For Writing Effective SEM Copy, John Caples Was Right – Specific Beats General

How to write effective SEM copy.

Earlier in my career I read an advertising book that had a big impact on me. The book was Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples, who is one of the most famous copywriters in advertising history. Reading his book completely changed the way I thought about ad copy. I won’t go in depth on every aspect of the book, but it holds some incredible principles for writing effective copy. And for SEM, I use those principles on a daily basis.

One incredibly important point that Caples makes in the book is that when writing ad copy, be as specific as you can, and avoid generalities. This principle resonated with me immediately, and I have consistently used this strategy during my career. Actually, I use it on a daily basis while writing ads, speaking with clients, and speaking at meetings or conferences. Yes, I even use this principle outside of writing ad copy…

It’s a simple rule that can dramatically change how your ads perform (and impact how well your core points get communicated). Using this approach will enable you to write tight copy that punches benefits, screams facts, and helps you increase the performance of your campaigns. And who doesn’t want to do that?

Here is a snippet from the book:
"Make your copy specific. Anybody who works on tested advertising will tell you how important it is to be specific in your copy. {Using specific numbers and facts} tells the reader that a strict and accurate count has been made." Caples goes on to say that, "What you say is more important than how you say it." I couldn’t agree more, and my testing has proven this time and time again.

Why Being Specific Rules and Why Using Generalities Falls Short
It makes complete sense when you break it down. There are so many generalities used in advertising that specifics seem to connect with prospective customers. They pop off the page.

Compare the following two pieces of copy and tell me which one sounds more credible:
Thousands of people enjoy our service.

Find out why 6,745 people signed up for our service in the past 60 days.

The second line of copy clearly has an advantage. Telling someone the exact number of customers that signed up for the service is credible. Adding the timeframe also brings a level of credibility. The first line of copy is so general that it loses impact.

General Copy Can Easily Be Discounted By Prospective Customers:
Specific SEM copy is more credible.

This is exactly what John Caples was talking about. Build credibility by being as specific as possible and you can increase your response rate. In SEM, response rate translates to people clicking through to your landing page and converting. Although, I would argue that we are focusing on the first part of the handshake (the click-through). And without the click-through, you have no shot at conversion.

The Power of Testing in SEM
What I love about SEM (and digital marketing in general) is that you can split test copy relatively easily and quickly. In SEM, you can always test new ads against your control to see which one performs best. If you want to see the impact of specific copy, set up your test and fire away. Then you can base your strategies on hard data versus opinion.

SEM Enables You To Quickly and Easily Test Ad Creative:
Quickly and Easily Split Test Ad Creative in SEM

How Can You Be Specific in SEM Ad Copy?
In order to be specific, I recommend using facts, figures, sales numbers, percentages, sale prices, dollar amounts, etc. You need to break down the features and benefits of what you’re selling and then identify various statistics and facts that can be used in your copy. And this doesn’t just translate to numbers. You should be specific with location too. If you are close to a landmark, include that in your copy. And that’s especially the case when you are targeting mobile visitors in SEM. For example, "5 minutes from Nassau St. in Princeton" is better than "Close to Princeton."

Examples of Specific SEM Ad Copy
As many of you know, you are limited in SEM ads by character length (when running ads in Search). That said, you can still be specific with your ad copy. Let’s take a look at some examples across categories. Note, I’m not providing full SEM ads below (all lines of copy). I’ll just provide some quick examples of specific copy. It’s up to you how you craft your final ads. And again, I encourage you to test your ads to determine the best performing copy.

eCommerce: Tablet Computer for Kids
Over 1025 Games & Downloadable Apps
Just $100. Don’t spend $600 for a tablet!

B2B: Consulting Firm
74 years of combined experience.
Sign up now & access 375 reports.

Local Business: Restaurant
In business since 1943. Zagat-rated
367 Positive Reviews and Counting.

Electronics: LED HDTV
Sony 1080p LED HDTV. 60 inch screen.
On Sale Today, Only $549.

Coffee: K-Cups
100% Arabica Beans. 48 K-Cups for $32.
Free Shipping On All Orders.

Instructional Book (How-To)
218 pages of Computer Repair Training.
24,698 copies sold in 2011.

