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How To Make Your Podcast Rank

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How To Make Your Podcast Rank

Podcasts have increasingly gained acceptance as a part of a comprehensive SEO strategy since Google announced in 2019 that it would surface podcasts in the search results and make them playable.

That change significantly raised the visibility of podcasts in search results because potential listeners can discover podcasting content when searching with the word “podcast.”

Screenshot from search for [interview with larry david podcast], Google, August 2022

Podcasts For Discovering New Ideas

As of April 2022, iTunes and Spotify hosted over 4 million podcasts each.

Podcasting is more than a way to pass the time at home or in the car. People are increasingly turning to podcasts to learn about a topic.

According to research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Oxford University, over 50% of U.K. podcast listeners aged 25+ were more likely to listen to podcasts to learn something.

That aligns with the findings by Edison Research of United States podcast listeners, who listed learning new things as a top reason for listening to podcasts.

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While entertainment is still a reason for listening, the trend toward learning about new things, both in current events and evergreen topics, makes podcasting a valuable channel for sharing expertise in the same way that writing articles and publishing videos are.

Podcasts Can Be On Any Topic

One can find podcasts on virtually any topic because consumers of content look for information wherever they happen to be, which means across a variety of media types.

Here are a few examples:

Florida Real Estate Podcasts

Screenshot of Florida Real Estate Podcasts in Google SearchScreenshot from search for [florida real estate podcast], Google, August 2022

Home Improvement Podcasts

home improvement podcastsScreenshot from search for [home improvement podcast], Google, August 2022

Personal Injury Podcasts

Screenshot of personal injury podcasts in Google search resultsScreenshot from search for [personal injury podcast], Google, August 2022

Although there might not be a huge audience for every niche, it’s not a bad idea to be there with a podcast when a potential client is searching.

And as briefly mentioned earlier, podcasting has benefits related to networking with others and creating opportunities to build awareness.

How To Optimize A Podcast For Search

Podcast Description

A podcast description is a summary of what the podcast series is about. The podcast description is what a potential listener reads when they’re searching around on Spotify.

Make the description relevant by describing the series using the words a listener might use.

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Summarize Each Podcast

Always create a summary that describes what the podcast is about. This means writing the topics, the main points covered, who the guest is, and some details of essential parts that someone might search for.

For example, if a guest shares an anecdote that might be of interest, write a sentence or two about that anecdote so that someone who might be interested in that information can find it.

The Most Popular Sites For Podcasts

According to a 2022 Edison Research study, podcast audiences listen to their favorite shows through multiple platforms.

The following represents the percentages of people who answered “yes” to each service. That means the percentages won’t add up to 100% since listeners use multiple services.

In a poll, respondents were asked to choose from a list of services they used for listening.

The top five places to listen to podcasts are:

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  1. YouTube – 55%
  2. Spotify –  49%
  3. Apple Podcasts – 38%
  4. Amazon Music – 27%
  5. iHeartRadio – 27%

The sixth to 10th most popular places to listen to podcasts:

  • Facebook – 27%
  • Pandora – 25%
  • Instagram – 24%
  • Google Podcasts – 22%
  • Audible – 19%

The top 11 to 20 podcast listening services and sites are:

  • The podcast’s own website – 18%
  • SoundCloud – 17%
  • NPR One – 10%
  • The podcast’s own mobile app – 10%
  • Stitcher – 7%
  • TuneIn – 7%
  • Wondery app – 7%
  • Pocket Casts – 6%
  • Castbox – 4%
  • Luminary – 4%

Optimize For YouTube

YouTube may be the most popular way audiences listen to podcasts (followed closely by Spotify).

That means it’s important to upload a version of the podcast to YouTube.

Be sure to add a descriptive title and description, including the use of important phrases that will help listeners find the podcast.

Optimize For Spotify

Spotify is the second most popular platform for listening to podcasts, so it’s important to understand how to optimize a podcast so that most people can find and listen to it.

Spotify published a useful article about optimizing a podcast worth looking at.

Here are some of the takeaways:

Spotify Podcast Show Page

Every podcast has a show page. The show page is a podcast home page (or a landing page) where a podcaster tells what the series is about.

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A show page consists of five elements:

  1. Title.
  2. Logo artwork.
  3. Description.
  4. Follow button.
  5. Episode list.

Podcast Artwork

The artwork for the Spotify show page is recommended to be high resolution (3000 x 3000 pixels). Spotify offers an artwork generator at their Anchor website (registration required).

The artwork should pop out. It’s useful to use complementary colors, especially ones that stand out and call attention to themselves.

Bright colors can be helpful for this, but high contrast color choices work well, too.

