If you build it, they will come. This is true not only of baseball fields in rural Iowa, but also of ad extensions for digital marketing. Utilizing the many features of ad extensions and building out the most comprehensive and robust account you can is a great way to boost metrics and achieve performance goals. One such ad extension that often goes unnoticed is the structured snippets extension for Google AdWords.

The following is a basic guide to understanding and setting up structured snippets as well as some best practices for utilizing them within your paid media strategy.

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What are structured snippets?

You may be wondering what these unusually named ad extensions even are and how to create them for your accounts. Structured snippets are an ad extension that highlights a category of features that your site has to offer. For example, a dog food retailer may stock and sell a variety of brands, which is a great feature that would draw people to the site. Unfortunately, the retailer might not have enough room to feature all the brand names within their ad text. Structured snippets will showcase the brands and let the consumer know the variety offered, without consuming character space within ad text.

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How do I set up a structured snippet?

You can set up structured snippets for your account via the ‘Ad extensions’ tab, within the ‘Structured snippet extensions’ view. Structured snippets are only applicable at the campaign level and are shared across the account. Be sure that your website offers services that line up with the categories that Google provides, as your structured snippets will quickly be disapproved otherwise. The categories as of this writing are Amenities, Brands, Courses, Degree programs, Destinations, Featured hotels, Insurance coverage, Models, Neighborhoods, Service catalog, Shows, and Styles.

Keep in mind when setting up structured snippets that each category item has a 25-character limit and is subject to Google’s advertising policies. Also note that you must have at least 3 unique value items, with a limit of 10 per snippet.

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Additional structured snippet set-up features include a device preference toggle, as well as advanced scheduling options. These features are optional; however, they can be very useful for clients with a strong mobile presence or an account with specific scheduling needs.

How can structured snippets help my account?

As with most ad extensions, one primary advantage to structured snippets is getting additional real estate on the SERP. By having more content on your ad, you are getting more bang for your buck, pushing competitor ads and organic content further down the page while providing the user with more information about what they ought to expect when they get to your site.

In addition, your campaigns will likely see a notable boost in quality score and CTR, as Google will utilize the extension when it expects better performance, and when your ad is in a higher position. This boost will have a domino effect that can lower CPCs and, depending on your goals, improve your overall CVR.

One very specific benefit of structured snippets is their application during the holiday seasons. Google set up Black Friday-specific and Cyber Monday-specific snippets that can be utilized to promote the biggest sales of the year. This is especially useful for ecommerce clients that promote large discounts during Q4 and need all the room they can get to showcase their biggest promotions of the year.

What limitations do structured snippets have?

An obvious limitation to these extensions is that they aren’t clickable. Call extensions can be shown as a button for mobile users, and sitelink extensions are great for showcasing features and cross-selling. Unfortunately, structured snippets don’t have the same power as they only provide a short list and don’t feature interactivity.

The biggest problem that SMB come across when utilizing structured snippets is the limitation of the categories. The categories are generally tailored to larger, more expensive categories that bigger companies can utilize. Categories such as ‘courses’ and ‘degree programs’ are very specific to the education industry, for example, and cannot be utilized effectively by anyone outside of that industry. Additionally, the ‘insurance coverage’ category would be great for anyone in the insurance industry… and it happens to be one of the most expensive keywords in paid media. The best categories for most small-to-medium-sized industries include Brand, Service catalog and Styles.

Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em

Use as many ad extensions as you can! When your ad populates with ad extensions, your CTR will improve, thus making your ads better, cheaper, and potentially more profitable. Plus, your clients will love the extra attention you give their account!

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Stephen Bergen
Stephen joined the 3Q Accelerate team in Austin, Texas in February 2016. He has been in the Digital Marketing industry since 2014 with a background in paid search. When he isn't geeking out over pivot tables and vlookup formulas, he is playing board games with friends, experimenting with his latest homebrew recipe, and building LEGOs. Also, he is excellent at parallel parking.