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Wix ‘SEO Wiz’ Stars in Big Super Bowl Ad, Fumbles with SEO Community

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Wix 'SEO Wiz' Stars in Big Super Bowl Ad, Fumbles with SEO Community


Did you hear that sound last night during the Super Bowl?

It was the collective SEO community hitting their heads against a proverbial desk.

Wix’s foray into the world of Super Bowl advertising this year caught the attention of SEO professionals.

If you didn’t see the advertisement, you can watch it here.

The ad is mostly about how “easy it is” to use Wix. Pretty standard Wix promotion – until about 25 seconds, where you can hear these words:

“Wix “SEO Wiz” let’s you grab those top search results!”

What followed was a large collective sigh from the SEO community and thousands of status updates from SEO professionals simultaneously asking the same thing:

“Really, Wix? Really?”

Wix & SEO

Wix has historically had a poor relationship with SEO. And by poor, I mean, nonexistent.

In the early days Wix was run on Flash, so it was almost unindexable (Google couldn’t read sites created in Flash well, if at all).

To be fair, Wix has made a lot of improvements from the days when their sites ran on Flash. They now:

  • Run on a JavaScript platform.
  • Allow for you to have your own domain, instead of being hosted on theirs.
  • Have https functionality, which is essential if you don’t want browsers blocking users from your site.

In a Google Forum even Google’s John Mueller said that these sites could be indexed and ranked:

Hi Ash Wix websites work fine in search. There are a lot of different setups for new websites. I wouldn't focus too much on a single provider, but rather think about the bigger picture: which will make it easiest for you to maintain your site (adding / changing content)? If you're getting help from others for your site, is there one that they have experience in, which might make it easier / cheaper? Which one offers the features that you think you'll need in the mid-term? There are probably a few options that could work for you, so maybe it makes sense to just try some of them out and see which one works best for you -- websites are websites for Google :). Cheers & good luck with your new site! John

Mueller is telling the truth here. Technically, these sites can rank well. But technically I could be a super model – if I grew 6 inches and had a time machine.

The issue is “technically” doesn’t mean good or well. It also doesn’t mean likely. And it definitely doesn’t mean competitively.

Technically just means it is possible. Yes, it is possible you might rank your site in a competitive vertical with Wix.

If you can rank them, technically speaking, then what is the reason for the collective head banging?

While Wix can technically rank, Wix is also giving site owners the idea that SEO is plug and play.

Wix is promoting the idea that users will be getting customized SEO that is good enough to get them to the top of Page 1, when it is actually just offering a few SEO basics that any site that wants to appear in Google’s search results above the top 100 must do.

Wix ‘SEO Wiz’ Stars in Big Super Bowl Ad, Fumbles with SEO Community

Sure, you might get in the top 10, but only as long as you are not trying to rank in a vertical with any competition.

The restrictions that come along with a Wix’s site mean that it’s difficult to get a site to rank well.  The site is generally incapable of meeting enough of the ranking factors necessary for a site to rank in the top results, if competitors exist in that same query term.

What they are promoting isn’t personalized SEO. It is just SEO 101 – and barely even that!

Wix Gives Bad Advice on Important SEO Topics

There is nothing wrong with offering SEO 101 assistance. That is actually a good thing. But the devil is in the details.

While Wix does not offer a lot in the SEO Wiz tool that would affect site ranking outside basic core factors, they do provide a lot of SEO information that appears to be geared towards bridging the gap between what the tool lacks and and what needs to be done.

When you are reading through the guides that Wix provides to educate users on SEO they get a lot right, but they also get a lot wrong.

For example, here’s a Wix SEO tip about how your website SEO is boosted by how long people spend on it:

OK, this doesn’t even make sense. I’m guessing what they’re trying to say is that your value to Google will increase and your rankings will improve?  Either way, this is incorrect.

From the actual article they shared:

Wix ‘SEO Wiz’ Stars in Big Super Bowl Ad, Fumbles with SEO Community

No, just no.

There are things in SEO called “dwell time” and “pogo sticking”, which Google uses to help determine relevance for a query term. However, these are not related to how many pages you browse or even if you leave a site quickly and they do not devalue your site.

Think of sites that offer time or weather.

You might just want to see if it is going to rain today. You come in and leave quickly. Google does not then devalue the site organically because of this user behavior. This wouldn’t be beneficial to Google or the user to react this way to an expected user intent.

They are similarly incorrect about other SEO topics such as content freshness, keyword usage, and alt text.

If anyone from Wix is reading this, please go to WEBAIM and read how alt text should be written. I feel real pain at anyone who is forced to listen to the alt text they have been instructed to write in your guides.

Now, as I said there is a lot they get right. I am not saying there is no value in these articles, but a person who has no SEO knowledge reading these guides would not know what is correct versus incorrect. So, there is a danger in that for the site owner that they will do something that is either ineffective or could actually hurt the site.

But what about the tool?

Wix’s SEO Wiz: It’s Just Basic SEO

I went through the process of SEO for a site to see how it works. It should be noted I could set up the SEO before I even created a site, but that is a process issue. I am assuming they do not publish default templates live that have not been edited.

