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PPC Archives | Catalyst Studio, Inc



In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

AdWords Expanded Text Ads Are Live

On 26, Jul 2016 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

What Are Expanded Text Ads?

Google first announced expanded text ads (ETAs) back in May, during the annual Google Performance Summit. The new format is aimed at helping advertisers provide more information to mobile users, which is where most PPC traffic is currently being generated. We started seeing the option for creating ETA’s in Client AdWords accounts this morning, which was a nice surprise for our team.

Classic Text AdsExpanded Text Ads
Headline: 25 char
Description 1: 35 char
Description 2: 35 char
Total: 95 char
Headline 1: 30 char
Headline 2: 30 char
Description: 80 char
Total: 140 char

Guitar Center was an early adopter of the ETA format, and their digital marketing director, Robert Spears, reports “more than a 2X increase in CTR” for non-brand campaigns. A side-by-side example of classic ads v. the expanded text ad format appears below:

Google expanded text ads example: Guitar Center

While the increased character count is the obvious plus (now as long as a tweet), there are other reasons for the performance boost:

  1. Longer lead-in make is possible to connect keywords and marketing messages
  2. Ads on phone can occupy slightly more screen real estate (make sure to use site links and all available ad extensions to maximize visibility)
  3. Regardless of ad position, organic text ads are now pushed further out of view

Other features that are currently rolling out:

  • Separate Device Bidding Adjustments – Previously, advertisers could set a base bid amount for desktop searches and use the mobile bid adjustment to increase or decrease bids for users on mobile devices (% up or down). Some advertisers are now seeing the ability to set the adjustment individually for all platform types: desktop, mobile and tablet. This will provide you with the ability to tune your budget toward the highest-impact class of devices.

    Google Device bid adjustments

  • Responsive Display Ads – Advertisers using the Google Display Network can now make use of a new type of ad called Responsive Display Ads. Instead of the traditional fixed size image or rich-media ads of the past, these are auto-generated by Google from advertiser provided information including a headline (long and short versions), description and URL.

With so much changing, it’s time to revisit your AdWords account and take full advantage of these improvements.

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In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

Google Eliminates Right Rail Ads (PPC)

On 24, Feb 2016 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

Over the last few days, Google has moved to remove the right rail ads that you may have gotten accustomed to seeing (ads on the right sidebar). While they’ve experimented with this over the past few months, this time it appears to be a permanent move. So now, instead of a 3 ads on top, 5 ads on the side layout on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), you are likely to see 3-4 ads on top, and another 3 ads down below the natural listings…no ads on the right side.

Why did Google do this?

As stated above, there were limited tests of this over the last couple of years, but the change we’ve seen over the past couple of days indicates that this is:

  • geographically widespread
  • affecting all types of advertisers (and verticals)
  • here to stay – confirmed by Google

Our take in the search engine marketing space is that this is a move by Google to align desktop results with what mobile users were already seeing. In case you missed it, the volume of mobile searches overtook desktop searches last year, so a “mobile-first” search experience makes sense. This would be natural, given that a larger percentage of searches are happening on a mobile device that on the traditional full desktop experience.

What does this mean to you?

First, there are fewer spots available for your ads to appear in – and more importantly – only 3-4 that will display “above the fold.” This means more competition (and potentially higher bid costs) are possible for all advertisers. This may not play out in all instances, and we aren’t sure if the bottom spots will hold as much value for advertisers as the right rail positions did, so only time will tell. However, this change won’t necessarily price anyone out of the market.

The change in format may “give as much as it takes.” For example, right rail ads weren’t displayed with ad extensions (call-out extensions, location extensions or site links) in the past. Now all 7 of the ads that may be displayed top & bottom will have that functionality, making it a bit easier to stand out. Plus, we’ve all heard of “ad blindness” where users learn to disregard the obvious ad locations as they search. The right rail was easy to filter out, but now search marketers can count on a more “native” display in the vertical stacking.

What can you do to stay relevant?

