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How To Optimize YouTube Videos To Help Ukraine



Back on Feb. 11, 2022, the marketing team at SE Ranking, then located in Kyiv, Ukraine, invited me to give an online presentation about my Search Engine Journal article entitled, “Video SEO: 10 Steps to Optimizing Videos for Search and Discovery.”

I quickly accepted.

I didn’t hear back from them for several days, and I learned later from Svetlana Shchehel, an editor at SE Ranking and fellow SEJ contributor:

“Some of us have spent days on the road striving to bring our families to a safer place. Some are still in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine, trying to do their daily routine to the sounds of air raid sirens.

All of us feel scared and devastated, but also hopeful and strong.”

That’s when I decided to go beyond presenting a PowerPoint version of my Search Engine Journal article.


And that’s why I opened my presentation at their webinar on April 14 with a snapshot of “The real price of war.”

I said, “Ukrainians are a big part of the SE Ranking team. Tatiana Perebeinis, the chief accountant of SE Ranking, and her two children, Mykyta, 18, and Alisa, 9, along with a church volunteer helping them, Anatoly Berezhnyi, 26, were killed on Sunday, March 6, crossing the concrete remnants of a damaged bridge in their town of Irpin, to evacuate to Kyiv.”

Now, as I said then, I can’t help Ukraine produce more YouTube videos that people in Europe will watch and share.

But I can teach you how to optimize videos that tell the truth about the war, so they are discovered when people conduct relevant searches on YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine.

Here’s a quick reference, and we’ll dig in below.


How to optimize YouTube videos to support Ukraine.

How YouTube’s Algorithm Works

YouTube’s algorithm tries to match each viewer to the videos they are most likely to watch and enjoy.

With more than 500 hours of video content uploaded every minute, this is quite a challenge.

YouTube’s search and discovery systems tackle this Herculean task by paying attention to viewers instead of videos.

YouTube’s algorithm “follows the audience” by paying attention to things like:

  • What they watch.
  • What they don’t watch.
  • How much time they spend watching.
  • Their sharing, likes, and dislikes.
  • “Not interested” feedback and satisfaction surveys.

Next, I explained that YouTube has multiple algorithms, including ones for:

  • YouTube Search: Videos are ranked based on how well the title, description, and video content match the viewer’s search and which videos drive the most engagement for a search.
  • Up Next: Videos are ranked to offer viewers videos they’re most likely to watch next. These videos are often related to the video an audience is watching, but they can also be personalized based on watch history.
  • Your homepage: Videos are selected based on how well they have interested and satisfied similar viewers, how often viewers watch a channel or topic, and how many times YouTube has already shown each video.
  • YouTube Shorts: YouTube wants both short and long videos to succeed. So, broadly speaking, relative watch time is more important for short videos, and absolute watch time is more important for longer videos.

But you don’t have to be an expert in YouTube’s algorithms to be successful. Instead, you focus on knowing your audience.

YouTube’s search and discovery system doesn’t “promote” videos to your audience. It ‘finds’ videos for each viewer and their varying interests.

The goal is to get people to watch more videos they enjoy so they will come back to YouTube regularly.


For example, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, made an emotional appeal to members of the U.S. Congress for additional help in defending Ukraine from Russia’s invasion.

His 18-minute address included a powerful video set to haunting violin music, juxtaposing Ukraine’s pre-invasion joy and beauty with graphic images of the war’s death and destruction that brought some lawmakers to tears.

And Tubular Labs data shows 174 accounts uploaded 217 videos about this event to YouTube, resulting in 5.3 million views and 130,000 engagements (e.g., likes, comments, shares).

Most were uploaded in the News & Politics category, but the video with the most views and engagements was “Trump Dials Back Putin Praise, Russia Sanctions Prominent Americans & Zelensky Addresses Congress,” which was uploaded in the Comedy category by Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Zelensky addresses CongressScreenshot from YouTube, March 2022Zelensky addresses Congress

Jimmy Kimmel’s 14:06-long monologue got 1.6 million views and 28,500 engagements.

