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Best Practices to Make It SEO-Friendly

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Best Practices to Make It SEO-Friendly

The increasing prevalence of React in modern web development cannot be ignored.

React and other similar libraries (like Vue.js) are becoming the de facto choice for larger businesses that require complex development where a more simplistic approach (like using a WordPress theme) won’t satisfy the requirements.

Despite that, SEOs did not initially embrace libraries like React due to search engines struggling to effectively render JavaScript, with content available within the HTML source being the preference.

However, developments in both how Google and React can render JavaScript have simplified these complexities, resulting in SEO no longer being the blocker for using React.

Still, some complexities remain, which I’ll run through in this guide.

On that note, here’s what we’ll cover:

But first, what is React?

React is an open-source JavaScript library developed by Meta (formerly Facebook) for building web and mobile applications. The main features of React are that it is declarative, is component-based, and allows easier manipulation of the DOM.

The simplest way to understand the components is by thinking of them as plugins, like for WordPress. They allow developers to quickly build a design and add functionality to a page using component libraries like MUI or Tailwind UI.

If you want the full lowdown on why developers love React, start here:

Rendering with React, a short history

React implements an App Shell Model, meaning the vast majority of content, if not all, will be Client-side Rendered (CSR) by default.

CSR means the HTML primarily contains the React JS library rather than the server sending the entire page’s contents within the initial HTTP response from the server (the HTML source).

It will also include miscellaneous JavaScript containing JSON data or links to JS files that contain React components. You can quickly tell a site is client-side rendered by checking the HTML source. To do that, right-click and select “View Page Source” (or CTRL + U/CMD + U).

Netflix's homepage source HTML

A screenshot of the netlfix.com homepage source HTML.

If you don’t see many lines of HTML there, the application is likely client-side rendering.

However, when you inspect the element by right-clicking and selecting “Inspect element” (or F12/CMD + ⌥ + I), you’ll see the DOM generated by the browser (where the browser has rendered JavaScript).

The result is you’ll then see the site has a lot of HTML:

Lots of HTML

Note the appMountPoint ID on the first <div>. You’ll commonly see an element like that on a single-page application (SPA), so a library like React knows where it should inject HTML. Technology detection tools, e.g., Wappalyzer, are also great at detecting the library.

Editor’s Note

Ahrefs’ Site Audit saves both the Raw HTML sent from the server and the Rendered HTML in the browser, making it easier to spot whether a site has client-side rendered content.

Gif showing Site Audit saves both Raw HTML and Rendered HTML

Even better, you can search both the Raw and Rendered HTML to know what content is specifically being rendered client-side. In the below example, you can see this site is client-side rendering key page content, such as the <h1> tag.

Gif showing site is client-side rendering key page content

Joshua Hardwick

Websites created using React differ from the more traditional approach of leaving the heavy-lifting of rendering content on the server using languages like PHP—called Server-side Rendering (SSR).

Flowchart showing the SSR process

The above shows the server rendering JavaScript into HTML with React (more on that shortly). The concept is the same for sites built with PHP (like WordPress). It’s just PHP being turned into HTML rather than JavaScript.

Before SSR, developers kept it even simpler.

They would create static HTML documents that didn’t change, host them on a server, and then send them immediately. The server didn’t need to render anything, and the browser often had very little to render.

SPAs (including those using React) are now coming full circle back to this static approach. They’re now pre-rendering JavaScript into HTML before a browser requests the URL. This approach is called Static Site Generation (SSG), also known as Static Rendering.

Two flowcharts showing the SSG process

In practice, SSR and SSG are similar.

The key difference is that rendering happens with SSR when a browser requests a URL versus a framework pre-rendering content at build time with SSG (when developers deploy new code or a web admin changes the site’s content).

SSR can be more dynamic but slower due to additional latency while the server renders the content before sending it to the user’s browser.

SSG is faster, as the content has already been rendered, meaning it can be served to the user immediately (meaning a quicker TTFB).

How Google processes pages

To understand why React’s default client-side rendering approach causes SEO issues, you first need to know how Google crawls, processes, and indexes pages.

