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ChatGPT Vs. Bard Vs. Bing: What Are The Differences?

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ChatGPT Vs. Bard Vs. Bing: What Are The Differences?

Chatbots are taking the world by storm.

SEO pros, writers, agencies, developers, and even teachers are discussing the changes that this technology will cause in society and how we work in our day-to-day lives.

ChatGPT’s release on November 30, 2022 led to a cascade of competition, including Bard and Bing, although the latter runs on OpenAI’s technology.

If you want to search for information, need help fixing bugs in your CSS, or want to create something as simple as a robots.txt file, chatbots may be able to help.

They’re also wonderful for topic ideation, allowing you to draft more interesting emails, newsletters, blog posts, and more.

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But which chatbot should you use and learn to master? Which platform provides accurate, concise information?

Let’s find out.

What Is The Difference Between ChatGPT, Google Bard, And Bing Chat?

ChatGPT Bard Bing
Pricing ChatGPT’s original version remains free to users. ChatGPT Plus is available for $20/month. Free for users who joined the waitlist and are accepted. Free for users who are accepted after joining the waitlist.
API Yes, but on a waitlist. N/A N/A
Developer OpenAI Alphabet/Google OpenAI
Technology GPT-4 LaMDA GPT-4
Information Access Training data with a cutoff date of 2021. The chatbot does state that it has been trained beyond this year, although it won’t include that information. Real-time access to the data Google collects from search. Real-time access to Bing’s search data.

Wait! What Is GPT? What Is LaMDA?

ChatGPT uses GPT technology, and Bard uses LaMDA, meaning they’re different “under the hood.” This is why there’s some backlash against Bard. People expect Bard to be GPT, but that’s not the intent of the product.

Also, although Bing has chosen to collaborate with OpenAI, it uses fine-tuning, which allows it to tune responses for the end user.

Since Bing and Bard are both available on such a wide scale, they have to tune the responses to maintain their brand image and adhere to internal policies that aren’t as restrictive in ChatGPT – at the moment.

GPT: Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer

GPTs are trained on tons of data using a two-phase concept called “unsupervised pre-training and then fine-tuning.” Imagine consuming billions of data points, and then someone comes along after you gain all of this knowledge to fine-tune it. That’s what is happening behind the scenes when you prompt ChatGPT.

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ChatGPT had 175 billion parameters that it has used and learned from, including:

  • Articles.
  • Books.
  • Websites.
  • Etc.

While ChatGPT is limited in its datasets, OpenAI has announced a browser plugin that can use real-time data from websites when responding back to you. There are also other neat plugins that amplify the power of the bot.

LaMDA Stands For Language Model For Dialogue Applications

Google’s team decided to follow a LaMDA model for its neural network because it is a more natural way to respond to questions. The goal of the team was to provide conversational responses to queries.

The platform is trained on conversations and human dialog, but it is also apparent that Google uses search data to provide real-time data.

Google uses an Infiniset of data, which are datasets that we really don’t know much about at this point, as Google has kept this information private.

Since these bots are learning from sources worldwide, they also have a tendency to provide false information.

Hallucinations Can Happen

Chatbots can hallucinate, but they’re also very convincing in their responses. It’s important to heed the warning of the developers.

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Google tells us:

Screenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

Bing also tells us:

Bing Chat PromptScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

If you’re using chatbots for anything that requires facts and studies, be sure to crosscheck your work and verify that the facts and events actually happened.

There have been times when these hallucinations are apparent and other times when non-experts would easily be fooled by the response they receive.

Since chatbots learn from information, such as websites, they’re only as accurate as the information they receive – for now.

With all of these cautions in mind, let’s start prompting each bot to see which provides the best answers.

ChatGPT Vs. Bard Vs. Bing: Prompt Testing And Examples

Since technical SEO is an area I am passionate about, I wanted to see what the chatbots have to say when I put the following prompt in each:

What Are The Top 3 Technical SEO Factors I Can Use To Optimize My Site?

ChatGPT’s Response

Technical SEO ChatGPT ExampleScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

ChatGPT provides a coherent, well-structured response to this query. The response does touch on three important areas of optimization:

  • Site speed.
  • Mobile responsiveness.
  • Site architecture.

When prompted to provide more information on site speed, we receive a lot of great information that you can use to begin optimizing your site.

Technical SEO Speed ChatGPTScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

If you’ve ever tried to optimize your site’s speed before, you know just how important all of these factors are for improving your site speed.

ChatGPT mentions browser caching, but what about server-side caching?

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When site speed is impacted by slow responses for database queries, server-side caching can store these queries and make the site much faster – beyond a browser cache.

Bard’s Response

Bard’s responses are faster than ChatGPT, and I do like that you can view other “drafts” from Bard if you like. I went with the first draft, which you can see below.

Technical SEO BardScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

The information is solid, and I do appreciate that Google uses more formatting and bolds parts of the responses to make them easier to read.

Structured data was a nice addition to the list, and Bard even mentions Schema.org in its response.

