Update to AdWords Ad Sitelinks Serving

17 01 2011

Ad sitelinks have become a big success since their release over a year ago, helping advertisers to increase their CTR up to 30% on average.  As a result of sitelinks’ success and popularity, Google decided to improve the way they serve their ad sitelinks.  As you know, Google allows advertisers to add up to 10 sitelinks at the campaign level, which are then applied to relevant ads (which meet AdWords policy guidelines) at the ad group level.  Up until last week, Google chose to display an advertiser’s sitelinks by the order in which they were added.  Very scientific of Google.

“In the past, we simply used the order in which you entered your Sitelinks to rank which ones to serve. For example, while you could enter up to ten Sitelinks for a campaign, we primarily used the top four for any ad in the campaign (as long as they met our policy guidelines).” – Inside AdWords

With AdWords’ ad sitelinks new serving enhancement, sitelinks will be shown based on historical performance data, rotating in the sitelinks with the best CTR more often.  While advertisers will continue to create sitelinks at the campaign level, performance data will be assessed at the ad group level.  While this new serving enhancement is fantastic, AdWords still does not provide advertisers with the performance data for individual sitelinks.  This lack of data is unfortunate, as advertiser’s currently have no way of knowing which sitelink is performing better, because the CTR is applied to the entire group of sitelinks and not at the individual link level.

In the meantime, at least AdWords is now rotating sitelinks into ads based on performance data, and here’s to hoping that sitelink level performance data will be the next update in Google’s line of ad sitelinks enhancements.

Analyze Competition in AdWords

24 11 2010

The AdWords Analyze Competition feature, which was rolled out to all US advertisers at the end of August, after first being released in limited beta by Google in June of this year, is a great (lesser known) tool for understanding how your own campaign performance stacks up against the competitive landscape.  Analyzing the competition is an important component in finding new optimization opportunities and improving accounts on a monthly basis.  While the Analyze Competition feature is not a robust or highly intricate competitive intelligence tool (and is tucked away within the Opportunities tab of your account), the feature does shed light at a high level on your overall campaign performance in relation to your AdWords advertising competition.  Here’s how and why even this high-level competitive intelligence should become a useful part of your overall campaign optimization strategy:

Analyzing Your Competition

While business information is not divulged (it’s an aggregate average of all advertisers in your category), advertisers can get a satisfactory snapshot of how their account performance measures up to other advertisers bidding on keywords in the same categories.  This provides a great benchmarking analysis of where performance falls (at, below or above the competition) for campaign metrics such as impressions, clicks, CTR, or average position.  Unfortunately, conversion data is not one of the available metrics.  With the ability to use this data as an indicator of relative performance, advertisers can utilize these insights to make informed optimization decisions for their account.

Categorizing Keywords Properly

Keyword categorization is, as always, an important factor in ensuring your ads reach the right audience, obtain a high CTR and generate a positive quality score.  Using the Analyze Competition feature, advertisers can see how Google has assigned their keywords to a category and drill down to the specific search terms that triggered their ads.  This ability allows advertisers to identify new keyword or negative keyword opportunities and ideas for their account.  Advertisers will also discover if any keywords have been mis-categorized.  Moreover, Google isn’t perfect, so advertisers do have the option to alert Google if keywords have been mistakenly mis-categorized.

Finding Opportunities & Optimize Campaigns

Based on the competitive data garnered by the Analyze Competition feature, advertisers should determine which areas of their AdWords account they’d like to improve.  With the potential to expand keyword targeting opportunities, increase impressions, improve ad positioning and more, advertisers can pair this data with the automated optimization recommendations (customized to their account in the Opportunities tab), align with their goals and make performance changes.

Using the Analyze Competition Feature

Login to your AdWords account and follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Opportunities tab.
  2. Click on the Analyze competition link in the top left side bar, below the Ideas link.
  3. Adjust the compared metric, as necessary (default metric is “Impressions”).
  4. Click on a category link to drill down to a more specific sub-category.
  5. When the category name is no longer a link, you have hit the most specific sub-category.
  6. Click on the See Search Terms link for a list of searches that have been identified as relevant to that category.
  7. Analyze competitive metrics.

Here’s to analyzing success.

AdWords Ad Text Wrapping

22 09 2010

One of the trickiest aspects of writing PPC ads is finding a way to confine your advertising message within Google AdWords’ strict character limits.  In some cases, the use of necessary punctuation is omitted in an effort to fit more words into the ad text copy.

The traditional AdWords ad text character limit follows the below guidelines:

Line 1 or TITLE = 25 characters

Line 2 of AD TEXT = 35 characters

Line 3 of AD TEXT = 35 characters

DISPLAY URL = 35 characters

It’s easy to begin writing a PPC ad, arrive at the end of your Line 2 character limit, and decide it’s not worth re-writing to fit a period at the end of the sentence.  You think, no big deal, searchers will understand it’s the end of a sentence because the second sentence begins on Line 3.  Wrong – to some extent.  It’s time to get back into the habit of best practice ad copywriting, specifically when using correct punctuation.  Here’s why.