You get the picture. Although these examples aren’t lengthy, they still convey some powerful lines of ad copy. Being specific builds credibility and can get prospective customers noticing your ads, clicking through, and giving you a shot at converting them. On the flipside, if your ads are generic, bland, and lack specifics, they just might be overlooked. And if they are overlooked, your click-through rate drops, your Quality Score drops, and your CPC’s rise. And that’s all bad for SEM performance.

One Important Caveat – Be Realistic
One point John Caples makes is that your ad copy must be realistic. If you use specific ad copy, but it’s so far from reality, you can do more damage than just using general copy. For example, “25 million units sold in 48 hours!” That’s not very believable… I’m advocating being specific, but truthful. You should use real numbers, statistics, percentages, etc.

Summary – Be Specific, Forget Generalities
Put yourself in a prospective customer’s shoes and take a hard look at your ad copy. Would you jump to click through? If not, revamp your ad copy with specifics, and drop the generalities. As I explained earlier, the beautiful part about SEM is that you can easily split test ad copy. You just need to start.

In closing, I hope you found this post helpful. Now it’s time for me to analyze 47 holiday campaigns, including 769 ad groups, encompassing 328,456 keywords. How’s that for being specific? :)

GG

How To Use Google Plus Ripples To Analyze Content, Sharing, and Influencers

How To Use Google Plus Ripples

Being neck deep in digital marketing, I can’t get my hands on enough data! Analytics is a core service of mine at G-Squared and I’m always looking for more sources of quality data (and tools that give me that data). Based on my experience over the past 16 years, I’m a firm believer that digital strategies should be guided by hard data and not opinion. And to me, Social Media Marketing should be no different. Yes, it can be a bit more challenging to get that information, but performance should dictate future efforts.

A core piece of Social Media Marketing involves the building and sharing of content. This includes developing the right content and sharing that content via number of mechanisms. It’s also incredibly important to build a following across social networks in order to spark that sharing, when you need it. That said, there are many times that marketers build some content, quickly shorten a URL, share on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and then lose sight of that content as it hits the web. Sure, you can get some insight via various tools in the market, but it’s darn hard to track content as it gets shared across social networks. That’s an unfortunate reality.

So, wouldn’t it be cool if you could post an update and then view how that update was shared across a specific social network, including identifying influencers along the way? Yes, that’s my subtle lead-in to a free social analytics tool that enables you to do just that. It’s called Google Plus Ripples, it’s already live, and you can tap into its power right now. In addition, I’m going to help you understand more about Ripples and how you can use the functionality to impact your digital marketing efforts.

An Introduction to Google+ Ripples
Google Plus Ripples presents an interactive graph of public shares on Google+. It’s free to use and comes built-in with Google+. Ripples will visually show you who has shared a public post, along with any reshares. People who have shared a post will show up as a circle in the graph, and inside their circle, you can see others who have reshared that person’s post.

In addition, the size of each circle reflects the relative influence of that person. While interacting with the Ripple, you can hover over a member’s name to reveal their photo, name with a link to their profile, and their comment when they reshared the post. The graph is interactive, so you can zoom in, move around, etc. It’s awesome and enables you to drill into the various people (and now pages) that are sharing posts. To access a Ripple, click the dropdown arrow in the upper right-hand corner of any public post in Google+. Then click “View Ripples”.

Here is a screenshot of a Ripple in action:
Google Plus Ripples

Hovering over a user brings up their share, comments, and a link to their profile:
Viewing a share in Google Plus Ripples

The right sidebar contains the comments users have added when resharing the post. These are the same comments you will see if you hover over a person’s name in the graph. The sidebar lets you get a quick view of the comments people are adding as they reshare a post.

Viewing Public Shares in Google Plus Ripples Sidebar

But we’re not done yet. Below the graph is a timeline that shows how the post has been reshared over time. You can click the play button to view an animated representation of how that post has been shared by users on Google+.

Viewing The Share Timeline Google Plus Ripples

And last, but not least, you can view additional statistics below the timeline, including Social Hubs (people with the most reshares), the average chain length, and the native language in which the post was shared.