We can summarize the basics of how this works in the below steps:

  1. Crawling – Googlebot sends GET requests to a server for the URLs in the crawl queue and saves the response contents. Googlebot does this for HTML, JS, CSS, image files, and more.
  2. Processing – This includes adding URLs to the crawl queue found within <a href> links within the HTML. It also includes queuing resource URLs (CSS/JS) found within <link> tags or images within <img src> tags. If Googlebot finds a noindex tag at this stage, the process stops, Googlebot won’t render the content, and Caffeine (Google’s indexer) won’t index it.
  3. Rendering – Googlebot executes JavaScript code with a headless Chromium browser to find additional content within the DOM, but not the HTML source. It does this for all HTML URLs.
  4. Indexing – Caffeine takes the information from Googlebot, normalizes it (fixes broken HTML), and then tries to make sense of it all, precomputing some ranking signals ready for serving within a search result.
Flowchart showing how Google crawls, processes, and indexes pages

Historically, issues with React and other JS libraries have been due to Google not handling the rendering step well.

Some examples include:

  • Not rendering JavaScript – It’s an older issue, but Google only started rendering JavaScript in a limited way in 2008. However, it was still reliant on a crawling scheme for JavaScript sites created in 2009. (Google has since deprecated the scheme.)
  • The rendering engine (Chromium) being out of date – This resulted in a lack of support for the latest browser and JavaScript features. If you used a JavaScript feature that Googlebot didn’t support, your page might not render correctly, which could negatively impact your content’s indexing.
  • Google had a rendering delay – In some cases, this could mean a delay of up to a few weeks, slowing down the time for changes to the content to reach the indexing stage. This would have ruled out relying on Google to render content for most sites.

Thankfully, Google has now resolved most of these issues. Googlebot is now evergreen, meaning it always supports the latest features of Chromium.

In addition, the rendering delay is now five seconds, as announced by Martin Splitt at the Chrome Developer Summit in November 2019:

Last year Tom Greenaway and I were on this stage and telling you, ‘Well, you know, it can take up to a week, we are very sorry for this.’ Forget this, okay? Because the new numbers look a lot better. So we actually went over the numbers and found that, it turns out that at median, the time we spent between crawling and actually having rendered these results is – on median – it’s five seconds!”

This all sounds positive. But is client-side rendering and leaving Googlebot to render content the right strategy?

The answer is most likely still no.

Common SEO issues with React

In the past five years, Google has innovated its handling of JavaScript content, but entirely client-side rendered sites introduce other issues that you need to consider.

It’s important to note that you can overcome all issues with React and SEO.

React JS is a development tool. React is no different from any other tool within a development stack, whether that’s a WordPress plugin or the CDN you choose. How you configure it will decide whether it detracts or enhances SEO.

Ultimately, React is good for SEO, as it improves user experience. You just need to make sure you consider the following common issues.

1. Pick the right rendering strategy

The most significant issue you’ll need to tackle with React is how it renders content.

As mentioned, Google is great at rendering JavaScript nowadays. But unfortunately, that isn’t the case with other search engines. Bing has some support for JavaScript rendering, although its efficiency is unknown. Other search engines like Baidu, Yandex, and others offer limited support.

Sidenote.

This limitation doesn’t only impact search engines. Apart from site auditors, SEO tools that crawl the web and provide critical data on elements like a site’s backlinks do not render JavaScript. This can have a significant impact on the quality of data they provide. The only exception is Ahrefs, which has been rendering JavaScript across the web since 2017 and currently renders over 200 million pages per day.

Introducing this unknown builds a good case for opting for a server-side rendered solution to ensure that all crawlers can see the site’s content.

In addition, rendering content on the server has another crucial benefit: load times.

Load times

Rendering JavaScript is intensive on the CPU; this makes large libraries like React slower to load and become interactive for users. You’ll generally see Core Web Vitals, such as Time to Interactive (TTI), being much higher for SPAs—especially on mobile, the primary way users consume web content.

Overview of metrics' performance, including FCP, LCP, etc

An example React application that utilizes client-side rendering.

