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Why we’re hardwired to believe SEO myths (and how to spot them!)



Why we’re hardwired to believe SEO myths (and how to spot them!)

Give someone a fish and they’ll EAT for one day. Teach someone to fish and they’ll EAT for a lifetime. Yes, that’s an SEO pun. It’s also the goal of this article.

If you pop into either of the fantastic SEO communities on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’ll inevitably encounter some common SEO myths:

  • “Longer dwell time means a good user experience, so it must be a ranking factor”
  • “A high bounce rate indicates a bad user experience, so it must be bad for SEO”

Social media posts like these get tons of engagement. As a result, they amplify the myths we try to squash through repetition, false evidence, and faulty logic. The problem isn’t limited to social media, either. There are plenty of high-profile websites that package hypotheses as facts because readers eat them up.

These myths are a huge problem because they’re red herrings. They cause marketers to prioritize projects that won’t improve the content, user experience, or Google search performance.

So how can the SEO community rally around the truth? We can start by doing two things:

  1. SEOs must admit our personalities and professions hardwire us to believe myths. We have a deep desire for answers, control, and predictability, as well as a fierce distrust of Google.
  2. We need to recognize the psychological and environmental factors that influence our ability to sort fact from fiction.

So rather than busting individual myths, let’s ask ourselves “why?” instead. In other words, let’s learn to fish.

Internal reasons we believe SEO myths

Let’s dig into some internal factors, such as our thoughts and feelings, that influence our beliefs.

1. SEOs need structure and control

SEO is a fascinating branch of marketing because our performance is driven by a constantly evolving algorithm that we don’t control. In fact, there were more than 5,000 Google algorithm updates in 2021 alone.

In other words, SEOs live in a world of crippling dependency. Even the top-ranking signals that we know about can fluctuate based on the industry, query, or available content within Google’s index. For example, if you manage websites in the finance or health space, E-A-T is critical. If you publish news content, then recency is very important.

To gain a sense of structure and control, we look for more ways to influence outcomes. But there are two problems with that approach:

  • We overestimate the impact of individual ranking factors
  • We falsely believe something is a Google ranking factor that is not

Our need to amplify our own level of control is supported by psychology. A 2016 study revealed an individual’s need for structure made them more likely to believe in a conspiracy theory.

“The human tendency to recognize patterns even when none exist is shown to have applications in consumer behavior. The current research demonstrates that as one’s personal need for structure (PNS) increases (that is, requiring predictability and disfavoring uncertainty), false consumer pattern perceptions emerge.”

If you find yourself waffling between fact and fiction, don’t let your desire for control dictate your final decision.


2. The primal need to recognize patterns

The human brain is excellent at recognizing patterns. Throughout history, we’ve relied on that ability to make better decisions and ensure the survival of our species. Unfortunately, we’re so good at spotting patterns that we also fabricate them.

False pattern recognition has several drawbacks –

  • It might influence SEO decisions that could have a sitewide impact
  • If you overstate the connection publicly, others might misinterpret it as fact

An excellent example surfaced on Twitter recently. Google’s John Mueller was asked if adding too many links to your site’s main navigation could impact Google Discover traffic. The individual who asked the question ran several tests and saw positive results, but Mueller said it was merely an interesting correlation.

“I’d still go with ’unrelated’. As mentioned in our docs: Given the serendipitous nature of Discover, traffic from Discover is less predictable or dependable when compared to Search, and is considered supplemental to your Search traffic.”

Fortunately, this individual went straight to the source for an answer instead of publishing a case study that could have had serious implications for website navigation decisions.

3. Confirmation bias

It’s well-documented that people accept information that supports their beliefs and reject information that doesn’t. It’s a primordial trait that evolved when we began to form social groups. Early humans surrounded themselves with others who thought and acted the same way to ensure their survival.

One of the most famous confirmation bias studies comes from Stanford. For the study, researchers segmented students into two opposing groups based on their beliefs about capital punishment.


One group supported capital punishment and believed it reduced crime. The other opposed it and believed it had no impact on crime.

Each group was asked to react to two studies, one which supported their views, and one which contradicted them. Both groups found the study that aligned with their beliefs much more credible, and each became more entrenched in their original beliefs.

