GOOGLE EXPANDED TEXT ADS: TICK-TOCK
The deadline for changing over (if you haven’t already) to the updated Google Expanded Text Ads in Google Adwords is fast approaching. The deadline set is January 31st, 2017. Many advertising agencies like MXS Solutions have been working since last summer to get our older accounts switched over to the new format while since it’s launch of Expanded Text Ads, every new ad getting created in the new format. If you have Google AdWords campaigns that are currently in the Standard Text Format, it’s not the end of the world (unless you have OCD). Your Standard Text Ads will continue to run with the Expanded Text Ads, but you will not be able to edit the older formatted ads.
WHAT IS AN EXPANDED TEXT AD?
According to Google, Expanded Text Ads are different from the Standard Text Ads in some key ways.
- Two headline fields (up to 30 characters each)
- A single, expanded description field (up to 80 characters)
- A display URL that uses your final URL’s domain
- Two optional ”Path” fields, used in the ad’s display URL (up to 15 characters each)
One of the main differences is that your “Display URL” does not need to match your “Final URL”. This makes things somewhat more simplistic for making it easier to add new Ads and reduces the chance of a wrong URL being inputted.
ADVICE FROM GOOGLE FOR EXPANDED TEXT ADS
We like how Ginny Marvin from Search Engine Land laid out what to look for with Expanded Text Ads (article here) and we just also wanted to reiterate what Google has been saying.
- Test multiple versions of your expanded text ads. Try different approaches with the new space your ads now have. Shoot for 3–5 new ads per ad group. Advertisers who test multiple creatives see better performance.
- Focus your testing on headlines. Headlines are the most important parts of your ads, and you now have an extra line to experiment with.
- Replicate what works in standard text ads in your expanded text ads. For example, if you mention pricing or use keyword insertion in a successful standard text ad, carry those over to expanded text ads.
- Consider shorter headlines on brand terms. Sometimes “Your Company’s Name — Official Site” might be all you need. You aren’t required to use all of your available characters. Test shorter ad copy, especially on terms where someone might not need a lot of additional info.
- Leave your standard text ads running until the new versions are consistently outperforming them. An expanded text ad isn’t guaranteed to be a winner simply because you have more characters.
- Leave your top performing ads running, regardless of their length.
- Review your pre-existing ads for previous success with longer headlines. Consider promoting description line 1 in a standard text ad to you new headline 2, especially if that ad performed well in the past.
- Don’t implement the same expanded text ad across many different ad groups. Your ads should be tailored to users’ searches.
- Don’t blindly insert a new second headline without changing the rest of the ad. Add content that is relevant to the query and fits well with the rest of the creative.
- Don’t write expanded text ads that lose their relevance to a user’s query. Remember that user query in your text.
- Don’t leave out specific benefits or attributes of your product that had proven to be enticing in the past. Test all of your benefits to find what works in the new format.
(Google Source on Expanded Text Ads)
Most folks that use AdWords on the surface and don't dive too deeply into it may thing that Ads are just what they create for the product or service that they are pushing. They may not realize that they have an excellent resource at their fingertips (or mouse click) called Dynamic Search Ads. These can "auto-build" ads based on the content of your website. This means that if you have an expansive website, this may be a great addition to have in it's own campaign (so you can budget it much easier). We generally recommend creating a Dynamic Ad Campaign in conjunction with traditional ad campaigns within your account.
Google Dynamic Ads: Defined
According to Google:
- Dynamic Search Ads uses Google's organic web-crawling technology to automatically target relevant search queries based on your website content
- Incremental traffic from Dynamic Search Ads can fill in gaps in your keyword campaigns for great return on investment (ROI)
- Dynamic Search Ads offers a powerful way to target ads to many queries through an easy campaign-creation workflow
Google Dynamic Ads: Defined by MXS
We love our dynamic ads here at MXS. While you can just use them and nothing else, you may not be able to compete with others that are going after the same market. If they have specific keyword phrases being targeted and you do not, they generally will win. The bonus here is that you can have campaigns that target specific pages with specific keyword phrases, and bid appropriately for them. With the dynamic ads, this will literally "pick up the rest". In some cases, the dynamic ad may be better suited for a customer's keyword search phrase than the actual keyword phrase we use in another campaign. This means that the algorithm that Google AdWords uses picked it for various metrics and the bid is less (sometimes a lot less) than what it could have been with the exact phrase. Sound Greek? It's Ok, all you need to know for your business is that having Dynamic Ads around is a good thing that can yield additional leads to areas on your website.
Those that have been around the Internet are very aware of Google and know that they are constantly innovating their products. This equates to new releases on existing platforms and introductions to new products. AdWords, being one of their keystone products, has released hundreds of new features just over the last year alone. Many of these features were not even announced publicly, but rolled into the framework regardless. Some of these updates may not affect the masses of AdWords users, but some may and should be put in order of importance.
Top 5 Google AdWords Features
We've compiled a list below of the top 5 Google AdWords features that you should be using. For sake of transparency, it is possible for anyone using Google AdWords to use their online website to perform most functions required to have successful online campaigns, but these tools below can make more efficient use of your time when setting up or updating your online campaigns. These are in order of importance (in case you wanted to start with #1).
