Using Google Sitelink Ad Extensions

If you’ve played around with Google’s ad extensions, chances are you’ve come across their sitelink ad extensions. This feature allows you to add several links to pages on your site as part of your AdWords ad. Of course, there is a catch – the sitelinks are only eligible to show on the top-ranked ad for the user’s search query, and even then there’s still a chance it may not show. There are several good reasons to use sitelinks, and one good reason to not use them. This post will cover both sides of the issue.

First off, let’s talk about how to access the sitelinks option. Log in to your AdWords account, and select the campaign you want to add sitelinks to. Click on the “Settings” tab in your campaign menu. Under the section “Ad Extensions,” you should see an option for sitelinks. Click on the “Edit” link next to this option, and you should see a form like this:

Sitelinks Menu

Here, you can specify the titles of your sitelinks, and the destination URLs you would like them to go to.

Now that you know how to implement sitelinks, let’s talk about why you would want to use them. First, keep in mind that these sitelinks will only show if your ads are in the top position. If you’re not going for the top position, or can’t afford to make high bids, you might as well not bother with sitelinks.

Sitelinks can be helpful if you have multiple promotions going on. For example, a retailer running an e-commerce campaign in December could add links for Christmas Gifts, Hanukkah Gifts, and Kwanzaa Gifts. This would be especially useful if you’re bidding on some generic search terms, like “gift ideas.” You may not have a good idea what your user is searching for, so adding sitelinks allows them to self-select their route to your site and get a better user experience.

Sitelinks are also handy for branding campaigns. If you’re bidding on your own brand name or company name, you never know exactly what your users have in mind. Sure, you know that they’re looking for you, but what exactly do they need? Adding sitelinks to your ads essentially puts your site’s navigation menu within your ad, saving potential customers a step in their information-seeking process. Plus, since branded terms tend to have a low cost per click and high quality score (assuming that you do own the brand that you’re bidding on) you’re likely to get that top position and actually have your sitelinks show.

There is one very good reason to not use sitelinks, though. If you’re doing structured split-testing of your landing pages (and you should be), then adding extra destination URLs to your ads could really screw with your statistical analysis. If you’re running a split-test in AdWords, Google Website Optimizer, or some other split-testing program, it’s probably best to stay away from these ad extensions. It could really make things unnecessarily complicated for you.

Had any positive or negative experiences with Google Sitelinks Extensions? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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One Response to Using Google Sitelink Ad Extensions

  1. Thanks for the article! This is very important information. I am studying for my ad words certification and it is nice to find articles like yours to fill in some of the gaps. Knowing that the sitelinks will only appear for the top ad it makes sense to me to potentially reserve it for branded terms.