Two high authority websites have lost traffic from the June Core Algorithm Update. Their losses challenge the conventional thinking that expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) were the path for recovering from an update.
High “Authority” Websites Lost Rankings
Authoritative websites are said to have lost rankings in the June 2019 Core Algorithm Update. This exposes a weakness in the theory that factors such as E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) are directly associated with ranking declines.
These sites had no problems with expertise, authority or trustworthiness.
A Daily Mail employee reached out to Google’s Webmaster Help Forums for help in diagnosing why the Daily Mail was suffering traffic losses due to the June 2019 Core Algorithm Update.
A UK news site, The Daily Mail, suffered major traffic declines due to Google’s June 2019 algorithm update.
Now, a bitcoin news site, CCN.com is reporting that they are shutting down because of the Google Update.
“Google’s June 2019 Core Update rolled out on June 3th 2019 and CCN’s traffic from Google searches dropped more than 71% on mobile overnight.
Our daily revenue is down by more than 90%.”
In a blog post explaining why they are shutting down, CCN noted that another bitcoin news site, CoinDesk, was also losing traffic:
“Why would simple fixes be the cause of the immense Google-listing drop, when other similar sites are experiencing the same blowback? The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk, has experienced a 34,6% drop according to Sistrix.com:”
CoinDesk is a leader in their space. So it would be remarkable if they too have lost traffic due to Google’s June 2019 Broad Core Algorithm Update.
Is Trustworthiness a Problem for the Daily Mail?
MediaBiasFactCheck.com states that the Daily Mail is a questionable source of news.
MediaBiasFactCheck.com states that the Daily Mail is an unreliable news source, because of various click bait articles. Here is what MediaBiasFactCheck.com stated:
“…the Daily Mail tends to publish stories utilizing sensationalized headlines with emotionally loaded wordings such as “Woman, 63, ‘becomes PREGNANT in the mouth’ with baby squid after eating calamari”, which is obviously a fake news story.”
Sounds pretty outrageous, right?
The article is based on a real incident. The authoritative source of the information was the United States government’s National Institute of Health. That was not an “obviously fake news story” as MediaBiasFactCheck reported. Had MediaBiasFactCheck actuall fact checked the Daily Mail article (like I did), they would have found this link to NIH.GOV that relates the true story of baby squid attaching themselves into a woman’s mouth. It’s not fake news. It’s real.
Who are MediaBiasFactCheck.com?
MediaBiasFactCheck.com is an independent for profit organization.
According to their FAQ:
Media Bias Fact Check, LLC is a Limited Liability Company owned solely by Dave Van Zandt. He also makes all final editing and publishing decisions.
Dave Van Zandt obtained a Communications Degree before pursuing a higher degree in the sciences. Dave currently works full time in the health care industry. Dave has spent more than 20 years as an arm chair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence.
I will leave it up to you to decide whether MediaBiasFactCheck is a trustworthy source of information.
What Does Pulitzer Prize Winner Politifact Say?
Politifact is a trustworthy non-profit organization. Here is their web page about the Daily Mail that links to a page with one citation of one click bait article about Brexit. That’s all that Politifact has to say about the Daily Mail’s trustworthiness.
Pulitzer prize winning Politifact cites only one article as being click baity.
Politifact does not seem to share the same opinion of the Daily Mail as MediaBiasFactCheck.com. I will leave it up to you to decide who to believe on the matter of trustworthiness. But it sure seems to me, my opinion, based on the fact that I read the Daily Mail, that it is reasonably trustworthy.
Google Webmaster Help Forum Fails to Help
In my opinion, a failing of Google’s Webmaster Help Forum is that they offer the same rote advice. When the advice does not fit the situation, the forum sometimes turns against the person asking for help nitpicking perceived failures but never actually diagnosing why a site may have lost rankings.