WION, an Indian multinational English language news channel headquartered in New Delhi, uploaded a news story that was 48:13-long, which got 561,000 views and less than 7,800 engagements.

Meanwhile, CNN’s 6:06-long news story got 371,000 views and 13,400 engagements. I’d call these results counter-intuitive.


After providing this background, I presented an update to the 10 steps for optimizing videos.

Step 1: Conduct Keyword Research For YouTube

The first step is conducting keyword research.

Instead of trying to cover the 10 best YouTube keyword tool alternatives, I focused on just four:

  • Search predictions: Start typing a term in YouTube’s search box. The autocomplete feature will provide you with a series of search predictions related to what you’ve already typed in and what other people are searching for.
  • Keyword Tool for YouTube: The Keyword Tool for YouTube pulls more than 750 long-tail search term suggestions from YouTube’s search predictions by appending and prepending the keyword you specify with letters and numbers.
  • Google Trends: Google Trends shows you “web search” interest by default. But, click on the Web Search button, and a drop-down menu will show you other options, including YouTube Search trends back to 2008.
  • vidIQ: When you search on YouTube, vidIQ displays how hot (or not) the keyword or phrase is based on its search volume and competition. It’s also worth noting that Ukrainians make up a large part of vidIQ’s team.

Step 2: Optimize Videos Specifically For YouTube Search

The second step is optimizing your videos for YouTube Search, which prioritizes:

  • Relevance: YouTube looks at many factors, such as how well the title, description, hashtags, and video content match a viewer’s search query.
  • Engagement: YouTube looks at the watch time of a particular video for a particular query to determine if the video is considered relevant to the query by other users.
  • Quality: YouTube’s systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which channels demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic.”

And I shared the following tips for optimizing your titles:

  • Use compelling titles for your videos that accurately represent the content.
  • Keep your titles concise – under 50 characters.
  • Put the most important information up front and your hashtags, branding, or episode numbers towards the end.
  • Avoid misleading, clickbait, or sensational titles, making your video less likely to be recommended to viewers.

Step 3: Optimize Video Descriptions

The third step is optimizing both parts of your descriptions – what viewers see before they click Show more and what they see after.

In June 2020, YouTube introduced Video Chapters, which add context to each portion of the video.

And in January 2021, YouTube launched a new search results page that appears when users look for videos by hashtag.

So, here’s how to optimize your descriptions:

  • Use the first few lines of text to explain what the video is about using search-friendly keywords and natural language.
  • Use the rest of the text (what shows up once they click Show more) to provide around 200 to 350 words of extra information.
  • Add Video Chapters, which use timestamps to allow viewers to watch or rewatch a specific section of a video.
  • Use related hashtags (#) to help viewers find your video when searching for a specific topic on YouTube.

Step 4: Optimize Video Thumbnails

The fourth step is optimizing your thumbnails.

I said, “Video thumbnails let viewers see a quick snapshot of your video as they’re browsing YouTube. After uploading your video, you can add a custom thumbnail if your account is verified or choose one of the three thumbnail options that YouTube automatically generates.”

I added, “Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible.”

Custom thumbnails should:

  • Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with a minimum width of 640 pixels).
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF, or PNG.
  • Remain under the 2MB limit.
  • Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews.

But, I also cautioned:

  • Make sure your thumbnail follows YouTube’s thumbnail policy.
  • Create thumbnails that accurately represent your content.

Step 5: Optimize For YouTube’s Recommendation System

The fifth step is optimizing your videos for YouTube’s recommendation system, which drives a significant amount of the overall viewership on YouTube, even more than channel subscriptions or search.

And YouTube’s recommendation system works in two main places: The “Up Next” panel and a viewer’s homepage.

The “Up Next” panel suggests additional content based on whatever a viewer is currently watching, alongside other videos YouTube thinks the viewer may be interested in.

