Posts about paid search, display and other online ads.

Dads & Grads: How to Capitalize on Two of the Biggest Holidays of the Summer!

Happy Father's Day - I heard DadThe months of May and June are prime time for PPC campaigns as we celebrate a flurry of holidays and big events. Last month our team discussed making the most of Mother’s Day ads and this month we focus on the double whammy of Father’s Day and Graduation season! This year, Father’s Day falls on June 17th and will be celebrated on this day in the U.S, Canada, the U.K and France, opening up a vast opportunity for advertisers who wish to reach a wider audience and can ship internationally.

With over 70% of adults shopping online, and men’s online shopping surpassing women’s, it’s time that advertisers begin capitalizing on the potential for huge sales during holidays like Father’s Day. In 2011, the average spend for Father’s Day gifts was $106.49, up from $94.32 in 2010, and this number is expected to rise once more this year. Last year, about $1.4 billion was spent on gift cards, $653 million on sporting goods, $593 million on car accessories, $1.3 billion on electronics, and $1.4 billion on clothing – this year’s numbers are expected to increase. Now consider that 20% of all father’s day purchases are completed online – that’s a huge chunk of the pie that advertisers could miss out on without developing targeted Father’s Day ads and sales.

Happy Graduation - smile, you've made itAs for Graduation season, late May through early June is typically the peak of high school and college graduations with parents and family members trying to find the perfect gift for their grad. If you’re planning on developing a sale with lowered prices, why not get two for the price of 1 and target both dads and grads? With slight tweaks and targeting, you can focus on two popular seasonal markets.

Here are some tips to consider when optimizing your ad campaign for the Dads & Grads season:

  1. Perform keyword research to accurately target your market with the most effective keywords.
  2. Consider which of your products and services are most relevant to the holiday (i.e. home goods may be best targeted to high school grads going off to college or new college grads moving out on their own while sporting goods may be best for dads!).
  3. Look at match types for your keywords. For the most popular electronic terms, the highest volume of impressions and clicks are coming from exact match.
  4. Broad match can help you catch searches on variations of your keywords, thereby casting a wider net of possible visitors.
  5. If offering a promotion, include the promo code directly in the ad copy or in a clearly marked space on the landing page.
  6. Create seasonal ads with targeted, enticing copy for your Father’s Day/Grad sales.
  7. Establish a time period: Ideally, having ads up by the last week in May would be best but there are plenty of shoppers looking for last minute deals. Be sure to have your end date established which can also help entice shoppers to act immediately rather than continuing to shop around.
  8. Develop a great landing page: clear calls to action, identifiable sales and deals, easy to maneuver. Make sure visitors don’t fall off at this point by having an enticing landing page!

Sources:

http://community.microsoftadvertising.com/en/small-business/adcenter/b/advertiser/archive/2012/05/30/father-s-day-2012-tips-and-trends-for-adcenter-advertisers.aspx

http://switchedonmedia.com.au/blog/ppc-holiday-campaigns-set-up-tips/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/men-online-shopping_n_1475576.html

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/infographic-world-online-shopping/

3 Simple Techniques to Fix Your Low Quality Score

When it comes to PPC advertising and Google Adwords, the one metric that will make or break your campaign is Quality Score (QS). Every single one of your keywords has its own Quality Score, so when you’re stuck with a low Quality Score problem and you’ve done everything you can to ensure relevancy between the landing page, ad copy, and keywords, then it’s usually easier to just increase your bids and move on to bigger and better keywords. In some cases, however, it is worth taking the time to troubleshoot a few of your keywords, especially when there’s potential for high conversion value.

In April 2012, Google updated the Quality Score dialog box with new Quality Score indicators: Expected clickthrough rate, Ad relevance, and Landing page experience. This dialog box is accessible by hovering your cursor over the dialog box icon in the status column, which pops up a tooltip that includes these indicators. While Google uses these factors and several more to determine your Quality Score, clickthrough rate is considered to be the most important factor—after all, if your ad is relevant to the targeted keyword, then a large percentage of those searchers should be clicking on your advertisement. But what do you do when both your CTR and your landing page are non-problematic, yet you’re still getting a low Quality Score?