According to CCN, Google’s Webmaster Help Forum failed to offer useful advice:
“We have tried to find out why our stories are no longer visible on Google by asking for guidance in Google’s Webmasters Forum. While we appreciate the help of the experts from the Google Forum, their theories for why Google has decided to basically “shut down” CCN does not appear to be entirely accurate.”
Among the less than useful advice was this response:
“The website has no information about the valid organization of the publisher.
The website has information about some organization with the name CCN, however, this brand does not have unambiguity and a fragment of Google Knowledge Graph in the SERP.
This contradicts to the following recommendations of Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – EAT of Google: ● Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) is responsible for the website. ● Who (what individual, company, business, foundation, etc.) created the content on the page.”
The person offering help also advised CCN to register the news site with Google My Business.
Like Talking to a Chatbot
Someone from The Daily Mail news site posted asking for help. Nearly the exact same advice was given to the Daily Mail as was given to CCN.com.
The answers focused on download speed, mobile friendliness and again, Authorship:
“The information about the author such as Martin Robinson is contrary to the following Google recommendations for publishers…”
As for the site not being mobile friendly, that’s incorrect. As you can see below, the site is mobile friendly.
There are some page loading errors but those are scripts that are blocked by third party ad servers, something common across the Internet. The rest are warnings about things like deprecated scripting.
Is that enough to kill the rankings by 50%? What do you think?
The Webmaster Help Forum might as well be a chatbot because all the responses are essentially pre-scripted. The advice is mostly ripped from the pages of the Quality Raters Guidelines.
Google’s Algorithms are Not Summed Up by Quality Raters Guidelines
Google’s Algorithm updates cannot be summed up by what’s in the Quality Raters Guidelines. So why do SEOs depend on it to solve Google update problems?
Danny Sullivan tweeted that the Quality Raters Guidelines can be used as a reference guide for creating quality content.
“We tell lots of things to do. Improve site speed. Consider secure. Etc. But that’s not what this update was about. It’s broad. And respectfully, I think telling people there’s no particular thing to “fix” is indeed helpful. It means, hopefully, they think more broadly…”
“Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That’s like almost 200 pages of things to consider: “
Google’s Danny Sullivan recommended reading Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines for tips on creating quality web pages.
An SEO responded to Danny by correctly pointing out that the Quality Raters Guidelines is for content creation, not for diagnosing why a site is no longer ranking in the search results:
“The guide is GREAT for creation guidelines, not diagnostics. Especially if you just dropped off the map.”
Quality Raters Guidelines are Not a Diagnostic Tool
The quality raters guidelines is helpful. But Google’s algorithms do more than check if a page passes a “quality” test.
Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. ” Web page quality is one part of that. Relevance and usefulness to a user making a search query is a major part of the algorithm.
So if a site has lost rankings, while content quality may be an issue, of higher concern is figuring out why the site is no longer relevant to a user. Google’s algorithm focuses on returning the most relevant content, regardless of coding errors or whether the article author has their contact information listed somewhere.
The Raters Guidelines are helpful. But the SEO community is clearly on the wrong path by relying so heavily on Google’s Quality Raters Guide for answers to algorithm related ranking problems. There is more nuance to ranking in Google than what’s in the Quality Raters Guidelines.
Quality Raters Guidelines is not an SEO cheat sheet
Google’s algorithms do more than obsess over E-A-T
Quality Raters Guidelines are Not a Diagnostic Cheat Sheet
The Quality Raters Guidelines is mostly a document about web page quality. Page quality is highly important.
But Google does not primarily rank pages because they are high quality. Google ranks pages because they are relevant and useful to users.
There is a tendency to seek answers in the Quality Raters Guidelines for update related ranking problems. This is a mistake. A broad core algorithm update encompasses a wide range of improvements designed to help Google understand search queries, understand and rank web pages, and to be useful to users.
Page Quality is just one ranking factor out of many other factors.
Broad Core Algorithm Updates are Not Solely Focused on E-A-T
Some SEOs continue to recommend that publishers hurt by an algorithm update should add more information to their About page, add more author information to the articles, in order to increase their E-A-T scores.