So, here’s how to optimize videos, so they’re Up Next:

  • Make strong calls to action to encourage viewers to watch another video in your series.
  • Long endings may delay viewers from watching more, so be mindful of how your videos end.
  • Use links, cards, and end screens to suggest the next video that your viewer may be interested in watching.
  • Develop playlists that are organically connected by a specific theme or tent-pole event to create a long viewing experience.

Step 6: Encourage Viewers With Links, Cards, And End Screens

The sixth step is optimizing your links, cards, and end screens.

Links in your description can encourage viewers to take an action, which is an engagement signal.

Cards work well when in conjunction with scripted calls to action or when they’re relevant to your video content.

End screens can be added to the last 5–20 seconds of a video to promote other videos, encourage viewers to subscribe, and more.

So, here are some video SEO best practices:

  • Use cards in older videos to highlight your most recent uploads or promote fundraising campaigns.
  • Use cards to cross-promote other creators and credit collaborators in your video.
  • Leave enough space and time at the end of your video (the last 20 seconds) for an end screen.
  • Encourage viewers to click using calls to action for different end screen elements and show them at different times.

Step 7: Remember The “4 Rs”

The seventh step is fighting misinformation.

For content where accuracy and authoritativeness are key, including news, politics, medical, and scientific information, YouTube uses machine learning systems that prioritize information from authoritative sources.

And certain types of misleading or deceptive content are not allowed on YouTube, including misinformation that can cause real-world harm.


For example, YouTube blocked Russia’s state-backed channels RT and Sputnik across Europe on March 1, 2022.

And YouTube started blocking access worldwide to channels associated with Russian state-funded media on March 11.

YouTube cited a policy barring content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events. YouTube added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now fell under this policy, and violating material would be removed.

Here are the “4 Rs” YouTube’s machine learning systems use:

  • Remove content that violates their policies.
  • Reduce recommendations of borderline content.
  • Raise authoritative sources for news and information.
  • Reward trusted creators.

Step 8: Optimize For User Homepage

The eighth step is optimizing videos for a user’s homepage.

The homepage is what a user sees when they first open YouTube.

It displays a mixture of personalized recommendations, subscriptions, and the latest news and information.


Unlike other platforms, YouTube doesn’t connect viewers to content through their social network.

Instead, YouTube’s recommendation system is constantly evolving, learning from over 80 billion signals every day to help people connect to videos they love.

So, I shared these observations:

  • Recommendations connect viewers to high-quality information and minimize the chances of seeing problematic content.
  • Any video that YouTube classifies as “borderline content” is demoted in recommendations.

Step 9: Set Up A Regular Publishing Cycle

The ninth step is publishing content frequently and regularly.

A good frequency to aim for is a minimum of two videos per week, but the right amount of content depends on your audience, your goals, and your content.

And release videos on a set day of the week, if possible. Releasing videos on a recurring schedule helps build a structure to your channel that an audience can rely on.

Then, I shared the following ways to optimize your programming:

  • Upload new videos consistently to give your audience an expectation of when they can see more new content.
  • Keep viewers engaged for longer and encourage them to come back for more.
  • Keep doing what works. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but do so mindfully.
  • See how often your channel appears on Home, globally, by going to your YouTube Analytics Traffic Sources report.

Step 10: Create Shorts

The tenth step is getting started with YouTube Shorts.

In my article, “YouTube Shorts: An Introductory Guide,” I said,

“You might mistakenly think that Shorts is merely a bunch of creation tools that make it easy to create short-form videos up to 60 seconds long with a multi-segment camera.”

But, I added, “Viewers may find your Shorts by tapping Shorts at the bottom of the YouTube app.”

They may also find Shorts:

  • On the YouTube homepage.
  • In their notifications.
  • By checking their Subscriptions.
  • Featured on your channel page.

YouTube is also testing new ways to deliver Shorts. For example, once viewers tap into a Short, they can scroll to watch more short videos.

So, why should you jump on the bandwagon?

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed in January 2022,


“We’re seeing momentum across the platform, including on Shorts. We’ve now hit 5 trillion all time views on Shorts!”

