The new AdWords (and now Bing Ads!) Expanded Text Ad format gives advertisers 140 characters to work with. But that’s not the whole story. Technically, you can dominate the SERP with 620 characters in one SEM ad. Boost Media shares how.


Is 620 characters really possible?

You can have up to 4 Callout extensions of 25 characters each. Plus, you can show Sitelinks and Callout extensions in tandem. AdWords allows 4 Enhanced Sitelinks of 95 characters each. All told, with the new 140 characters of Expanded Text Ads, this adds up to 620 characters. To give you an idea of just how many characters that is, this entire paragraph is only 379 characters.


When to go after all 620 characters

While it’s technically possible to get a 620 character ad onto the SERP, it’s not likely to happen without a deliberate and well-executed approach to copywriting and a very strong quality score. It’s probably only realistic to attempt 620 characters on core brand terms. If you have a lot of competition or resellers bidding on your brand terms, this is a no brainer.


How to get 620 characters

Just because you implement ad extensions doesn’t mean Google or Bing will show them. You must also achieve a high quality score and ad rank. Here’s how:


Don’t cheat

You cannot include duplicate text in your ad extensions and text ads. Similarly, you can’t include duplicate URLs in your Sitelinks. You have to earn the right to take up that space by providing genuine value to users that translates into strong CTRs.


Have a clear purpose for each component of your ad

  • Focus ad text on the benefits to the user
  • Highlight product features and promotions in Callout extensions
  • Use Sitelinks navigationally to improve the user experience

With this clear delineation, you won’t be tempted to repeat “free shipping” ad nauseam.


Use mobile-preferred ads and ad extensions

Improve your relevance by creating both mobile-preferred and standard versions of your ads and ad extensions. This is especially important if your mobile experience offers something unique, such as a mobile app, store locator, or price comparison tool.

Bid up

Theoretically, if you’re already ranked number one on your brand terms, bidding up shouldn’t make a difference. But empirically, we’ve seen that increasing bids can improve ad distribution (even in cases where there are no competitors). In some cases, bidding up can trigger more ad extensions to show, too. It’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense according to the principles of ad rank. But it makes sense if you consider that the ad networks want you to spend more.


Apply creative best practices

When it comes to achieving a good quality score, there is simply no substitute for writing great ads. Revisit SEM text ad best practices and take no shortcuts.

This may sound like a lot of work and it is. But consider the potential upside: for most advertisers, the vast majority of revenue is generated from a small sample of brand terms. Small CTR improvements in select ad groups can make all the difference.

Where to go from here

Expanded Text Ads constitute one of the biggest changes to the SEM ad format in AdWords’ 15 year history. And they are here to stay: Bing Ads announced they too will support Expanded Text Ads by the end of Summer, 2016. This change is real, it’s here to stay, and it’s happening soon. What better time than now to rethink your approach to creative and take advantage of hacks like 620 character SERP domination?