However, after the initial render by the browser, subsequent load times tend to be quicker due to the following:

Depending on the number of pages viewed per visit, this can result in field data being positive overall.

Four bar graphs showing positive field data of FCP, LCP, FID, and CLS

However, if your site has a low number of pages viewed per visit, you’ll struggle to get positive field data for all Core Web Vitals.

Solution

The best option is to opt for SSR or SSG mainly due to:

  • Faster initial renders.
  • Not having to rely on search engine crawlers to render content.
  • Improvements in TTI due to less JavaScript code for the browser to parse and render before becoming interactive.

Implementing SSR within React is possible via ReactDOMServer. However, I recommend using a React framework called Next.js and using its SSG and SSR options. You can also implement CSR with Next.js, but the framework nudges users toward SSR/SSG due to speed.

Next.js supports what it calls “Automatic Static Optimization.” In practice, this means you can have some pages on a site that use SSR (such as an account page) and other pages using SSG (such as your blog).

The result: SSG and fast TTFB for non-dynamic pages, and SSR as a backup rendering strategy for dynamic content.

Sidenote.

You may have heard about React Hydration with ReactDOM.hydrate(). This is where content is delivered via SSG/SSR and then turns into a client-side rendered application during the initial render. This may be the obvious choice for dynamic applications in the future rather than SSR. However, hydration currently works by loading the entire React library and then attaching event handlers to HTML that will change. React then keeps HTML between the browser and server in sync. Currently, I can’t recommend this approach because it still has negative implications for web vitals like TTI for the initial render. Partial Hydration may resolve this in the future by only hydrating critical parts of the page (like ones within the browser viewport) rather than the entire page; until then, SSR/SSG is the better option.

Since we’re talking about speed, I’ll be doing you a disservice by not mentioning other ways Next.js optimizes the critical rendering path for React applications with features like:

  • Image optimization – This adds width and height <img> attributes and srcset, lazy loading, and image resizing.
  • Font optimization – This inlines critical font CSS and adds controls for font-display.
  • Script optimization – This lets you pick when a script should be loaded: before/after the page is interactive or lazily.
  • Dynamic imports – If you implement best practices for code splitting, this feature makes it easier to import JS code when required rather than leaving it to load on the initial render and slowing it down.

Speed and positive Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor, albeit a minor one. Next.js features make it easier to create great web experiences that will give you a competitive advantage.

TIP

Many developers deploy their Next.js web applications using Vercel (the creators of Next.js), which has a global edge network of servers; this results in fast load times.

Vercel provides data on the Core Web Vitals of all sites deployed on the platform, but you can also get detailed web vital data for each URL using Ahrefs’ Site Audit.

Simply add an API key within the crawl settings of your projects.

Text field to add API key

After you’ve run your audit, have a look at the performance area. There, Ahrefs’ Site Audit will show you charts displaying data from the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) and Lighthouse.

Pie charts and bar graphs showing data from CrUX and Lighthouse

2. Use status codes correctly

A common issue with most SPAs is they don’t correctly report status codes. This is as the server isn’t loading the page—the browser is. You’ll commonly see issues with:

  • No 3xx redirects, with JavaScript redirects being used instead.
  • 4xx status codes not reporting for “not found” URLs.

You can see below I ran a test on a React site with httpstatus.io. This page should obviously be a 404 but, instead, returns a 200 status code. This is called a soft 404.

Table showing URL on left. On right, under "Status codes," it shows "200"

The risk here is that Google may decide to index that page (depending on its content). Google could then serve this to users, or it’ll be used when evaluating a site.

In addition, reporting 404s helps SEOs audit a site. If you accidentally internally link to a 404 page and it’s returning a 200 status code, quickly spotting the area with an auditing tool may become much more challenging.

There are a couple of ways to solve this issue. If you’re client-side rendering:

  1. Use the React Router framework.
  2. Create a 404 component that shows when a route isn’t recognized.
  3. Add a noindex tag to “not found” pages.
  4. Add a <h1> with a message like “404: Page Not Found.” This isn’t ideal, as we don’t report a 404 status code. But it will prevent Google from indexing the page and help it recognize the page as a soft 404.
  5. Use JavaScript redirects when you need to change a URL. Again, not ideal, but Google does follow JavaScript redirects and pass ranking signals.

