In the organic search listings you’re probably familiar with Sitelinks. They are the collection of links that appear below the search result for your website, and they link to the main pages of your site. Sitelinks are there to help users navigate your site. They are created by analyzing the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time. Though they are generated automatically, if you are unhappy with these automatic links you can delete some or all of them using Google Webmaster Tools.Depending on how specific the search term is these Sitelinks are sometimes displayed on one line or across four lines. For example when searching for the broad term “broadband” one line of four Sitelinks appears below the first search result, and searching for the brand name “Vodafone” displays eight Sitelinks across four lines.
Sitelinks give your organic search listing more prominence in the results, and can also expose more of what your website has to offer. It’s not surprising therefore that Google have decided to introduce this feature to its paid results.
Ad Sitelinks allows ads that appear in the top positions (ads with a very high quality score) to have as many as five links in their ad. This includes the main landing page as well as four additional links which appear beneath the ad text. Initially Ad Sitelinks was a feature introduced for brand specific searches only, but now you can enable this on more generic, unbranded campaigns.
Depending on how specific the search term is the Sitelinks will appear either as one line or two lines. For example when searching for “broadband” the 3 Broadband ad that is triggered has one line of links below the ad text, and searching for the brand name “3 broadband” will display this ad as having two lines of links below the ad text.
Ad Sitelinks will only appear when ads qualify for the top positions, however you can still enable this feature in preparation for a time when your ad will appear in a top spot. With Ad Sitelinks enabled, if your ad appears in the right hand side of the search results, it will appear in the same format as you are used to. For example, the ad below is the same ad triggered above in the search for “3 broadband” but now that it is no longer in the top spot the Ad Sitelinks do not appear.
Sitelinks don’t cost any extra in comparison to ads without them. Also, the costs per click do not differ depending on whether someone clicks on the main ad link or any of the Sitelinks. Additionally, if a users clicks on more than one link while viewing your ad you will only be charged for one click.
How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks
You will find the option to set up Ad Sitelinks in your Campaign Settings tab, under the “Ad extensions” section. To change which ad extension you are viewing, there is a drop down menu labelled “view” (directly underneath the campaigns tab) where you will see three options – “Local extensions”, “Phone extensions” and now “Sitelinks extensions”.
If you choose “Sitelinks extensions” you will now be able to click “+ New extension” which will open the next step in the process.
Ad Sitelinks is a campaign level setting, so the first step in setting them up is to choose an existing campaign to assign them to. As this is a campaign level extension you should take note that all of your ads in that specific campaign will have the Sitelinks assigned to them, so choose your campaign wisely. Make sure that the Sitelinks you setup are specific to the entire campaign.
The next step is to choose the link text (35 characters max), and the destination URL (1024 characters max). The text and URL follows the same rules as the rest of your AdWords account, so for example the URL must direct users to a page from the display URL website being used in that campaign.
You can add between one and ten Sitelinks for each campaign, though only four Sitelinks will be shown, which ones are shown will depend on the keyword that triggered the ad.
If the campaign you are writing the Sitelinks for is a generic one it is more likely that the Sitelinks will appear as one line of text, so it is best to submit short and relevant link text. However, if the campaign is very specific e.g. brand focused, the link text would be displayed across two lines and can therefore take up most of the 35 characters without seeming cluttered.
Once you have saved these Sitelinks they will then appear listed in the “Ad extensions” section, with associated performance data such as clicks, impressions and CTR.
When choosing what campaigns to assign Sitelinks to, remember that this feature is being assigned to already highly successful ads and as with any new AdWords feature, you should make sure to regularly check their impact.
The best method of monitoring the performance of the Sitelinks is to create two identical campaigns, and enable Sitelinks for one, but not the other. You will then be able to compare the performance with Sitelinks and without.
It is currently not possible to see individual link level performance data from within AdWords, but using the tagging feature of Google Analytics you should be able to see what links were clicked on.
Add More Control to Your Landing Pages Using Ad Sitelinks
Unlike the Sitelinks in organic search, Ad Sitelinks gives you complete control over what links appear, giving you the opportunity to offer multiple landing pages to the user. Thus you can choose to provide text and links to other persuasive pages on your website.
It is still the ad’s main Destination URL link that is taken into account when determining the landing page quality for individual ads. This enables you to utilize already successful AdWords campaigns to promote additional lower performing products or brand new products. However, Google suggests that you choose Sitelinks that are relevant for all your ads and search terms within your campaign, and to avoid attaching irrelevant links to your ads. As in the example below, the keyword “broadband” triggers the ad and the Sitelinks used all relate to broadband products that the company provide.
However, with regards to a branding campaign you may have a keyword list related to all areas of your business, therefore you could certainly use Sitelinks to promote lower performing or new products. For example, the keyword “3 broadband” triggered the ad below, however the Sitelinks relate to three other products (and product pages) that this company offers.
Maximize Your Click-Through Rate Using Ad Sitelinks
Ad Sitelinks make your ads stand out even more by giving your ads more real estate on the all-important first page of search results, with Google indicating that early users of the feature had reported on average a 30% increase in clickthrough rates. Some brands are even experiencing a 15-40+% lift in brand PPC sales YOY!
If you’ve already been bidding on branded keywords you’re likely to have been sending traffic to your homepage, and in this case it’s difficult to determine what the user was actually searching for. With Sitelinks you have the ability to offer multiple landing pages to the user, so searchers can choose the landing page that’s most relevant to them, which increases the chances of a conversion.
Sitelinks also give you the ability to include extra text in your ad. The extra text could either be used as an additional description line, linking to special offers or product benefits, or for promoting other products/services. If you use text that accurately describes the link, you increase the likelihood of a conversion. You can read the transcript of an interesting talk at SMX on supercharging your sitelinks here.
When creating your Sitelinks take into account the most popular ads already running in your campaign. Focus on the text from these ads and their associated landing pages that have the highest conversion rates. Linking to already successful landing pages will further increase the conversion rate of the clicks on your Sitelinks. You can check out some interesting examples of sitelinks in use here.
TIP: Brad Geddes has another creative use for ad sitelinks. Add your phone number to one of your sitelinks to increase your “call through rate”. If you’re advertising a local business, create a sitelink with your phone number as the anchor text and the destination URL being your site’s contact page.
Though Ad Sitelinks may improve your clickthrough rate it’s important to utilize them in a way that continues to bring highly targeted traffic to your site. Monitoring the conversion rates of campaigns that use Sitelinks is essential to determine if they succeed for you.