Goodness… Do people truly believe that hacking Google is as easy as improving author credentials?
Apparently so. As ridiculous as this may sound, that’s what some in Google’s Webmaster Help forum offered as a solution to The Daily Mail, a well known news organization.
The focus on E-A-T to solve Google update problems is a mistake because it ignores the fact that Google’s algorithm is larger than just expertise, authoritativeness and trust. Those are just three factors out of over 200 factors.
Wide Scope to Algorithm Update
It’s called a Broad Core Algorithm Update. The word “broad” is defined as having a wide scope, covering a large number of topics.
Focusing on E-A-T as the root cause of update problems is a huge mistake.
Nothing to Fix
Assuming that E-A-T is the solution to update problems ignores Google’s advice that there is nothing to fix.
What that means, that there is nothing to fix, is that there is nothing wrong with your site.
When an SEO recommends E-A-T to solve an update related ranking problem, they are saying that the reason the site doesn’t rank is because there is something broken that needs fixing.
But Google says there is nothing to fix.
One is right. One is wrong.
Google’s guidance that there is nothing broken on your site to fix is a huge clue. So why ignore it?
What Does Nothing to Fix Mean?
Nothing to fix means don’t expect that fixing “quality issues” will solve your Google Update problems.
Nothing to fix means that there is nothing wrong with your expertise, authoritativeness or trust.
“Nothing to fix” means that Google is doing more than “targeting” low quality signals.
Nothing to fix can mean that:
Google is improving natural language processing tasks
Google is improving how it ranks links
Google is improving how it understands search queries
Google is improving how it understands a part of a web page that exists within a larger part of a web page.
Google has improved the speed at which it identifies low quality links and ignores them.
As you can see, there are so many areas that Google can improve in an algorithm, the list could literally run to thousands of improvements.
If the list of things that Google could improve is so long, why in the world does the search industry focus on the same four things, Quality, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust?
As can be seen by the plight of major sites like CCN and the Daily Mail, the idea that Google’s Broad Core Updates could be reduced to four baby-food level ranking factors is not helpful.
When trying to diagnose a solution, it may be more helpful to expand the set of factors looked at. Start with the search results pages themselves. How can you diagnose a ranking problem without looking at the search results?
Read cryptocurrency news site announcement: CCN is Shutting Down after Google’s June 2019 Core Update
There are numerous studies circulating that show how important reviews are to consumer purchase decision-making. To protect the integrity of online reviews Congress passed The Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) in 2016. This was largely modeled on an earlier California law.
CRFA makes non-disparagement clauses illegal. The intention of CRFA was to “prohibit the use of certain clauses in form contracts that restrict the ability of a consumer to communicate regarding the goods or services offered in interstate commerce that were the subject of the contract, and for other purposes.”
These terms are typically called “non-disparagement” clauses and have been used periodically by professionals and corporations to pre-empt and prevent negative reviews. They often provide financial penalties or the right to sue for their violation. But they’re illegal.
Trying to get away with it anyway. Apparently quite a few businesses didn’t get the memo. Last week the FTC announced that it had settled administrative complaints with five firms using these illegal clauses in their customer contracts:
A Waldron HVAC
National Floors Direct
Shore to Please Vacations
Staffordshire Property Management
The FTC administrative complaints were originally announced in May and June. (The Yelp blog has some additional factual detail about the companies and circumstances.) It’s not clear if these contracts have just been in use for years (pre-dating the CRFA) or whether the companies got bad legal advice.
Must notify all their customers. Each of these firms must now notify all consumers who signed their agreements that the contractual provisions in question are not enforceable. There are other multi-year reporting and compliance requirements that the FTC orders impose as well.
In addition, Shore to Please Vacations apparently sued a vacation renter, who had written a negative review, in Florida civil court. It must now dismiss the private lawsuit for breach of contract.