SEO Your Spotify Podcast Description

Spotify recommends using keywords in the podcast description that include the overall topic and subtopic keyword phrases that a potential listener might use to find the podcast.

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Optimize Podcast Episode Descriptions

Spotify recommends using the first 20 words to entice the listener in by using keywords that indicate what the topic is about.

Don’t waste time repeating what’s in the title or waste space welcoming the listener to another episode. Be straight to the point in describing the specific episode topic, and do it fast.

Create A Podcast Trailer

Spotify encourages podcasters to create a trailer for their podcasts and to break them up into seasons. Create a new trailer for each new season.

Here’s a video offering tips on making a podcast trailer:

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Topics For Podcasts

Whether you already have a podcast or are interested in starting one, it’s critical to understand best practices for optimizing podcast episodes for search.

Podcast episodes are content – that’s all it is.

The type of subject matter for podcast episodes can be broken down into at least two kinds:

  • Evergreen topics – subject matter that remains relevant year after year.
  • Trending topics – subject matter that is a hot topic at the moment.
  • Interviews – interviewing famous people helps attract an audience. This is more than just ego bait.

The evergreen subject matter is created for the long run to please content consumers who might be new to the topic and want to learn the basics.

Trending topics are great because they tap into what’s on the public’s mind at that moment in time and get an immediate boost, particularly in Google Discover.

Be Creative With Podcast Topics

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, people listen to podcasts to learn new things and for many other reasons.

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It’s easy to get frustrated about creating topics for a podcast, especially for a business that might not lend itself to podcasting.

For example, how does one make personal injury law a podcasting topic that attracts an audience? How can one podcast about plumbing?

One genre of podcasting is storytelling. People love to listen to stories, to narratives.

So, one way to think about it is to consider all the stories that are connected to the trade or business.

Ultimately, for some podcasting topics, especially business-related ones, the goal might be as simple as communicating traits like honesty, sincerity, and a passion for doing a good job.

Research Trending Topics

What’s of interest and concern to people now is a great way to build an audience and appeal to Google’s algorithms that rank trending topics.

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Creating content around a current event is a great way to rise to the top through Google’s freshness algorithm and to be seen in Google Discover.

A trending topic doesn’t have to be “news” in the sense of dramatic events.

A trending topic could be the release of a new product, in which case it might be a good idea to use.

Twitter

One way to identify up-to-the-minute trending topics is to examine Twitter’s trending topics, which are organized by Trending, News, Sports, Entertainment, and Covid-19.

Google’s Trending Searches

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Another approach is to visit Google’s Trending Searches webpage, which shows what people are searching for today.

Google Trends

Once the subject matter is identified, the next step is to observe Google Trends.

A great way to unlock interesting insights is to use Google Trends “categories” drop-down to find trends specific to your topic area.

Screenshot of Google TrendsScreenshot from Google Trends; modified by author, August 2022

Google News For Trending Topics

Another way to research is to see what’s trending in Google News.

Breaking news is a powerful engine to hitch your podcast to.

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People are eager to learn more about important events, so it’s vital to move fast on creating podcasts related to current events.

A successful podcast can’t always rely on current events for topics week after week.

If current events aren’t relevant to a topic, then the next form of content to turn to is the evergreen subject matter.

Use A Feed Reader

The work of keeping up to date with trending topics is easier when using a feed reader to organize sources of breaking news.

Whenever you see an article that’s on the right topic, find the category that the article is in, then look for an RSS feed to follow it.

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Note: If appropriate, be sure to link to the article from your podcast summary, as that will make it helpful for users.

Some feed readers can follow a page with just a URL.

Following a topic in Google News is easy.

Just search for the topic, and on the right side of the search results, there will be links for following a more specific topic.

Screenshot of Google News Search ResultsScreenshot from Google News; modified by author, August 2022

Evergreen Content

Topics that are useful year after year are called evergreen.

Typical evergreen topics tend to answer questions about how-to, how does, how can I, why, where can I, and so on.

Identifying evergreen content topics can be fairly easy.

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Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a good source of topics for evergreen content.

A list of topics covered in Wikipedia can then be used to search on YouTube to see what angles others are using.

Book Chapter Names

Another of the best sources of ideas for evergreen content topics is to search on Amazon.com to see what topics are published in books.

This is a technique I’ve been using and sharing at search conferences for over 15 years for text content, but it should work just as well for podcasting, too.

Pay attention to the chapter titles because those can be a goldmine of topics to podcast about.

Pinned Discussions In Forums

And, of course, forums about a given topic can be useful.

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Many forums get the same questions asked over and over.

