Understanding the new Extended sitelinks

 

Google first introduced Extended sitelinks in beta back in early 2012 (originally called Enhanced sitelinks), and these have been slowly rolling out across the UK since.

 

In mid-June Google introduced a brand new upgrade within the feature which allows advertisers to improve the control of sitelink specificity within their ads. The feature, available on Enhanced campaigns, is an interesting new option and provides new testing ground for campaign optimisation. In this blog we explain the latest changes to Extended sitelinks and explore how they can be used to help drive Paid Search performance.

 

A quick recap – What are Google Extended sitelinks?

Extended sitelinks are a feature that enables multiple sitelinks to appear below your Paid Search ad by combining up to four traditional sitelinks with text that closely relates to your ad, in a larger nested format. As a result, Extended sitelinks can help drive more qualified leads to your site, and also enable your audience to discover more interesting pages on your website beyond the landing page.

 

Until recently Extended sitelinks worked by Google taking the single line sitelinks that advertisers specified at the campaign level (Figure 1), and then crawling the rest of the Google account for additional ad copies with the same destination URL as each sitelink. The two description lines that Google deemed most relevant were then automatically added below each sitelink on the Search Engine results page. In some cases giving a similar look to natural search listings (Figure 2).

 

Figure 1

 

 

Figure 2

 

However, the appearance of sitelinks was, and still is, dependent on your ad showing above the organic results, usually with no other competitors appearing on the same search term.

 

There are a couple of other challenges with Extended sitelinks worth noting here too, firstly, it was not possible to guarantee that Extended sitelinks would appear even when the above criteria was met, and you had active ads in the account with the same destination URLs as the sitelinks. Secondly, advertisers had little control over the messages that would appear as the sitelinks would be automatically drawn from any ad within the account with the same URL match.

 

As a result Extended sitelinks have been seen infrequently in the search space compared to the standard one, two or three line sitelink formats.

 

How Extended sitelinks have changed

Extended sitelinks have been upgraded to make it possible to add specific description lines. When creating a new sitelink, on Enhanced campaigns, you will now be able to specify the text that can appear in both lines of the description field. You will be given the option of adding extra text to your sitelinks – simply fill out both lines of the “Description” field when creating a new sitelink or editing an existing sitelink.

 

This upgrade will give advertisers much more control over what messaging is displayed in the Extended sitelinks. Furthermore, from what we have seen so far, it will increase the likelihood of your ads appearing in this format compared to allowing Google to automatically choose the description lines for you.

 

When updating an existing sitelink or creating a new one, you will see the new options to input optional description lines, as shown in Figure 3 below:

Figure 3

 

Remember though, that when creating your new Extended sitelinks you must adhere to the core sitelink guidelines or this will result in sitelink disapprovals. The policy requires that;

  • Sitelinks do not violate the duplicate sitelink URL policy
  • Sitelink text does not use keyword insertion
  • Sitelink text is not the same as other sitelinks in the same campaign or the main adcopy that’s being served

 

The benefits of Extended sitelinks

As with most Google updates the aim of this new option is to improve CTR by allowing advertisers to dominate the search results.

 

Advertisers will also have greater control over the promotional messaging that can be displayed, opening up opportunities for far more advanced sitelink split testing. Furthermore, consumers will benefit by being shown more relevant information such as delivery costs and sale information.

 

Next Steps

On the Enhanced campaigns platform, start testing sitelink descriptions in your campaigns. We are currently carrying out a number of tests on these sitelinks to better understand the impact that these can have on campaign performance. We will share our findings in a follow on blog post, in the meantime enjoying testing the new sitelink options!