Extended Text Ads Explained & What it Might Mean for SEO

Extended Text Ads Explained & What it Might Mean for SEO

Google announced at it’s Performance Summit on May 24th 2016 that Extended Text Ads would soon be available to all advertisers on Google AdWords. The change from standard text ads means a 50% increase in available text to use within ads. Key changes made were:

Two headline fields instead of one

Instead of a single 25 character headline, Google introduced two 30 character headlines instead of 25 characters separated by a hyphen which, depending on the size of a potential customer’s screen could wrap onto a second line.

Longer Single Description Line Rather Than Two Shorter Description Lines

Instead of two 35-character description lines, expanded text ads came in the format of one 80-character description field meaning a 10 character increase from 70 to 80 as well as “more control over your ad’s messaging” according to Google.

Two Optional “Path” Fields in the Display URL

In addition to the single url path you could add to your display URL in a standard text ad, Google introduced a second path field. SEO’s felt this particular change was an attempt by Google to make AdWord’s URLs look more like organic urls in order to increase CTR of the ads. For example, if your final URL was www.example.com/outdoor/hiking/shoes, your display URL in a standard text ad might be www.example.com/hiking-shoes. With extended text ads, this can now be www.example.com/Hiking/Shoes.

Google’s official reasoning for this change was “so that you can add text that will help people who see your ad get a better sense of where they’ll be taken when they click it.”

Domain of Display URL Now Based on Final URL domain

With expanded text ads, there was no longer a need to enter a Display URL when creating a new ad. Instead, AdWords would automatically use the domain from the Final URL and show it as the ad’s Display URL. For example, if the Final URL was www.example.com/outdoor/hiking/shoes, the ad’s Display URL would show as www.example.com.

Mobile Optimised Text Ads

Expanded text ads were mobile-optimised  by default meaning, there was no longer a need to select the mobile device setting when creating or editing a text ad. A preview of the ad in both desktop and mobile format would now be generated automatically whilst creating the expanded text ad.

A simple block graphic courtesy of Google shows how Extended Text Ads compare side by side with standard text ads:

Extended Text Ads Versus Standard Text Ads

and this is how it looked in the SERPS:

Extended Text Ads and Standard Text Ads in the SERPS

In the early testing of expanded text ads, Google reported an increase of up to 20% in CTR for the expanded text ads compared to standard ads whilst other tests reported CTR rates as high as 35%.

What This Change Meant for SEO

This particular change to AdWords was met with further negativity by those who practice and invest in SEO as any increase in AdWords ad clicks is a click lost elsewhere, namely an Organic result. With longer headlines and descriptions, the distinction between text ads and organic search results further diminished. An Ofcom study published in April 2016 showed that a large percentage of audience couldn’t tell ads and organic search results apart and that was even before the Google AdWord ad icons changed from a solid yellow fill to a solid green fill and then simply a feint green line. With this format of text ads, this percentage of audience can only go up.

One can expect to see a notable dip in Organic traffic with some predicting a decline as high as 20% over the months following the Extended Text Ads introduction.

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