With these aforementioned changes to Google’s Quality Score indicators, you can now discern whether or not your ad copy is what is causing your low Quality Score. For example, when you open up the dialog box of a low QS keyword, the ad relevance indicator might say, “Below average,” and now you know the low QS is most likely due to a perceived mismatch between the ad copy and the keyword.

Sometimes this perceived mismatch is not apparent to us and is only apparent to Google’s algorithms. Sometimes, even when you use keyword insertion, making your ad copy include the exact same keyword the searcher typed in, you are still presented with a low Quality Score. This is because there are other words besides the actual keyword itself that can affect the QS. Discovering and adding these semantically related keywords can boost your Quality Score in many situations. Today I’m going to show you 3 simple techniques to find semantically related keywords to include in your ad copy in order to fix your low Quality Scores issues.

1. The Tilde Operator

tilde operator as advanced google search operator

The tilde command is an advanced Google search operator that searches for synonyms of your keyword along with the actual keyword itself. You can tell what these synonyms are by looking at the bolded keywords on the search engine results page.

E.g. Your search query is: ~yacht

Some of the bolded keywords on the first couple of pages are: yacht, yachts, yachting, boats, boat, and sailing.

Now let’s take this one step further and add the same keyword, but as a negative search term.

E.g. Your search query is now: ~yacht -yacht

Now you can see ONLY the synonyms of the keyword “yacht.” Not only do you get to see terms that you may not have seen in your first search, but you also get an idea of which keywords Google considers to be the same as the keyword “yacht,” such as “yachts” and “yachting,” due to the fact that they haven’t shown up.

Now that you know the search terms that Google considers related to your keyword that are not the keyword itself, you can start making a list of keywords to consider including in your ad copy. Furthermore, you can string out your search query multiple times, each level giving you more and more related keywords.

E.g. ~yacht -yacht -boat –sail

Not only can this technique help you fix your low Quality Score, but it’s also great for SEO purposes and gives you insight into Google’s Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) for specific search terms.

2. Google Sets Feature in Google Docs

google sets as a feature of google docs for generating related words

Google Sets was a Google Labs tool that was shut down in September 2011, but it is still available as a feature in Google Docs spreadsheets. In order to use the feature, simply type in 3-5 related keywords down one column, highlight them, and then Ctrl + drag the corner down to generate a list of related words. This is a great method to build a wide set of keywords for keyword research purposes, as well as for generating a list of related keywords for your ad copy troubleshooting.

3. Contextual Targeting Tool

generate related keywords by entering seed keywords in contextual targeting tool

With Google’s Contextual Targeting Tool in Adwords, you are able to generate related keywords by entering one or more seed keywords. Not only that, but the tool also generates these keywords and organizes them into themed ad groups.

While the tool is intended to be used to help you build display campaigns, it also provides another level of insight for finding what Google considers to be semantically related keywords—something that is especially important with new search terms that pop up which have not existed before, due to the fact that Google has less data to go off of. In cases like these, it may be beneficial to go ahead and check for what Google “knows” about a particular keyword because it’s still going to affect Quality Score if there’s a perceived lack of relevancy by the engine, even if we as humans can see that our ad is relevant to the keyword.

While it would be too time consuming to use these techniques for every single low Quality Score case, these are great options for making the most out of the current keywords in your Adwords campaigns and improving your QS by including semantically related keywords in the ad copy. Use all three methods in conjunction with each other rather than relying on any single one. By using all three methods, you’ll be able to find reoccurring keywords and patterns that will allow you to make better decisions about how you should change your ad and the direction you should take when creating fresh ad copy.

Eleven Must Read Tips for Effective Mother’s Day Advertising

We have a newer Mother’s Day marketing post– check out all the latest tips here!

While most of us know that Mother’s Day is coming up on May 13th, many advertisers don’t seem to take full advantage of this big day. Mother’s Day has become the second largest shopping holiday, with many people not only shopping for gifts for mothers but also wives (19.6%), daughters (9.6%), grandmothers (8.0%), sisters (8.4%), friends (7.3%), and godmothers (1.8%) as Allbusiness.com states. But advertisers not only forget to take these target audiences into consideration in their advertising strategy, but also don’t speak to the emotions that are surrounded by this holiday. Instead, they take ads that would usually be used to promote other holidays and replace the words “Christmas” and “Halloween” with “Mother’s Day”.  Moreover, they use phrases like: “Don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day” or “Mother’s Day Specials”. While most of us have a strong bond with our mom, we also want to give her a gift that emotionally connects us with her and that shows her how much we really love her. Therefore, the advertising strategy needs to tap into the emotions of the customers and promote the product as the emotional bond between the customer and the recipient.

