top Pages report for the first site (which gets the most traffic), we see that it has fewer than 100 pages in total. Yet it gets over 75K monthly organic visits: 

Estimated traffic to one of the current players in the travel car seats niche. Estimated traffic to one of the current players in the travel car seats niche.

Even more interestingly, over half of this traffic goes to just 29 affiliate pages with the words “best,” “review,” or “vs” in their URLs:

Estimated traffic to affiliate posts for one of the current players in the travel car seats niche.Estimated traffic to affiliate posts for one of the current players in the travel car seats niche.

Most of the other 70 pages are informational guides, such as this list of tips for flying with a car seat. This is a good sign as it means you only need to create a handful of affiliate pages to attract targeted affiliate traffic. 

How much can you earn?

Like in most niches, you can promote Amazon, which gives 3% commissions on baby products. There are also other superstores like Walmart that offer slightly higher commissions. But commissions really jump when you start looking at affiliate programs for specific brands and products. 

Here are a few of the options available: 

  • Amazon – 3% commission for baby products
  • Walmart – 4% commission
  • Saferide4kids.com – 10% commission
  • MiFold – 10% commission (with up to 12% for special offers)
  • Wayb.com – 10% commission

How to do keyword research for this niche

Like with vacuum reviews, you’re looking for three types of keywords to target in this niche: general comparisons, branded comparisons, and product reviews. Let’s look at how to find those in Keywords Explorer.

General comparison keywords

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter terms like “car seat,” “car seats,” “booster seat,” “booster seats,” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “best” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
General comparison keywords for the travel car seats niche.General comparison keywords for the travel car seats niche.

Branded comparisons

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter car seat brands like “uppababy” and “bugaloo”
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “vs” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
Branded comparison keywords for the travel car seat niche.Branded comparison keywords for the travel car seat niche.

Product reviews

The process here is the same as for branded comparison keywords. Just add the word “review” to the Include filter instead. 

Product review keywords for the travel car seats niche.Product review keywords for the travel car seats niche.

The golf equipment market is worth an estimated $6.51 billion, so unsurprisingly, there are hundreds of thousands of monthly searches for the best golf equipment. 

For example, there are 54K monthly searches just for “golf simulator,” and most of the top 10 results are affiliate posts listing top picks. Some are from relatively low-authority sites too: 

Top-ranking pages for 'golf simulator.'Top-ranking pages for 'golf simulator.'

Who are the current players?

Like with previous niches, most of the current players are typical low-to-medium-end affiliate sites with “okay” content at best. Here are a few of them:

Besides Golfalot and MyGolfSpy, none seem to be testing products firsthand but rather researching tech specs and customer reviews.

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Excerpt from a top-ranking affiliate post.Excerpt from a top-ranking affiliate post.

There’s nothing wrong with this per se. Golf equipment is seriously expensive so you can hardly expect your average affiliate marketer to review everything firsthand. Nonetheless, it seems there’s an opportunity for someone serious to come in and create the goto site for golf equipment recommendations—either by reviewing products firsthand or going to town on the research. 

How much can you earn?

Like most niches, you can promote Amazon, which offers a 4% commission rate on golf equipment. But commissions are way higher from dedicated online golf stores. Here are just a few of them: 

Remember, golf equipment is expensive, so even commission rates of 4% can result in decent commissions.

How to do keyword research for this niche

Most of the opportunities revolve around the same three types of keywords we already covered. So let’s look at how to find them in this niche.

General comparison keywords

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter words like “golf,” “fairway wood,” “putter,” “putting,” “wedge” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “best” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
General comparison keywords for the golf equipment niche.General comparison keywords for the golf equipment niche.

Branded comparisons

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter golf equipment brands like “callaway,” “pxg,” “srixon,” “taylormade,” “titleist,” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “vs” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
Branded comparison keywords for the golf equipment niche.Branded comparison keywords for the golf equipment niche.

Product reviews

The process here is the same as for branded comparison keywords. Just add the word “review” to the Include filter instead. 

Product review keywords for the golf equipment niche.Product review keywords for the golf equipment niche.

5. Headphones and earbuds

As of 2019, the global earphones and headphones market is worth an estimated $25.1 billion. It’s also expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.3% from 2020 to 2027. 

Unfortunately, affiliate marketers often overlook this niche because high-volume keywords like “best bluetooth headphones” are incredibly competitive. This keyword has a Keyword Difficulty (KD) score of 76, and huge brands like TechRadar and Wired dominate the SERP:

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Top-ranking pages for 'best bluetooth headphones.'Top-ranking pages for 'best bluetooth headphones.'

But if you dig deeper, there are plenty of lower competition keywords with traffic potential to make this an interesting, low-hanging niche.

Who are the current players?

Most of the players in this niche focus on headphones but also review other audio equipment. Here are a few of them:

If you’re wondering why Headphonesty gets such a huge amount of traffic, it’s because most of its traffic goes to informational guides. This one on how to find a lost or stolen AirPod case gets an estimated 41K monthly search visits alone:

Estimated monthly organic traffic to a top-ranking post from a current player in the headphones niche.Estimated monthly organic traffic to a top-ranking post from a current player in the headphones niche.

However, it also gets plenty of traffic to affiliate pages. 

In fact, URLs containing “best,” “review,” and “vs” get an estimated 209K monthly search visits:

Estimated traffic to affiliate posts for a top-ranking affiliate site in the headphones niche.Estimated traffic to affiliate posts for a top-ranking affiliate site in the headphones niche.

It’s a similar story for the other players. Headphones Pro Review gets an estimated 86K monthly search visits to the same kinds of pages—which is ~60% of its total traffic. And there are only 106 pages attracting this traffic, too.

