Author: Erin Sagin

Bing Expanded Text Ads: 5 Things You Need to Know

It’s official – Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are coming to Bing Ads! Here are the top five things you need to know to gear up for them.

#1. We’ve Got a Couple More Months Before Bing's ETAs Hit the Shelves

bing ads etas coming 

According to the crew at Bing Ads, they’ll be rolling out ETA support for all advertiser accounts in December of 2016. For the time being, they’re being piloted amongst a very small group of advertisers elected to be beta testers. WordStream was lucky to get several accounts whitelisted for this feature, so we’re in the process of setting our ads up right now.

Unlike Google’s ETA pilot (which didn’t offer full interface access at first, let alone support through AdWords Editor), the Bing Ads iteration is significantly more buttoned-up. They’ve already built ETA-creation tools into the Bing Ads interface, as well as Bing Ads Editor. At this point, it seems like they’re just testing out the kinks before releasing it to a more widespread audience.

#2. Bing Has No Plans to Retire Standard Ads

Google’s “master plan” is to fully shift to ETAs in 2017. Advertisers can create both standard and expanded ads for the time being but that will all end come October 26. At that point, existing standard ads will be set in stone and you’ll only be able to create ETAs. Soon after, the shorter ad format will sunset and only ETAs will be served.

Not so on Bing. According to the crew at Microsoft, the engine has “not made any decision on if or when they’ll retire standard ads.” Instead, it’ll continue to serve both formats interchangeably.

standard ads vs. etas 

In 2017, either of these ads will be eligible to show on Bing.

Why aren’t they drawing a hard line? Many suspect that this is a “survival move” for Bing—if it forces advertisers to invest a ton of time into transitioning their accounts, chances are high that many won’t bother, causing a huge hit to Bing’s bottom line.

Motivations aside, I’d like to throw out a huge “thank you” to Bing on behalf of all PPC advertisers. No one wants to spend the first few weeks of the New Year frantically composing ETAs.

#3. Bing ETAs Are Nearly Identical to Google ETAs

Yep, when you see the new feature in the Bing Ads interface, you’ll have a moment of déjà vu. It’s strikingly similar to its Google namesake. Really, the only differentiator is the option to set a native ad preference on ads that you’ve crafted specifically to serve that particular context. Bing Native ads give advertisers the opportunity to reach beyond the Bing search network and display ads on MSN pages. Bing analyzes searchers’ intent signals to ensure that these ads are displaying to the right people in the right context.

 bing ads etas creation

Since the character limits for Bing ETAs mirrors that of AdWords, transitioning to ETAs should be fairly painless for most advertisers. They can use the same guidelines to build their ad messaging and it’s likely that the best practices we’ve identified for AdWords ETAs will hold true for Bing as well. Of course, we’ll be monitoring the performance of our clients in the Bing beta program closely and we’ll be sure to publish a post on discrepancies, should we run into any.

#4. AdWords Import Functionality Is Coming, Too

importing etas from adwords to bing 

Most marketers get their feet wet with Google’s ads and then, when they’ve mastered the PPC basics, they extend their online marketing efforts to Bing. The team at Bing ads doesn’t fight this behavior, they embrace it. They know that advertisers accustomed to AdWords’ CPCs will breathe a sigh of relief when they see what a bang for their buck they get on Bing.

To facilitate this expansion, Bing has spent the last few years ensuring their platform maintains parity with Google’s and making it stupid-simple for advertisers to take the plunge. It even built a tool specifically to help advertisers import their AdWords account structure into Bing Ads.

When AdWords announced it was moving to the ETA model, many advertisers panicked that this import function would no longer work and they’d be stuck creating two ad sets forever. Of course, this would be a serious deterrent to using Bing Ads, so the team has been quick to address this problem. Upon the release of Bing ETAs, they’ve promised that import tool will be up-to-date and ready to pull in Google ETAs.

#5. Your Ad Extensions Won’t Be Affected by ETAs

For years, we’ve relied on Bing’s impressive extension offerings to jazz up our ads and secure additional real estate on the SERP.  Luckily, you’ll still have the opportunity to take advantage of these with your ETAs. Meaning, your ads will be that much bigger!