Additional Statistics in Google Plus Ripples

A few important notes:
* Ripples only show public shares, so you are not seeing 100% of the activity for each post.
* Ripples will show activity over the past 53 days. I don’t know why 53 days was chosen, but that’s what is listed in Google’s Help Center for Ripples.
* You can share any Ripple, by copying the URL and sharing with others.

How Digital Marketers Can Use Ripples:
I don’t know about you, but I think this is a pretty nifty tool Google has given us for free. Used properly, it can provide important insight for digital marketers. I have provided some ways you can use Ripples today to analyze how content gets shared across Google+.

1. Find and Connect With Influencers by Vertical
Finding the right people to connect with across social networks can be a daunting task. Google Plus Ripples enables you to see who has interest in specific pieces of content, who reshares posts, what they are saying about those posts, etc. In addition, you have a mechanism for viewing their profile right from Ripples (by clicking their names in the graph or from the right sidebar). This enables you to find people that 1) are actively sharing content, 2) are interested in content within a specific category, and 3) might be providing how they feel about that topic via their comments. That’s outstanding data for anyone looking to follow the right people.

For example, if you focus on selling the latest computer gear, then finding people that actively share content about computer gear is obviously a smart thing to do. Using Ripples, you can find those people, and then find the downstream users that reshared posts. Compare that process to browsing Circles to find people to connect with. I’ll take a user that actively shares over a profile bio any day of the week. :) Remember, these can be the people that end up resharing your own posts about a given subject.

2. Analyze How Various Types of Content Get Shared (and Which Types of Content Get Shared The Most).
If you are developing a content generation strategy, then analyzing Ripples can be incredibly powerful. Using the functionality in Ripples, you can identify the types of content that get shared heavily, how that content is written or presented, and which members are sharing it. You can also view comments about the content, which can tailor your own content generation plan.

For example, you can track how blog posts, videos, infographics, and whitepapers all get shared within your vertical. Based on the data you collect via Ripples, you can tailor your own content plan (which can give you a greater chance of success). Building content takes time, resources, and money. Ripples enable you to analyze what works and what doesn’t within your specific category. You can also combine this data with an inbound link analysis to view activity, shares, comments, and then inbound links that the content has built. More about linkbuilding below.

3. Using Ripples Data for Linkbuilding
Linkbuilding for SEO is extremely important. When developing a linkbuilding strategy, you want to identify the right content to produce, while also finding the right people to connect with that can potentially link to your new content. Google Plus Ripples provides a way to view both pieces of data.

As I explained earlier, you can view how pieces of content get shared and who is sharing that content. But then you can also correlate that information with the number and quality of inbound links the content is generating. Therefore, you can determine what to build, and who to connect with, in order to start building high quality links to your content.

Summary – Watch the Ripples
I hope this post helped explain what Ripples are and how to use them to analyze content, shares, and influencers on Google+. I’m excited that Google decided to empower users by providing a free social analytics tool that’s interactive, easy to use, and extremely valuable. Now it’s time for you to try out Google Plus Ripples. I have a feeling once you dig in, you’ll see how powerful it can be.

GG

How to Set Up Remarketing in Google AdWords Using Custom Combinations [Tutorial]

How to set up Google Remarketing using custom combinations.

Last year I wrote a tutorial explaining how to set up remarketing in Google AdWords, which ended up being one of the most popular posts on my blog. I’ve received many emails from marketers who used the tutorial to successfully launch their own campaigns, which can be a confusing process if you are new to remarketing. That’s awesome, but one common question I received from readers was how to use custom combinations to ensure you present remarketing ads to the right people. For example, if someone converted on your site, you probably wouldn’t want to present a remarketing ad to them asking them to come back to the site to place an order. That can be an embarrassing situation.

In order to accomplish this type of targeting, you would need to use a custom combination, which would tell Google to present ads to a specific audience, but NOT for people who already converted. You can think of it as a conditional (Include Audience A, but not Audience B). By the number of requests I was receiving, it was easy to see that people were confused by the topic.

