Boost Your AdWords CTR with Sitelink Descriptions

By Jacob Fairclough | @RealSecretJake | Senior Account Analyst at Hanapin Marketing

Sitelinks have been a staple of best practices since they were introduced. Sitelinks help searchers find topical information beyond the specified landing page of your ad. Last February, enhanced campaigns brought a little spice to sitelinks by including descriptions. Additional lines of text were added from your other ad copy to flesh out the sitelinks. These provided extra detail to what the searcher can expect from each link and further clarified the ad’s additional talking points.

What Changed?

This week Google took it one step further. For those of you who have already made the jump into the enhanced campaign world, you can now define what you want this additional messaging to say. This new format allows you to take control of your ads and drive the messaging further, helping searchers to better understand your offerings and products.

Google’s testing also revealed users clicked the sitelinks with added detail at a significantly higher rate. Beyond being explanatory this rewards those who optimize their accounts to put their ads in the best position possible adding an additional boost to those in the top spots.

If you want to get started, there is no need to opt in to a beta or do anything special. Simply create or edit one of your existing site links. When the window opens you should see two extra text boxes for description lines one and two.

You will see that these are marked as optional so you don’t have to use them. On the other hand, as with anything else in PPC, why not take advantage of that extra control you have in your ads?

There are a few limits to keep in mind and Google’s site link guidelines have not changed. The duplicate sitelink policy is still in effect. Dynamic insertion is not allowed in the description lines. Your description text must not be duplicates of other sitelinks either. This isn’t a major nuisance though as you should already be using specific copy to highlight each individual sitelink.

When the ads appear, they will look like this.

Google will rotate between the standard four sitelinks seen in the ad above as well as a two sitelink variation.

Don’t worry if you check your ads in the search engine results and you don’t see the new sitelinks. These new site links won’t always appear in your ads. There are many factors on Google’s end as to when the extra information is shown. By making sure you specify your description lines you will be poised to take advantage of when you ads fulfill that criteria.

While this isn’t revolutionary by any means, this upgrade gives you one more thing to test when it comes to ad copy. Now you can take those site links to the next level, testing more variations just as you do with the standard ad copy.

Taking Advantage of the New Format

Here at the office we have been talking about how to improve ad copy beyond the best practices. One thing we have noted in our research is that too many advertisers have very bland site links. This can be especially bad in ecommerce where the sitelinks lead to something generic like shirts or electronics. While these are helpful, there is no compelling reason why a user should pay attention to those, many other places sell these items.

This is the chance to get more creative, are there any special deals on these items, is there a unique selection or is there a way this product solves a need better than another? Going back to the shirts examples, there are many shirt variations in both style and quality. As a result, most retailers cater to a certain demographic. Using the description lines, savvy advertisers can tune their messaging to their demographic, both highlighting their product and reducing the cost of gathering too many of the wrong clicks without any conversions.

Another quick example would be a hotel ad. The advertiser found that highlighting deals worked the best in the ad copy. Why not take a chance to test a more emotional angle with the site ink descriptions. The user knows he or she is getting a good deal, now sell them on how much they will enjoy the stay. Of course more deals in the descriptions could perform better but combining messaging is something you should be testing.

As with anything in PPC the results will depend and each situation will be different. This is more reason to test, test, and test some more. I gave two generic examples but I’m sure if you think about your product specifically you can discover a great angle to test.

Whether you use sitelinks to highlight specific products, give extra information on your business, or something experimental and creative, these new features can provide that extra edge to win more clicks and increase conversions. Go ahead and explore the feature and take advantage of this new format to get ahead of the competition.