To try and keep things similar, I asked Bard, “Can you elaborate on site speed?”

Technical SEO Speed BardScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

You can certainly find similarities between ChatGPT’s and Bard’s responses about optimization, but some information is a bit off. For example:

“A caching plugin stores static files on the user’s computer, which can improve load time.”

Caching plugins, often installed on your content management system (CMS), will store files on your server, a content delivery network (CDN), in memory, and so on.

However, the response from Bard indicates that the plugin will store static files on the user’s computer, which isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s odd.

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Browsers will cache files automatically on their own, and you can certainly manipulate the cache with a Cache-Control or Expires header.

However, caching plugins can do so much more to improve site speed. I think Bard misses the mark a bit, as well as ChatGPT.

Bing’s Response

Technical SEO Bing ExampleScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

Bing is so hard to like because, for years, it has missed the mark in search. Is Chat any better? As an SEO and content creator, I love the fact that Bing provides sources in its responses.

I think for content creators that have relied on traffic from search for so long, citing sources is important. Also, when I want to verify a claim, these citations provide clarity that ChatGPT and Google Bard cannot.

The answers are similar to Bard and GPT, but let’s see what it produces when we ask for it to elaborate a little more:

Technical SEO Bing Example 2Screenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

Bing elaborated less than ChatGPT and Bard, providing just three points in its response. But can you spot the overlap between this response and the one from ChatGPT?

  • Bing: You should compress your images and use the correct file format (JPEG for photographs, PNG for graphics).
  • ChatGPT: You can compress them, reduce their file sizes, and use the correct file format (e.g., JPEG for photos, PNG for graphics).

The responses are going to be very similar for this type of answer, but neither mentioned using a format like WebP. They both seem to be lacking in this regard. Perhaps there’s just more data for optimizing JPEG and PNG files, but will this change?

This is an interesting concept because what if thousands of articles are created to provide the wrong advice, such as eliminating images completely?

Let’s move on to website caching. Bing’s response is a little more in-depth, explaining what caching can help you achieve, such as a lower time to first byte (TTFB).

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Winner: Bing. I thought ChatGPT would win this query, but it turns out Bing provides a little more information on caching and wins out in the “technical” arena. Bard and ChatGPT did provide more solutions for improving your site speed.

Who Is Ludwig Makhyan?

All chatbots knew a little something about technical SEO, but how about me? Let’s see what happens when I ask them about myself:

ChatGPT’s Response

Who am I ChatGPTScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

ChatGPT couldn’t find any information about me, which is understandable. I’m not Elon Musk or a famous person, but I did publish a few articles on this very blog you’re reading now before the data cutoff date of ChatGPT.

I have a feeling that Bing and Bard will do a little better for this query.

Bard’s Response

Who am I BardScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

Hmm. The first sentence seems a bit familiar. It came directly from my Search Engine Journal bio, word-for-word. The last sentence in the first paragraph also comes word-for-word from another publication that I write for: “He is the co-founder at MAZELESS, an enterprise SEO agency.”

I’m also not the author of either of these books, although I’ve talked about these topics in great detail before.

Unfortunately, pulling full sentences from sources and providing false information means Bard failed this test. You could argue that there are a few ways to rephrase those sentences, but the response could certainly be better.

Bing’s Response

Who am I BingScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

Bing also took my profile information directly, and most of the other information is the same, too. Bing does provide a much shorter response and links to the sources.

From this data, it seems to me that there needs to be a lot of references for chatbots to work from to define a person. But let’s see what these bots can do with a better prompt that is a bit more advanced.

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Advanced Prompt: I Want To Become An Authority In SEO. What Steps Should I Take To Reach This Goal?

Up until this point, the prompts have been a bit easy. Let’s find out how each chatbot performs when we use more advanced prompts:

ChatGPT’s Response

Become an SEO Authority ChatGPTScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

Bard’s Response

Become an SEO Authority BardScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

Bing’s Response

Become an SEO Authority BingScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

ChatGPT provides me with more “light bulb” moments, explaining that I should learn things like keyword research, on-page optimization, and link building.

Knowledge seemed to be the core of the recommendations from ChatGPT, but it would have been nice if it mentioned anything about getting published.

Overall, these tips are very similar, but ChatGPT was my favorite. Let’s try putting these chatbots to work on some tasks that I’m sure they can perform.

Advanced Prompt: Create A Robots.txt File Where I Block Google Search Bot, Hide My “Private” Folder, And Block The Following IP Address “123.123.123.123”

ChatGPT’s Response

Robots.txt ChatGPTScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

ChatGPT listened to my directions, reiterated them to me, showed me a makefile for the robots.txt, and then explained the parameters to use. I’m impressed.

Bard’s Response

Robots.txt BardScreenshot from Google Bard April 2023

Google! Are you assuming that you’re the only search bot in the world because you’re blocking everyone? Unfortunately, Bard uses the “*” as an agent, meaning every search engine is blocked from going to my site – not just Google.