Why we should care. Any marketer, brand or business owner contemplating any scheme to prevent or preempt negative reviews needs to stop thinking this way immediately. These efforts invariably backfire and cause more damage to the business’ reputation than anything contemplated by the non-disparagement clause.
Marketers need to follow review best practices and treat reviews and responding to them as just an ordinary part of doing business. It’s also important to remember that businesses that have some critical reviews ultimately have more credibility than those with only five star reviews.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.
Over the last decade, the number of account and campaign parameters to consider has shot up almost 20 times.
How are PPC specialists expected to know which actions to choose for the best results?
And what exactly do you need to do to continually increase performance while staying ultra-competitive in the marketplace?
On August 14, I moderated a sponsored SEJ webinar presented by Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed.
They shared seven essential PPC optimization strategies that are proven to boost ROI, save time, and reduce spend.
Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.
So much has changed in the paid search landscape in the past few years. Today, it has become a complex ecosystem with:
With all of this to consider, it’s essential to determine what actions to take through all the clutter of managing a PPC account.
Here are seven areas to consider when optimizing your paid search campaigns if you want to bring the greatest returns.
1. Account & Campaign Settings
No one has an infinite marketing budget, therefore it’s important to find efficiencies wherever possible in your account.
There are three different settings in your account and campaign that you can easily change to boost PPC performance.
It’s important to use location targeting in your PPC campaigns to drive efficiencies and identify geographic areas with a higher propensity to convert.
It’s one of the best ways to actually reduce wastage in ad spend. Make sure to target your audience in the areas they’re searching.
If you don’t use location settings, you’ll be wasting budget showing ads to people who have no interest in your business.
Location settings also allow you to see in which areas you have the most traction. Therefore, you should concentrate budgets in these areas to maximize the effectiveness of your PPC spend.
Make sure you select the country you want to target when you set up your campaigns initially and then drill down and create campaigns for specific locations for the top-performing areas.
Ensuring you’re targeting the correct devices is also key to success.
Google has said that about 30–50% of searches on mobile have local intent.
If you’re a business or a high street store, you should be increasing bids on mobile targeting to reach people in the right place, at the right time.
People also interact on devices differently so use the data within your search engine to see which devices are driving the strongest KPI performance and modify bids accordingly.
Don’t worry about bidding too high, the data you gather will help inform you in your most profitable areas moving forward. That extra you spend in the beginning will just help you further down the line.
Ad Copy Rotation
This is something that a lot of people just leave to Google to do for them.
But a lot of advertisers do like rotating ads evenly so they can optimize it themselves.
If the aim of your campaign is for branding, then this works. You can use tag lines from other media channels to support your messaging and then test it. Learn their ad copy to make sure you’re using the right one.
However, if you’re running a direct response campaign, then you should be trying to maximize the number of clicks or conversions coming to your site.
It would be a good idea to allow the system to actually optimize the ads for you based on the best click-through rate or conversion rate.
2. Automated Bid Management
Bid Management in the Engine
You should be using bid management in Bing or Google Ads to make your ads work as hard as possible for you.
Firstly, you need to analyze your data from the engine or analytics to see how many searches people take to convert with you. You need this to know which bidding works best.
You can then set up automated bidding in the engine based on the last-click conversion model if your conversion length is small.
If your conversion length is high, set it up based on a many-per-click conversion model so you can capture all the keywords required for someone to convert.
Bid Management Using Rules
You can also use automated rules to ensure your account is performing to the standards you expect using third-party bid management platforms, such as Adzooma.
When you’ve analyzed the data in your account, you’ll have identified how many impressions, clicks and conversions you need to drive profitability or hit your target KPI.
With this knowledge, you can set up automated rules to make changes to your account based on these criteria and help drive greater performance on your account while saving you time.
Bid management is generally a good strategy, particularly if you’re new and you don’t know which bids you should be putting in and how to manage them.
