Daily Search Forum Recap: August 31, 2016

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Source: SEroundTable

Why it’s time to re-evaluate your AdWords account structure


We’re now seeing many of the changes AdWords announced in May rolling out to all accounts. This is great news in terms of enabling new opportunities, but it’s bad news if you thought your account was perfectly structured.

While each new feature will work just fine with your current account structure, your setup may no longer be the most efficient — so now may be a great time to revisit the AdWords account structure debate. I’ll cover how each of the new features may change your opinion on the right structure for an AdWords account.

Expanded text ads (ETAs)

All accounts now have the capability to create ETAs. Because results have been mixed, as reported by Andy Taylor and Ginny Marvin, I recommend not removing legacy ads — for now, at least. While Google has announced a firm date when it will no longer be possible to create legacy ads (October 26, 2016), they have not announced when legacy ads will no longer be served. So, if legacy ads sometimes outperform your new ads, there’s no rush to make the switch.

When determining which ad to keep, you’ll obviously want to look beyond just the click-through rate (CTR). Google has been touting the CTR improvements in some of their case studies, but we really should be evaluating the new ads’ impact on metrics like “conversions per impression,” which combines CTR and conversion rate.

A/B Testing Legacy ads and Expanded Text Ads in Optmyzr

In this illustration from our own Optmyzr account, you can see an example where the legacy ads and expanded ads are in a dead heat when it comes to CTR, but the legacy ad is converting much better.

Expanded Text Ads and account structure considerations

The reason ETAs have an impact on account structure is that there is no support for mobile-preferred ads. In other words, the same ETA will be shown on all device types.

If in the past you found that different messages worked better on mobile devices, you were able to indicate to Google that you preferred a different ad to be used for searches on those devices. That is no longer possible, and after October 26, any new ad you create will run on all devices.

mobile preferred to mobile url with expanded text ads

Knowing Google, I am confident that the ads quality system will know which ad variant performs best on a certain device and that they will show that ad. This means that you should have at least two ad variations per ad group, but that’s nothing new; we should all be testing multiple ad variations already.

Of course, Google’s way of evaluating the best ad is normally based on CTR, so you may still not get the benefit of showing the ad that nets you the most conversions. This is where the new “perfect structure” comes into play. To gain back the control that was lost in this launch, you may want to have separate ad groups for different devices.

Account structure for Expanded Text Ads vs Legacy AdWords ads

Legacy ads have the option to specify a mobile-preferred option so one ad group can easily cover all devices. Expanded Text Ads don’t have a mobile-preferred option, so if you want to show different ads on different devices, you need separate ad groups.

The structure above is now possible thanks to the new way device bid modifiers work. I’ll explain those in the next section.

Device bid modifiers

It is now becoming possible to set bid modifiers for all device types. In the old desktop-first world, you could only set bid modifiers for mobile devices, meaning that ads would always run on desktop, and mobile could be enabled with a bid modifier greater than -100%. It was not possible to run ads only on mobile devices (not counting some workarounds like setting a really low CPC and a very high mobile bid modifier.)

Device Modifiers

Now you can set device bid modifiers for all three device types, making it possible to run different ad groups for each device.

The ability to set modifiers for all devices is currently in the process of rolling out gradually to all accounts. Once your account has this new capability, you can once again run separate campaigns for each device, just like before the controversial launch of “Enhanced Campaigns” in 2013.

So, is Google realizing it made a mistake with Enhanced Campaigns, and that’s why they’re re-introducing this capability now? I don’t believe so; in fact, I think they’ve achieved what they wanted: to get advertisers to wake up and notice that mobile was quickly becoming the dominant device on which users were searching. By forcing all advertisers to show ads on mobile devices by default, Google was able to bring the masses along. Now that they’ve made sure all advertisers are set up to be successful in a world where mobile dominates, they’re pushing capabilities for a mobile-first world even further by making it possible for advertisers to opt out of advertising on desktops. While this isn’t for everyone, I have certainly heard several examples of advertisers who don’t care much for having their ads appear on desktop searches.

How device bid modifiers impact the perfect account structure

The implications for the “perfect structure” of this change should be pretty obvious. More control can be gained by running separate campaigns for computers, tablets and high-end mobile devices.

One interesting little nuance is that device bid modifiers can be set at the ad group level, so, whereas advertisers may have run device-specific campaigns before 2013, now they can do this or run device-specific ad groups. Here are a few of the benefits of each option.