Get Ready to Take Advantage of ETAs

Just because you don’t have to make the shift to ETAs on Bing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother. It’s too soon to pull any real data and prove the true impact of Bing ETAs, but based on what we’ve seen on Google, we expect to see significantly elevated CTRs.

Think of it this way—you don’t have to floss your teeth every day, but it’s definitely worth your while; the benefits are tenfold. The same goes for running ETAs on Bing. Sure, your account will probably do just fine without them, but it’s likely to do far better with them.

Don’t be a deadbeat marketer—take the time to build/import expanded ads for Bing (be sure to floss, too!).

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 4th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

10 Dos and Don’ts for Sitelink Extensions

title image

Sitelinks are the king of all AdWords ad extensions. They are, by far, the most versatile extensions; they’re useful for accounts of all verticals, they appear on all devices and advertisers can use them to say just about anything.

Even better, I’ve literally never encountered an account that didn’t yield higher CTRs once enabling these bad boys. According to the crew at Google, the mere presence of sitelinks typically lifts ad CTR by 10-20% (+20-50% on branded searches).

Sitelinks FTW.

I’ve been preaching the wonders of these extensions for years (proof: I covered them in one of my first blogposts EVER). Yet, we’ve never done a true deep dive on sitelink best practices.

Better late than never, right? Without further ado, here’s a list of dos and don’ts to help you make the most of these truly magical extensions.

DO Keep ‘Em Short and Sweet

Google allows advertisers to include up to 25 characters in their sitelink descriptions but, just because you have the extra space doesn’t mean you need to use it. According to Google, more succinct link copy performs better. It recommends aiming for a baseline of 18-20 characters for desktop links and 12-15 for mobile. This ensures that your messaging isn’t truncated on the SERP.

DON’T Set Them and Forget Them

Sitelinks require very little maintenance, but it never hurts to check in on them from time to time. Periodically dive into your ad extensions tab to review performance metrics for each of your sitelinks. Here’re a few metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Impressions: If impressions are low for a given sitelink, it’s possible that Google is passing it over for a reason. Try editing the link and giving it another whirl.
  • Click-Through Rate: If CTR is high, you’ve nailed your link description text. If it’s low, it’s a sign that your copy isn’t resonating with viewers. Is this page relevant to your campaign/ad group themes? Can you re-craft your copy to make it more appealing?
  • Conversion Rate: If your CVRs are high, pat yourself on the back. If they’re low, give some extra consideration to the page you’re sending visitors to. Are you putting your best foot forward? Is it accurately represented by your link text, giving searchers the appropriate expectations?

 reporting for sitelinks

For even more insight, use the segment dropdown to see “this extension vs. other.” This will show you how much direct interaction that particular sitelink received, versus the other components of the ad.

DO Create Sitelinks for your Bing Ads Campaigns

bing sitelinks 

Did you know that Bing Ads offers nearly all of the same extensions as AdWords, and then some? (It’s true—you can find the whole shebang here.) All of the benefits associated with sitelink extensions in AdWords hold true for Bing too, so why not take a few minutes to port your AdWords extensions over from Bing. You don’t even have to write anything new!

DON’T Apply Account Level-Sitelinks

Just last week, Google released account-level sitelinks, giving advertisers the opportunity to create just a single set of sitelinks to be applied across the board.  No doubt, the crew at Google created this new option to reduce the barrier to usage to boost sitelink adoption, since they’re so beneficial to ad CTR.

account level sitelinks 

As with most things, the fastest, easiest route is rarely the best route. You’re far better off investing a little extra time to create your sitelinks on the campaign or ad group level. This allows you to customize the links so they directly reflect the topic that your audience is looking for.

relevant sitelinks 

For example, if the Kate Spade ad above featured account-level sitelinks, it’s likely the links would be fairly generic or only feature their best-selling products. Instead, they’ve implemented them in a more strategic manner, giving the user (who is looking specifically for purses) closely related pages to check out.

DO Give Enhanced Sitelinks a Shot

There are two primary benefits of sitelinks. Firstly, they allow you to consume considerably more real estate on the SERP, making your ads more prominent, and secondly, they give you the opportunity to share even more information with your audience.

