What are sitelinks?
While Google launched sitelink extensions back in June 2010 for the first time to allow businesses to get more exposure by displaying additional destination URLs below their ads, Google has taken it one step further, announcing ‘Enhanced Sitelinks’ for AdWords users just recently.
Up until now, advertisers could create up to 10 sitelink extensions per campaign in their AdWords account to show additional links beyond that of just the main landing page in their ads. The performance of the sitelinks can be viewed in the ad extensions tab where the extensions could also be edited to resemble up-to-date website information related to each campaign. While ads on desktop computers and tablets can display two, four, or six links along with the display URL of the ad, mobile phones with full Internet browsers can show up to two sitelink extensions.
Why advertisers want to use sitelinks?
There are a few reasons why advertisers should use sitelink extensions. For one, these links can serve as shortcuts, allowing users to quickly see related content to the product / service that is being offered in the ad, as well as directing customers to specials and promotions, which will push them further along in the buying cycle. Furthermore, advertisers can also show links to similar products as those promoted in the actual ad on Google. This could help promote and compare your own brands to name brand products in order to raise brand awareness and exposure for your proprietary brand. Sitelinks also make it easy to show additional information, i.e. a 30% off promotion or a holiday special, that affects all products / services in the campaign but could not be added to the actual ad due to character limits. It is also easy to keep sitelinks updated as you can just add them within the ad extensions tab without having to re-write the entire ad in the campaign itself.
The idea behind sitelinks is to grab the attention of customers and lead them to the page that best suits their buying needs. Therefore, it is recommended to keep link text short and sweet (KISS – Keep It Short and Simple!). The shorter the sitelinks, the more sitelinks Google will have the opportunity to show, and the more Google can choose from the better.
What are enhanced sitelinks?
Let’s talk a little bit more about the new feature that Google recently added to sitelink extensions. First and foremost, enhanced sitelinks are only eligible for campaigns that already use sitelink extensions. Meaning, existing ads must already show with two or three lines of sitelinks and must appear above the Google search results. Secondly, the AdWords account must contain other ads that Google believes to be related to the existing sitelinks. Google then chooses to automatically enhance sitelinks with additional information that is pulled directly from content that is provided on the advertiser’s website. With this additional information added to sitelinks, ads have the potential to become more relevant to potential customers.
Here is an example provided by Google:
This is an ad created for one of the campaigns in the AdWords account, which includes 4 sitelinks:
Moreover, the account could also include the following ads in different ad groups / campaigns:
While these text ads include information that is similar to the sitelinks used in the first ad, Google might add the information of the latter text ads to enhance the sitelink information of the first ad. It could end up looking like this:
The cost associated with this new feature simply equals the cost of a click on the display URL of the same ad. No matter which link the user clicks on, advertisers will be charged the same amount.
How to implement enhanced sitelinks?
The biggest question remaining is how to implement this new feature in the account. As compared to the implementation of current sitelink extensions so far, Google decides whether or not to show enhanced sitelinks. What advertisers can do, however, is make sure that their current sitelinks are closely related to other ads, as shown in the example by Google, and most importantly, add up to 10 sitelinks in each of the active campaigns in an account. As Google only enhances sitelinks with information that’s similar, it is important to go through the account and update sitelinks with new information, as well as review ad copy to ensure similarities. While matching ad text and sitelinks more closely will be a new challenge for advertisers, they should not forget the main purpose of having relevant information shown to users in order to fully benefit from this feature.
Analyzing enhanced sitelinks performance
The performance of enhanced sitelinks can be viewed on the ad extensions tab by clicking the ‘Segment’ dropdown menu and selecting ‘click type.’ However, Google does not seem to differentiate between the performance of normal sitelinks and enhanced sitelink extensions. Moreover, there is currently no option to see if and when Google is showing enhanced sitelinks. As Google has just released this new feature and advertisers are working toward showing enhanced sitelinks, there will hopefully be an option to do so coming soon.
It will definitely be interesting to see if this new feature can help increase the overall CTR (click-through rate) of sitelink extensions beyond the 30% higher CTR that Google claims sitelinks already produce compared to campaigns without. While ad copy, landing pages, and sitelinks should already be matched closely, this feature now allows advertisers to also display additional information about the same or similar products with the same ad. Incorporating this feature could help cross-sell products / services, as well as support the upselling of customers who are already further along in the buying cycle.