So to keep the forums from being inundated with members discussing the same thing repeatedly, they pin evergreen questions at the top of each forum category.

Those pinned discussions are usually the most important evergreen topics people are interested in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Another way to discover evergreen podcast topics is to search on Google and Bing for your topic keyword phrase plus the words “frequently asked questions.”

Another variation can be: How to (topic phrase) frequently asked questions. After that, cycle through the what, where, who, and when type questions for even more variations.

New To (Topic)

People who are new to a topic are often looking for evergreen topics.

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Naturally, searching in the way someone who doesn’t know much about the niche is an excellent way to find evergreen topics.

Search using words and phrases such as:

  • New to.
  • Basics.
  • Beginner.
  • Tips for beginners.
  • Training for.
  • How to start.

Segment Searches By TLD

A way to really dig in and discover great evergreen topics is to do the above-noted research by segmenting your searches to specific top-level domains (TLD).

This may result in different but interesting takes on the topic.

Examples of segmented searches:

  • Search phrase site:.edu
  • Search phrase site:.gov
  • Search phrase site:.gov

Don’t Forget YouTube

YouTube is a search engine, too. It can be an excellent place to identify evergreen topics.

Interesting Evergreen Topics Versus Keyword Inventory

Put everything you discover into an extensive list of topics on a spreadsheet if that works for you.

Some might want to go to Google Trends and refine the list by the most popular keyword phrases or topics.

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Focusing on keywords with the highest search inventory is a traditional way to decide what evergreen topics to podcast about.

But I’d like to suggest another way: Focus on what’s interesting.

Going with interesting topics rather than keyword inventory may make the podcast more interesting because it will lead listeners on a journey of discovery.

Listening to topics one hadn’t thought about is a delightful experience; along the way, the listeners may become fans who enthusiastically refer the podcast to friends.

Interview Popular And Important People

Interviewing interesting people is a great way to keep the podcast content self-generating.

But even more important is a useful way to attract an audience.

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Even if the podcast is about home improvement, a discussion with a celebrity about how their favorite decor, floors, fixtures, or whatever might be really interesting.

Keeping with the theme of home improvement, one can interview people who have shows on the topic or professionals who install dishwashers to get tips on what is the best dishwasher to get.

Interviewing people with knowledge is a great way to create useful and interesting content and takes the pressure off the host for having to talk and talk and talk, week after week.

Transcribe The Podcasts

Transcribing means turning the spoken words of the podcast into text.

This is important because it will help the podcast find an audience of people who are deaf, so this is an accessibility consideration.

Transcribing the audio will also feed the search engine something to rank.

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There are numerous apps and services for accomplishing this task.

Microsoft 365 users can upload using Word to transcribe audio to text by playing the audio directly into Word.

Microsoft 365 can also transcribe five hours of audio per month via upload. More information here.

Google Docs has a similar feature.

Paid solutions such as Rev and Temi may be more convenient because one only has to upload the audio file.

Create Podcast Chapters

Podcast chapters are a convenience to listeners because it gives them a way to fast forward to parts of a show that interest them.

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Anything that improves user experience will, at the very least, indirectly impact SEO.

Summary

An interesting way to think about a podcast regarding how it’s useful to a business is that everyone would love to be featured on a podcast favorably.

So, it makes sense to create the best podcast on a given topic and give the business a plug at the beginning and/or the end of the podcast.

Podcasting is a great way to connect with an audience and to make connections in a broader community to which the topic belongs.

The podcast can grow an audience fast by incorporating interviews with popular people and celebrities, which will then grow word-of-mouth and links.

Focusing on being interesting (instead of keyword search volume) may be a good approach because everyone loves the experience of discovery.

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Promoting the podcast can be as simple as reaching out to content sites like online magazines and letting them know about a podcast or that someone interesting was interviewed.

Don’t wait for multiple competitors to establish their authority as podcasters.

It’s always best to get a head start at building loyalty for your brand and establishing signals of popularity.

More Resources:


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Reddit Post Ranks On Google In 5 Minutes

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Google apparently ranks Reddit posts within minutes

Google’s Danny Sullivan disputed the assertions made in a Reddit discussion that Google is showing a preference for Reddit in the search results. But a Redditor’s example proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten of the search results within minutes and to actually improve rankings to position #2 a week later.

Discussion About Google Showing Preference To Reddit

A Redditor (gronetwork) complained that Google is sending so many visitors to Reddit that the server is struggling with the load and shared an example that proved that it can only take minutes for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten.

That post was part of a 79 post Reddit thread where many in the r/SEO subreddit were complaining about Google allegedly giving too much preference to Reddit over legit sites.