After presenting the 10 steps to optimizing videos for search and discovery, I encouraged attendees to apply what they had learned.

They weren’t in a position to stop missile strikes or Russian troops, but they could tackle other strategic threats to Ukraine, including misinformation, fuel, and food.

I suggested that Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, could use their help.

In February 2022, his Ministry launched an operational press center with Ukrinform National News Agency and the Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security to provide daily updates on Russia’s “disinformation war.”

On March 18, 2022, Tkachenko said,

“Russian propaganda has driven itself into a dead end, so it has completely switched to the Russians – to brainwash them.

Roskomnadzor is trying to block all resources that might tell the truth to the Russians. But they’ve lost control. And soon, the refrigerator at home will win over the TV at home for the Russians.”


But, there is another way to tell the truth to the Russians.

YouTube has escaped any major censorship since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite the company suspending all monetization in Russia.

So, optimizing Ukraine’s videos in Russian could help Tkachenko tell the truth about the war to 106 million YouTube users in the Russian Federation.

I also suggested helping Bill McKibben, founder of Third Act, which is organizing people over the age of 60 to defend our climate and democracy.

He’s pushing a plan called Heat Pumps for Peace and Freedom.

In an op-ed entitled, “Heat pumps could help ease the climate crisis — and the war in Ukraine,” which was published by The Boston Globe on April 4, McKibben explained,


“Putin built his army on oil and gas earnings, and he’s made Europe cower by threatening to turn off the energy spigot. Both can be addressed in part by the massive application of technology.

The simple heat pump, for instance, which is basically a highly efficient air conditioner that also works in reverse, uses electricity to take the ambient heat from the outside air to warm a home.”

Does this plan seem farfetched?

Well, five U.S. Senators – including both Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts – have written to the White House asking President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would get America’s air conditioning factories to start churning out heat pumps for immediate export.

And you can help McKibben by optimizing YouTube videos in more than 100 countries around the world, across 80 languages, to build support for this strategic plan to deliver millions of heat pumps to Europe before October, making Putin’s energy weapon much stronger less potent.

Finally, I suggested helping David Wells, Senator for Newfoundland and Labrador in the Canadian Parliament’s Upper Chamber, Vice President of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, and Canada’s delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Senator Wells spoke on March 31 at a “Geoeconomic RoundTable: War in Ukraine – Political and Economic Forum,” which discussed how the invasion of Ukraine is affecting global food security. He said,


“David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, told the U.N. Security Council this week that the war in Ukraine has created ‘a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe’ and will have a global impact ‘beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II’ because many of the Ukrainian farmers who produce a significant amount of the world’s wheat are now fighting Russians.

He also stated that the war in Ukraine is turning ‘the breadbasket of the world to breadlines.”

Geoeconomic RoundTableScreenshot from Geoeconomic RoundTable: War in Ukraine – Political and Economic Forum, March 2022Geoeconomic RoundTable

Senator Wells added,

“It is imperative that we establish a long-term strategic plan to address this situation as well as plan for the future as this crisis has changed the playing field possibly for generations.

Canada, as the fifth largest supplier of wheat in the world, is a key player and can participate in a long-term strategy.”

And, you can help Senator Wells by optimizing a series of videos that explain Ukraine’s absence from the world’s grain market will cause “a significant dent in world supply” and a problem in price.

“This will be a huge issue for the world’s poorer countries – particularly in Africa and Asia,” he said.

There are many other ways SEOs and digital marketers can #standwithukraine.

Miranda Miller outlined them in her post, “SEO Community Support For Ukraine & How You Can Help.”

In short, do something.


You can’t control who lives, dies, or tells your story, but you can influence all three outcomes.

More resources:  

Featured Image: Darya Lavinskaya/Shutterstock


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Reddit Post Ranks On Google In 5 Minutes




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.”


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, 6 authoritative SEO websites and’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.


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.


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”




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).


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.”


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.


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


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

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices




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.


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.


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.


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:

  • 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:


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.


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: 


Featured Image: Vanatchanan/Shutterstock

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