Well, the readers of my blog have spoken, and I’ve been listening. I’m happy to announce that the tutorial below explains how to use custom combinations to achieve your remarketing goals (less the embarrassment of presenting ads to people who already converted). Note, “conversion” can mean a lot of things, including an ecommerce transaction, filling out a form, downloading a pdf, or even visiting a specific page on your website. Conversion is determined by your specific business and website and should be determined while building a strong analytics strategy.

Revisiting My First Remarketing Tutorial
The tutorial below is for marketers already familiar with setting up basic remarketing campaigns. If you are new to remarketing, I highly recommend you walk through my first remarketing tutorial to gain a solid understanding of the setup. Once you learn how to set up a basic remarketing campaign, you can revisit this post and learn how to use custom combinations for advanced targeting across the display network.

A Quick Overview of the Sample Remarketing Campaign We’ll Be Using
I’ll walk through an example below of a common remarketing campaign that would benefit from using custom combinations. For this example, imagine we run an ecommerce site selling sports equipment. We want to use remarketing to present ads to people that visited a section of our site, but didn’t convert. Those ads will show up across the Google Display Network to visitors who viewed pages from that section of our ecommerce site selling sporting goods.

For this example, our “audience” will be visitors to our football gear section of the website. This means we’ll need to place remarketing tags on any page within the football section. But again, we don’t want to present remarketing ads to visitors that actually converted (and purchased something). So, we’ll need to make sure we know when certain people converted by creating a second “audience”. We’ll need to add that second remarketing tag to our thank you page, which is presented after a customer completes a transaction. Then we can set up an ad group within our remarketing campaign that uses a custom combination to present ads to only non-converting football visitors.

Step by Step, How to Set Up Custom Combinations
Without further ado, let’s dig in and set up a custom combination, based on the scenario I listed above. Again, I’m not going to cover the initial steps of setting up a remarketing campaign in detail, since that was covered in my first tutorial. Instead, I’m simply going to focus on the process for setting up a custom combination in the AdWords interface.

1. Set Up Your Remarketing Campaign and Ad Group
Go to your remarketing campaign (set up during my previous tutorial), and add a new ad group called “Football Gear”. This ad group will contain ads for people that we know visited our football gear pages, but never converted. If you haven’t gone through my previous tutorial, you’ll need to set up a new remarketing campaign and then create this ad group. You can review my previous tutorial to learn how to do this. Remember, this ad group will not contain any keywords, since we will only be presenting ads to the “audience” we are targeting. You can set up a basic text ad when creating the ad group, since we’ll revisit ad strategy for remarketing campaigns later in this tutorial.

Custom Combination in AdWords, Creating a New Ad Group

2. Create Your First Audience
Set up your first audience (visitors to our football gear pages). Access the “Football Gear” ad group you just created and then click the “Audiences” tab. Then click the “Add Audiences” button. Note, if you don’t see the audience tab in AdWords, you should review my previous post to learn how to find it.

Adding a new audience in Google AdWords

3. Create Your Remarketing List
Click “Remarketing Lists”, and then “Create and Manage Lists”, which is located below.

Creating a new remarketing list in Google AdWords.

4. Enter The Details For Your Remarketing List
Now click the “New Audience” button and fill out the details for your football gear audience. Note, you should choose “Remarketing List” from the dropdown menu. You can name the new audience “Football Gear Visitors” for this example. You can review my previous tutorial to learn more about this process and the fields you need to fill out at this stage.

Selecting Remarketing List When Creating a New Audience in Google AdWords.
Setting up a new remarketing list in Google AdWords.

5. Access Your Remarketing Snippet
Once you create your audience, you will need to access the tag that AdWords generates, and include that in all pages within your football category (on your website). You can find the snippet of code by clicking the link under “Tags/Rules” for the audience you just created. You can place the tag before the closing body tag in your football category pages. Note, this snippet needs to be added to ALL pages in your football category (if you want to target any visitor to those pages).

Finding the remarketing snippet of code in Google AdWords.

6. Create Your Second Audience
Now use the same process we just went through to set up a second audience for visitors that converted. When you need to get the remarketing tag (the snippet of code), make sure you choose “https” in the dropdown, if the conversion page will be rendered via https. For example, if you are collecting credit card information, then it will probably be https. You can add this snippet to the thank you page before the closing body tag. Note, if you are unclear about using https or http, just check out the URL as you go through the process on your website. If there’s an https in the beginning of the URL, then choose https as your selection.