If you’re still using a shotgun approach to search marketing, it’s time to move from a strategy of keyword “coverage” to one that is much more tuned into “conversion.” Advertisers should center their energy on the most productive keywords and make sure their ad creative, landing page copy and call to action strategy are unified. These elements must support a positive user experience, and ultimately, conversions. Whatever changes you make…test, test, test. You want to be able to optimize intelligently, so run split tests, monitor ad performance, and measure CTR and conversion rates.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, this also means that it’s more critical than ever to get listed in the “local 3-pack” – this is the map + 3 business listings that often appears for location sensitive searches. If you paid attention, you’ll remember that as recently as last summer, it was actually a “local 7-pack.” Then Google pared it down to only 3 listings. If you are looking to keep your position in the 3-pack, your focus should be on quality SEO. Continue to optimize for web visitors and search intent, obtain quality backlinks, optimize your citations (social networking, directory and other local listings), and focus on collecting reviews on Google, Yelp and other key providers in your space.


Search marketing has always been about adaptation. This case is no different…if you have a solid PPC and SEO strategy in place, we’re talking about a slight shift in focus so that you can continue to perform well, or even better. If you are new to AdWords, or trying to optimize a new website, read up on these changes and stick to best practices. Performance is tied to how much value your website can add, now more than ever.

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In Announcements

By Adrian Arroyos

We’re Google AdWords Certified

On 09, Oct 2014 | In Announcements | By Adrian Arroyos

Yup, We're Google AdWords Certified

We’re AdWords Certified

We recently had the opportunity to receive a limited edition, framed certificate to demonstrate our official AdWords Certification. It sure beats the usual web confirmation screen that you can sorta print into a certificate.

If you’ve ever tried your hand at creating a Google AdWords account, you know that it’s deceptively easy to set up, but getting consistent value or ROI from your campaigns takes knowledge, testing, discipline, analysis and a lot of creative thinking. If that was missing from your past AdWords experiments, contact us and we can help you set up smart campaigns that support your objectives.

Google is Shaking Things Up Again

On a side note, Google is in the midst of rolling out the Panda 4.1 update (they’re calling it a “slow” rollout). In case you don’t know, Panda is a Google ranking factor that is meant to detect and filter out low-quality pages (aka, “thin” content). Google is also expected to refresh the Penguin algorithm in the coming week. Penguin was last refreshed Oct. 4, 2013, and it penalizes websites with an unnatural backlink profile (for example, sites with a large number of highly-optimized paid or reciprocal backlinks). If you fixed your backlink profile through backlink removal requests or submission of a disavow file by mid-September of this year, you should be in the clear according to Google. If not, it’s time to straighten our your backlink issues before the next update.

Be on the lookout for any major fluctuations in your traffic for the month of October!

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In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

Use Website Call Conversions for Better Lead Tracking

On 04, Sep 2014 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

Website Call Conversions for Lead Tracking

Website Call Conversions in a Nutshell

If you conduct any type of search advertising, you know that one of the greatest benefits is being able to see exactly what works…and what needs improvement. This is where Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising shines. When properly set up, your campaigns can reveal how visitors reached your site and the percentage that resulted in conversions (sales, signups or inquiries). This ROI data can then be used to sharpen your marketing efforts.

However, one shortcoming was the inability to track phone calls from people who clicked your ads. Yes, Google’s Call Extensions provide a way to track calls placed directly from ads. However, once anyone clicked through to your website, that was it. There was no way to track phone calls placed from your website back to any of your referral channels.

In August, Google unveiled Website Call Conversions, which enables you to finally track phone call leads back to AdWords activity. Assuming that you are already running an advertising campaign in AdWords, setup is somewhat straightforward (more on that below) and definitely worth it.

How Website Call Conversions Work

Once you have Website Call Conversions set up, a unique forwarding phone number is generated every time a user clicks on your ads. Through the magic of a JavaScript snippet, this trackable phone number can be dynamically inserted in those places on your site where you already display your normal business phone number. It can show up within the header, page content and footer. The unique phone number generated for each user is “live” for 90 days. This means that it’s not necessary for the prospect to call on the first visit to your site – they can come back later and still see the forwarding number. When they finally dial the number, Google attributes the call “conversion” to the original ad click so that you know that AdWords is responsible for the lead.