Benefits of running device-specific campaigns:

  • Maintain different budgets for each device.
  • Use different geo settings like targets or bid modifiers for each device (more on that later).
  • Use different RLSA modifiers per device.
  • Soon, use different demographic settings per device (I am assuming these will be at the campaign level, though I have not confirmed this).
  • Run different ads per device.
  • Target different keywords and maintain device-specific negative keyword lists.

Benefits of running device-specific ad groups:

  • Simpler account structure, while still benefiting from device level bids.
  • Run different ads per device.
  • Target different keywords and maintain device-specific negative keyword lists.

Benefits of using bid modifiers and not splitting current ad groups:

  • Keep the account structure much simpler.
  • Maintain different bids per device.

I do NOT recommend jumping on this new capability and duplicating all your campaigns or ad groups and splitting them out by device. Doing so adds a significant amount of complexity to your account. New keywords have to be added in multiple places, changes to promotions in ad text have to be made in multiple places, how you handle reporting will probably change and so on.

I do recommend taking a close look at your most important keywords and understanding if there are differences in performance across devices that warrant a change that goes beyond setting different bids. If so, then consider using a new account structure for just these keywords.

How bid management changes with device bid modifiers

The new device bid modifier capabilities raised an interesting possibility in my mind for a way to simplify bid management.

Bid management in AdWords can be simple thanks to Portfolio Bid Strategies, but it can also get immensely complex for those who manage bids manually. Working with a lot of agencies and having seen plenty of bid management companies falter because producing great results with a black-box system is hard, I personally prefer bidding methods that allow for some human oversight while still taking advantage of machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation, something like Enhanced CPC bids.

The complexity of bid management is mostly because there are two layers — CPCs and modifiers — and they control different things. The max CPC up until now was used to set the bid for ads shown on computers. Bid modifiers were used to transform that bid into a bid for mobile devices. This meant that an advertiser who recalculated her bids based on changes in performance on computers would immediately need to recalculate the mobile modifier to make sure that those bids also remained correct. The interconnectedness of bids makes mistakes more likely, in my opinion.

Google in its announcement about the new device bid modifiers uses the term “anchoring bids,” so let me try to explain this concept by combining boating and PPC. I hear both can get wildly expensive if you don’t do it right.

anchor 1

In this illustration, the dark gray line at the bottom represents the ocean floor, as well as our max CPC bid for computers. Our bids are “anchored” here, so the chain between the yacht and the floor represents our mobile bid modifier. The right modifier is the one that keeps the chain tight, so the yacht stays where it needs to.

anchor 2

The complexity sets in when the conditions change, like when the yacht moves to a new harbor where the water is a different depth. (Fun fact: Did you know that the water levels of the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean are not the same? Weird, right?) If the captain keeps the chain on the anchor at the same length, his yacht won’t stay in place very well.

In the PPC world, a change in conditions on computer-based searches impacts what you need to do with your bid modifiers for mobile devices. This can get confusing, and sometimes advertisers simply overlook the connection and end up with bad bids. In fact, advertisers may even calculate their anchor CPC bids using data from all devices, when the correct way to calculate bids is to use data segmented for each device.

All of this gets even more confusing when you layer in geo bid modifiers, time of week bid modifiers, RLSA bid modifiers, and starting September 19, demographic modifiers for search ads. I wrote a free script that helps advertisers better understand how much they’re really bidding after all modifiers are layered in, and the outliers can be shocking.

So all of this got me thinking about how to remove some of that complexity. Here’s one method my team and I came up with: Set an artificial fixed CPC, and use all three devices’ modifiers to dial in the correct bids for each device.

anchor 3

As you can see, now bids for one device are no longer dependent on those of other devices, and it’s much easier to know how much you’re bidding. Unfortunately, though, because device modifiers can only be set down to the ad group level, this method only works well if you use single-keyword ad groups, so that the ad group modifier is effectively also the keyword bid modifier. In the great AdWords structure debate, this is another vote for SKAGs (single keyword ad groups).

Geo modifiers

While there hasn’t been any change in how geographic bid modifiers work, I had an interesting insight during a recent #ppcchat session on Twitter. A lot of advertisers reported that they add bid targets to their campaigns to make it easier to set bid adjustments later. Adding all the locations is a lot of initial setup work, and it’s not actually necessary to do because AdWords reports location data in the Dimensions tab.

