Google’s recent “enhancements” and, chances are, you have already formed an opinion. At the very least, I’m certain you have heard several other people’s opinions! I’m not here to weigh in on the pros and cons of the changes but, rather, to help you set expectations and prepare for the upcoming changes.
Despite being a bit surprised that Google updated the previous best practice of building out separate mobile and desktop campaigns, most of the upcoming changes are in line with other Google sermons. Specifically, the loss of certain aspects of control within the new campaigns calls for additional emphasis to be placed upon landing pages. Unfortunately, at times, key decision makers don’t consider landing pages to be investments but rather an expense, period. It’s now becoming more important than ever that we change that way of thinking; read on to find out why.
This isn’t Your Grandma’s Relevance
Previously, mobile cost-per-click (CPC) was fairly low on average, likely due to lower competition. That competition is likely to increase moving forward, as it will no longer be possible to opt out of tablet traffic. In addition, campaigns targeting mobile devices will include all mobile devices and operating systems, no exclusions. This could create more competition in mobile devices that some advertisers had previously excluded.
Moreover, while the enhanced campaigns will allow advertisers to bid by device to a certain extent, the bidding will be at the campaign level as opposed to the keyword level. Advertisers will have the ability to set mobile bids at -100% to 300% of desktop bids within each campaign. Undoubtedly, this is less bid control than would be possible in a mobile-only campaign, which will probably result in increased CPC.
So what does this mean to advertisers, aside from requesting bigger budgets?
Firstly, it means that advertisers need to invest in quality score, in order to alleviate reliance on CPC to win the auction. For starters, look at how quality score is faring on a keyword-by-keyword basis. What are your strengths and weaknesses according to your quality score breakdown? It used to be enough to be relevant to a group of keywords. At this point, if landing pages are not explicitly relevant to each visitor sent, consider building more. If done correctly, the money invested in proper conversion architecture will be worth its weight in gold.
Secondly, advertisers need to invest in better conversion oriented landing pages to ensure that they are cranking out sales to keep up with any potential increases in CPC. No more sending visitors to the home page! Send visitors to pages with a clear conversion path.
Thirdly, test and test again to continuously improve experience and conversion rate.
Localization Is (And Will Only Continue to Become More) Important
Over the past year, Google has taken steps to improve the quality of local links served to searchers, so it is no surprise that AdWords is implementing a feature to allow more competitive bidding by searcher location. If your business has a local address, make sure your site reflects the locale. Take a look at search query reports as well as the keywords coming through your analytics platform. If many of the searches are localized, consider providing visitors with location specific conversion architecture.
It Will Be Necessary To Optimize For User Experience Across All Devices
Responsive Design is nothing new. It’s been a best practice for quite some time, now. In fact, it is even noted in Google’s Webmaster recommendations. Still, it seems many sites have not taken advantage of this technology. Beyond the SEO benefits of a site built in responsive design, it will now become an ace-in-the-hole for paid search marketers as well.
Research shows that tablet users are more likely to make a purchase than mobile users, not to mention tablet traffic is quickly growing. With Google’s changes, tablet and desktop devices will no longer be segmented separately. All campaigns will automatically be opted into both desktop and tablet devices. In order to serve the most relevant landing page to each visitor, sites should be built in responsive design to cater the best user experience possible.
Plus, as noted above, advertisers should take advantage of a highly targeted, relevant URL. If campaigns aren’t structured at a level of extreme granularity (or even if they are), advertisers should consider keyword level URLs. For campaigns that target mobile devices, the flexibility and agility of keyword level destination URLs will now require responsive design.
Local. Mobile. Usable.
In order to keep pace with Google’s enhanced campaign updates, companies should utilize a landing page infrastructure that allows for:
- Increased relevancy to search queries
- A local presence
- A better experience for users across devices
- Testing, testing, and more testing
Of course, no one can truly be sure of how the modifications will affect performance; regardless, these are best practices that everyone should be following – Google’s changes might just be the ammo you have been waiting for in order to convince your boss or client to invest in a better conversion architecture!
Amy Bishop, Digital Account Executive
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