Mobile-first and Local: 2016 AdWords Guide for Small Businesses [Updated]

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Last Tuesday, May 24, 2016, AdWords broadcasted its greatest update yet: a revamp for our mobile-first world.

The moment that you search for something on Google, no matter what it is, is identified as the “I want to know,” “I want to go,” “I want to do,” or “I want to buy” moment. They are the so-called micro-moments.

AdWords, the pay-per-click arm of Google’s search engine, is leveraged by millions of businesses worldwide to drive more visitors to their websites and more customers to their businesses.

Last Tuesday, May 24, 2016, AdWords broadcasted its greatest update yet: a revamp for our mobile-first world. This revamp includes updates to the layout, creative, and management that have been either released or will roll out later this year.  

Related Article: Google Adwords gets a Material Design Makeover

Before delving into this year’s massive AdWords updates, it is imperative to understand the framework in which they were made.

  • There are now trillions of searches on Google annually - over half of those searches happen on smartphones.
  • Nearly 1/3 of all mobile searches are related to location.
  • Location-related mobile searches are growing 50 percent faster than all mobile searches
  • One in three people who click on an ad, goes to the store and shop

Back in February of this year, Google announced that it was eliminating the ads on the right side of the search results. According to Google, this change was made to ensure consistency across devices since the right side ads were displayed only on computer and not on mobile or on tablet browsers.

While it might seem like a trivial update given the low click through rate that these ads were yielding historically, less than 15 percent of all clicks on average per Kolau estimates after analyzing over 1,000 accounts, it was actually a game changer that signaled the pathway for mobile-first. It also made all ads eligible to display extensions, one of the elements contributing to the ad rank algorithm, which in and of itself makes for a very important change. AdWords extensions have become a must-have for all advertisers, big or small.

On May 24, AdWords announced a new set of updates in line with the mobile-first direction of February’s changes. Google explained the decision in their announcement: “The shift to mobile is no longer a change on the horizon. It’s here.” This time, the updates were even more significant than those made in February, making them the biggest updates to the ad creative since AdWords’ initial release on October 23, 2000.

Changes in AdWords Ad Creative

Instead of having one 25-character headline like it does now, AdWords will roll out the capability to add two 30-character headlines later this year. This means more prominence for the ads ranking in the top positions, which will greatly benefit from this additional exposure.

When it comes to the description line, instead of having two 35-character description lines, advertisers will be able to add one consolidated 80-character description line. This means no more struggling to fit two different messages within the 25-character limit.

Related Article:Clicks to Cash: 6 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Using Google AdWords

Another adjustment that, while it does not modify the ad creative does help in reducing the percentage of ads that are disapproved, is the automatic extraction of the domain to build the display URL. The path is still customizable, but the domain is already extracted to avoid any mismatch that up until now led to the ad being disapproved.

These updates were beta tested and the click through rate increased 20 percent. Also according to Google, research suggests that longer headlines are more useful for mobile users because they provide more information before the searchers actually touch and click.  Upgraded ad components chart

Changes in AdWords Account Management

Aside from these foremost updates to AdWords ad creative, there is also a major modification within account management. One update is also related to the mobile-first strategy. Now advertisers will be able to set individual bid adjustments for each type of device. Up until now, they could adjust bids for mobile, but could not set individual bids for mobile, tablet, and desktop. This change will roll out in the coming months, according to Google.

Related Article:Breaking Down the Beast: How to Understand Google Analytics

Advertisers will need to ensure that they take advantage of these updates. The sooner they adapt to the changes and update their AdWords accounts accordingly, the more likely they will be to outpace and out click their competition.

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