Copying the remarketing tag in Google AdWords.

7. Create a Custom Combination
OK, now you have two audiences set up that will become part of your custom combination. Click the “Audiences” tab, and then the “Custom Combinations” link. At the bottom of that window, click “New Custom Combination”. Give your combination a name and description. For our example, let’s use “Football Gear Less Converted”.

Creating a new custom combination.

8. Adding Audiences To Your Custom Combination
In order to create a custom combination, you will need to create a conditional using the dropdown menus in AdWords. First, select “all audiences” from the first dropdown titled, “Users included or interested in…” When you use the second dropdown for “Select audiences”, you’ll need to select “Remarketing Lists” to view the two lists you created. The default view will show you “Interest Categories” and not your remarketing lists. Now add your football audience by clicking the “add” link next to the remarketing list. Click the “OK” button below to proceed.

Step 1 in creating a new custom combination.

9. Exclude An Audience
Now click “Add Another” to add a second condition. Choose “none of these audiences”, since we want to exclude visitors that converted. Now use the “select audiences” dropdown to select the “converted” audience. Again, you’ll need to choose “Remarketing Lists” once you use the dropdown, since “Interest Categories” will be the default view. Add your “converted” audience by clicking the “add” link. Click the “OK” button to proceed.

Step 2 in creating a new custom combination.

10. Save Your Work
Click “Save and Continue” to complete the process of creating your new custom combination. Last, click “Save” at the bottom of the window, and you should be good to go.

Saving your custom combination.

11. Create Your Remarketing Ad
OK, you’re almost there. Your custom combination is set up, which is awesome, but your ad group doesn’t contain a targeted ad yet! At this point, you’ll need to create ads that will be presented to people that visited your football gear pages, but never converted. Note, you can include both text and display advertising in your remarketing campaigns (and I highly recommend doing so).

When creating your ads for this ad group, make sure you have a solid strategy for your remarketing efforts. For example, I mentioned in my initial remarketing tutorial how easy it is to creep people out with very aggressive remarketing ads. Just because you know they were on your site doesn’t mean you should mention that in your ad. :)

Presenting special offers, discounts, etc. is smart to do, while you should refrain from “We know you like our football section, come back now!” For our purposes, let’s include a 20% off special offer to get those visitors back to your site. We know they were checking out your products already, so maybe the special can nudge them to come back and buy. Also, you can drive these visitors to a specific landing page customized for this audience. You can provide tailored content, knowing they already visited your website (and that they’ll be receiving a 20% discount).

Creating a remarketing text ad.

Congratulations! You have set up a custom combination in Google AdWords, and you are ready to remarket to a targeted audience!

Summary – Advanced Remarketing With Custom Combinations
Remarketing in AdWords can be extremely powerful when set up correctly. My hope is that between the two remarketing tutorials I’ve provided here on my blog, you can be up and running relatively quickly. As you can see by going through this tutorial, you can come up with some interesting targeting scenarios using custom combinations. Once you get comfortable with setting up a basic remarketing campaign using custom combinations, you can easily expand to more advanced tactics.

Happy Remarketing!

GG

When We’re All On Page 1 – The Potential Impact of Google’s Infinite Scroll

Last month, there were several sightings of Google testing “infinite scroll” in its main search results. If you’re not familiar with infinite scroll, it would all but eliminate the need to click through to page 2, 3, and beyond of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead, you could simply click a button at the bottom of the search results to “show more results”. Then via AJAX, Google would load additional sets of search results. Yes, that means we would all achieve page 1 rankings. Not exactly, but you get the point. :)

Note, Google Images already uses infinite scroll, and Yandex just rolled it out on yandex.ru last week. You can check out both properties to see how it works. You can also check out the YouTube video below to see one of Google’s tests in action.

Google Testing Infinite Scroll (Credit: Waebo):

Google has also been testing a locked search bar (the header), which makes sense. Google will still want users to be able to refine their searches, even when viewing additional sets of results via infinite scroll. By implementing a locked header, the search bar would remain at the top of the page as you scroll down. It’s similar to freezing a row in Excel. The search box would always be accessible.