  • Google has recently started “text wrapping” (think Microsoft Word/Excel) sponsored listings in SERPs (as well as organic listings), as the browser becomes narrower or wider.  Depending on the width of a searcher’s browser, your ad may not be displayed in the typical 25-35-35 fashion.
  • Additionally, text ads in the top positions (purple box) on Google.com also have a similar issue, as Line 2 and Line 3 of the ad text are normally displayed on a single line regardless of how you have previously configured the characters within the AdWords interface or using AdWords Editor.  These ads are also affected by text wrapping.

In some circumstances, an advertiser’s neglect to add the appropriate punctuation may compromise the readability and messaging of a PPC ad.  Google’s display of variable AdWords line lengths in SERPs can return confusing, run on sentences to searchers.  The last thing you (as an advertiser) want to do is to have your first impression with a potential customer be a lackluster one.  Poor use of punctuation, or lack thereof, can rub searchers the wrong way.  Your potential customers or clients may dismiss your unpolished ad for a competitor’s ad, which reads more professionally.

Figure 1 below shows ads that are displaying lines of text that exceed the 35 character length as a result of text wrapping:

Figure 1: AdWords Ad Text Wrapping

Ad Text Wrapping

The current AdWords interface and most recent version of AdWords Editor do not allow advertisers to manipulate how their ad text length will display in variation from the traditional 25 and 35 character limits.  The takeaway – it’s up to small business advertisers to create ad text accordingly, using punctuation that reads correctly regardless of what AdWords line length is shown.  With the holiday advertising season closing in, now is the time for advertisers to audit current PPC ads and fix punctuation anomalies.

AdWords Location Extensions Get a Makeover for Multiple Locations

25 08 2010

Google recently introduced its newest upgrade to the location extensions feature, in a makeover that allows advertisers to showcase multiple business locations beneath their sponsored listing, within a relevant area.  For local businesses running paid search campaigns, this feature extends the capability of a sponsored listing to include up to four nearby business locations shown on a Google map alongside their PPC ad and gives searchers the ability to search for the location nearest to their address (within that paid ad).  This upgrade comes as an improvement to last year’s debut of the first generation location extension feature, which allowed advertisers to dynamically attach just a single business address to their paid ads using location extensions (note: location extensions replaced the previous “local business ads”).

In short, location extensions enhance a typical PPC text ad beyond the traditional two lines of ad copy and headline.  Here are the key features that benefit local businesses tremendously:

  • Enhances a text ad with relevant and nearby location information (business address, phone number, option to get directions).
  • Grabs additional top-of-the-page real estate (adds a Google map and multiple locations below the text ad, which is fantastic if the current Google Place Page is not ranking in the local 7-pack).
  • Business location results update dynamically when a user searches for locations near their specific address.
    • For larger companies with a high volume of locations, be cognizant when utilizing location extensions (currently limited to the four most relevant locations) as it may result in an uneven display of store locations.
    • Potential to improve CTR (click through rate), based on additional, eye-grabbing location information.
    • In certain instances, location extension ads can be displayed on the Search Network, Display Network and on Google Maps.

Take the search query “seattle moving company” for example, which returns the following result, shown in figure 1.  By searching for locations closest to a specific address, the paid listing dynamically updates to also show the nearby Tacoma location (with the ability to show up to four locations, if a local business has that many).  There is no additional fee, and an advertiser only pays for the click, based on the typical CPC bidding through AdWords.

Figure 1: AdWords Location Extensions for Multiple Locations

AdWords location extensions for multiple=

AdWords location extensions for multiple locations

And, if your ad is not capturing the first position, don’t worry.  By utilizing location extensions your ad can still look like figure 2, where the most relevant business address is dynamically attached to the bottom of your text ad.

Figure 2: AdWords Location Extensions for an ad not in the #1 position

AdWords location extensions

AdWords location extensions

How to Implement Location Extensions in your AdWords Account:

AdWords gives local advertisers the option to automatically (business owners only) or manually include business locations in ads.  To automatically include information, you must be a business owner.  This allows you to link your existing Google Places account to your AdWords account to populate your local extensions.  If you are not a business owner, you have the option to manually enter business location information for your location extensions through the AdWords interface.  Follow these easy steps from Google (shown below) to implement location extensions in your AdWords account:

  • Sign in to your AdWords account.
  • Click the campaign you want to edit.
  • Click the Settings tab for that campaign.
  • Under Ad extensions > Locations, select one of the following options:
    • Business owners – Use addresses from Google Places: Select this option to link an existing Google Places account to your campaign. Eligible addresses from your Google Places account may be shown with your ad when relevant.
    • Non-business owners – Use manually entered addresses: You can manually enter up to 9 business addresses. Again, the address may be shown with your ad when relevant.
  • Click Save settings.

And finally, Google has hinted that they will soon be adding a feature to AdWords Editor to support location extensions.  However, for now advertisers have to stick with editing and managing location extensions through the new AdWords interface.

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