If you’re a large-scale advertiser and you’re inundated with different campaigns that you’re running, it is also another great thing you can use.
3. Data Integrations
Data integration is vital to any marketing team. There’s an easy way to integrate your analytics data with your search data in one platform.
Google Analytics, even if it’s the free version, is an important tool for marketers as it allows you to make more informed decisions on your PPC spend.
To link Google Ads and Google Analytics, you’ll need administrative access to Google Ads account and edit permission to a Google Analytics account.
Once you actually have the two platforms linked, you’ll be able to see a number of metrics you couldn’t before including:
How many of your clicks resulted in new visitors to your site.
How long people are spending on your site from PPC.
And, using goals in analytics, what actions people are actually taking on your site from PPC.
Using this data, you can see which keywords are working best for site engagement and optimize accordingly based on your KPIs.
If you’re running a branding campaign, you want more people to spend more time on your site and visit more pages if you’re running a direct response campaign, you want more people to interact with specific goals on your site and probably convert at the same time.
With an analytics integration, you can also start creating audiences based on people’s on-site behavior which is really important.
4. Audience Data
Paid search is based on keyword intent – targeting people based on what they are looking for at all times. It’s been like this since the start.
However, today’s climate is very busy with multiple channels, devices, locations, seasonality, increasing competition, and more data than ever been before.
So how do you sort through the clutter to make sure you’re targeting the people most likely to convert with you and thereby maximize the utilization of your marketing budget?
Why You Should Be Using RLSA
Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) were introduced by Google in 2013 and have grown to become one of the most important strategies available to marketers.
Identifying where people are interacting with your site and gauging who are most likely to convert with you is key to increasing efficiency in your ad spend and improving your conversion rate and cost per acquisition or cost per lead.
In Google Ads and Bing Ads, you can create audiences based on which URLs people have visited on your website and then retarget them when they search for other relevant terms to either:
Ensure your ad is appearing in front of them (particularly good for generic keyword efficiency).
Or show people different messaging to entice them.
You can also use other data, like demographic data, to make your ads even more targeted. However, this is just one aspect of remarketing with audiences.
How to Create More Enhanced Lists for RLSA
Moving further along, you should also be integrating any CRM data with your search platforms to create customer match lists which are audience lists based on the email addresses within your database.
This allows you to target people you know have already interacted with you and creates similar audience lists to target people similar to people who have already engaged with you and should play a part in your CRM strategy.
Linking your analytics platform with Google Ads allows you to use other on-site metrics to create audience lists. Time on-site, bounce rate, goals, pages visited, etc. are all very important in creating audience lists.
This will let you retarget people, not only based on what pages they visited on your site, but also how long they spend. This means you have another engagement aspect you can layer into your audience strategy.
Why is this important?
Audiences allow you to narrow down your targeting ratio.
This means that rather than spending your budget guessing who might interact and convert with you, you can use this data to:
Make informed decisions on which groups of people have the highest propensity to convert.
Target them specifically – increasing the effectiveness of your media budget.
That’s really important because acquiring a customer can cost five times the amount of retaining a customer.
If you find someone who’s gone to your site and shown interest, then creating a strategy that can reengage or similarly find more people like that user is something you should be leveraging.
Demographic targeting is also key. It enables you to reach a specific audience based on age, gender, parental status, household income, and multiple other variables.
5. Generic Keyword Efficiency
With generic keyword being so expensive, it’s important to use them properly.
Generics are higher in the funnel, used more for research purposes. Conversion rates on generic terms tend to be very low, and far lower than brand terms.
It’s an ineffective way to drive business goals based on a last-click conversion model.
How to Use Generics Properly
You can use generics as a retargeting mechanism – targeting people in your audience lists when they search for generic terms are after visiting your site.
They will have already engaged with you and so they will be familiar with your brand. Thus, when they widen their search, keep your brand at the forefront of their minds and get them back to convert, either through:
A different messaging (i.e., put an offer into the ad copy).