So what should you consider including for an effective advertising strategy for Mother’s Day?

Gift Suggestions: Create a Mother’s Day category on your website with gift suggestions to help buyers decide on how to show their love. These suggestions should include the bestselling products for women, Mother’s Day specials etc.

Upselling, Cross-selling & Bundles: It can be hard to sell additional products or services to your customers when they are only looking for one certain product/service on your website. Therefore, you should use emotional holidays like Mother’s Day to promote higher priced items and combine products/services to one special offer. You never know, those ideas may become customer favorites and a bestseller, not only on holidays.

Timing: While most retailers don’t get their Mother’s Day promotions up and running until two weeks before the big day, you can use this time to get the attention of buyers, using gift suggestions, incentives, contests and giveaways.

Contests and giveaways: In these times of social media, it is relatively easy to promote contests for free products or service giveaways via Facebook, Google+, Twitter as well as on your website. Ask people to write a short story about their mothers, wives, sisters, grandmothers, etc. and explain why they deserve to be appreciated on that day above everybody else. With potential buyers sharing contests and giveaways with their social network, your company will get some welcomed and (virtually) free exposure.

E-mail: Focus your email marketing/newsletter on Mother’s Day – include ideas of how the reader can make their Mom feel special and how your products or services can be of help in doing this. If you know your email recipients’ demographics, you can also send out specifically targeted offers such as: “How [Your Company Name] can help make your Mom feel special!” And don’t forget to highlight other fun and interesting things to do on Mother’s Day so your readers can surprise their Moms.

Partner with other businesses or applications: Include a link or application on your website, social media, and newsletter to help your customers create an ecard or let them write a short story that they can send to their special someone on Mother’s Day. Think about partnering with daily deal companies, like Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. to offer discounts on your product offerings.

If you have a local store, partner with other local businesses to create a special deal that attracts customers to shop your store and create advertisements in the local newspaper that highlight “How to Celebrate Mom”.

Get customer’s opinions: Conduct an online survey or use your social media channels to get ideas on what customers would like as Mother’s Day gifts. Combine it with a giveaway or contest and you will get an additional opportunity to collect customer information you could use for your newsletter list.

Common Theme:  Implement a common Mother’s Day theme in all your online channels as well as your offline Marketing efforts. Make sure that people know that you are offering a Mother’s Day special or specific gift ideas for Mother’s Day on your website. Don’t make them have to click through your whole website to find the information they want.

Pay attention to the audience: As mentioned above, customers are not only looking for gifts for their mom but also their wives, sisters, grandmothers etc. Be sure to have specific ad copy written to all these audiences and don’t just take the easy way out with replacing other holiday ad copy with “Mother’s Day”. Also don’t forget about the Mom’s themselves. While they might hope that they get the gift they deserve, they will also search for ideas on how to best treat themselves. So create advertisements specifically targeted to the Mom’s in the audience and use their special interest sites to do so, ie Pinterest, Blogs etc.

Last minute buyers:  Depending on which stage of the buying cycle the customer is in, advertising should be coordinated to these stages. A last minute buyer is certainly looking for a gift idea, he/she can purchase right away. Special deals and offers will help to make the decision for him/her in your favor. Also be aware where buyers are looking for ideas. As last minute customers don’t have much time to research ideas, think about advertising on daily deal websites.

Display efforts:  Use the Display Network to get the attention of your buyers with emotionally designed image ads. Advertisers should also use the opportunities of a Remarketing campaign. Not only can they follow their visitors around the net to keep a permanent presence with them. But they can focus on special promotions to catch the eye of the customer on other websites.

While Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to say thank you to your mom’s, advertising efforts should be aimed at establishing a continuous relationship with these customers year-round. Let the emotions speak to separate your efforts from the usual Mother’s Day advertising crowd.

What are your experiences? What advertising efforts were most successful for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

Caution: Keyword Match Type Curveballs Coming Your Way

Not-yet-breaking-news!  Be prepared to spend more time working in your AdWords account, because Google is soon to release a change to keyword match types that will require a lot more attention to previously low-risk keywords.

