August 14, 2014 Leave a Comment
In just over six weeks, a new set of specifications will take effect for Google Product Listing Ads, the paid-search format that’s surged in popularity since its debut in 2012. While the update includes a laundry list of attribute changes that include new descriptors for apparel products and a streamlined process for defining in-stock items, one key highlight stands out: the emphasis on the landing page, and specifically the importance of optimizing landing pages for mobile searchers.
For starts, beginning Sept. 30, merchants will be able to specify distinct landing pages for searchers on mobile devices — thereby helping merchants with mobile-optimized sites direct mobile users to the appropriate environment. But even those who don’t take advantage of the mobile URL option will need to step up efforts to create mobile-friendly landing pages; as part of the update, Google is issuing a new landing page content policy that stipulates more specifically than ever how merchants must “render an actual web page properly.”
Among the requirements, merchants can’t obscure key content related to the ad offer with a pop-up window, the ad offer must be centrally prominent on the landing page, and the call to action must be visible — a potentially challenging balance on small mobile screens. Furthermore, the policy specifies that merchants must avoid requiring shoppers to run a separate application for the page to work properly, and specifically calls out video applications on mobile devices as an example.
With these moves, Google is honing its PLA service to serve mobile shoppers first and foremost. Given that mobile browsing is ever more prevalent, even as mobile revenues lag, merchants would do well to follow Google’s lead and strive to improve the paid search experience for mobile shoppers.
First and foremost, of course, that means having mobile-optimized content for shoppers to access. As we noted in our previous post on PLAs, investing specifically in mobile-targeted PLA ads is a risky bet for those without a substantial mobile presence and a frictionless mobile path to purchase.
As the new guidelines suggest however, even those merchants not zeroing in on mobile users in their paid search ad specifications are still likely to attract mobile viewers via their PLAs — and they should do their utmost to be ready. Among the changes to consider:
Throttle mobile visuals just right. In a recent post, we advocated amping up visuals for mobile eCommerce sites. When it comes to PLAs, the trick is to feature the right media at the right time on mobile landing pages. Specifically, merchants should adhere to the long-standing best practice of providing visual confirmation of landing page relevance to the ad by “echoing” the ad image in a prominent position on the landing page — including any SKU options tailored to the ad search term. Then, for shoppers whose interest is piqued, merchants should offer an array of secondary options for exploring further, including alternate image views and video demonstrations.
MarketLive merchant Design Within Reach provides a precise visual echo of the mobile PLA for its grasshopper lamp, with the product page image an exact replica of the ad image, right down to the color.
Incorporate special offers at the mobile product page level. To enable using product pages as effective landing pages that adhere to Google’s content standards, merchants should optimize premium mobile screen real estate to include room for product- or brand-specific offers, or even site-wide discounts that might otherwise be placed in a missable spot within the global header.
MarketLive merchant Beauty Brands highlights its site-wide free shipping offer just beneath the “add to cart” button on the product page — giving the promotion high visibility. Detailed product information and “pro tips” are displayed below the promotion for those who want to delve deeper.
How are you optimizing PLAs for mobile success?