• 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.

  • StudioPress – Pro Versions and Genesis 2.0

    StudioPress Genesis 2.0 has been live for a few weeks now, so it seems like a good time to quickly round up some of the feedback and inital impressions from around the web.

    This first piece highlights some of the updates to the most popular themes following the introduction of HTML5:

    Now, StudioPress announced his Genesis updated versions and updated his old WordPress theme in fully responsive design with HTML5 implemented. StudioPress updated themes like Sixteen Nine Pro, Eleven40 Pro, Going Green Pro, Minimum Pro and Metro Pro versions. 1. Sixteen Nine Pro :- Sixteen Nine Pro WordPress Theme is […]

     

    Custom Post Types are really quite underused, partly due to the perceived complexity in setting them up.  carriedils.com has a really handy explanation about how to make best use of custom post types with genesis.

    If you work with custom post types, be ready to GET EXCITED about one new Genesis 2.0 feature in particular… built-in support to create an archive for custom post types, complete with some really cool archive settings.

    Click here to view original web page at www.carriedils.com

     

    Nick the geek is regarded as the “go to guy” for anything to do with developing with Genesis.  He’s written a great article about how to use the new hooks and filters in Genesis 2.0

    I’ve already referenced the first article of Genesis Explained, but if you have not read it I’d recommend going back and reading it now. Now that you are familiar with the basic concept behind Genesis I’d like to cover the new hooks. I’ll be going back and looking at the framework.php file from Genesis 2.0 later. There is a new function I need to explain, but don’t worry, I won’t forget.

    Click here to view original web page at designsbynickthegeek.com

     

    Of course one of the major considerations with the release of a new piece of software is the question as whether or when to upgrade.  Some people are amazingly slow at upgrading their sites, and this has it’s own security and operational issues.  But for me it’s the excitement of deploying new features and taking advantage of the latest code enhancements.  WMwebdesign were equally eager, and have written a useful guide to the upgrade process, and upgrading.

    WordPress beta versions were released by the bucket load then we had 3.6 Release Candidate and 3.6 Release Candidate 2.0 and then, one moonlit night, the WordPress upgrade notice appeared in dashboards throughout the land and a few days later… Genesis 2.0 was released.

    Click here to view original web page at www.wmwebdesign.co.uk

  • Genesis 2.0 is Ready for You, Right Now …

    WordPress 3.6 has been released and downloaded 3.5 Million times in around 4 weeks.  And as predicted Genesis 2.0 quickly followed.  So  I’m going to feature some of the content from around the web about how Genesis 2.0 has been implemented, and its many new features:

    Genesis 2.0 is Ready for You, Right Now …The first new feature that will catch your eye is the default Genesis design. It has been completely revamped to run even better as a stand-alone theme for your site, if you wish to use it that way.

    But the improvements in Genesis 2.0 are far more than just cosmetic.  And the two most prominent and empowering under-the-hood changes being Genesis 2.0′s support for HTML5 and schema.org markup.

  • WordPress 3.6 is live – Genesis 2.0 to follow

    So WordPress 3.6 Oscar has gone live,  and this time it’s accompanied by a very slick video, almost Apple like in production.

    The main headline features of WordPress 3.6 are:

    • The Twenty Thirteen theme – which can only be described as gorgeous, with a rich colourful blogging centric design.
    • New Revisions interface so that you can easily find changes and scroll between versions.
    • Revamped Menus editor
    • HTML5 media player now built in for native video and audio embeds.

    The full list of updates and changes in WordPress 3.6 are on the Codex.

    Genesis 2.0 and WordPress 3.6

    Now that WordPress 3.6 is out in the wild, there are inevitably going to be a slew of updates to third party themes and plugins.  It was in beta for long enough so there is not really any excuse for developers to be slow in updating.

    However, the Genesis framework is promising something very much more that just a point-upgrade.  Wordpress 3.6 paves the way for Genesis 2.0, complete with the ability to enable full support for HTML 5.

    Studiopress released the beta version of Genesis 2.0 way back in May, along with the Sample child theme to complement it.   The list of improvements is really quite impressive:

    • As already mentioned, HTML5 Markup
    • Microdata so that if a HTML 5 Genesis will output markup using microdata.
    • Gone are some widgets (Latest Tweets, eNews) and the Fancy Dropdowns & post templates features to be replaced by Plugin functionality.

    There are plenty of other enhancements too, such as:

    • Renamed loop hooks for HTML5 which better describe their function
    • Improved multisite support
    • Improved widget support for PHP5

    Genesis 2.0 is not out yet, but the only thing holding it back was the release of WordPress 3.6 so you can expect it very soon.

    When considering whether or not to upgrade to Genesis 2.0 you can rest assured that Genesis remains fantastically backward compatible.  The implementation of HTML5 is handled via a Child Theme setting, meaning that you can upgrade safely.  More importantly it also means that a collection of new themes will be released over the coming weeks.  Along with upgrades to some of the most popular existing ones.

    So whilst a new version of WordPress is always reason to be happy, on this occasion it also means that the Genesis Framework is going from good, to very good.