So if an ad is targeting Canada, it will by default appear to users in Vancouver. Even if you don’t specifically add the city of Vancouver to your targeting list, you can still get a report of the ad’s performance in Vancouver from AdWords. Then, when you find that there are significant differences in performance, you can add a bid modifier for this city. The same works for all the other geo targeting levels like regions and ZIP codes.

geo dimensions tab

The problem I see with advertisers adding regions as targets and then only modifying bids for these locations is that they can easily overlook opportunities from more narrowly defined locations like cities or postal codes. We have a good optimization in Optmyzr (my tool) that handles this, but with a bit of spreadsheet wizardry, it’s easy for anyone to do this themselves.

Demographic modifiers

Starting on September 19, 2016, it will become possible to add demographic bid modifiers to search campaigns. You will be able to target by age range and gender. Based on the post, it seems this will be a campaign-level setting, so if you find big differences in demographic performance across ad groups in the same campaign, it may be beneficial to split out these ad groups into separate campaigns. It’s another new reason why a more granular structure may be the right choice.


There have always been good reasons to split up campaigns more granularly. Now, with the loss of mobile-preferred ads and the arrival of device bid modifiers for all devices, it may be a great time to re-evaluate if your account structure is still the best one to get you amazing results.

Ultimately, the answer will be different for each advertiser, and even for each ad group and will also depend on whether the cost of the labor or the tools needed to manage a more complex account structure is lower than the performance gains achieved from this structure.

At the very least, we should all understand how the recent changes in AdWords have changed the arguments for the perfect account structure. Hopefully, by reading this, you have that better understanding now.

The post Why it’s time to re-evaluate your AdWords account structure appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Account-level sitelink extensions coming to AdWords


Soon you can set sitelink extensions at the account level in AdWords. Google announced the release of account-level sitelinks in a tweet on Tuesday.

The feature is still rolling out, so you may not see it in your accounts, yet. When it becomes available, you’ll be able to add or edit sitelinks at the account level from All campaigns, according to the support page. When adding a new sitelink extension from the Ad extensions tab, there will be an option to choose Account instead of just Campaign .

While there are many cases for using campaign- and even ad group-level sitelink extensions, many advertisers will find the ability to set them at the account level very helpful. For example, smaller sites that are already using the same sitelink extensions across all campaigns and advertisers that want to streamline offers and other messaging in sitelinks across an account will no longer have to remember to associate those extensions with every campaign.

The post Account-level sitelink extensions coming to AdWords appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Source: SEland

Google Search Live Coverage Carousel Pilot; Is This The Real Time Index?

Google AMP

Aaron Bradley spotted and posted on Google+ that Google has opened up a pilot for the search live coverage carousel. Google said this can be used to “surface content more quickly than is currently possible with a standard crawl on your website” and is designed to be in a carousel form to work show “live sports, elections, and breaking news.”

I believe, but I can be wrong, this is related to the real time indexing API that Google announced at I/O. The same man at Google that is the man behind Google AMP, Richard Gingras, announced the real time indexing API.

This live coverage carousel requires AMP to work. Here are the core requirements:

  • Content must be published using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): By publishing your content with AMP, youâll enable your pages to be loaded nearly instantly to users’ devices. Read about how to Use AMP HTML in the AMP public developer docs.
  • Your AMP pages must include structured data markup for the content itself: Structured data markup enables the preview for your live coverage article on the Search page and also helps Google better understand the context around a piece of content. Find out more in the Introduction to Structured Data.
  • Content must be pushed to Google using an Atom XML feed: When you send your content to Google, you should use an an HTTP POST request in an Atom XML feed that contains your AMP page content as soon as it is published on the web. This allows Google to more quickly index your content.

Here is a screen shot of what this live coverage carousel may look like:

If you want to get your site to be included in this pilot, you can fill out this form.

This is interesting news and I assume that eventually anyone can add this markup to their site but Google will whitelist sites to be part of it. Otherwise, it can be a very dangerous spam situation. Or maybe they just use the same requirements they use for rich snippet inclusion?

Forum discussion at Google+.

Source: SEroundTable

Google Structured Data Tool Supports Schema v3.1

Just a couple weeks ago we reported that Google will soon support Schema version 3.1 with their structured data testing tool. Well, it seems as of yesterday, Google now supports it.

Brad Brewer posted on Google+ with a screen shot of it working on a site that uses schema v3.1.