If you’re using SSR, Next.js makes this simple with response helpers, which let you set whatever status code you want, including 3xx redirects or a 4xx status code. The approach I outlined using React Router can also be put into practice while using Next.js. However, if you’re using Next.js, you’re likely also implementing SSR/SSG.

3. Avoid hashed URLs

This issue isn’t as common for React, but it’s essential to avoid hash URLs like the following:

  • https://reactspa.com/#/shop
  • https://reactspa.com/#/about
  • https://reactspa.com/#/contact

Generally, Google isn’t going to see anything after the hash. All of these pages will be seen as https://reactspa.com/.

Solution

SPAs with client-side routing should implement the History API to change pages.

You can do this relatively easily with both React Router and Next.js.

4. Use <a href> links where relevant

A common mistake with SPAs is using a <div> or a <button> to change the URL. This isn’t an issue with React itself, but how the library is used.

Doing this presents an issue with search engines. As mentioned earlier, when Google processes a URL, it looks for additional URLs to crawl within <a href> elements.

If the <a href> element is missing, Google won’t crawl the URLs and pass PageRank.

Solution

The solution is to include <a href> links to URLs that you want Google to discover.

Checking whether you’re linking to a URL correctly is easy. Inspect the element that internally links and check the HTML to ensure you’ve included <a href> links.

As in the above example, you may have an issue if they aren’t.

However, it’s essential to understand that missing <a href> links aren’t always an issue. One benefit of CSR is that when content is helpful to users but not search engines, you can change the content client-side and not include the <a href> link.

In the above example, the site uses faceted navigation that links to potentially millions of combinations of filters that aren’t useful for a search engine to crawl or index.

List of genres

Loading these filters client-side makes sense here, as the site will conserve crawl budget by not adding <a href> links for Google to crawl.

Next.js makes this easy with its link component, which you can configure to allow client-side navigation.

If you’ve decided to implement a fully CSR application, you can change URLs with React Router using onClick and the History API.

5. Avoid lazy loading essential HTML

It’s common for sites developed with React to inject content into the DOM when a user clicks or hovers over an element—simply because the library makes that easy to do.

This isn’t inherently bad, but content added to the DOM this way will not be seen by search engines. If the content injected includes important textual content or internal links, this may negatively impact:

  • How well the page performs (as Google won’t see the content).
  • The discoverability of other URLs (as Google won’t find the internal links).

Here’s an example on a React JS site I recently audited. Here, I’ll show a well-known e‑commerce brand with important internal links within its faceted navigation.

However, a modal showing the navigation on mobile was injected into the DOM when you clicked a “Filter” button. Watch the second <!—-> within the HTML below to see this in practice:

Gif of modal showing the navigation on mobile was injected into DOM

Solution

Spotting these issues isn’t easy. And as far as I know, no tool will directly tell you about them.

Instead, you should check for common elements such as:

  • Accordions
  • Modals
  • Tabs
  • Mega menus
  • Hamburger menus

You’ll then need to inspect the element on them and watch what happens with the HTML as you open/close them by clicking or hovering (as I have done in the above GIF).

Suppose you notice JavaScript is adding HTML to the page. In that case, you’ll need to work with the developers. This is so that rather than injecting the content into the DOM, it’s included within the HTML by default and is hidden and shown via CSS using properties like visibility: hidden; or display: none;.

6. Don’t forget the fundamentals

While there are additional SEO considerations with React applications, that doesn’t mean other fundamentals don’t apply.

You’ll still need to make sure your React applications follow best practices for:

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, working with React applications does add to the already long list of issues a technical SEO needs to check. But thanks to frameworks like Next.js, it makes the work of an SEO much more straightforward than what it was historically.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you better understand the additional considerations you need to make as an SEO when working with React applications.

Have any questions on working with React? Tweet me.




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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: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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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.

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Featured Image: bluefish_ds/Shutterstock

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