SEO practitioners are particularly prone to confirmation bias because we’re terrified of being wrong. We hypothesize, test, build, optimize, and iterate. If we’re wrong too often, we’ll waste time and money, and we could risk our reputation and our jobs.

We need to be right so badly that we may accept myths that confirm our beliefs rather than admit failure.

4. Lack of trust in Google

It’s safe to say most SEOs don’t trust Google. That has led to some of the longest-running SEO myths I could find. For example, even after seven years of repeated rejections from Google, many SEO experts still believe engagement is a ranking signal.

Here’s John Mueller shooting down the engagement myth in 2015:


“I don’t think we even see what people are doing on your website. If they are filling out forms or not, if they are converting and actually buying something… So if we can’t see that, then that is something we cannot take into account. So from my point of view, that is not something I’d really treat as a ranking factor.”

Nearly seven years later, in March 2022, John was asked the same question again, and his response was pretty much the same:

“So I don’t think we would use engagement as a factor.”

And yet, the SEOs piled on in the comments. I encourage you to read them if you want a sense of the intense level of mistrust. Essentially, SEOs overanalyzed Mueller’s words, questioned his honesty, and claimed he was misinformed because they had contradictory insider information.

5. Impostor syndrome

Even the most seasoned SEO professionals admit they’ve felt the pain of impostor syndrome. You can easily find discussions on Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn about how we question our own level of knowledge. That’s especially true in public settings when we’re surrounded by our peers.

Not long ago Azeem Ahmad and Izzie Smith chatted about impostor syndrome. Here’s what Izzie said:

“It’s really hard to put yourself out there and share your learnings. We’re all really afraid. I think most of us have this impostor syndrome that’s telling us we’re not good enough.”

This contributes to SEO myths in several ways. First, it erodes self-confidence, which makes individuals more prone to believe myths. Second, it prevents folks who might want to challenge inaccurate information from speaking out publicly because they’re afraid they’ll be attacked.


Needless to say, that enables myths to spread throughout the broader community.

The best way to combat impostor syndrome is to ensure SEO communities are safe and supportive of new members and new ideas. Be respectful, open-minded, and accepting. If more folks speak out when something doesn’t feel accurate, then we can keep some troublesome myths in check.

External reasons we believe SEO myths

Now let’s explore the external forces, like peers and publishers, that cause us to believe SEO myths.

1. Peer pressure

Peer pressure is closely related to impostor syndrome, except it comes from the outside. It’s a feeling of coercion from peers, whether a large group of SEOs, a widely known expert or a close mentor or colleague.

Because humans are social creatures, our urge to fit in often overpowers our desire to be right. When something doesn’t feel right, we go with the flow anyway for fear of being ostracized. In fact, social proof can be more persuasive than purely evidence-based proof.

I asked the Twitter SEO community if anyone ever felt compelled to accept an SEO ranking factor as fact based on popular opinion. Several folks replied, and there was an interesting theme around website code.


“Back in 2014, a web developer told me he truly believed text-to-code ratio was a ranking factor. For a while, I believed him because he made convincing arguments and he was the first developer I met who had an opinion about SEO.”

—  Alice Roussel

“Years and years ago I wanted code quality to be a ranking factor. Many thought it was because it made sense to reward well-written code. But it never was. Browsers had to be very forgiving because most sites were so badly built.”

—  Simon Cox

Similar to combatting impostor syndrome, if we develop a more tolerable SEO community that’s willing to respectfully debate issues, we’ll all benefit from more reliable information.

2. Outdated information

If you publish content about SEO, then you’ll be guilty of spreading SEO myths at some point. Google updates its algorithms thousands of times each year, which means assumptions are disproven and once-good advice becomes outdated.

Trusted publishers have a duty to refresh or remove inaccurate content to prevent SEO misconceptions from spreading.


For example, in 2019 Google changed how it handles outbound links. It introduced two new link attributes into the nofollow family, UGC and sponsored, and began to treat all three of these as hints instead of ignoring nofollow links.

So if you wrote about link attributes prior to September 2019, your advice is probably out of date.

Unfortunately, most SEOs update content because it’s underperforming, not because it’s wrong. So perhaps publishers should put integrity above performance to strengthen our community.

3. Jumping on trends

Sometimes SEO myths explode because the facts can’t keep up with the virality of the myth. One of my favorite examples is the LSI keyword trend. This one pops up on Twitter from time to time, and thankfully Bill Slawski is quick to quash it.