He said “Webmasters can now validate schema.org 3.1 markup using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.”

Here is the Google tool and here is an example of a site using Schema 3.1 that works in the tool.

So go at it schema nuts!

Forum discussion at Google+.

Source: SEroundTable

New Google AdWords Account-Level Sitelinks

Google quietly announced on Google+ a new version of sitelinks named account level sitelinks. What this means is that sitelinks can show with any of the ads in your account automatically.

“Campaigns and ad groups that don’t have campaign or ad group-level sitelinks, respectively, will automatically use sitelinks created at the account level,” Google said.

Here is a sample:

AdWords has had dynamic sitelinks and many other flavors of it for some time. This seems to be a way for Google to show sitelinks more often in the AdWords results.

Here is how they work:

You can add sitelinks at the account, campaign, or ad group level. You specify your link text (what shows to people) and URLs (the page they click to).

In some cases, we might supplement your sitelinks with descriptions that you’ve provided about those pages. Either you can add those details yourself when creating or editing sitelinks, or we can automatically use information within your account related to individual sitelinksâ”for example, from various ads in your account. By showing additional information with your sitelinks, your ads can be more relevant to potential customers.

More details can be found in this help document.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Source: SEroundTable

Google Android Now Allows For Apps Search For Personal Content

Late yesterday, Google announced “in app” search for App Indexing on Android. It allows developers to integrate their apps to let Google index locally personal content within the app, to be surfaced on search on Android devices, no wifi needed.

Google explained it that “content from your app can then appear for relevant queries in the Google app on Android in the new âIn Appsâ tab, or as an autocomplete suggestion.” Here is a GIF showing it in action:

Google gave three examples of how this search may work for Android apps:

  • Find your contacts and messages. Easily find the friend you want to catch up with, or the name of the new sushi place that your friend told you about last month – just search for [sushi] and find the message.
  • Listen to your favorite running song or watch that sneezing panda video for the 15th time – all in one place.
  • Stay organized with your tasks and notes. Want to check off items on your grocery list? No problem, just search for [groceries].

It currently works on Android with Gmail, Spotify and YouTube apps. In the near future it should work on these apps, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Evernote, Glide, Todoist and Google Keep. If you want to get your app part of this beta, fill out this form.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Source: SEroundTable

New Version Of The Google Merchant Center Live

Google announced a newly designed Google Merchant Center. The new design also brings in more updates and features.

Google said the new version “offers the same functionality you’re used to, with more streamlined navigation and easier access to additional Shopping programs.” Here is a screen shot of the new version which has rolled out to all AdWords merchant users:

click for full size

Here is a list of changes and updates:

  • Feed Rules. In response to feedback we’ve heard from you, we’re updating Feed Rules to more closely align with how we see retailers commonly using the tool today. 
    • Change or update specific values. For example, you can update specific values of the color attribute while keeping other existing color values intact. 
    • Create new values by combining static values and/or values from different attributes in your feed. For example, you can add size type values to your product title values. 
    • Extract values from other attribute values. For example, you can populate a color value by searching in the description attribute for pre-selected values (blue, green, red, yellow) that will be suitable for the color attribute. 
  • Diagnostics page. We’ve increased the freshness of data in the diagnostics page. Now, the latest results from your feed uploads and product updates will be displayed in near-real time instead of twice a day — meaning that you’ll have fresher data to update and optimize your product feeds. 
  • Currency Conversions. Last month, we announced that we were testing currency conversions, which allows you to convert the currency in your product data locally. With the launch of the new Merchant Center, we’re expanding this feature more broadly to let you easily advertise to users in other countries, while allowing you to continue using your existing website and landing pages without change. Learn how Berlin-based myToys is already using currency conversions to increase their sales abroad. 

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable

The Google Mobile Friendly Label Is Now Officially Gone

As you expected, Google was going to drop the mobile friendly label. Well, as of this morning, the mobile friendly label is officially gone.

Here is a screen shot showing the before and after.

Before with the mobile friendly label:

After, as of this morning, without the mobile friendly label:

This doesn’t mean the page is not mobile friendly, it is. It just means Google has officially removed the label from showing up in the mobile search results snippet. Google still has a mobile friendly ranking signal but again, the label itself is now gone.

RankRanger does track this label in their Google features tracker and it shows a huge drop off in the number of results that show the label. So it seems Google has pressed the button to officially remove them as of this morning:

click for full size

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Source: SEroundTable