Tappable sitelinks are here! How will this affect your advertisements?

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Sitelinks are a Google AdWords staple. They take users to specific pages within your site, allowing searchers to find exactly what they’re looking for. I’ve always been a big fan of them for a number of reasons; dealerships who use sitelinks take-up more ad space, and more importantly, sitelinks allow dealers to precisely focus their ads.

Recently, Google updated their sitelinks for mobile devices to allow double the number of links—now you can have as many as eight. With more links available, you can have an even more targeted approach for specific pages or products. And if you’d like to get the most out of this new update, use these links to provide searchers with shortcuts to high-converting pages or product-specific landing pages.

On top of allowing more links, the design of sitelinks on mobile browsers has changed. Dubbed by Google as, “Tappable Sitelinks,” links are now seen in a carousel format that allows for left-to-right swiping and easy tapping—a friendlier design that all mobile users will be happy to see. Before this update, users dealt with cut-off text and non-interactive links on mobile devices.

You can check out the improved design below:

This sitelinks improvement is a win-win for both sides, since searchers can now easily find the content they are looking for, and you can draw attention to more targeted landing pages and products.  All dealers should take the time to consider exactly what pages they would like to spotlight. As I mentioned before, you’ll want to place a special emphasis on your highest converting pages, but I would also suggest that you focus on pages like New Inventory, Used Inventory, Specials, and Services. If you want to step outside of the box, you can experiment by running some model-specific ads with sitelinks that filter out those particular models. You can also prioritize your Service Center with service-specific ads, matched with various service-focused sitelinks. This will encourage you to create more service content and your fixed ops department will love the results!

Rage Against the Machine: Getting Your PPC Automation Straight

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In the wonderful world of PPC, we’ve all come to know and love (to some degree) automation services. For most of us, using automation with our paid search efforts has made life easier. But, while it can certainly make your PPC campaigns run more efficiently, it can also waste money at a pretty alarming rate if not set up correctly.

Now, I love a good rock n’ roll reference, so today I’m talking about raging against the machine of artificial intelligence so that you don’t spend money on something that’s simply not working.

There are three main areas I want to focus on here: ad scheduling, site links & ad extensions, and bid management by device type.

Schedule Those Ads

Today’s technology allows us to auto-schedule a lots of things: your bill payment, doctor’s appointments, A/C system, and more. But when it comes to setting a budget for your PPC campaigns, you may want to customize your own ad schedule so that you’re not automatically spending money & clicks at pre-designated intervals. If you or your provider are constantly bidding the exact same amount of money on ads, regardless of the time of day or week, that’s not an efficient use of your budget.

I’ve used this example before, but if your business isn’t open at 3:00 a.m., but your PPC ads are running 24/7, what happens when someone clicks an ad and your store isn’t open? Unless you’ve got a followup strategy, those are lost advertising dollars because any incoming lead won’t have a chance to contact your dealership.

Sitelinks & Ad Extensions

When ad extensions were rolled out, it was a glorious day. From a customer’s standpoint alone, having more information on a SERP is always a good thing, because everyone loves to make informed decisions. However, many ad platforms don’t have sitelinks & ad extensions fully automated yet, so if you plan on using those, a manual setup and management will be necessary for optimal results.

When customers are clicking a sitelink within your ad, they rightly expect to be taken to the specific page they clicked on. If that isn’t the case, and they’re sent to another location, or just your homepage, that’s a surefire way to see your bounce rate shoot up. It’s really all about the expectation. If you trust your automation process to choose the right page, then go ahead. But if you’ve got a more specific ad campaign in the works, it may be a better idea to manually set the site links before hitting “Go.”

Bid Management by Device Type

You might be tired of hearing this one, but you’d really be surprised at how often I’ll do an audit of a PPC process, only to find that desktop ads were used on mobile platforms, and vice versa. Consider the device that will be accessing your ad, and then design it accordingly. As an extreme example, a towing company with 24/7 service options probably won’t run a lot of desktop ads, especially late at night. Most of their target audience is stranded, and only has one connection to the internet: their phone.

Now, these three areas I’ve mentioned aren’t no-zones for automated processes. But, in my experience, you DO need to have some human oversight into how the automation is set up, otherwise you run the risk of wasting your money – or someone else’s.

And there’s one more thing I wanted to mention: call extensions & message extensions. One of the more recent things I’ve been noticing in the PPC world (especially in the automotive vertical) is ads that have “Call Us Now!” in the text, but no call extensions to click on. This is a similar issue to the earlier one about running ads 24/7. If you’re calling someone to take a certain action, then you need to have a path for them to follow. A strategy, if you will.

Additionally, message extensions are also a great way to connect with your audience. But, as with call extensions, many dealers are implementing them with little strategy, which results in inefficient performance. If you plan on using message extensions in your ads, then make sure to test the CTAs so that you’re getting the best results.

