• Adwords Changes for 2016

    Google announced some significant Adwords changes during the Google Performance Summit in May.  While they have not given any specific dates for the updates to roll out it is well worth getting familiar with the new concepts.

    Some Adwords Stats and Why Mobile is Everything

    Most of the statistics that Google provide are specific to the US market. However, the UK follows the same trends and much of what they have experimented with the big US retailers they also trailed here in the UK.

    image of mobile phone with search During the Performance, Summit Google stated that they handle at least 2 trillion searches per year,  although they don’t give any breakdown to that figure.  However, it is known that more than half those searches happen on mobile.  Which is massive for Adwords when you consider that the Adwords platform is a little over 15 years old and was built in a “desktop” age.

    Additionally nearly half of all mobile searches on Google are location related.  Location searches are growing at a faster rate than other mobile queries.

    Think about people searching for “…. near me.”

    So all of these changes have the mobile user/experience at their heart.  In early 2016 Google removed the adverts that were displayed on the right-hand side of the page.  Instead of showing 3 or 4 adverts at the top and three at the bottom of the page.  This change was specifically aimed at harmonising the desktop/tablet/mobile experience.

    Adwords Changes for 2016

    Expanded Text Ads

    The format of the text ad has not significantly changed since the inception of Adwords.  Currently, the text ad is made up of:

    • 25 character headline
    • Two 35 character description lines
    • The display URL
    • Optional extensions.

    The new Adwords text format consists of:

    • Two 30 character headlines
    • One 80 character description line
    • The display URL
    • Optional extensions

    In effect, many text adverts already had two headlines as with the correct use of punctuation it has been possible to show the headline and description line 1 on the same line.  However, the available advert text moves up from a possible 95 characters to 140.

    new text ad following Adwords changes
    New ad format showing increased space

    This is a huge change and will make bidding for the top 2 positions more important than ever.  Currently, the search results page for a competitive search term contains four adverts at the top of the page.  Assuming that remains the same the extra space that the new text ads take up will push everything else right to the bottom of a mobile screen.

    No doubt Google will test this new format, but they expect it to roll out later this year.  That has to mean in the next few months as it’s highly unlikely they would make such a significant change immediately before the main shopping seasons.

    This means recreating ad creatives across entire campaigns.

    Responsive Display Ads

    Many small advertisers keep clear of display ads, partly because of the perceived complexity of selecting Ads creatives and sizing options.

    In future advertisers will only have to provide one Image, the ad text (headline and description) and the target URL.  Google will take care of how the advert displays on different devices.

    image showing The New Google Display Avderts
    The New Google Display Adverts

    Specific Bid Adjustments for Device Types

    There has been an argument for creating specific campaigns for mobile rather than using the existing bid adjustments.  Whether that is right or not probably depends on the point of view and circumstances.

    In future, Google will allow you to bid more or less for desktop, tablet or mobile.  The adjustment range is increased to 900%.  So instead of having to gear the bid adjustments against desktop it will be possible to structure the bids relative to each device.

    Local Ads for Google Maps

    As so many mobile searchers have a local intent, it makes sense start including advertising within Google maps (promoted pins).  This changes leverages the existing local extensions, but also expanding the information available to searchers from within maps.  Aside from business location, and opening times it will also be possible to check stock levels and see special offers.

    image showing a promoted pin on google maps
    Promoted pins and business pages on Google maps.

    How will these Adwords changes affect Small Businesses

    Theses changes are possibly the most significant updates to the Adwords platform since the system was created in 2000; reflecting how the internet is used in the mobile age.

    The Adwords interface is also undergoing a redesign, although don’t expect to see that live for quite some time.  It’s a massive undertaking, and while a demo was shown at the event, likelihood is that it won’t be widely available until the end of 2017.

    While the system does allow business owners to manage their accounts, the frequency of Adwords changes highlight the importance of employing an Adwords Specialist, especially for advertisers in highly competitive markets.

    Images are screenshots taken from the Innovations Keynote speech.

