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The New Paid Search Ads On The Block

In previous posts, I have highlighted ad extensions and enhancements Google has introduced to the search engine results pages that continue to give paid results more prominence.  Today, I would like to address a few more of these changes, along with the topic of how ad copywriting best practices are evolving.

A few weeks ago, Google began lower-casing the display URL of all paid search ad units.  At first, I thought that this was counterintuitive.  For years, using proper casing in the display URL has been a tactic to draw attention to ads.  Why would Google make a change that could negatively impact click rates, which would impact their own revenue?  However, this change to all paid search ads did something else...It made them look slightly more like organic listings.  Bravo, Google!

Shortly thereafter, there was another change to the way ads could be displayed.  If your ad ranks at the top of the page and you have punctuation at the end of description line one, then line one can be moved into the headline.  Now, take a look a look at this search results page.  Yes, the ad you see at the top of the page is a paid ad, but you can barely tell!

To add to these changes, the box color around the top placements is constantly being tested and often is as sheer as a piece of scotch tape. Paid search marketers should adapt very quickly, because the sooner you catch on, the more value you will get out of being ahead of your competitors.

How to adapt:

For the display URL change, it is important to note that capitalization can still exist in the URL directory, just like in organic results:  www.yourdomain.com/PUNCTUATE.  Outside of testing past the .com in the URL, there is nothing to change.  If you have any capitalization in the AdWords interface, it can stay the way it is and Google will simply make the adjustment on the results page.

For ad copy, you should weigh out Quality Score impact before just applying a massive change, but at least get a new version into rotation, as soon as possible, with a period or exclamation point at the end of description line one.

For ad extensions, get on every available one that is applicable to your business!  There are Local, Product, Video, Phone and Sitelinks.  If you still are not using these, you are missing out.  Click rates soar with Sitelinks and you are not limited to only one extension per impression.  Test your Sitelinks too.  While all of these tactics may not always be acceptable from an editorial standpoint in the future, they are all currently in use by advertisers:

·       Symbols - Arrows and stars at the beginning of each Sitelink.

·       Facebook - Send one link to your Facebook page.

·       Twitter - So far, I have only seen one brand doing this.

·       Short versus Long Phrases

Do not worry about any limitations you may have with tracking Sitelinks.  They call more attention to your ad because of the real estate they take up.  Even for large brands on their own branded terms, we are talking about less than 2% of clicks actually happening on the Sitelinks themselves. 

Plus, here is the skinny on how Google prioritizes site extensions:

·       Only one Extension (aka "Plusbox") usually shows, though technically more than one can show at once.

o       Hierarchy: Local > Product > Video > Phone

·       Extensions can (and do) show simultaneously with Sitelinks

·       Extensions can also show simultaneously with badges (i.e. Google Checkout badge)

Last, but not least, I am pretty amazed how little has been written about Sitelinks for paid search, so please share you experiences.  The biggest statistic I want to know is what percentage of the time you are seeing your Sitelinks serve for non-branded terms.

1 comment about "The New Paid Search Ads On The Block".
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  1. Doreen Fleming from One Web Source, LLC, February 18, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.

    Thanks Janel!

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