Google has slowly but surely snuck into our hearts and then changed the rules on us so that we lose control of how to spend our important advertising dollars. From changing the definition of “exact” a few years ago, which removed our ability to advertise for only the exact (correct definition) search queries we wanted, to many other sneaky steps over the years, including this summer, that have shown their desire to take away control from the user, so that they can hide the inefficiencies behind a wall that the user can’t see, and keep that money to themselves.
Recent Subtle Adjustments to Google Ads
More Match Type Changes
Google didn’t stop with changing “exact”. At the end of July to early August, they stopped allowing broad match modifier targeting, which basically forced certain words to be in a query. This was as close to the exact match as you could get. Now it is gone. I recommended this type of targeting for all of my small business clients and used it regularly. Learn more about that change here.
Custom Audience URL’s
Google had allowed advertisers to build custom audiences based on visiting certain URL’s in the past. A colleague of mine recently noticed that they now say they build an audience “similar to” that URL. Not exactly the same. In fact, possibly quite different, if the URL you are targeting is a specific competitor, etc.
Limiting Search Query Information
This is a big one. Especially paired with their changing of “exact” as mentioned above. So when Google wouldn’t allow us to have control of the exact queries that triggered our ads and basically said they would decide what was relevant, it forced us all to pay much closer attention to the queries that triggered our ads and adding far more “negative keywords” to our lists. Negative keywords are words we tell Google that, if they are included in the query, should not trigger our ad. We need to use these far more now that Google took away control of our keyword targeting. Now they don’t show us all of the queries that trigger the ads that we pay for. So basically, we will no longer control what keywords trigger our ads, and we won’t be able to go in after and find the leaks and correct them with negatives. Google has taken over full control of when our ads show up and how much keyword leakage our campaigns have that we can’t plug up and make more efficient. Ridiculous. For ideas on combatting this, please check out this post on strategies to combat loss of search terms.
Phasing Out Extended Text Ads (ETA’s)
Google is getting rid of expanded text ads. Extended text ads replaced the original text ads but still allowed the advertiser to have control over exactly what their headline and descriptions of their ads were. Google rolled out Responsive Search Ads, which allowed users to put in multiple versions of headlines and descriptions and Google would rotate and show what they claimed were the best performing ads, though you had little to no control. Well, if you create RSA’s with only three headlines and two descriptions, you will at least control your message, but you won’t fully control the order of your message. Though not as severe as the other sneaky tactics mentioned above, it is just another example of Google trying to remove control from the advertiser. Sadly, many small business owners don’t realize they are letting Google control how they spend their money, which is most often not in their best interest. Google doesn’t know what your goals are and many small businesses don’t have great conversions set up in their system. I have helped many small businesses recover from the mistake of letting Google make changes to campaigns that used to work, and suddenly everything fell apart.
Be careful everyone. As Google removes our ability to control our campaigns, at least get help from independent consultants who know the tips and tactics to get your campaigns running as smoothly as possible. Don’t let Google take away all of your control and pick your pocket. Give us a call if you need help.