Now imagine you could make one simple change to score even more real-estate and include even more details with your searchers—tempting? You can actually do this with enhanced sitelinks! These giant, robust sitelinks allow you to include two lines of description text for each link, essentially mini-ads for each one!

enhanced sitelink extensions 

Google reports a 30% CTR elevation when advertisers take advantage of this option, making it a definite “do.”

DO Schedule Start and End Dates for Time-Sensitive Sitelinks

Sitelinks are the perfect way to highlight holiday sales, limited-time offers and special deals. However, no one is going to get excited about your 4th of July sale on the 5th, when all of the discounts are no longer valid. 

scheduling sitelinks 

If you create a time-sensitive sitelink, use the scheduling options to specify the dates that it is eligible to show. You can even set up specific time of day (or days of week) to serve a particular link!

DON’T Assume That Your Sitelinks Will Always Be Served

Just because you’ve done your duty and created your sitelink extensions doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll always be served alongside your ads. Extensions are displayed at Google’s discretion. Advertisers have virtually no impact on which are displayed, if any. Instead, Google uses a secret formula which aims to show the “best options” based on the users’ needs and their contexts.

We do know that Google is more likely to display extensions for ads that appear in top positions. We also know that the number of extensions served decreases as your position decreases. So, if your ad rank is poor, chances are high that your sitelinks will never actually see the light of day.

DO Periodically Check Your Links

There’s nothing worse than seeing an ad that offers exactly what you want, clicking on the link for your desired product and then landing on a freaking 404 error page.

 broken link

Lego’s creative spin on a 404 error page.

Most advertisers diligently update their ads when they update their landing pages (or build a mobile site). Yet, many also neglect to update their sitelinks. Serving a broken link isn’t just a waste of a click and a little cash. It makes a bad impression on the searcher and dissuades them from returning to your site. Don’t let your sitelinks fall by the wayside. Check your sitelink landing pages regularly to ensure they are working links.

DON’T Be Redundant

Nowadays, there are many different ways to enhance your ad copy. Google’s added a whole slew of new extensions (structured snippets, callouts, etc.) and Expanded Text Ads are giving us nearly twice as much space to rave about our products.

Pumping up the word-count in your ads is great, but do it carefully. If all of your extensions and your ad creative tout only one value proposition, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a compelling case for your product.

redundant sitelinks 

Yeah, we get it. Free Shipping.

As you add new components to your ad, consider the bigger picture. Sure, it’s unlikely that all of your extensions will show, but any combination is fair game, so you should prepare accordingly. For more extension-planning guidance, check out Matt Umbro’s post on how to strategically prep your extensions.

DO Adhere to Ad Policy Guidelines

I know this one is obvious, *eye-roll*, but you’d be shocked how many people fail to stick with the guidelines, resulting in disapproved sitelinks. AdWords’ policies on sitelinks are nearly identical to those for ad headlines—no emojis, no exclamation points and no symbols—period. You’re also prohibited from using dynamic keyword insertion. When in doubt, head to the Advertising Policies help section to verify that your sitelinks are kosher.

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 4th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

Review: Google’s New Account Health Score for Search (Beta)

Earlier this month, Google did a very limited beta release of a new feature in the AdWords Opportunities tab called the “Account Health Score for Search.”  I must admit that this tool made me a little nervous; at first glance, it was eerily similar to WordStream’s AdWords Performance Grader, as a few people pointed out.

Our team was dying to do a deep dive of the beta feature, but it was tough to find an account with access to it. After poring through hundreds of accounts, we finally found one with a health score.

Here’s my two-cents on the new tool and how it stacks up to our AdWords Performance Grader:

What is Google's Account Health Score?

account health score for search dashboard 

Upon initial analysis of the beta, it appears to be a fairly basic best practice check. It assesses each of your campaigns and then provides an overarching grade for your account, which is likely an average of all of your individual campaign scores. However, only scores for campaigns that have room for improvement are revealed.

