Google Roundup: Expanded Text Ad deadline changes, update on Penguin algorithm, Google Display Network & more

September 28, 2016 · Google Roundup

Our latest roundup of all the Google updates you need to know about.

You’ve Got til Jan 31, 2017 to Use Expanded Text Ads

For those of you who haven’t even begun to play with Google’s new Expanded Text Ads, high five: you’ve been granted the gift of time. Google has pushed back the deadline for advertisers to implement a longer ad format. Instead of October 26, you now have until January 31, 2017. You’re free to use the standard ad format until that deadline hits. After January 31, you won’t be able to upload any new, or edit existing, standard text ads.

So, what’s a procrastinator to do? Test! Google has included some friendly reminders about best practices for ensuring quality ETAs.

Use the longer runway period to test ETAs and nail down what works best for you.

  • Test many creative versions: Don’t be shy with creative. Test at least 3-5 creatives per ad group to truly optimize performance.
  • Focus on headlines: You have space for an additional line—that’s a big deal!
  • But don’t discount short headlines: Just because you have an additional line doesn’t mean it will work for your brand; punchy, short headlines may perform better for you.
  • Use what works in your standard ads: You don’t need to completely reinvent the wheel. If you know something works in your standard text ads, such as showing the price, for example, then use it.
  • Use the most effective ad type: Until January 31, you might as well use the ad format that works best for you—after testing, that is. And for some, that may be standard text ads.

After 2 Years, the Penguin Algorithm Gets an Update

Welcome to Penguin 4.0, which is being rolled out over time.

The Penguin algorithm is a filter aimed at catching websites that are spamming Google’s search results. It’s been around since 2012. What it does is penalize spammy websites.

If the websites improved or changed, it could possibly take months for an update to occur and for the improvement to be noticed.

Which brings us to the point: Now, the Penguin algorithm is real time. According to Google, “With this change, Penguin’s data is refreshed in real time, so changes will be visible much faster, typically taking effect shortly after we recrawl and reindex a page.”

Local Search Gets an Update with Possum

On September 1, there was a “massive local search update,” that caused business owners to panic when their Google My Business pages were no longer showing up. Just like our furry tree-dwelling friends, the My Business pages were just “playing possum.” In other words, they were being filtered out.

Here’s what happened: Rankings impacted included those in the 3-pack and Local Finder, the local results. It’s theorized that the update was meant to diversify results and cut out spam.

 As a result:

  1. Many businesses that were physically outside the city limit boundaries experienced a spike in rankings. It’s always been difficult to rank locally if you fall just outside the boundary of a city, so many businesses were pleased to see they were back in the game.
  2. However, Google now filters based on address. For example, if many businesses share the same address, they may not show them all in the results.
  3. Searcher location matters more than ever. Simplify searching for a business and a city name is not going to get you the same level of detail as your search location setting will.
  4. Variations in keywords will deliver different results. For example, if you search “Italian food Los Angeles” and “Italian Food Los Angeles” you may see different results.
  5. If Google’s filtering your website organically, you may still be ranking well for competitive terms. This is an example of the continuing delta between local filters and organic filters. They’re less connected than ever.

Store Visits Hit the Google Display Network

Google is on a mission to bridge the divide between physical store purchases and online sales.

In their announcement about location extensions and store visit measurement for the Google Display Network, they note that “30% of smartphone users who visit a website or app on their phones buy something in a store within 24 hours.”

As people browse stores or products on their phones, you can now hit them with ad that shows your physical address, even directions and photos. And if you’re questioning your ad’s impact, look no further: Google says they can now measure actual store visits to a 99% accuracy, at 200 million stores globally.

Reach Consumers Across All Devices

Along with the Google Display Network updates, Google announced cross-device retargeting. Reach your consumers across all the devices, apps and websites they’re using. The functionality will be rolled out over the next several months.

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