One of the first things you learn as a PPC analyst is the difference between match types in Google AdWords.  You’ve got your exact match: safe, reliable, no-frills, thrills, or surprises…you get exactly what you pay for.  You’ve got phrase match, which adds a little intrigue to the mix, opening up new possibilities, letting you test your balance with training wheels on.  And then there are the broad matches, the wild card risk takers of the keyword world.  All essential players in an optimized PPC account, all requiring their own unique strategy for management.

But now Google is throwing us a curve ball, known as “near-exact” and “near-phrase” match types, coming soon to an AdWords account near you.  What does this mean?  With near exact and near phrase match types, your keywords will match with plurals, acronyms, abbreviations, and misspellings of your keywords.  What continues to distinguish this matching from the two forms of broad matching is that your near phrase and near exact keywords will not show for synonyms of your keywords as they do for broad match.

As a long time PPC geek, this *addition* to the AdWords match type arsenal is quite welcome.  Gone will be the days of racking our brains for every plural, misspelled, or mis-typed possibility for a keyword to add to an account.  This should save some time in keyword list building and will easily open up the reach of our keywords, allowing for higher impression and click volume potential.

That being said, there are certainly some words of caution to be heeded before going full speed ahead with near-phrase and near-exact.  The increased liberality of these match types (beyond traditional phrase and exact) will mean that advertisers should be paying more attention than ever to their search query reports, diligently making sure that these broader match types are continuing to deliver quality traffic and not showing ads for low relevancy search queries.

Another rumored aspect of this match type switch up from AdWords is that, while it will initially be a feature that you can opt out of using, eventually *all* accounts will be transitioned to near-phrase and near-exact…meaning that traditional phrase and exact match types will no longer be available to AdWords users.  My guess is that a forced migration such as this would be quite disappointing to the PPC community, this geek included.  Additions to the arsenal for paid search success are always welcome.  On the other hand, sweeping changes aimed, ultimately, at increasing advertising spend and profit for the advertising platforms without regard to the impact on the many small and medium sized businesses utilizing the platform…not so welcome.

Stay tuned to the Leverage Lowdown as this story breaks!

Conversion Data for Google AdWords Ad Extensions Now Live

The world of Pay-Per-Click is constantly releasing new improvements to help enhance campaign reporting and analysis. The most recent release from Google, however, is one PPC professionals have been requesting for quite some time – conversion tracking metrics for Google AdWords Ad Extensions. With this new release, Account Administrators can now analyze conversion data for Sitelink, Product, Social, Call & Location extensions within the AdWords interface.

In the past, Ad Extension data has been limited to basic metrics such as Clicks, Impressions, CTR, etc. With the conversion metric implementation, however, advertisers are able to determine how target audiences engage with the various Ad Extensions, how often conversions occur, cost per conversion and much more. Although this data is a great way to evaluate extension performance, the information is limited in regards to Sitelinks. As it stands, Sitelink conversion data is compiled for all links in the campaign leaving no way to differentiate between which Sitelink is performing best.

At this point we’re excited to see and share what new developments the conversion data will provide Google AdWords campaigns. Stay up to date with your Account Manager or continue visiting our blog for more information as it becomes available.

Google Display Network Updates

This March, the Display Network, also known as the Content Network, turned 9 years old.  Just in time for the 9 year anniversary, Google announced significant changes will be taking place on the Display Network.  Some of the features are already available, and the rest will be rolled out over the course of the month.  You definitely need to take note of the new changes because they will significantly impact the way you use the Display Network moving forward.  In this post, we will take a further look at what Google is doing and how you can effectively utilize the changes.

The New Display Tab

The new display tab shown in Adwords

Google is creating a new Display Network Tab to join the host of other tabs in your Ad Center Interface. The new Display Network Tab interface has been rebuilt from the ground up to help you efficiently run your Display Network campaigns.  It will enable you to bid, target and optimize your display campaigns all from the same interface.  The new Display Network tab will combine the current “Networks”, “Audiences” and “Topics” tabs and allow you to bid, target and optimize your campaigns all within the new tab.

