By Gene McKenna
So you thought ranking #1 for a search was as good as you could get, right? How about ranking #1 with a strong indicator that your position there is pretty solid? A new browser optimization in search results might be giving us that clue.
Starting around August 26th, our in-house analytics system at Groupon started reporting a big increase in homepage views.
It’s rare for a search marketing team to complain about too much traffic, but all this new traffic was coming only from the Chrome browser, arriving only at our homepage, and much of it was bouncing, it was killing our revenue-per-session metrics, and all of it was from SEO (Organic Search).
And this “Chrome Home” traffic, as we called it, kept growing and growing — until, by September 25th, we had tens of thousands of additional Chrome requests per day, at a time when other browsers were showing relatively no growth at all. And we saw this in every country around the world that we checked all starting about the same time.
What we learned is that Chrome prerender kicked into high gear for us in September as Google search results pages added prerender tags on searches for Groupon.
Let’s Define Prerender
So, what is prerender, and how does it work? Allow me to illustrate by using an example.
If you search for Groupon, Google knows there is a very high likelihood you will click on the Groupon homepage in the search results. This also applies to lots of other highly predictive searches: [cnn], [nytimes], etc.
In these cases, Chrome will fetch the homepage even before you click on anything in the results. If you do and then click on this prerendered result, Chrome will request the page again — presumably with many static items …read more