Unlike the Grader, it bases your account’s “healthiness” on how much you are leveraging platform features, rather than how your account is actually performing. Each campaign is graded on a 15-point scale that checks to see whether you’re leveraging platform features, such as ad extensions, conversion tracking, the Search Partners Network, and adhering to standard best practices, such as using a recommended daily budget and running tightly-themed ad groups.

campaign level grade 

The campaign-level reports highlight 3-4 sections that you’re struggling with, along with the number of points that will be added to your score upon fixing them—giving you a clear path to reach 100%. For each segment the call-to-action is to “get started” and clicking on it redirects you to that section of the AdWords interface. However, assistance peters off when you actually get there. Google highlights the problem, but doesn’t provide any tangible instructions to help you actually fix it.

Should I use it?

Absolutely—if Google has already rolled it out to your account, that is. When it comes to paid search, I’m an advocate for trying any and all tools out there, especially when they’re free. Embrace this new report, for what it is—a glorified best practices check. It’s an easy way to determine whether you’re taking advantage of the many features that Google has to offer you.

That said, unless many changes are made prior to the mass rollout of this tool, it should not be used to gauge your overall paid search performance. The only tool that truly grades your account based on how you’re performing, rather than what you’re doing, is WordStream’s AdWords Performance Grader.

adwords grader 

Our Grader provides a more comprehensive, in-depth analysis of your account. We show an account-level score, which is broken down into various categories (wasted spend, Quality Score distribution and impression share optimization, to name a few) to show you key areas of opportunity for your account.

Even better, we’ll show you exactly how you stack up to competitors (from a size, spend and industry perspective) who have also run the Grader report. Since the Grader’s inception 5 years ago, we’ve analyzed over over $60 billion in AdWords spend, so we’ve got plenty of competitive intel in store for users. This is an incredibly powerful way to assess whether your account manager is nailing it or whether he/she could use a helping hand!

Is the Health Score a rip-off of our AdWords Grader?

Ah, the burning question! I certainly can’t speak to the Google Product Team’s strategy, but I’d be curious to see how they’d answer that question! From my review, it’s clear that the only similarity between these tools is the scoring component. However, these scores are based on vastly different criteria; Google is grading product adoption, while WordStream’s Grader is gauging your performance in comparison to businesses in your industry that are spending a similar amount each month.

But why listen to me—see it for yourself! Get your free Grader report here to see just how much more intel you’ll get! 

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist at WordStream. She was named the 4th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

11 Ways to Save Money In Your PPC Account [CHECKLIST]

As a kid, I despised the very idea of “couponing”. When I complained that I was bored, my mom often put me to work with coupon books. I spent hours poring through them identifying products we used, clipping out the offers and organizing them alphabetically. The only thing worse than searchign for them was actually using them. With coupons, you never buy a normal quantity of the featured item. It was mortifying to parade through the supermarket with our cart piled high with “couponing wins”—which often featured a lifetime’s-worth of toothpaste and enough toilet paper to serve a small army.

Now that I’m responsible for my own finances, the tides have turned. I’m certainly no champion couponer, but I definitely shop with an eye out for good deals. And man, it sure does feel incredible to watch the register and see the “amount owed” decrease when those discount codes are applied.

Unfortunately, when it comes to paid search, coupons are tough to come upon. Luckily, there’re still plenty of discounts you can take advantage of. We created this 11-step checklist as a go-to resource for anyone looking to stretch their PPC budget a little further. These tips will require a little more elbow grease than the average coupon, but it’ll be well worth it when you see how much you’ve saved!

Click here to get this checklist as a printable PDF!

money saving checklist

How to Create Expanded Text Ads [Guide + FREE Template]

how to create etas title image

Just last week, the crew at Google made advertisers’ wishes come true when they released support for Expanded Text Ads in the AdWords interface. This giant new ad format gives advertisers an additional 45 characters to work with, making it easier to build a compelling case for searchers to click on their ads.

The excitement I felt when ETAs were surprise-released in the AdWords interface was akin to the excitement I felt when Beyoncé surprise-dropped Lemonade on Tidal. I cleared my schedule for the afternoon in eager anticipation of building out these new and improved ads.

Unfortunately, my happiness was short-lived, as composing these ads wound up being way harder than I’d anticipated. I found solace in Twitter, where I was relieved to see that many PPC vets were struggling, too.

 creating etas is hard

What's So Hard About Writing Expanded Text Ads?