Contextual Engine Upgrade

The contextual engine has been around for a while.  The engine matches your ads to pages within the paid search network based on keywords you specify within each ad group.  With the addition of the new Display Network Tab, the contextual engine is receiving its biggest enhancement ever – the ability to combine the reach of the Display Network with the targeting precision of the Search Network.  The new engine accomplishes this feat by using “Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting”.  In layman’s terms, this means that you can fine-tune the performance of your contextually targeted Display Network campaigns down to the individual keyword level.  If utilized correctly, the new targeting options will help you take the performance of your Display Network marketing campaigns to a completely new level.

Visual Diagram

Some of us are visual learners, and I am just one of the many.  Google is finally giving some love to those of us who are visual aide fans with the introduction of a new Venn diagram.  Now, whenever you are adding or editing your Display Network targeting options, you will see a Venn diagram that shows how your targeting methods interact with each other.  The diagram will include placements, interactions, and keywords, and the overlapping sections will show you what methods are currently being used to target your ads.  The diagram introduces a new and improved way to how the reach of your campaigns is impacted by combining multiple targeting types.

Keyword Level Data

We saved the best update for last.  Google will be implementing a new feature that offers users the ability to see keyword level performance on the Display Network.  FINALLY!  I know many of you have shared my frustrations in not being able to see and utilize this kind of data in the past.  The new feature will allow you to see the performance of display campaigns at the individual keyword level.  If you are brand new to the Display Network, marketers previously had to use themed ad groups each with their own keywords in order to try and optimize the targeting of the Display Network.

Do not confuse the Keywords Tab with the new functionality of the Display Network Tab.  The new keyword performance statistics for the Display Network will only be available in the Display Network, and the Keywords Tab will continue to show keyword statistics for the Search Network.  If you choose to add or edit keywords in the main Keywords Tab, any changes made to those keywords will affect both your search and display network targeting.  This means it is more important than ever to keep your Search Network and Display Network campaigns separate.  However, the new feature will improve the effectiveness of extending your search based campaigns over to the display network.

As a professional in the Search Engine Marketing field, I believe these changes will dramatically change the effectiveness of the Display Network in the future.  While some of these changes would have been welcome years ago, I applaud Google for implementing the new features sooner rather than later.

The Down & Dirty On Facebook’s New Premium Ads

February 29, 2012 marked an earth shattering change in the marketing world… well in Facebook’s eyes at least.  That was the day that Facebook announced big changes to its platform, most notably changes to its Fan pages and its Premium ad offerings.  Almost all old ad units are going away, the exception being the standard ads to an external website.  New ad placements are also available.  Additionally, Facebook lowered the barrier to entry by decreasing the minimum spend from $30k to $25k to get premium ads.

The New Premium Ads Placements

  • News Feeds Ads – Appears in user news feed
  • Premium Homepage Ads – On Home Page right hand
  • Mobile News Feed  Ads- In the news feed but on the mobile device
  • Log Out Experience Ads-  that appear on log out page
  • Premium Page Post Ads- appears as a page post

There will be six types of premium ad units: Video, Photo, Event, Question, Status, and Link. They must all come from a page post (posted by yourself or a fan) before being turned into an ad. The changes come from Facebook’s obsession with user experience. They believe it should be less about advertising and more about telling a story that connects your brand with their users.

See Facebook’s Official Slide Deck Overview

As mentioned before the standard ad unit is still available is you wish to drive Facebook traffic to an offsite page. Engaging Faceook users offsite is a chore, but there are some tools to help your conversions. If doing lead generation or list building and you are an AWeber customer, try using the AWeber Facebook app to increase optins.

While these ad changes may be great for branding and engagement, the ROI remains to be seen. Coming from a PPC results based focus, I have my doubts in terms of an ecommerce play. Clearly these ads change the game in terms of marketing strategies on Facebook.  List builders who use Facebook will likely see value through content based engagement driven ads to build their fans and list.

New Time Line Business Pages

New Branding focused pages versus the fan page are now on Facebook, where the layout feels more like a website rather than a profile.  Also, there is no more “Fan Gating” internal Facebook traffic to collect likes.  But you can change your external urls, such as the Facebook link from your website, to land on your Fan Gate app url.  This feature is a move to further cement Facebook’s shift on the timeline profile style that it has already implemented in profiles.