Interestingly, when I repeated the question to block Bing on a fresh chat, it provided the same answer. But when I asked the question a second time in a row, it provided a much better answer with some comments:

Robots.txt Bard Response #2Screenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

Bing’s Response

Eobots.txt Bing ResponseScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

Bing tries hard, and I appreciate the explanation that it provides. However, it’s a bit strange. We’re disallowing all bots using “/” and then allowing using “/$,” which allows them to crawl the homepage and nothing else and then denying a certain IP address.

ChatGPT wins this test because it provides a clean and easy way to make your robots.txt file. The other two examples need some fine-tuning and will have undesired consequences if you simply copy and paste them into your robots.txt file.

Advanced Prompt: What Are The Top 3 Destinations In Italy To Visit, And What Should I Know Before Visiting Them?

ChatGPT’s Response

Italy Destinations ChatGPTScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

ChatGPT does a nice job with its recommended places and provides useful tips for each that are on the same point. I also like how “St. Mark’s Square” was used, showing the bot being able to discern that “Piazza San Marco” is called “St. Mark’s Square” in English.

As a follow-up question, I asked what sunglasses to wear in Italy during my trip, and the response was:

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What sunglasses to wear in ItalyScreenshot from ChatGPT, April 2023

This was a long shot, as the AI doesn’t know my facial shape, likes and dislikes, or interests in fashion. But it did recommend some of the popular eyewear, like the world-famous Ray-Ban Aviators.

Bard’s Response

Italy Sightseeing Bard ResponseScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

Bard did really well here, and I actually like the recommendations that it provides.

Reading this, I know that Rome is crowded and expensive, and if I want to learn about Italian art, I can go to the Uffizi Gallery when I’m in Florence.

Just out of curiosity, I looked at the second draft from Bard, and it was even better than the first.

Places to visit according to Bard 2nd responseScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

This is the “things to know” section, which is certainly more insightful than the first response. I learned that the cities are walkable, public transport is available, and pickpocketing is a problem (I was waiting for this to be mentioned).

The third draft was much like the first, but I’m learning something about Bard throughout all of this.

Bard seems to have answers with great insights, but it’s not always the first draft or response that the bot gives. If Google corrects this issue, it might provide even better answers than Bing and ChatGPT.

When I asked about sunglasses to wear, it came up with similar answers as ChatGPT, but even more specific models. Again Bard doesn’t know much about me personally:

What sunglasses to wear in Italy according to BardScreenshot from Google Bard, April 2023

Bing’s Response

Places to visit in Italy according to BingScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

Bing did very well with its response, but it’s curious that it says, “According to 1,” because it would be much nicer to put the site or publication’s name in the place of the number one. The responses are all accurate, albeit very short.

Bard wins this query because it provides more in-depth, meaningful answers. The bot even recommended some very good places to visit in each area, which Bing failed to do. ChatGPT did do well here, too, but the win goes to Bard.

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And for the sunglasses query, you be the judge. Some of the recommendations in the list may be out of range for many travelers:

Sunglasses to wear in Italy according to BingScreenshot from Bing Chat, April 2023

But I did notice the same Aviator sunglasses in the summary.

Which Chatbot Is Better At This Stage?

Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses.

It’s clear that Bard lacks in its initial response, although it’s quick and provides decent answers. Bard has a nice UI, and I believe it has the answers. But I also think it has some “brain fog,” or should we call it “bit fog?”

Bing’s sources are a nice touch and something I hope all of these chatbots eventually incorporate.

The platform is nice to use, but I’m hearing ads are being integrated into it, which will be interesting. Will ads take priority in chat? For example, if I asked my last question about Italy, would ads:

  • Gain priority in what information is displayed?
  • Cause misinformation? For example, would the top pizza place be paid ad from a place with horrible reviews instead of the top-rated pizzeria?

ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing are all interesting tools, but what does the future hold for publishers and users? That’s something I cannot answer. No one can yet.

And There’s Also The Major Question: Is AI “Out Of Control?”

Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and over a thousand other leaders in tech, AI, ethics, and more are calling for a six-month pause on AI beyond GPT-4.

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The pause is not to hinder progress but to allow time to understand the “profound risks to society and humanity.”

These leaders are asking for time to develop and implement measures to ensure that AI tools are safe and are asking governments to create a moratorium to address the issues.

What are your thoughts on these AI tools? Should we pause anything beyond GPT-4 until new measures are in place?

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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?

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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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

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

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

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

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

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1. Goals

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

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

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

2. Budget Review & Optimization

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

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

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

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

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

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

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

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

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

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

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

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

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

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

5. Revisit Keywords

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

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

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

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

Critical to your strategy:

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

6. Revisit Your Audiences

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

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

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

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

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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

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

7. Organize Data Sources

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

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

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

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

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

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

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

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

9. Consider Using Scripts

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

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

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

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

10. Seek Collaboration

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

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

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

Preparing For Paid Media Success

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

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

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

More resources: 

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Featured Image: Vanatchanan/Shutterstock

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