Why all the griping? Well, for years, we’ve trained ourselves to mince words. Like compulsive tweeters who manage to nail the 140-character limit on the first try, long-time PPCers have grown accustomed to writing super-short, succinct ad copy. Now that ETAs are becoming the “new normal,” we’ll have to adapt to the new formats and develop new, go-to ad formulas.

Luckily, the Managed Services team here at WordStream had numerous accounts with beta access to Expanded Text Ads, so we’ve been experimenting with them for a few months now. Early on, we assumed that this transition would be pretty straightforward. We went the easy route—pulled our existing ad into the new template, tacked on a secondary headline and added fluffier language to the description portion.

If only it were that easy.

We quickly discovered that, if we wanted to make the most of this new ad real estate, we’d have to step up our game. In this post, I’ll show you how we’re approaching each component of this new formula to create super-clickable ETAs.

The Anatomy of an Expanded Text Ad

create etas 

Final URL

Your final URL should be the landing page where you wish to drive searchers who match to keywords in this particular ad group. I love that Google kicks off the ad creation process by forcing advertisers to pick this URL before creating their copy, because it forces us to create copy with that particular page in mind.

Headline 1 – 30 Characters

example h1 

This is, hands down, the most important component of your new ad. We know that humans’ attention spans are abysmal. When we’re on the SERP, faced with a multitude of both paid and organic listings, our attention to detail is even worse. We jump into “scan mode” and rarely make it past most listings headlines. That said, a strong, relevant headline has the power to disrupt our scanning and compel us to actually read the entire listing.

Since Headline 1 is essentially the gateway to the rest of your ad, it deserves special attention. Capture your readers’ attention by using language that is relevant to what they’re looking for (ahem, your top keywords) and/or your key selling point. Remember, you can absolutely kick things off with a question but you can’t use exclamation points in your headline.

Pro-tip: Have you identified headlines that work well on other channels? You may finally have enough room to use them in your PPC ads, too!

Headline 2 – 30 Characters

The challenge with Headline 2 is that it doesn’t always show—at least not in its entirety. When it does appear, it has excellent visibility, so it’s the perfect place to feature supporting information that complements the critical information shared in Headline 1.

example h2 

I love the example above because, although Headline 1 is solid on its own, Headline 2 strengthens the message by introducing an emotional component (protecting yourself from a financial ruin) and highlights a serious value prop (this insurance won’t break the bank).

 ad truncation

Why is Headline 2 at risk? Although Google polices the size of ad creative by character-count, it actually determines the way it’s displayed on the SERP based on pixel-count.

pixels 

All of these qualify as 5 characters, but the number of pixels that they consume varies.

If the combination of Headline 1 and Headline 2 exceeds the number of pixels allocated to ads on the SERP, Google will truncate your ad to save space.

Pro-tip: If you’re super-sensitive to displaying truncated ads, Google officially recommends being uber-conservative and limiting the character count for both of your headlines to only 33 characters.

Description – 80 Characters

The description section is the meat of your ad. Your headlines’ mission is to capture your searchers’ eyes. Once you’ve got their attention, it’s up to the description copy to compel them to act. When it comes to body copy, the creative process should mimic that of a standard ad—you just have a little more artistic freedom, thanks to the new character limits.

description example 

Here are a few creative strategies that we’re using to create compelling new description copy:

  • Using emotional triggers to push searchers to take action
  • Running ad customizers to instill a sense of FOMO in searchers
  • Dynamically customizing ad copy to create ads that resonate with individual searchers

Your description should also feature a clear call-to-action telling searchers exactly what you want them to do when they arrive on your landing page. Including this in your ad is critical, because it’s a subtle way to invade their subconscious and push them to take action after viewing your site.

URL Paths – 15 Characters Each

paths example 

This new ad component is optional, but we highly recommend using it to your advantage. In fact, for years, we’ve been coaching advertisers to take advantage of the extra space alongside their domains in their Display URLs.  This does not have to produce a working URL—it’s simply a vanity link to strengthen your copy and show searchers that you’re sending them to view relevant content.