- Google AdWords Editor
We like to use the AdWords Editor as a training tool. New AdWords workers that we train have to do things "the hard way" first all online, and then we show them the Google AdWords Editor program. This way, they can draw parallels to what they are doing offline with the online version. The Google AdWords Editor allows offline edits to Campaigns, AdGroups, Ads, Keywords, Locations and all things in between. One of the biggest bonuses from using the offline editor is the ability to copy-and-paste data. You cannot do this online. Say you have eight campaigns, and you decide to add a new location. Online, you would have to go to each of the eight campaigns and add the location. With the Google AdWords Editor, you still have to go to each campaign, but because it's offline, you don't have to go "page-to-page" for the updates. You can copy-and-paste the value for each campaign. This literally shaves off minutes of work per each action. When your done with all your "offline edits", you simply upload/publish your changes back to Google AdWords. Speed wins in this equation.
- Call Tracking Features
Mobile is now dominating online searches. If your website is not mobile friendly, stop reading this blog and contact us immediately to help you out. If your website is mobile-friendly, then you can rest assured that your site, if the same (and similar metrics) as a competitor site that is not mobile friendly, yours should always outrank it. Click-to-call is the name of the game ladies and gentleman. Google acquired Grand Central Station many years ago and it is now known as Google Voice. With this technology, Google now uses a virtual number for "click-to-call" buttons that show with your Ads opposed to just using your number (although that is still an option). Using their proprietary system, now website calls from the ads shown have deeper analytics other than "yep, they called", or just bypassing the button altogether to call the business directly.
- Targeting Ads using Demographics
Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter do a great job of targeting demographics. Did you know you can do the same thing with Google AdWords? This idea stared a couple years ago with Google to have keyword searches and display ads using targeted demographics. This setup gives you insight into who was clicking on or viewing your campaign ads. The information you can gather here is good, but don't expect to get things like their blood type or other really-specific information. You will be able to see data like age, gender and if they are parents or not.
- HTML5 Ads
One of the more recently added tools added to the Google AdWords arsenal is the updated Web Designer. This allows you to create nice, great-looking, interactive and/or animated ads in HTML5. If you remember the days that Adobe Flash was all over the Internet with interactive banners, now this can be done with the click of a mouse on Google. HTML5 does not require an extension like the predecessor of animation "Flash" did. These ads exist on the Google Display Network, so you may want to consider this style of ads if you are already using this form of advertising within Google.
- Ad Callout Extensions
Ever wish that you could have 5 links instead of just the primary link you are pushing in your ad? Callout extensions exists for this reason. Underneath your primary ad's text, you can have things like "Get your special price here" or "Schedule a call 24/7 here", etc. These callout extensions are used to highlight parts of the business. These are different from the traditional sitelinks as sitelinks are design to send customers to specific pages of a site and/or give them a quick preview of a designated page. Callouts are good to use to give the ad an extra push for what you are selling.
These are a Top 5 Google AdWords features, but there are plenty that we use on a daily basis that did not make the list. Some may be more complex in nature and not designed for our audience. The features we listed above can be used by businesses that thrive on "weekend warrior" style work or full-blown businesses that have many employees. Google has done a good job trying to have tools to cater to almost every business.
In the middle of February, give or take a few days, Google snuffed out the ads that were showing on the right-side of the screen for desktop-oriented search results. What this has ultimately done is increase awareness (and competition) for the top-bar results that show directly underneath the search box. Some have speculated that this is going to make cost-per-click (CPC) go up exponentially, while others like us, assumed that it may increase slightly, but not be catastrophic. Many also assumed that Google was doing this solely just to increase their profits. That is a loaded statement. Sure, Google is always pursuing new ways to earn money, but what for-profit company isn't? Wouldn't you look at new ways to be profitable if it meant staying in the black versus the red? If anything, Google has a good track record of being purposeful for changes to it's Google Search Engine and Google AdWords engine.
Google Adwords: Small Businesses are still competitive
Just because there is less Ad real estate on searches doesn't automatically exclude those with smaller budgets out of the competition. We have seen a slight uptick in Click-Through-Rate (CTR) after the Google SERP update in mid-February. Perhaps that was one of the many reasons why Google did this? Another reason why businesses with smaller budgets like $10k per month versus bigger companies that spend $100k per month is the fact that traditionally, the business with the smaller budget pays more attention to the details of their budget. Other factors include improving quality scores with modifications to the landing pages, etc., to go with the Ads being shown. The idea is not new, and Google has mentioned the "how" on this several times over. We have become in tune with making our clients beat out the manufacturer's ads on several occasions, so we know it can be done despite a larger budget.
Google SERP: Results of the Change
One of the biggest changes that SEOs (MXS included) noticed is the drop in Impressions for our Ads, and this was across the board. It makes sense that instead of seeing up to 11 Ads on a search results page, we now see it capped at 7 Ads. If you don't show up in those 7 (or less), then that is (1) impression less than you had before. We strive to hit (and keep) our clients in the #1 spot for very targeted keyword phrases that make sense for their business. With having less Impressions now per Ads, and keeping someone consistent click average, our CTR is increasing somewhat across the board.
We can't have a better, more descriptive heading than "Mobile". This word can come in many forms, but for Google AdWords, this is the new King-of-the-hill word that Google wants to see in their Ads, the sites and landing pages for these Ads. If your page, site and/or Ad is not going the mobile-friendly route, you are going to be losing traffic to your competitors that are mobile-friendly. This uptick has been happening for a few years now, and mostly caught fire in the last two years with no signs of slowing down. Desktop, still has searches, but Mobile, for some of our clients, has eclipsed Desktop searches on average. This does not include Tablet searches as they are in their own category.