Or by increasing your bids on your audiences so that you appear more prominently on generic terms at a time when people are more likely to convert.
This will allow you to concentrate your generic keyword budget to an audience with a higher propensity to engage which will drive higher click-through rates (and hopefully conversion rates), reduce impression wastage, and allow you to use your budget more effectively.
Using scripts can make the use of generics a lot easier. If you ensure your generic keywords are only live during certain moments or triggers, it increases their value to your business and makes the use of them more efficient.
One example is if you sell ice cream, use generic terms when it’s really hot to increase the likelihood of people purchasing your product rather than wasting money showing your ad when it’s cold.
To run a strategy like this you can either write a weather script in Google ads using an API connection from a weather information source or you can use a third-party platform that already has the API connection set up.
This will allow you to automate the process of activating ads for specific generic keywords based on the trigger you decide.
This strategy can be used with a multitude of triggers such as TV ads, programs, social posts, news articles, stock market fluctuations, pollution levels, sports, and even other events.
Basically, anything that you can get an API connection to, you can feed that back into Google Ads to trigger into a strategy like this.
6. Effective Account Structure
Your account structure forms the foundation of your entire account and how well it will performs.
A broad structure will lead to impression wastage.
A granular account structure may take longer to set up in the short run but will benefit you with more accurate data and bid management capabilities moving forward.
Ensure Your Campaigns Are Split by Products or Categories
Don’t lump random keywords together. This will allow you to write more relevant ad copy based on the keywords in your ad groups and campaigns.
Some people like to use their websites as a touchpoint on how to structure their account and that’s a good idea.
However, if it’s a particularly large website, it can get quite difficult to use so just make sure that you are splitting your products and categories into the keywords that they should be by a group.
If You’re Covering Your Main Brand Term, They Should Have Its Own Campaign
This will allow you to manage the daily budget for this keyword much more accurately than if it’s fighting for budget with other keywords.
The same here comes into effect for your highest performing terms as well, even if they’re generics.
Create Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), Where Possible
For your top-performing keywords, keep them in their own ad groups to:
Make the ad copy as accurate as possible for testing and learning.
Give you the ability to manage their daily budgets and bids separately so all your other keywords in your account.
Split Your Campaigns by Match Types
Using the following match types is recommended:
Exact match for traffic generation.
Broad match modifier to identify new keywords to add to your account.
Why avoid other match types?
Using broad match can cause impression wastage and your budget can get depleted quickly.
Broad match modified basically can cover all phrase match plus can harness a large net for harvesting new keywords.
This will allow you to manage your traffic drivers more effectively and allocate the correct budget levels to them and then use your remaining budget to invest in broad match modifier terms to harvest new keywords
By following these tips to building a strong foundation in your account, you’ll be able to initially identify your optimal bidding levels and you can then allow the bidding algorithms within the engine or third-party tool you’re using to optimize activity for more secure base.
Once you’re happy with your account structure, you can use numerous review tools to check how it’s performing and benchmark against that.
Using Adzooma’s free Google Ads Health Check tool can help you quickly spot 47 automatic areas on your account to see if it is set up the correct way.
When most people think about attribution, they think about a complex user journey and having to use a data science team to translate what the numbers mean into actionable marketing ideas.
But attribution doesn’t have to be time-consuming or something only data scientists can do.
Using Google Ads, you can use data-driven attribution to report on your performance and see which touchpoints along the user journey are leading to the conversions on your site.
You can also use it to inform your bidding rules – which keywords to bid on – not based on the last-click model, but based on the effectiveness of each keyword in the journey.
This means that rather than just pausing a keyword because it didn’t result in a conversion, you can now ensure that:
You’re visible on keywords that help in driving conversions throughout the user journey.
You’re optimized towards the ones which have the greatest impact at the beginning and in the middle of the journey
Data-driven attribution is different from the other attribution models in that it uses your conversion data to calculate the actual contribution of each keyword across the conversion path.