With standard ads, only 35 characters were permitted in the Display URL. This was problematic for advertisers with lengthy URLs, who didn’t have sufficient space to add new keywords. These new, URL paths even the playing field.

With ETAs, Google will automatically extract the domain from your Final URL and plug it into your Display URL. Then, regardless of your domain’s length, you can use the two, 15-character paths to enhance your URL.

dki example 

To populate each of these fields, I recommend turning to your ad group’s keyword list. Identify your most popular keywords and plug them into the path fields. If you really want to get fancy, you could also try using Dynamic Keyword Insertion for one of these paths, to ensure they’re truly catered toward your searchers’ needs.

Need more ideas on how to craft your ETAs? Check out Mark Irvine’s 7 Best Practices for Google’s NEW Expanded Text Ads.

Uploading Expanded Text Ads in Bulk

Let’s face it, composing new ETAs will be time-consuming. Luckily, you don’t have to build them all directly in the AdWords interface. Just one day after Google released global ETA support, AdWords Editor was updated to provide support for building new ETAs.

create etas in editor 

The creation process is simple. All you have to do is select ETAs on the ads tab, select the option to make multiple changes and then begin building your spreadsheet.

bulk creation in editor 

Once you’ve populated the spreadsheet with your new ads, submit and review your changes, then post them live to AdWords!

FREE Expanded Text Ad Creation Template for Excel

Not a fan of AdWords Editor? You can also build your new ETAs in Excel, then upload the document to AdWords. Download our expanded text ad creation template (with detailed instructions included) here!

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist at WordStream. She was named the 4thd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

3 Reasons to Drop Everything & Build Expanded Text Ads NOW

3 reasons to drop everything & build expanded text ads now

Just this morning, support for Google’s brand new Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) dropped universally in the AdWords interface. Since AdWords’ big reveal at the #GoogleSummit back in May, advertisers have been eagerly awaiting this new, more robust ad format, which has been deemed the biggest change to the AdWords model since its inception 16 years ago.

ETAs weren’t expected to come out of beta until mid-September, so most advertisers were completely unprepared to wake up this morning, log into their accounts and discover that they could indeed create these giant text ads.

eta surprise release 

Excited as we all may be with regards to this change, it’s also a bit terrifying. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if your reaction this morning was to quickly close your browser, wish you could un-see the ETA implementation interface and pray that your clients/bosses/co-workers remain blissfully unaware of the early release. The reality is, while the end result will be rewarding, re-writing all of your ad copy is going to be a huge, painful undertaking.

[NOTE: We're doing a free webinar THIS THURSDAY to explain how to take advantage of Expanded Text Ads and other new features now available in AdWords. Register here for the webinar.]

So, should you bite the bullet or crawl back in bed and ignore the ETA update? I’d argue that your best bet is to cancel your afternoon plans, buy a carton of Red Bulls and power through that ad copywriting. Here’s why:

#1. Beat Your Competitors to the Punch

Google will eventually sunset standard text ads, making ETAs the norm. As with all major migrations (think Enhanced Campaigns), there will be a bit of a time lag between the release of the new format and the elimination of the old one, giving advertisers time to make the transition themselves. Although Google has yet to announce when ads “as we know them” will be officially retired, my guess is that this change will hit sometime in Q4 2016.

So, in the next 3-5 months, SERPs will display a mix of standard and ETA ads.

ads changing from standard to etas 

Imagine receiving these two ads alongside one another on the SERP. The ETA is basically the standard ad on steroids. It’s so huge that it automatically demands more attention than the standard ad, plus its messaging is more informative and more compelling. Who wouldn’t be drawn to the ETA?

In fact, our research shows that ETAs almost always win. We have multiple accounts in this beta and the vast majority have experienced heightened CTR. That said, these extraordinary trends are unlikely to continue after the mass-migration. Sure, we expect that ETAs will perform better than standard ads did in general, but will the difference be this stark when all ads look the same? Probably not.

Take advantage of this unique situation while you can. Get your ETAs up and running before your competitors do and benefit from these temporary, inflated CTRs. Not only will you score more site traffic, you’ll likely see a nice little boost in Quality Scores, too!