The Potential Impact of Infinite Scroll
It’s widely known in Search that many people won’t click through to page 2 or beyond. This has been highlighted in various studies, and I also documented this when analyzing the long tail of SEO. Instead of clicking through to page 2, many users would scan the top listings on page 1 and then refine their queries if they didn’t find what they needed. This obviously made ranking on page 1 extremely important, but also made targeting the long tail extremely important (as you would want to rank for long tail keywords that followed searches for head and torso terms).

So, now that Google is testing infinite scroll, there are many questions about how this could impact organic search, paid search, local search, etc. Therefore, I spent some time taking a look at infinite scroll, with the goal of trying to determine its potential impact. Below, I’ll cover several ways that the Search results could be impacted by infinite scroll and what this means for companies trying to gain more exposure, clicks, and sales. Note, I did not cover every possible way that infinite scroll could affect the Search results. Instead, I focused on some core elements within each category of Search.

Multiple Number 1 Rankings
Prior to infinite scroll, if you didn’t rank on page 1, you would need to rely on users clicking through to page 2 and beyond to see your listings. With infinite scroll, users might be more apt to simply click a “show more results” button to reveal another set of listings on the same page. If that’s the case, then rankings 11, 21, 31, etc. will become more important real estate-wise. Sure, they won’t be as strong as a true #1 ranking, but the first listing in a new set of results will give that listing more exposure than it gets now.

In addition, this doesn’t just apply to rankings 21, 31, etc. The first few listings in each new set will increase in importance. We know via eye tracking studies that users tend to focus on the first few listings in the search results and then their focus fades as they scan down the listings. If you have content ranking high on page 2, those listings could very well gain more exposure when infinite scroll kicks in.

Standing Out Via Universal Search
When infinite scroll kicks in, users might be viewing many more listings per search session (versus just 10). For example, if someone clicks the “show more results” button twice after searching, they will see 30 listings. This leads me to think that Universal Search will become even more important than it is now. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Universal Search, it’s the blending of various types of content in the SERPs. For example, video, images, news, blog posts, shopping, etc.

An example of universal search in action (Shopping Results):
Example of Universal Search Result (Shopping)

Universal Search can help you stand out, since it often includes image thumbnails, whether that’s a video thumbnail, news thumbnail, product thumbnail, etc. With infinite scroll, users might be scanning 30 or 40 listings to find what they need. If you make sure that you target various types of content with a strong content generation strategy, you can have a greater chance at showing up within the blended results. And that can very well lead to more exposure and click-through.

Rich Snippets Will Become Richer
Similar to what I explained about Universal Search, rich snippets could become more important too. If you’re not familiar with rich snippets, you should start researching the topic today. The core engines have come together to support schema.org markup , which can provide more information about content across the web. For example, you can use markup on your site for articles, events, ratings, reviews, people, etc. Rich snippets enhance listings in the SERPs, and each snippet can look different based on the data at hand.

When you break it down, the engines advocate using this additional markup, the snippets can help your listings stand out, and the markup is relatively easy to implement. Again, I recommend understanding how rich snippets work and then determine how your content can benefit from adding the necessary markup. You can see an example of a recipe rich snippet below.

An example of rich snippets in action (recipe):
Rich Snippet Example (Recipe)

(Stronger) Paid Search Inventory
Although Google already provides additional paid search ads when users click through to page 2 and beyond, we know that many people don’t take the effort to actually venture beyond page 1. Since Google generates ~97% of its revenue from paid search, ad inventory is very important. With infinite scroll, I believe users will be more apt to load additional sets of search listings. If this is the case, then AdWords inventory will increase, which can help both paid search advertisers and Google. In addition, I believe the “new” ad space will be stronger for advertisers. The increased ad inventory can help both advertisers gain more exposure and clicks, while also helping Google increase revenue. It’s a win-win.

Similar to what I explained about the organic listings, there will now be multiple top paid search rankings. If your paid search ads did not reach page 1 due to a lower Ad Rank, you now may have a greater shot at a top ranking (as users load additional results). We’ll have to see what the final implementation looks like for infinite scroll, but Yandex manipulates the page to jump the new set of listings to the top of the page. If that’s the case, the top paid search listings on load 2 and beyond will look very similar to what it looks like on page 1. And again, infinite scroll could increase the amount of time these ads show up, which can obviously impact impressions, clicks, and sales.