Trend-based myths go viral because they tap into the fear of missing out (FOMO), and SEOs hate to miss out on the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. They also resonate with SEOs because they appear to offer a secret glimpse into Google’s black box.

Although trends eventually fade, they will remain a thorn in our side as long as the original sources remain unchanged.


4. Correlation vs causation

The most difficult myths to bust are those backed by data. No matter how many times Google debunks them, they won’t die if folks come armed with case studies.

Take exact match domains (EMD) for example. This article lists several reasons why EMDs are good for SEO, using as a case study. But it’s a classic chicken and egg argument. Does the site rank number one for “hotels” because it’s an EMD? Or is it because the owner clearly understood SEO strategy and prioritized keyword research, link building, internal links, page speed, and high-quality content marketing for the last 27 years?

We also can’t discount the fact that the domain has 42 million backlinks.

But if you want to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth, Google’s John Mueller says EMDs provide no SEO bonus. Here’s what he said on Reddit:

“There’s no secret SEO bonus for having your keywords in the domain name. And for those coming with “but there are keyword domains ranking well” — of course, you can also rank well with a domain that has keywords in it. But you can rank well with other domain names too, and a domain won’t rank well just because it has keywords in it.”

This is obviously correlation, not causation.

To be clear, I fully support running SEO tests to learn more about Google’s algorithm. But it’s incredibly difficult to create a signal vacuum that prevents outside influences from skewing your results. And even if you manage to isolate one ranking factor, you have no way of knowing how strong the signal is in relation to other signals. In a total vacuum, one signal may win. But in the wilderness of Google, it may be so weak that it’s virtually nonexistent.


Furthermore, the signal may only apply to certain types of content. We’ve seen signal fluctuations before regarding product reviews and E-A-T in YMYL spaces. So even if data suggests something might improve organic rankings, how reliable is the information, and how important is the signal?

All this is to say that we should be very careful when proclaiming new ranking factors, especially if they contradict Google’s statements or stray too far from universally measuring user experience.

5. It’s plausible, but not measurable

This group of myths is rooted in logic, which makes them particularly dangerous and sticky. Usually, they follow a simple formula: if A = B, and B = C, then A = C.

Here’s an example:

  • Google wants to rank content that provides a good user experience
  • If a webpage has a high bounce rate, it must provide a bad user experience
  • Therefore, a high bounce rate is bad for SEO

This seems to make sense, right? Yet, Google has said many times they can’t see what users do on your website, and they don’t look at bounce rate.

I’ve seen the same argument applied to dwell time, time on page, SERP click-through rates (CTR), and so on. To be clear, Google says CTR  does not drive organic search engine rankings because that would cause results to be overrun with spammy, low-quality content.

Most often these myths stem from competing views about what a good user experience looks like and how to measure it. What constitutes a good experience for one type of search query might be a terrible experience for another. This lack of consistency makes it virtually impossible to identify metrics that can be deployed universally across all websites.


In other words, if potential user experience signals depend on too many factors, Google can’t use them. That’s why they launched the page experience update in 2021 which quantifies user experience with specific, universal metrics.

Here’s your fishing pole

In many cases, SEO myths fall into more than one of the above categories which makes them even more difficult to dispel. That’s why we keep seeing social media posts falsely identifying ranking factors like keyword density, domain authority, conversions, and meta keywords.

If you understand a few basic concepts about ranking factors, you’ll be better equipped to sort fact from fiction and prioritize SEO initiatives that drive more organic traffic.

Ask yourself these five questions when you smell the stench of a myth:

  • Is it quantifiable and measurable?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Is it broadly or universally true, or does it depend on the user?
  • Does it support Google’s goals of delivering a better user experience?
  • Has Google confirmed or denied it publicly?

If you can check each of those boxes, then you may have a valid ranking factor on your hands. But don’t take my word for it. Run some tests, ask some friends, use logic, and confirm your theory. And if all else fails, just ask John Mueller.

Jonas Sickler is a published author and digital marketer. He writes about SEO, brand reputation, customer attention, and marketing. His advice has appeared in hundreds of publications, including Forbes, CNBC, CMI, and Search Engine Watch. He can be found on Twitter @JonasSickler.

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.


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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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