Hopefully, these insights into paid search strategy have been useful for your dealership. I spend a lot of time advising people on optimizing their PPC campaigns, so I try to share helpful tips whenever possible.

6 Ways Not to Spend Your PPC Budget

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Managing a PPC campaign can sometimes seem like a free-for-all effort. There are lots of options and lots of ways to spend your money – but not all of them are worth your time. I’ve spent years in the SEM/PPC world, and I’ve noticed a trend in the way ad budgets are structured. Here are 6 ways to avoid wasting your PPC budget, based on the most common mistakes I see dealerships make.

1. Running Ads 24/7

This might be the most common mistake I see when auditing PPC processes – and it’s not unique to dealerships. For businesses that are closed at night and don’t have a 24-hour customer support system or call center, running ads 24/7 is a sure-fire way to waste money. If your dealership is closed and can’t follow up on a website lead, then why pay to drive traffic there? Imagine you have a compelling click-to-call ad that requires an internet sales rep to follow up with immediately. If the ad is being run 24/7, and someone happens to see it at 11:30 p.m., what happens? A whole lot of nothing. Make sure to double-check ads that are running nonstop, because if you can’t actually follow up with the lead in a timely fashion, it’s a wasted effort.

Conversion rates on overnight leads don’t have strong conversion rates, so allocate those dollars for ads during your dealership’s business hours.

2. Text Ads in Google Display Network

Can you guess what’s wrong here? Two words in the subheading above are a dead giveaway: text and display. You technically have the option to run text-based ads on Google’s Display Network, but text ads are traditionally served in search engines. By serving text ads on image-heavy websites, your clicks may go down and your bounce rate may go up, as you’re more likely to get accidental clicks from users who will quickly leave your site. Further, text-based ads don’t look compelling next to display ads, and it’s not an optimal use of your money.

3. Ads in Google Search Partner Network

I hate to say it, but not everything Google offers is a golden goose. In other words, just because it’s an option for your PPC campaign, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea – even if it comes from Google. The Search Partner Network might seem like a great way to boost your impressions, but that metric is undermined by the quality of traffic you’ll get, not to mention it will hurt your overall campaign metrics. If you extend your audience to the Search Partner Network, where conversion & click rates are obscenely low, you’re simply lowering your overall metrics because it ties into your Google campaign as well.

4. Poorly Managed Negative Keywords

Your negative keywords help target qualified traffic, plain and simple. If you’re not excluding negative keywords like “headlights” or “headrests” from your campaigns, for example, then you risk wasting your budget by serving ads to car customers who are looking to accessorize or repair – not buy.

Determine your campaign goals and make sure that you exclude all unqualified traffic by adding in the appropriate keywords. Here’s a pro tip: exclude other products by the OEM, if applicable. For example, Honda makes lawnmowers and cars, and serving an ad to someone who’s trying to cut their grass is a prime example of doing it wrong.

5. Sloppy Copy

I’m not talking about grammar & verbiage issues (that should be at a premium!), I’m talking about how well the ad matches your landing page. Sad to say, misleading and/or poorly written ad copy is a very real problem that not only wastes money, but frustrates your potential customers.

If your advertisement says or implies one thing, but your customer finds something very different on your site when they click through, you’ve lost that lead. And, of course, that can negatively impact your metrics. Just think about how frustrating it is to spend time & effort investigating what you think is a good deal, but turns out to be wrong.

6. No Ad Extensions

A robust, optimized ad is one that includes extensions. And that’s not just a matter of opinion, failure to make ad extensions can rank you lower in Google’s Search Network or even cause you to lose a bid to a competitor who did take the time to build out amazing extensions.

If it’s properly implemented, adding things like link, phone, and pricing extensions can help boost conversion rates significantly. But neglecting extensions is essentially keeping helpful information from your customers, who are eager to learn more (and fast) about their search query. Telling someone that you have new Toyota Camrys is nice, but what if the customer could look at inventory links, could see price ranges, could call you, and even see your address in the ad itself? It’s easy to see how that ad would win over a plain-text ad.

Get Going

It’s important to note that quite a few of these PPC mistakes are the result of an automated advertising strategy. And, let’s be honest. If there’s anything more frustrating than wasting money, it’s paying a machine to do it for you. But that’s not to say that all automated strategies are bad, there’s a difference between “set it & forget it” and smart automation.

For some dealers, automated processes are the only way to manage a campaign, due to sheer volume. If any part of your PPC gameplan is automated, then test it against these 6 common mistakes to make sure you’re not “automatically” wasting money.

Can Hot Wheels help you sell more cars?

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In this week’s Wednesday Workshop, Shaun shares his Hot Wheels story… If you’ve ever seen him speak at a conference or 20 group, you’ve heard the story – but if you haven’t, it’s incredibly insightful.

We don’t want to spoil the story, so you’ll have to watch the video and learn his incredibly creative way of connecting with customers that helped him sell more cars.
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