Each data-driven model is specific to each advertiser.
There’s a caveat, however.
Data-driven attribution requires a certain amount of data to create a precise model of how your conversions should be attributed.
Because of this, not all advertisers will see an option for data-driven attribution in Google Ads.
As a general guideline, for this model to be available you must have at least 15,000 clicks on Google search and conversion action must have at least 600 conversions within 30 days.
If you don’t have this volume of data, you can use attribution modeling in Google Analytics to identify your keyword values through the funnel, analyze that manually, and then attribute it back to your activity.
7 Key Takeaways
Push some simple change to your account that will make a big difference.
Automate the way you manage bids and improve performance.
Integrate data to enhance your bidding strategies.
Know why audience data is so important and how to use it.
Make generic keywords work harder for you.
Boost performance quickly with simple account structure changes.
Deploy data-driven attribution that drives performance.
[Video Recap] Improve Your PPC Performance Starting Today with These 7 Expert Actions
Watch the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.
This week, Andrea Cruz, digital marketing manager at KoMarketing noticed text ad headlines and descriptions getting cut off and wondered if is new.
I looked back at some older screenshots of search results and didn’t see truncation happening very often. But now I’m easily able to replicate the kind of result Andrea saw, including in the first text ad position, as in the example below.
Truncated headlines and descriptions in expanded text ads aren’t new, but it could be that it’s happening more often lately with certain ad renderings, which frequently include no ad extensions. Is the pendulum swinging back to simpler ads?
Why does ad truncation happen?
One thing to keep in mind is that truncation is about pixels rather than a specific character count, and wider characters use more pixels. In 2016, when expanded text ads were introduced, Google said advertisers should consider limiting headline length to 33 characters to keep them from potentially being truncated. That’s still the suggested length in the help center, even since Google added the third headline option:
“In some situations, Google Ads needs to shorten your text, usually with an ellipsis (“…”). This could happen if your ad text frequently uses wider characters (like “m”) instead of narrower characters (like “i”), because your headline text could be wider than the space available for it on some browser sizes. With most Latin languages, you can avoid this effect by limiting your line’s overall character count to 33 characters total.”
Additionally, if the ad preview in Google Ads shows the full headline, Google says it will generally render completely.
For descriptions, Google doesn’t give specific guidelines, and the preview tool won’t show truncation. Again, pixels will matter. In several results I looked at, description truncation happened between 84 to 86 characters, but a description with 91 characters displayed in full on one line because it had a lot of narrow letters.
Is ad truncation happening more often?
It may appear that truncation is happening more often because of the way Google often displays text ads now. The text ads above the organic results often show with just one description line, particularly on desktop.
Consider this screenshot of a results page for the query “car loan” captured last year in July 2018:
Now, compare that to a results page served today in which the ads in positions two to four include just one line of description copy (the last ad’s description is truncated) and no ad extensions below them:
I see this shorter ad rendering regularly across various queries, particularly on desktop. And the lack of ad extensions is interesting. Ads at the bottom of the page on mobile and desktop tend to show more description copy as well as ad extensions than ads above the organic results.
Ad rendering changes are constant
Google is always experimenting with the way it displays ads, even within the same results page. In the mobile example below (from today), notice the Expedia ad in the second position has a description that gets truncated and no ad extensions showing with it.
After refreshing that search result page later in the day, Expedia’s ad, still in the second position, appears with a description followed by callout extensions and an app extension, while the Hotwire ad in position three shows with just a description.
We don’t have control over how Google chooses to display our ads from one search result to the next, and it will vary based on device, browser and other contextual signals. It also decides when and what ad extensions to show. But we do have some control over truncation. If you want to avoid having your titles and descriptions cut off, experiment with length.
Something more interesting to watch may be the frequency with which your ad extensions show. It’s interesting to often see simpler ad treatments above the organic results these days.
About The Author
Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.