27-affiliate-posts-traffic-headphone-review-site27-affiliate-posts-traffic-headphone-review-site

However, take a look at these sites and it’s the same old story: they’re nothing special. With the exception of Headphonesty, most of the affiliate content is bog-standard stuff based on research rather than firsthand reviews. (You can always tell when this is the case as the sites use stock product images only).

This isn’t necessarily bad; some of these sites’ articles seem well-researched. But again, it presents an opportunity for an ambitious affiliate marketer to come along and steal the show.

How much can you earn?

Given that I’ve bought my last three pairs of headphones from Amazon, my purchasing habits lead me to believe that this is where most people buy headphones these days. Unfortunately, Amazon’s commission rate on headphones is just 3%. 

Luckily there are a few other affiliate programs with better commissions:

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  • Target – up to 8%
  • 1more – 8%
  • B&H Photo Video – 8%
  • Adorama – 2% (yes, this is lower than Amazon, but they have a $500 average order size)
  • Walmart – 4%

Some of these sell other audio equipment too, so there’s plenty of scope to expand beyond headphones further down the line. 

How to do keyword research for this niche

It’s the same old story with this niche; you’re looking at targeting general comparison, branded comparison, and product review keywords. Here’s how to find them.

General comparison keywords

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter words like “earbuds,” “earpods,” “headphones,” “headsets,” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “best” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keyword
General comparison keywords for the headphones niche.General comparison keywords for the headphones niche.

You’ll notice that many of the low-difficulty keywords here relate to the best headphones for a specific task or certain type of person. So you might want to add “for” to the Include filter to hone in on these.

General comparison keywords for the headphones niche including the word 'for.'General comparison keywords for the headphones niche including the word 'for.'

TIP

If you see a lot of keywords like “best buy headphones” and “best buy wireless earbuds,” add the word “buy” to the Exclude filter to clean up the report. 

Branded comparisons

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter headphone brands like “1more,” “airpods,” “beats,” “jabra,” “skullcandy,” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “vs” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
Branded comparison keywords for the headphones niche.Branded comparison keywords for the headphones niche.

Product reviews

The process here is the same as for branded comparison keywords. Just add the word “review” to the Include filter instead. 

Product review keywords for the headphones niche.Product review keywords for the headphones niche.

Interest in living a more sustainable zero-waste lifestyle has ballooned in recent years, and so have searches for zero-waste products. Here’s the trend for “zero waste products” since 2004 via Google Trends:

Google Trends graph for the keyword 'zero waste products.'Google Trends graph for the keyword 'zero waste products.'

That said, this isn’t the biggest niche ever. However, it still has decent earning potential and isn’t overly competitive. 

Who are the current players?

Here are a few of the folks in this niche: 

If we check the Top Pages report for one of these sites, Sustainable Jungle, we see that they’re getting ~75% of their traffic to affiliate pages:

Estimated monthly organic traffic to affiliate posts on a current player in the zero-waste niche.Estimated monthly organic traffic to affiliate posts on a current player in the zero-waste niche.

However, most of that traffic goes to just one page about the best online thrift stores. There are still some affiliate links in this post, but even if we ignore it, the site is still getting ~27K monthly visitors to other affiliate posts.

In terms of the content itself, it’s the same old story: the affiliate reviews are seemingly all based on research rather than firsthand experience. This once again presents an opportunity to easily beat the competition when it comes to content quality by reviewing products yourself. It would probably also be quite easy to get many zero-waste brands to send you products to review for free—especially once you’ve built a bit of a following. 

How much can you earn?

The best thing about this niche is that tons of eco-friendly brands with affiliate programs offer generous commissions. Here are just a few of them:

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How to do keyword research for this niche

You guessed it; it’s all about those general comparison, branded comparison, and review keywords.

General comparison keywords

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter words like “eco friendly,” “plastic free,” “zero waste,” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “best” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keyword
General comparison keywords for the zero-waste niche.General comparison keywords for the zero-waste niche.

Branded comparisons

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter golf equipment brands like “who gives a crap,” “reel,” “cloudpaper,” etc.
  3. Go to Matching Terms report 
  4. Add the word “vs” to the Include filter 
  5. Set the KD filter to a maximum of 20 (optional – this filters for low-difficulty keywords)
Branded comparison keywords for the zero-waste niche.Branded comparison keywords for the zero-waste niche.

Product reviews

The process here is the same as for branded comparison keywords. Just add the word “review” to the Include filter instead. 

Product review keywords for the zero-waste niche.Product review keywords for the zero-waste niche.

How to find more affiliate niches

Most of the niches above were found using Content Explorer, a searchable database of billions of pages. Just search for pages with the word “best” in their titles and add these filters: 

  • English
  • Website traffic: 10K+
  • Website traffic value: 20K+
  • DR: 20 max
  • Filter explicit results
  • Filter for one page per domain

Sidenote.

Thanks to everyone’s favorite YouTuber, Sam Oh, for this tip.

Here’s what the results look like:

Searching for affiliate niches in Content Explorer.Searching for affiliate niches in Content Explorer.

It’s then simply a case of sifting through the results looking for affiliate niches. 

For example, this is how I found the golf equipment niche:

Example of an affiliate niche found in Content Explorer.Example of an affiliate niche found in Content Explorer.

You can find hundreds of lucrative niches using this method; it just takes a bit of time.

Final thoughts

Most of these niches might seem relatively narrow and limiting, but that’s a good thing. It means you won’t be competing with and struggling to outrank the big players. And remember, you can expand and broaden your horizons once you build some authority.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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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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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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