Paid Search Ad Formats and Ad Extensions
Both ad formats and ad extensions in SEM will become even more important when infinite scroll rolls out. If a user is viewing additional sets of paid search listings, then having your ads stand out is very important. I see this already with my own clients when they effectively use ad sitelinks, location extensions, product listing ads, product extensions, etc. If you aren’t familiar with the various ad formats and ad extensions available to AdWords advertisers, then now is a good time to research them. For example, by using the range of ad extensions, your ads gain more real estate and provide additional visuals that can help your ads stand out, gain more credibility, and enhance click-through. And those are all good things in SEM.

An example product listing ads (AdWords):
Example of Product Listing Ads in AdWords

Local Search, More Places To Choose From
Similar to organic search, rankings #11, 21, 31, etc. will be additional #1 spots for local businesses. Obviously the first set will be more important, but 11 won’t be so bad either (if infinite scroll is used more than clicking to page 2). Place Search is critically important for local businesses. With infinite scroll, more places can be dynamically displayed, which can help even more local businesses gain much-needed exposure.

In addition, if set up and managed correctly, the combination of paid search and place search could be extremely powerful for local businesses. As I explained earlier with paid search, there will be more ad inventory as users load more results using infinite scroll. Ensuring you have a solid local paid search strategy will be extremely important. Also, I mentioned ad extensions earlier in the post. Location extensions and call extensions can be a local business owner’s best friend. They enable advertisers to provide address information and a clickable phone number right in the search results.

Social and Google+
If more people use infinite scroll to view additional listings, Google could possibly add more Google+ related information in the right sidebar (along with ads and/or universal search elements). For example, if a user loads additional sets of listings via infinite scroll, Google could decide to provide social recommendations in the right sidebar that drive users to Google+ (to either sign up or to interact with other users and organizations).

Also, and it’s something I mentioned in my post about Google+ Advertising opportunities, advertisers might be able to run Google+ ads that leverage both Search and Social information. As I explained in my post, Google will be the first company to close the loop between Search and Social. This can enable Google to drive more advertising revenue, while also helping Google+ grow (which of course can lead to more users, more ad inventory, more revenue, etc.)

Infinite Summary
We’ve seen the tests, we’ve seen it in action on Google Images, and now Yandex has rolled it out. In my opinion, infinite scroll is coming soon to a SERP near you. I hope my post explained the potential impact that infinite scroll could have on organic, paid, local, and social search. Let’s face it, if Google can enhance usability, increase ad inventory, gain more clicks for advertisers, while also increasing revenue and profitability, why wouldn’t it implement infinite scroll? Now the ball is in your court. I recommend reviewing your digital marketing efforts to make sure you’re ready for infinite scroll.

And by the way, now is probably a good time to visit page 2 and beyond before they are gone forever. Go ahead and click past page 1, take some screenshots, and then say your goodbyes. It won’t be long now…

GG

How To Customize The +Snippet When Users Click The Google +1 Button To Share Content

Last week Google announced that the +1 button now enables you to share content with your connections on Google+. This is the natural progression for the +1 button, which hit the scene before Google+ (the platform) did. Similar to the Like button for Facebook, it makes sense that the content you +1 can get pushed back Google+ for your connections to view, visit, share, etc. You can view a screenshot below of this in action.

The Google +Snippet

When you choose to share content via the +1 button, you’ll notice that an image thumbnail sometimes shows up, along with a title and description. Google announced that they are giving site owners more control by letting them customize these elements, including the title, description, and image used for the thumbnail. This can definitely help publishers achieve “maximum sharability”. By adding some additional markup to your webpages, you can tailor the elements that show up when visitors share your content via the +1 button. I’ll cover those elements and how to add the markup below.

