Put up your hand if you’re using sitelinks in your Google ads. Now wave your hand if you’re using Ad Extensions.

The lack of activity is astounding.

Google’s Matt Lawson has noted that a curiously low number of advertisers are taking advantage of sitelinks and ad extensions. It’s curious because sitelinks alone have been proven to increase the average click-through-rate (CTR) by 10 – 20 per cent per ad.

So, the question is: Why aren’t Adwords ads crawling with sitelinks, even plain old unextended ones?

What are sitelinks?

Sitelinks allow you to include links to several additional landing pages in each Adwords ad, while sitelink extensions allow you to add a two-line description to each additional link – essentially giving you 5 to 8 ads for the price of one.

A quick example: If we do a Google search for tickets to the Sydney Opera House, we find that at least one company is using sitelinks to point users to its various related services in and around Sydney. However, descriptions are sadly missing.

Getting started

To start taking advantage of all these added opportunities, all you have to do is:

  • Click the Campaigns tab in Adwords.
  • Choose which campaign you want to add sitelinks to.
  • Click the Ad Extension tab.
  • Click the View dropdown menu and select Sitelink Extensions
  • Next you can choose to Edit the Sitelink settings. Your options include using an existing sitelink or creating a new sitelink.
  • To create a sitelink, click New and fill in the link name, URL, device preference and two-line description. The description is optional but you’d do well to fill it in – every detail counts in the battle for consumers’ attention online.
  • Click Save.

You can refine your sitelinks campaigns so that they only appear for searches on mobile devices, or you can leave the default settings as is and appear for searches on all devices.

You can also create sitelinks at the ad group level rather than the campaign level. To do this:

  • Choose an ad group
  • Click Ad Extensions
  • Click the View dropdown menu and select Sitelink Extensions
  • Next you can choose to Edit the Sitelink extension settings. This will allow you to create extensions for that particular group.
  • Click Use ad group sitelink and then you’ll can choose to use an existing site link or create a New sitelink.
  • To create a sitelink, click New and fill in the link name, URL, device preference and two-line description. Again, the description is optional but you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s worth your while to fill it in.
  • Click Save

Once again, you can choose whether you want to appear for searches on all devices or just those on mobile devices, or even just desktops and tablets.

Tips and best practices

  • Use the descriptions. It’s something that bears repeating again and again; you can’t afford to lose SERP space to your competitors, so the more space you fill with links and descriptions, the better.
  • Use the descriptions well. Occupying space is all good and well, but you don’t just want to occupy it, you want to own it. So, don’t be bland. Be as compelling as possible in 35 characters or less. Don’t forget to include banging calls to action and to vary your descriptions to include special promotions.
  • Keep link text short. You don’t have to use all the available characters. Remember that less is often more online.
  • Use the mobile sitelinks option – and optimise for mobile. This means taking small screens and shorter attention spans into account. So make those descriptions even more compelling but in 25 characters or less.
  • Each link must be unique. Don’t try to duplicate URLs within campaigns or ad groups. You will fall foul of the almighty G.
  • Each link must be relevant. Don’t try to cram in links to landing pages just because you can. Remember, the aim is to provide users with worthwhile options, not to frustrate them with red herrings.
  • Use keywords with a high Quality Score.
  • Always check to see that your sitelinks meet Google’s criteria. There is a Status column next to each sitelink. Keep an eye on it and if your sitelinks go from Approved to Disapproved you need to click Edit immediately to rectify the problem.
  • Conduct an audit of your sitelinks every four months or so, to ensure that performance levels are exactly where you want them.

Online advertising space is noisy and crowded. You need to use every tool available to give yourself every possible chance of success. Enhanced sitelinks are one of the easiest ways to give your Adwords campaigns a boost. So if you’re not using them, you need to pull your finger out and start testing some descriptive ad extensions now.

By Philip Shaw

Learn about our Adwords Training & Management Solutions.


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