There are a lot more changes than we can cover in one blog post, but there are several great articles floating around on the web if you need more knowledge. Only time will tell if Facebook’s gamble is right and these ads bring an increase in results and user engagement.  Ultimately it’s up to the Facebook users to decide.

Microsoft adCenter Goes Local

Shortly after the launch of Rich Ads in Search (RAIS), Microsoft adCenter made available two additional ad offerings: location extensions and click-to-call. While both of these features have long since been available within the Google Adwords interface, the new ad formats are a welcome addition to Bing and Yahoo! Search advertising and a useful supplement to geo-targeting efforts.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, a location extension is an ad format that enables advertisers to display the business street address information alongside text ads; particularly effective for local businesses that rely heavily on foot-traffic. In Microsoft adCenter, up to 1,000 business locations can be uploaded to the interface and a business location will be displayed to users within a 50-mile radius. In the instance where several business locations exist in close proximity to each other, the business address closest to the user’s location will be shown.

Furthermore, when location extensions are implemented and smart phones are included in devices targeted, search ads will automatically have the click-to-call functionality on Bing for Mobile (currently unavailable for Yahoo! for mobile, but rumored to be coming soon).

Set up is free and can be implemented by following these simple steps.

1. From the Campaigns tab, select “Manage your business locations”.
2. Add locations by either of these methods:
• Add a single location by clicking “Create location” and completing the form.
• Add multiple locations by filling out and saving an Excel template as in the example below, and click “Import” to upload the excel file to the platform.

3. 
Apply the location extensions to either 1 or multiple campaigns.
• To add location extensions to a single campaign:
i. Select the campaign from the campaigns tab and click “Edit your campaign settings”.
ii. Under Advanced settings, select the Location extension option under Ad extensions and click “Save”.


• To add location extensions across multiple campaigns:
i. From the campaigns tab, select the campaigns you wish to apply extensions to and select “Make bulk changes”.


ii. From the dropdown menu, select “Ad Extensions”, and check the location extension box.


This new offering is but one of several recent Google-esque enhancements that Microsoft adCenter has recently implemented to improve upon their services. While they still lag behind Google in terms of innovation and interface functionality these new ad formats show progress in the right direction, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Yahoo! and Bing Search Getting Rich

Google this, Google that. Google is no doubt the celebrity of search, creating formidable buzz and coverage with even the most inconsequential of updates: “How will the wavy Google Doodle affect your Ad Rank?! Jeremy Lin explains next.” I assume that Yahoo! and Bing have long grown weary of Google incessantly dominating conversations about search advertising. While Google continues to sustain a comfy search market share at 66%, Yahoo! and Bing cannot be eschewed with 14% and 15%, respectively.

For those unaware, Microsoft AdCenter is the platform used to manage ads on both the Yahoo! and Bing search engines (similar to AdWords with Google). AdCenter has recently re-launched a rehashed refresher of its captivating, feature-heavy ad format: Rich Ads in Search.

Once RAIS is enabled, which requires contacting a Yahoo! representative, it can be used to bid on up to 500 exact match branded keywords (it is currently available for branded terms only). Rich Ads will display in the top position only, displacing other standard text ads to the right side bar of the search results page. RAIS allows for inclusion of the following features in your ads:

  • Additional links (think Google Sitelinks)
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Icons
  • Form Field
  • Product Info

AdCenter claims that this format enhances existing campaigns by building a stronger brand presence through prominent placement, as well as generating higher click-through and conversion rates. In fact, RAIS allegedly averages a 30 – 35% click-through rate and a 40 – 50% higher click-through rate in comparison to standard text ads. They will be slightly more expensive though—bids must be higher in order to indicate that these Rich Ads are the preferred format. AdCenter recommends a 50% higher bid for RAIS than standard text ads.

It seems that the standout feature is the option to include a form field within your ad. For instance, a field could be included for zip code submission that would generate a list of nearby stores, a very appealing offer for local businesses. Also, the ability to include an engaging video within your ad is quite desirable and could provide that extra nudge needed to convert a searcher into a fan or consumer.

While Google remains the main event with the most packed arena, Yahoo! and Bing are making some concerted aesthetic changes to rally some of the crowd.

Enhanced Sitelinks for More Exposure

What are sitelinks?