Maximum Sharability
I quickly mentioned this above, and wanted to explain what this means. I’m a firm believer that the image, title, and description can have a big impact on how your content gets shared, re-shared, +1’d, liked, etc. The reason is simple. Most people have hundreds of friends across various social networks (and some people have thousands of connections). The right “creative” can help your content stand out as your connections are scanning their circles in Google+. If you can catch their attention, you have a greater chance of having those people visit your content, +1 your update, and then share your post or update with their own connections. This can lead to a spike in traffic and exposure, which are both good for your business, blog, company, and digital efforts. Let’s take a look at how you can customize the snippet shared on Google+ when visitors click the +1 button.

Schema.org Attributes
In a previous post, I explained how you could customize your +1 button code to unlock exclusive content. You can check my post out in greater detail to learn more about adding the button to your site, editing the code, etc. For this post, I’m going to focus on how to add markup to your html content in order to tell Google which elements should be used for the thumbnail image, title, and description when shared. You can accomplish this by adding schema.org attributes to your content, which will tell Google which elements to use. In order to do this, you’ll need to use the Article item type when adding the code.

The three pieces of markup that you’ll need to add to your webpage include:
1. itemprop=”name”
2. itemprop=”description”
3. itemprop=”image”

In addition, you will need add an element and attribute to your opening body tag in your document, which is the itemscope element and itemtype attribute. See below.

 HTML |  copy code |? 
1
2
<body itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">
3

The “name” attribute will provide the title you want to use when visitors share your content, and the “description” and “image” attributes are self-explanatory. The great part about adding this markup is that you choose which elements to use for the image, title, and description versus leaving Google in charge of doing so. For example, if you have a killer visual that you want to make sure is used, or if you want to include a great title that’s not the title tag of the page, then you should use this markup to make sure your suggestions are used. Remember “maximum sharability” that I mentioned earlier? Controlling these elements can help.

Note, if you want to understand the order of precedence that Google will employ when choosing the elements for the snippet, check out the help page about the +snippet attributes. You’ll see that Google recommends using the schema.org attributes over other methods.

+Snippet Example:
Let’s walk through a quick example. I’ve added the necessary markup to this blog post in order to show you how it works. You can walk through the following steps to add the markup to your own webpage.

1. Add ItemScope Element
The first thing you want to do is to add the itemscope element and itemtype attribute to the opening body tag. It looks like this:

 HTML |  copy code |? 
1
2
<body itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">
3

2. Add The Title For Your +Snippet
Next, let’s use the title tag as the title of the snippet. To do this, you need to add the itemprop=”name” attribute to the title tag.

 HTML |  copy code |? 
1
2
<h1 itemprop="name">{your title tag goes here}</h1>
3

3. Add The Description For Your +Snippet:
Now let’s focus on the description for the snippet. You can choose which text to use and then add the itemprop =”description” attribute to the html element containing the description. For example, imagine the desired text was contained in a paragraph tag:

 HTML |  copy code |? 
1
2
<p itemprop="description">{your description goes here}</p>
3

4. Add The Image That Should Be Used For The Thumbnail:
Last, let’s choose the image thumbnail that gets displayed by default. Find the image that you want to use and add the itemprop =”image” attribute to the img tag. Note, you can use any image that’s on the page in question.

 HTML |  copy code |? 
1
2
<img src="{img file name here}" itemprop="image" {other image attributes here...} />
3

That’s it! You have successfully added the necessary markup for controlling the +snippet. If you want, you can test it out this page now by clicking the +1 button above. You should see the elements that I chose for the +snippet when you share this on Google+.

The Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool
Google provides a way to test the markup on your webpages to see if your code is set up properly. It’s called the rich snippets testing tool and you can use it to test your +snippet. Simply visit the tool and then add the URL to the form. Click “Preview” and you should see the structured data that Google extracted from your webpage. You should see each attribute listed, along with the elements you chose to use in the +snippet.

Google's Rich Snippets Testing Tool

Control the +Snippet
Google+ is growing rapidly, and members will be sharing more and more information there. As I covered in this post, Google is now enabling webmasters to control the snippet that gets shared, which can definitely help with exposure, +1’s, shares, etc. Using some basic markup, you can easily control the elements that gets used for your +snippet. So, in a digital world where you often can’t control how content gets shared, you can have some control here. Therefore, I recommend you add this markup. Again, think about “maximum sharability”.

GG