The person who did the test (gronetwork) wrote:

“…The website is already cracking (server down, double posts, comments not showing) because there are too many visitors.

…It only takes few minutes (you can test it) for a post on Reddit to appear in the top ten results of Google with keywords related to the post’s title… (while I have to wait months for an article on my site to be referenced). Do the math, the whole world is going to spam here. The loop is completed.”

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Reddit Post Ranked Within Minutes

Another Redditor asked if they had tested if it takes “a few minutes” to rank in the top ten and gronetwork answered that they had tested it with a post titled, Google SGE Review.

gronetwork posted:

“Yes, I have created for example a post named “Google SGE Review” previously. After less than 5 minutes it was ranked 8th for Google SGE Review (no quotes). Just after Washingtonpost.com, 6 authoritative SEO websites and Google.com’s overview page for SGE (Search Generative Experience). It is ranked third for SGE Review.”

It’s true, not only does that specific post (Google SGE Review) rank in the top 10, the post started out in position 8 and it actually improved ranking, currently listed beneath the number one result for the search query “SGE Review”.

Screenshot Of Reddit Post That Ranked Within Minutes

Anecdotes Versus Anecdotes

Okay, the above is just one anecdote. But it’s a heck of an anecdote because it proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank within minutes and get stuck in the top of the search results over other possibly more authoritative websites.

hankschrader79 shared that Reddit posts outrank Toyota Tacoma forums for a phrase related to mods for that truck.

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Google’s Danny Sullivan responded to that post and the entire discussion to dispute that Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums.

Danny wrote:

“Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums. [super vhs to mac adapter] I did this week, it goes Apple Support Community, MacRumors Forum and further down, there’s Reddit. I also did [kumo cloud not working setup 5ghz] recently (it’s a nightmare) and it was the Netgear community, the SmartThings Community, GreenBuildingAdvisor before Reddit. Related to that was [disable 5g airport] which has Apple Support Community above Reddit. [how to open an 8 track tape] — really, it was the YouTube videos that helped me most, but it’s the Tapeheads community that comes before Reddit.

In your example for [toyota tacoma], I don’t even get Reddit in the top results. I get Toyota, Car & Driver, Wikipedia, Toyota again, three YouTube videos from different creators (not Toyota), Edmunds, a Top Stories unit. No Reddit, which doesn’t really support the notion of always wanting to drive traffic just to Reddit.

If I guess at the more specific query you might have done, maybe [overland mods for toyota tacoma], I get a YouTube video first, then Reddit, then Tacoma World at third — not near the bottom. So yes, Reddit is higher for that query — but it’s not first. It’s also not always first. And sometimes, it’s not even showing at all.”

hankschrader79 conceded that they were generalizing when they wrote that Google always prioritized Reddit. But they also insisted that that didn’t diminish what they said is a fact that Google’s “prioritization” forum content has benefitted Reddit more than actual forums.

Why Is The Reddit Post Ranked So High?

It’s possible that Google “tested” that Reddit post in position 8 within minutes and that user interaction signals indicated to Google’s algorithms that users prefer to see that Reddit post. If that’s the case then it’s not a matter of Google showing preference to Reddit post but rather it’s users that are showing the preference and the algorithm is responding to those preferences.

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Nevertheless, an argument can be made that user preferences for Reddit can be a manifestation of Familiarity Bias. Familiarity Bias is when people show a preference for things that are familiar to them. If a person is familiar with a brand because of all the advertising they were exposed to then they may show a bias for the brand products over unfamiliar brands.

Users who are familiar with Reddit may choose Reddit because they don’t know the other sites in the search results or because they have a bias that Google ranks spammy and optimized websites and feel safer reading Reddit.

Google may be picking up on those user interaction signals that indicate a preference and satisfaction with the Reddit results but those results may simply be biases and not an indication that Reddit is trustworthy and authoritative.

Is Reddit Benefiting From A Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loop?

It may very well be that Google’s decision to prioritize user generated content may have started a self-reinforcing pattern that draws users in to Reddit through the search results and because the answers seem plausible those users start to prefer Reddit results. When they’re exposed to more Reddit posts their familiarity bias kicks in and they start to show a preference for Reddit. So what could be happening is that the users and Google’s algorithm are creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

Is it possible that Google’s decision to show more user generated content has kicked off a cycle where more users are exposed to Reddit which then feeds back into Google’s algorithm which in turn increases Reddit visibility, regardless of lack of expertise and authoritativeness?

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Kues

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

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

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

Speculative Loading

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

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

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

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

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

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

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

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

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance Lab Plugin

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

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

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

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

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

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

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

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

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

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

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

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

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

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

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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

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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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