While Google launched sitelink extensions back in June 2010 for the first time to allow businesses to get more exposure by displaying additional destination URLs below their ads, Google has taken it one step further, announcing ‘Enhanced Sitelinks’ for AdWords users just recently.

Up until now, advertisers could create up to 10 sitelink extensions per campaign in their AdWords account to show additional links beyond that of just the main landing page in their ads. The performance of the sitelinks can be viewed in the ad extensions tab where the extensions could also be edited to resemble up-to-date website information related to each campaign. While ads on desktop computers and tablets can display two, four, or six links along with the display URL of the ad, mobile phones with full Internet browsers can show up to two sitelink extensions.

Why advertisers want to use sitelinks?

There are a few reasons why advertisers should use sitelink extensions. For one, these links can serve as shortcuts, allowing users to quickly see related content to the product / service that is being offered in the ad, as well as directing customers to specials and promotions, which will push them further along in the buying cycle. Furthermore, advertisers can also show links to similar products as those promoted in the actual ad on Google. This could help promote and compare your own brands to name brand products in order to raise brand awareness and exposure for your proprietary brand. Sitelinks also make it easy to show additional information, i.e. a 30% off promotion or a holiday special, that affects all products / services in the campaign but could not be added to the actual ad due to character limits. It is also easy to keep sitelinks updated as you can just add them within the ad extensions tab without having to re-write the entire ad in the campaign itself.

The idea behind sitelinks is to grab the attention of customers and lead them to the page that best suits their buying needs. Therefore, it is recommended to keep link text short and sweet (KISS – Keep It Short and Simple!). The shorter the sitelinks, the more sitelinks Google will have the opportunity to show, and the more Google can choose from the better.

What are enhanced sitelinks?

Let’s talk a little bit more about the new feature that Google recently added to sitelink extensions. First and foremost, enhanced sitelinks are only eligible for campaigns that already use sitelink extensions. Meaning, existing ads must already show with two or three lines of sitelinks and must appear above the Google search results. Secondly, the AdWords account must contain other ads that Google believes to be related to the existing sitelinks. Google then chooses to automatically enhance sitelinks with additional information that is pulled directly from content that is provided on the advertiser’s website. With this additional information added to sitelinks, ads have the potential to become more relevant to potential customers.

Here is an example provided by Google:

This is an ad created for one of the campaigns in the AdWords account, which includes 4 sitelinks:

Moreover, the account could also include the following ads in different ad groups / campaigns:

While these text ads include information that is similar to the sitelinks used in the first ad, Google might add the information of the latter text ads to enhance the sitelink information of the first ad. It could end up looking like this:

The cost associated with this new feature simply equals the cost of a click on the display URL of the same ad. No matter which link the user clicks on, advertisers will be charged the same amount.

How to implement enhanced sitelinks?

The biggest question remaining is how to implement this new feature in the account. As compared to the implementation of current sitelink extensions so far, Google decides whether or not to show enhanced sitelinks. What advertisers can do, however, is make sure that their current sitelinks are closely related to other ads, as shown in the example by Google, and most importantly, add up to 10 sitelinks in each of the active campaigns in an account. As Google only enhances sitelinks with information that’s similar, it is important to go through the account and update sitelinks with new information, as well as review ad copy to ensure similarities. While matching ad text and sitelinks more closely will be a new challenge for advertisers, they should not forget the main purpose of having relevant information shown to users in order to fully benefit from this feature.

Analyzing enhanced sitelinks performance

The performance of enhanced sitelinks can be viewed on the ad extensions tab by clicking the ‘Segment’ dropdown menu and selecting ‘click type.’ However, Google does not seem to differentiate between the performance of normal sitelinks and enhanced sitelink extensions. Moreover, there is currently no option to see if and when Google is showing enhanced sitelinks. As Google has just released this new feature and advertisers are working toward showing enhanced sitelinks, there will hopefully be an option to do so coming soon.

In conclusion

It will definitely be interesting to see if this new feature can help increase the overall CTR (click-through rate) of sitelink extensions beyond the 30% higher CTR that Google claims sitelinks already produce compared to campaigns without. While ad copy, landing pages, and sitelinks should already be matched closely, this feature now allows advertisers to also display additional information about the same or similar products with the same ad. Incorporating this feature could help cross-sell products / services, as well as support the upselling of customers who are already further along in the buying cycle.

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