#2. Figure Out What Works Early On

Feel like you have an ad copy formula that works down pat for each of your ad groups? I’d be willing to bet that you didn’t come up with it on the first try. You’ve likely spent years iterating on it, testing it and honing it into that perfect copy. In fact, if you’re playing things smart, you’re still running tests against it. Unfortunately, with the ETA transition, that “tried and true” copy may no longer cut it.

When we first gained access to the ETA beta, we expected the ad transition to be fairly simple. We took our best performing ads, tacked on a second headline and set them off and running.

We soon discovered that this approach was failing us. In fact, these ads yielded poorer CTRs than our standard ads (they’re responsible for the CTR loss noted in the graph below).

eta performance 

We quickly ditched the old format’s best practices and started running new ad variations that took advantage of ETAs’ lengthier character counts and keyword-based description paths. These new combinations had significantly higher CTRs and, for the past few weeks, we’ve continued to test new approaches, identifying more ETA best practices.

These new ads are a different beasts and advertisers must be willing to test multiple iterations of them. You don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel for your new ETAs. In fact, you can definitely port over strong components of your existing ads to get started. However, it will likely take a few tries before you figure out what combinations work best for you, so the earlier you start, the better off you will be!

#3. Experience Less Job-Induced Pain this Holiday Season

We don’t know the official date that standard ads will be retired, but we do know that it’s definitely going to happen sooner or later. Scarily enough, many believe that the ad sunset is likely to occur near the end of 2016, potentially smack dab in the middle of the holiday season.

Let’s be honest, the holiday season is already brutal for marketers. That Black Friday—Christmas sprint is jam packed with to-dos and the idea of adding a full account’s worth of ad rewrites to your list is terrifying at best.

Don’t be the guy who is drinking eggnog alone all night at his desk, lamenting his summer of procrastination. Take this early release as an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and start prepping your ads. Even if you only do a couple of ad groups a week, it will still be well worth your while!

Also be sure to check out my colleague Mark Irvine's seven best practices for writing new expanded text ads.

Data Sources

Data is based on a sample size of 11 accounts (WordStream clients) using Expanded Text Ads on the Google Search Network in June 2016.

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 4th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

4 Super-Actionable AdWords Tips to Try Right Now

adwords tips title image

This month, I’ve been working hand-in-hand with Google account managers to review and assess a group of accounts, ultimately coming up with our top three most impactful recommendations for each account. During these conversations, I’ve learned a few new AdWords tips and techniques and different approaches to the “old faithfuls” we’ve been using here at WordStream for years.

Looking for some fresh strategies to implement in your AdWords account? Here are four super-actionable AdWords tips that I’ll definitely be trying in the next few weeks!

AdWords Tip #1: Combine Branded Terms with Modified Broad Keywords

The secret to lowering your CPCs and simultaneously boosting your ad rank lies in Google’s mystery metric—Quality Score. Savvy advertisers are perpetually tweaking their accounts in pursuit of those coveted 10’s, but achieving high scores isn’t an easy feat. In fact, it seems as though the only keywords that consistently score 7-10’s are branded terms.

quality score 

Branded terms are a slam dunk for many reasons. Firstly, it’s easy to create super-relevant ads and landing pages for these keywords, as your brand should appear regularly throughout your ad copy and website. Even better, the people who are searching your branded terms likely have strong intent; they know exactly what company they’re looking for so they’re apt to click on your ads and have high engagement rates on your website.

While these keywords maybe be the holy grail for high Quality Scores, you certainly don’t want to limit your ad visibility to people who already know of and are looking for your brand. That said, you can leverage the power of these branded keywords to impact the Quality Scores of non-branded terms.

Here’s how the hack works – create keywords that are a combination of branded and non-branded terms. Set the non-branded term to modified broad (using + signs), but leave the branded term on broad. Using this technique will allow your ads to show when people search combinations of your non-branded terms—your branded terms do not have to be present.

So, for example, let’s say that your branded term is Havaianas and your non-branded terms are neon flip flops. You’d add the keyword as havaianas +neon +flip +flops, and the ad would be eligible to show for search queries that include the words neon, flip and flops.

