Fush And Clicks

A Blog On All Things Digital (And Not).

Sitelinks in AdWords 101

on May 30, 2012

Every now and then, its good to reflect on existing features which we already utilise and enjoy, but can be confusing to anyone new to the industry. One of the best features introduced in AdWords advertising over the last few years are sitelinks. Sitelinks, also appear for organic search results (as per the visual below),  but we will concern ourselves with the text sitelinks implemented for AdWords campaigns.

No doubt you would have seen sitelinks in SEM ads before. They look a little like this (the four links in blue):

or this one-line version which is more likely to appear against Non-Brand campaigns.

Sitelinks were introduced more than a few years ago, and originally looked quite different, appearing in sets of just two, than four links and originally only available to a select few advertisers. They give a user an option to navigate to specified pages using specified link text – this extends the value of existing AdWords activity by linking to content deep within the site. This could be things such as a store locator page, catalogues, current sales and other promotion pages. We suggest the pages used should be closely aligned with the goals of the search campaign, such as driving to other sections and not info pages that may not result in a sale for e-commerce focused client.

Sitelinks are easily set up via AdWords Editor (or the normal AdWords interface) with all that needed is destination pages and the link text (below 35 characters). Up to 10 sitelinks can be set up per campaign with either two, four or six sitelinks actually showing on the page (up to two for mobile campaigns on full browser smartphones). In any case, we’d recommend setting up between 4-10 sitelinks based on relevant pages to the search query. AdWords is also now set up to automatically rotate the best performing sitelinks, and sitelinks can potentially appear across all ads for the campaign. This means campaigns should be set up to allow the sitelink selection to be relevant to the keywords in the campaign.

Sitelinks do not carry any additional cost, so should always be implemented (they can also lower CPC indirectly, due to improved click through rate, Quality Score). They only appear in the top three positions, so bidding strategies may need to be adjusted with the introduction of new sitelinks to a campaign. They also require the keywords to have high quality scores (also other unknown factors), so don’t necessarily appear every time position 1-3 is achieved.

We’ve seen significant improvements in any campaign with added sitelinks, and these tend to mostly affect Brand, largely due to the increased likelihood of achieving the top positions in these campaigns. It makes sense – sitelinks increase visibility of the ad, provide more options to the user as well as a sense of ‘control’ over which area of the site they will end up on (as well as more control for the advertiser on what links/ pages they want to promote). On average, clickthrough rates are 30% higher for campaigns that have them, and the performance of sitelinks can be examined independently (and should to see to see what works the best).

An alternative use for sitelinks is using the additional link text to highlight the offer (even using the same landing page). For example, mentioning free delivery, sale offers and promos in the link text to help encourage a click and not use categories directly. Earlier this year, Google launched embedded/ enhanced ad sitelinks which serves as an easy way to automate sitelink selection based on what text ads are running in the campaign. Other introductions include click-to-call extensions (including a callable number on mobile ads) and location extensions (including addresses automatically from a Google Places account or a manually added entry).

Sitelinks are a great addition to any AdWords campaign and provide an easy, free benefit for searches where the ads is deemed ‘relevant’ and ‘authoritative’ enough for the sitelink to show. It’s a bit of an incentive for achieving top positions to make sure these can appear. We also recommend constantly reviewing sitelinks performance to see what works and if the sitelinks implemented actually match the intended consumer behaviour. It also provides an opportunity for testing different themes and call-to-actions which might feed insight into the search campaign itself.

More info available from Google here.

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