The Wizard has a lot in it – too much to review here. But a lot of it is irrelevant to ranking well in Google – and what is relevant is fairly basic.

Title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, and content are primarily what they focus on.

It is not wrong to have these in a tool called SEO Wiz, but their marketing copy is really misleading users into thinking that doing these few things means they will rank high in Google.

While you might find you rank for terms that are specific to you, these few items will not rank you on Page 1 for competitive queries. There is much more to SEO than just doing title tags and writing content with keywords in them.

Keywords

In simple terms, SEO is about who does the most the best or who does the best at the factors most heavily weighted. What is in the wizard is literally the least you could do, which is better than nothing, but not what is going to help you beat a site that is doing full-on SEO.

For brevity’s sake, I won’t go through every step in the Wizard.

We’ll look at how you set up keyword (query) terms.

I tried to choose terms from the perspective of someone who might be creating their first online presence with no understanding of how SEO works.

After it had me enter the site’s purpose, they had me pick 4-5 keywords. After I entered these terms, it took me through a process to refine the terms I selected. This was part of my “personalized” SEO plan.

Here were my suggested terms for “chef”:

Keyword Chef

The suggested related terms are all but irrelevant.

Now, to be fair, the next set of terms were better, desserts being the most relevant.

Keyword Desserts

However, we can see there is nothing really “personalized” here either.

What about the rest of the tool?

I walked through all the given steps and can say this theme carried through the entire process. None of it was truly “personalized.” Most of it was just basic SEO you could do with any site and any tool.

So Why Does This Matter?

If you are old enough you might remember when you changed your own spark plugs, I know I do. The process was pretty simple. The plugs pretty easy to access. Once you got good at it, 30 minutes could save you the money you would have paid a mechanic.

Steak dinner anyone?

But then cars got complicated, access to those spark plugs got more complex, often requiring special tools to reach them. So now it costs me a few hundred dollars to do what was once a $10 job.

Well SEO is no different, except as the actual job of SEO gets much more complex more and more companies are coming out with “plug and play” SEO tools that in the end don’t do all that much.

SEO is Complex

Ten years ago, you could have used a tool that did titles, metas, alt text, and along with good content you might really get some placements, but those days are long gone.

Google not only has on-page factors to consider, but technical SEO has just gained in importance and that is something you cannot touch on a site like Wix.

Not to mention they make almost no real mention of the need for links to the site. Even when they do, it is often listed as an afterthought.

If a site can’t rank well, companies that need organic traffic can’t thrive. And when companies can’t thrive, people don’t stay employed.

And that makes this dead serious.

The Real Cost

As I always tell anyone I train in this industry, I see my job as being the one that stands between people getting hired and people getting fired. This is literally the case more often than it is not.

So, for a company that just bought a Super Bowl ad, to publish “guides” and “advice” so rife with errors promoting a tool that just barely covers the basics of an SEO plan, it is more than a little bit concerning.

Wix Over-Promises & Under-Delivers

My message to Wix: Don’t over-promise.

This would not be an issue if Wix was not trying to make a play into a space where their tool is unable to really compete.

To use a football analogy, do you want to go 10 yards or do you want to score a touchdown?

For anyone building a business, Wix can’t get you into the end zone. It is just not built to do so.

Is Wix Useless?

No, not at all.

There are many uses for a site creation platform that does not have real ranking capabilities. However, if you are going to use a Wix site and plan on scaling or expanding your online presence you have to know at some point you will have to move a more robust platform like WordPress or if you are in ecommerce one of the many cart systems like Shopify or Magento, possibly even a customized solution.

So, the question you need to ask yourself before you start is how big do you want to build your house? If all you need is say a “business card” site or it is for an event like a wedding, then by all means save your money and use Wix! Not everyone needs to be worried about rankings in the search engines or about scaling their online presence.

However, if you’re going to build your future on it, be aware at some point when you have to move you won’t be able to simply move your site to a new platform. You will need to rebuild from scratch – and you won’t have an easy way to port that data over.

This will not just be due to SEO issues, but because of general development needs. Wix sites are NOT meant for businesses that need to grow an online presence.

And just one final thing you should remember about Wix when it comes to SEO:

Wix held an SEO competition last year. And they actually lost.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Wix
All screenshots taken by author, February 2019

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FTC smacks down anti-review ‘non-disparagement clauses’ in form contracts

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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
  • LVTR LLC
  • 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+.

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7 Expert Tips to Boost Your PPC Performance Today

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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.

 Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed share seven essential PPC optimization strategies that are proven to boost ROI, save time, and reduce spend. From set up, budgeting and account structure, to the use of data, technology integrations and audience settings, this valuable webinar will cover it all.

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.

Locations

Location targeting

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.

Devices

Device targeting

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

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.

How to use generics properly

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.

7. Attribution

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.

Or check out the SlideShare below.


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, August 2019



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Are your Google text ads getting truncated? Here’s what to consider

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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:

A Google search result from 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:

In a result from today, only the first ad shows ad extensions. The other ads show just one line of description copy.

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.

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