Why does this technique yield high Quality Scores? Remember, Google calculates your scores based on exact matches to your keyword term. Because the “official” keyword technically includes your branded terms, it’s likely to yield a stellar Quality Score.

AdWords Tip #2: Take Advantage of Location-Based Bid Modifiers

One of the best ways to fine tune your AdWords account is to identify what’s working and amplify it (or promote your “unicorns”—in Larry Kim speak). One route to do this is through location-based bid modifiers.

Far too many advertisers set their targeting to reflect the areas where their products are sold and neglect to revisit these settings. The problem is, not all geographic locations yield the same performance. For example, if you sell hunting equipment, there’s a good chance that you’ll see more conversions coming from searchers in rural areas where hunting is a popular sport than those in heavily populated urban centers.

 search query report

Rather than guesstimating which regions are the most valuable for your business, head to the Dimensions Tab and set your view to Geographic. This will produce a sortable report that breaks down your performance metrics by country, region, metro area, city and “most specific location.” Organize by conversions to understand the regions that are bringing in the most sales for your business.

 mobile bid adjustment

Once you’ve identified your most valuable locations, revisit your location targeting settings and set a positive bid adjustment for each of these locations. Higher bids will help you to attain better visibility for searchers located in (or searching for products within) your top locations, ushering in even more conversions.

AdWords Tip #3: Reach Beyond Your Current Language Settings

According to a 2013 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, one in five US residents speaks a language other than English in their household. However, just because their preferred language isn’t English does not mean that the vast majority of these people don’t also speak English.

Remember, AdWords bases its language targeting settings on a Google user’s interface language. Users can edit this setting to ensure that Google provides results in their selected language, regardless of their physical location.

adwords settings bilingual 

As you can see, when I change my preferred language settings to Spanish, I’m only served ads that are targeted to Spanish speakers, despite the fact that I am logged into the US version of Google.com.

search spanish profile 

As you can imagine, many of these bilingual Americans set their first language as their primary language on Google, effectively eliminating ads from any companies who do not include Spanish-language targeting in their AdWords campaigns. This is a huge source of missed opportunity for US-based advertisers who absolutely should be advertising to the bilingual consumer-base.

It may sound like a headache to expand your advertising efforts to a completely new market, but it’s actually quite simple. First, identify which languages are most prominent in your target regions.

 map for most commonly spoken language other than english

Source: Slate.com

Then, adjust your language targeting settings to include this new audience.

 language settings adwords

That’s it! There’s no need to add non-English keywords, ads or landing pages. It almost feels too good to be true, right?

Here’s why this trick works—if your website doesn’t translate seamlessly or your sales reps aren’t trained to support multiple languages, you really shouldn’t risk going “whole hog” and creating campaigns specifically for non-English speakers. This could actually do more harm than good, as this campaign would likely garner plenty of impressions and clicks, but fewer conversions. Instead, this trick truly helps you to connect with a bilingual audience; people who are using a non-English browser but will still understand and respond to ads written in English.

grubhub bilingual ad example 

As you can see in the example above, GrubHub has adopted this strategy perfectly. This is clearly a bilingual searcher (her Google profile is set to Spanish, but she is searching in English) and GrubHub’s English ad should suit her just fine!

AdWords Tip #4: Salvage Dying Ad Groups with RLSA

Ever have an ad group that you feel really good about but it just isn’t pulling through with strong results? It’s hard to hit the pause button when your gut tells you that these keywords hold unseen potential. It’s also hard to justify running keywords that aren’t yielding many clicks.

Rather than pulling the plug completely, try resurrecting your ad group using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). With this feature, you can restrict its traffic by solely displaying ads to people who have already visited your site. Since they already know who you are and have shown an interested in your offerings, they’re more likely to be further along in the purchase cycle and ready to convert than your standard audience.

rlsa target and bid settings 

If you decide to go this route, it crucial that you execute it properly. With RLSA, your primary targeting criteria is still keywords—your remarketing list is then layered in as a secondary targeting method. When adding your remarketing list, you have the opportunity to set it to “bid only” or “target and bid.” In this scenario, be sure to select “target and bid”, which limits your ads’ visibility to past site visitors.

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.