A Practical Guide To Google’s Ad Extensions

If sitelinks, product extensions and plus boxes are still sounding like Greek to you, read on for a primer on implementing Google Ad Extensions as a part of your paid search strategy. Testing these new extensions is a great exercise for any in-house search engine marketing manager.


Sitelinks launched with wide availability in November of 2009 giving AdWords advertisers the opportunity to provide four additional content links to an existing AdWords ad. The links will only appear for ads that meet (quoting Google) “a certain high quality threshold.” Generally speaking, this means ads in a high quality-score first position spot on Google. So far, only unique brand name terms seem to be triggering these new links.

Example of Google Sitelink

To add sitelinks to an AdWords campaign, navigate to the Campaign Settings tab and go to the “Show additional links to my site” section under “Ad extensions”. There will be space to list ten links, feel free to fill out all ten, though only four have been appearing, so concentrate on refining the first four links. These new links will appear for all qualifying ads in the campaign, so make sure they are appropriate to all the AdGroups within that campaign that would qualify. It may be a good idea to break out the AdGroup(s) you are testing into their own separate campaign.

Unfortunately, sitelinks can only be implemented at the campaign level, not to individual AdGroups (unless you place them in their own campaign.) The current campaign level management makes sitelinks fairly unscalable, but worth testing for some top AdGroups that meet the quality score requirements. In the future, it would be great to see sitelinks available at the AdGroup level as that’s much easier and more targeted from a management perspective. Also, sitelink management is not currently available via the AdWords editor tool.

Eyefortravel reported that sitelink beta advertisers saw up to a 30% improvement in click-through-rates; and, from talking to other advertisers and conducting my own testing, everyone seems to agree there is lift in CTR correlated with adding the sitelinks.

At this time, Google AdWords reports do not separate any data on the sitelinks, but hopefully this feature will be added in the future. Analytics tracking codes can be appended to sitelinks, so it is possible measure their conversion impact and traffic via an analytics tool.

Definitely follow up by running reports comparing click-through rates before and after sitelinks to measure approximate impact, and refine sitelink messaging. Listing sections of a website or popular items might be logical, but adding some snappy marketing copy to the link text seems to have a stronger positive impact on CTR than just a plain list.

Product extensions

Product extensions pull relevant Google Merchant Center products into a plus box feature at the bottom of a traditional AdWords ad. Product extensions may show the product images, pricing and titles of products that are the closest matches with an ad.

Product Extension Example Plus Box

Google Product Extension Plus Box Open

Google controls the product selection, it is currently not possible to specify which products and AdGroups should be paired. This feature is also implemented via the Campaign Settings tab. Under the “Networks, devices and extensions” section under “Ad extensions,” select the option to add product information from a Merchant Center account. If a Merchant Center account is not currently linked to the AdWords account, specify the AdWords’ account id in the Merchant Center account and that links them together. It may take up to twelve hours after this feature is selected for the additional links to begin appearing.

The reporting for product extensions is far more robust than sitelinks. Plus box impressions, clicks on offers, plus box show rate, CTR with an expanded plus box and other metrics are available via regular AdWords reports. Tracking conversion results is more convoluted since the same tracking, if any, used for the Merchant Center links will be appearing.

Other ad extensions

For advertisers with a physical store presence interested in increasing their local advertising footprint, location extensions provide enhanced listings (usually with regard to address information) for Google Maps and other local search results.

Similar to product extensions, Local Business Center accounts can be linked to a campaign in the Audience tab under “Locations.” Or an advertiser can manually enter addresses. There is additional reporting on info window opens and clicks and other map click data available in Ad Performance reports for local business ads.

Additionally, there are new ad types appearing such as contact forms and comparison ads which may give some businesses additional ad opportunities beyond the standard AdWords ads.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | In House Search Marketing


About The Author: is the Vice President, Marketing at Viator,the leading provider of destination activities worldwide, and also blogs on in-house search engine marketing issues at inhousesem.com.

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