The best part is that there is no additional charge for the forwarding number and conversion tracking. Advertisers are only responsible for the cost of the ad click that triggered the website visit. It appears that Google is looking to further prove the business value of PPC advertising, not only online, but further downstream as well.

The setup process isn’t entirely easy for non-technical business owners – you’ll probably want the assistance of your SEO and/or web developer to make sure it is implemented correctly and showing up in your reports. The key elements required are:

  • Create a valid AdWords Call Extension
  • Insert 2 JavaScript code snippets into your website HTML
  • Tag phone numbers you wish to swap with a CSS selector (we recommend using “class”)

So what happens if a visitor comes in from organic search, direct or any other non-PPC channel? Nothing. The JavaScript code is bypassed and they continue to see your normal business phone number (unless they previously clicked on one of your ads within the 90 day window).

We’re excited about this addition to the conversion tracking toolkit, because we live in a multi-touch world. More than ever, prospects are exploring multiple channels as they move from the research and discovery phase to completing transactions. Gaining deeper insight into their behavior will help digital marketers make the most of each touch point and yield better results.

Need us to do this for you ASAP? Call us at (281) 980-4900.

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In Leverage

By Adrian Arroyos

Google Pigeon Update

On 18, Aug 2014 | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

On July 24, Google released what the folks at SearchEngineLand later dubbed the Pigeon update. This algorithm change was aimed square at refining local search, for example any search with terms such as “auto lube,” “coffee shop” or “hardware store” – where Google determines there is a local intent.

Pigeon Update – local pack

If you’ve paid attention, you know that Google will show what’s called a “local pack” in these types of searches. This is a set of up to 7 local business listings that Google deems relevant enough to plot on a small map right on the SERP. Aside from the mapping function, these listings also stand apart from normal organic listings by providing other actionable information within the listing: Name, Address and Phone number (NAP), and if applicable, a Google+ link and ratings and/or review.

What the Pigeon Update Did…

As a result of the Pigeon update, businesses have seen changes to the types of searches displaying (or no longer displaying) local packs, as well as a shift in the makeup of the local businesses being presented in these searches. One notable example is that searches in the Real Estate space (i.e. “real estate” or “realtors”) appear to be entirely devoid of local packs, at least as of this point in time.

…And What You Can Do Now

Has your business been affected by the Pigeon update? If you’ve seen improvements in your local search profile, this is a good time to continue building your online marketing strategy. If, on the other hand, you took a hit, there are a few things we’re recommending:

  1. If your business was previously in a local pack, but is no longer included after the Pigeon update, you are probably seeing a drop in calls and visits…and potentially revenue. If the drop is significant enough, you may want to start a limited, local Google AdWords campaign to make up for the difference in exposure. This will enable you to get back onto the SERP quickly, even if you have to use paid placement to achieve this in the short term.
  2. In addition to PPC ads, we are also advising clients to take control over their local business listings on sites such as Yelp, CitySearch, etc., since local directories appear to be factoring more favorably in the post-Pigeon world. In the quest for Local SEO, you want to make sure that these local listing sources are all consistent and optimized to help customers find important info for your business. This means making sure your NAP information matches across all platforms, and that you’re attracting customer reviews. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet (and a presence on Google+), you’re missing an opportunity as well.

As a Google Partner, Catalyst Studio helps clients leverage Google AdWords campaigns to meet their most important goals, whether it’s building brand awareness, increasing traffic and engagement, or driving sales (conversions). We also support clients with Local SEO services that simplify the process of claiming, managing and optimizing third-party local directory listings and establishing a social media strategy. Let us fix your Google ranking issues – contact us for a free estimate.

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Google AdWords Update Impacts Ad Testing

On 04, Jun 2012 | No Comments | In Leverage | By Adrian Arroyos

If you’re a Google Advertiser who understands the power of split testing and using this platform to continually improve your ad campaigns, you need to be aware of a campaign-level feature that has recently changed.

Read more…

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