Optimize Sitelink Extensions for PPC Campaigns
Google AdWords recently began testing images in its sitelink extensions for advertisements, which could bring with it a complete revamping of AdWords’ accounts across the country.
As it currently exists, sitelink extensions are displayed in the form of multiple clickable text links within the advertisement that will take users to different landing page destinations across the same domain.
Google AdWords has tested images in its sitelink extensions before in 2013, and no announcement has been made as of yet. But let this news serve as a great opportunity to rearrange your PPC ads and its sitelink extensions.
As most digital marketers suggest, it’s recommended to implement sitelinks whenever available. Implementing sitelinks will increase the real estate available on your paid advertisements and can result in ads rising in rankings if specific sitelinks are aptly relevant to specific or general search queries. Sitelinks, by themselves, can generate more impressions for advertisements when used correctly and can highly increase your PPC ads CTR thus increasing your AdWords Quality Score.
Yet, sitelinks provide much more of a leg over the competition than simply expanding paid ad real estate and visibility. Sitelinks can provide different product models and service benefits in response to a generic search query. For example, searchers who search for cheap car insurance can be pointed to a sitelink providing a free quote on a branded advertisement.
Sitelinks simply allow advertisements to advertise more, in terms of benefits and reasons to click on an ad, than a traditional PPC ad. Sitelink extensions are so beneficial to PPC campaigns that it’s recommended that they’re implemented and monitored in their own AdWords campaign.
Creating Sitelink Extensions in Google AdWords
Within your Google AdWords profile, users can set up sitelinks through the “Ad extensions” tab. Simply click the View: “Sitelink Extensions” in the upper bar and click the “ + New extension” button. From there, users will be prompted to either create a new sitelink extension or use existing sitelinks.
Using existing sitelinks means using shared extensions, which are the same sitelinks used across different ad campaigns. Users who click “Create new extension” will be given four lines that allow users to select a final destination URL for each sitelink extension and a link text for each URL (25 character limit) with up to 10 additional entries.
Google has also published some rules that advertisers should follow to set up sitelinks. Multiple sitelinks may not contain the same link text nor can multiple sitelinks in the same ad group or campaign point to the same landing page. Third party URLs are not allowed to be published in sitelink extensions nor sitelinks that contain trademark violations. Above all else, sitelinks must be relevant to the product or service being described. If not, Google will not display these sitelinks and this could inevitably hurt your ad’s potential to display sitelink extensions.
Optimizing Sitelink Extensions
Sitelinks should specifically draw on the perceived benefits of clicking on a user’s advertisement in the first place. Think of it as providing a short cut to the pages where users are already searching for or where conversion opportunities are available. Sitelinks should display specific benefits associated with the products and services you are advertising.
Mostly, the ads you are bidding on will be highly competitive so displaying sitelink extensions with added benefits, such as “Free Quote” or “Speak to an Agent” will be the perfect means to get a leg up, in the case, amongst the insurance advertising industry. Depending on the size of your business, it’s advisable to set up campaigns for location extensions if your business offers services in different parts of the country or to match your ads with searchers from specific locations.
Decide the objectives of your digital marketing scheme and select landing pages that you feel match these objectives and are beneficial in creating conversions. Sitelink extensions are not just about taking advantage of added real estate, but strategically displaying links that make the added case for clicking on the paid advertisement and can aid in driving conversions. Make sure the link text that you select is relevant and precisely describes the landing page it is linking to. Unclear relevance is not only a violation of Google’s policies, but will surely incur a large amount of bounce rates.
Link text is presented with a 25 character limit and Google recommends that desktop link ads contain between 18-20 characters and mobile ads contain between 12-15 characters. Even with the added real estate space of your PPC ads, you don’t want sitelink messages to be curtailed by long messages. Consider taking advantage of Google’s enhanced sitelinks which make ad displays much larger and much more visible to searchers.
Consult your keyword research thus far and insert keyword specific terms that will trigger clicks for your sitelink extensions. Keeping sitelink link texts short and keyword specific are the best strategies for both driving clicks and impressions for your paid ads. It’s also important to note that, with the added real estate of sitelink extensions, that sitelinks do not repeat the meta-description of the ad its accompanying and that sitelinks are not repetitive in their message.
Sitelinks do not require much monitoring, but occasionally checking up on sitelinks will ensure your AdWords account doesn’t run into any trouble. As obvious as it sounds, check up on sitelinks to see that your landing pages still exist and that users are not prompted by a 404 error. If your sitelink extensions are time sensitive, AdWords will allow you to set a time schedule for your sitelinks so that limited time offers expire and users don’t run into broken links or false advertisement. Monitoring the performance of sitelinks is also key. Check how your sitelinks are performing in these three key metrics:
- Impressions: If sitelinks are generally delivering a lack of impressions it might mean that there is a particular reason Google isn’t matching with search queries, or there exists no relevance to search queries. A simple rewrite of your link text could solve this problem.
- CTR: If sitelink extensions are driving a high CTR than you’re in the clear. If sitelinks drive a low CTR than it would be permissible to swap them for new ones that are more relevant to branded search queries.
- Conversions: Sitelinks that that drive a high CTR but low conversion rate means that their exists a problem in the landing page, which is hampering user experience. Consider optimizing your landing page or simply swapping your sitelink for a new URL.
If your business simply does not have the budget and time to create multiple sitelinks than it may be advisable to used shared extensions for multiple ad campaigns. This notion delves deeper into how AdWords ad groups are segmented and monitored for their performance.
It’s not guaranteed that a perfectly optimized sitelink campaign will even show up in a search query. Sitelinks are most likely to be displayed in search queries where the sitelink is specifically relevant to the query where your ad ranks high. Optimizing your Google AdWords QS and your bids for specific ads will most likely result in higher rankings for PPC ads.
Ads that rank highly in a search query are more likely to have sitelink extensions displayed alongside their paid ads and the lower the rank of a paid ad, the less sitelink extensions that will be displayed.