  • Adding Google Adwords Conversion Tracking To Genesis Theme

    Any time you set up a Google Adwords campaign you’ll naturally want to track how effectively you are spending your money.  There are several ways to track conversion, using the variety of conversion tracking options within Adwords, or importing conversions from within Google Analytics.

    Each method has advantages, however here is one way to implement the Conversion Tracking code if you are using a Genesis theme.  Obviously it goes without saying that you’re editing a Child or Custom theme and not the core Genesis Framework.

    Google’s instructions for adding conversion tracking are very straightforward, but understandably they do not give detailed instruction on how to deploy the tracking on individual sites.

    The code from your Adwords Conversion tracking will look something like this:

    image of code snippet

    And the instructions state that you need to place the code immediately after the opening <body> of your page.

    Using Genesis Hooks to add conversion code

    Genesis provides lots of useful hooks to allow us to add bits and pieces to our websites.  The Hook we’re interested in here is:

    genesis_before

    and so having identified the Hook we have to think about what we are going to insert.  As I see it there are two options.  One is to insert the tracking code directly, and the other would be to include a file.  Either way we create a custom function to pull in the code.  Like this:

    add_action('genesis_before', 'include_tracking');

    The conversion code should only be placed on the pages that count as a conversion.  So we need a conditional statement to say that the code should only be inserted on the relevant pages.  Most likely a “thank you” page.

    I opt to use an “include” and place the conversion code in a separate file.  The only reason for this is that as this code is going into the function.php file I want to try and keep the amount of code in there to a minimum.  There could be very good reasons for doing things differently.

    So we end up with something like this:

    //* Add Tracking Code for Conversions
    add_action('genesis_before', 'include_tracking');
    
    	function include_tracking() {
    	
    		if ( is_page( '3380' )) {
    			require(CHILD_DIR.'/tracking.php');
    		}	 
    	}
    

    Remember.  This needs to go into the functions.php file in a child theme of a Genesis powered WordPress site.  It’s not going to work anywhere else!

  • Enabling WordPress Excerpts on Pages

    By default WordPress enables excerpts on posts, but not pages.

    If you’re using The Genesis Framework and setting up content via Featured posts/pages it is very useful to be able to control how the excerpt is shown.

    As an example, the Genesis Featured Widget Amplified allows the placement of either the excerpt or a limited sample of the content.  Unfortunately by default the excerpt will be auto generated for pages which means that you have no control over the format.

    How To Enable WordPress Excerpts on Pages

    If you’re using Genesis (or most WordPress themes) it is as simple as adding the following code to the functions.php file within your theme (Child theme!)

    /** Add excertps for pages */
    add_post_type_support( 'page', 'excerpt' );

    This adds an “excerpts” box in the page edit screen.  You may need to enable it on the “screen options” tab (top right of the screen)

    That’s great, but you ideally there will be a link at the end of the text to allow the reader to continue reading.  There are various suggestions about how to deal with this,  and Greg Rickaby’s genesis code snippets has a neat solution:

    "add_filter( 'excerpt_more', 'child_read_more_link' );
    add_filter( 'get_the_content_more_link', 'child_read_more_link' );
    add_filter( 'the_content_more_link', 'child_read_more_link' );
    /**
     * Custom Read More link.
     *
     * @author Greg Rickaby
     * @since 1.0.0
     */
    function child_read_more_link() {
    	return'Continue Reading...';
    }"

    However, this does not work when using the Genesis Featured Widget Amplified plugin.

    So instead you can use this code (taken from the WordPress codex) which adds the “Read More” to manually created excerpts:

    function excerpt_read_more_link($output) {
     global $post;
     return $output . '<a href="'. get_permalink($post->ID) . '"> Read More...</a>';
    }
    add_filter('the_excerpt', 'excerpt_read_more_link');

    So, there you have handcrafted WordPress Excerpts on pages complete with a “Read More” link.  You could of course add “no follow” to the link if you wished, or even pull the post title as the link.