A second look at sitelinks in light of Enhanced Campaigns
Published: February 19, 2013
Author: Joey Muller
Today’s post is by Joey Muller of Sum Digital.
Years ago when Google first introduced sitelinks, my reaction was a bit lukewarm. I tested sitelinks for a few clients, but CTRs were largely unaffected, and results were hard to measure with block-level reporting. I found myself telling folks, “Don’t worry about sitelinks, nobody clicks on them.”
But then I came around. I began to realize it did not matter if folks clicked on them. In fact, when folks did not click on sitelinks, this was absolutely fine –sometimes even preferred.
While Googlers claim higher CTRs using sitelinks, improved CTR may not the biggest benefit to using them. With 4 to 6 additional lines, at 35 max characters per line, we should think of sitelinks as an opportunity to say what we couldn’t say in standard ads. This is really the big gift and a no-brainer.
After you embrace sitelinks, have fun with them. Mention your free shipping policy; your hassle-free guarantee; a coupon code. Put a fun tone of voice in your sitelinks. Instead of About Us, try Why We Rock, or What Folks Are Saying. Got any fun company holiday photos? Link to them! The point is to be likable. You’ll stand out above the crowd and gain sympathizers along the way.
Are sitelinks for everyone, though?
B2B folks may put up a solid argument that after the money and resources spent optimizing a lead gen funnel, why would they send clicks elsewhere? It’s a good point, and one I subscribed to until recently. But with a bit more effort, you can recreate that same lead gen form – or at least a super-clear call to action – on lots of pages, all ending up at the same thank-you page.
Even if B2B advertisers decide to forgo them, sitelinks are becoming the gold standard of professionalism. The space and prominence of a big block of ad text conveys importance and authority. If you make your brand likable and authoritative, you have a formula for success. (Just ask Dr. Robert Cialdini!)
In the context of Enhanced Campaigns, two big advantages await sitelinks adopters. By design, ad groups are meant to cluster together search intent and map this intent to relevant ads. But previously, sitelinks were available only at the campaign level, which meant that your sitelinks had to work across all ad groups in a campaign. This was another big roadblock for me.
Enhanced Campaigns will solve this problem by implementing sitelinks at the ad group level, so you can fine-tune your messaging to search intent. For example, take an auto parts advertiser with a Wheels campaign and ad groups for Michelin and Goodyear. If the data tells you Michelin wheels are often purchased together with Michelin lug nuts and tires, sitelinks can provide an opportunity to suggest these related products before the shopper has even landed on your site. Using analytics reports to help define what customers also bought will be a good tactic for expanding sitelinks.
The second big change ahead is reporting at the individual sitelink level rather than at the aforementioned block level. Those fun holiday pics might have generated a few more conversions than you know, if only you could measure that right from the dashboard. Improved reporting will shift your conversations from CTR to Conversion Rate and, as always, will lead to more testing – lots more testing!
What is your take on sitelinks? Are you creative with them? Any ideas for ad-group level sitelinks? Let me know in the comments!
– Joey Muller is a certified Google AdWords Professional at Sum Digital, a digital marketing agency in San Francisco. Joey has generated millions of dollars in revenue for ecommerce, gaming, healthcare, and IT companies. Joey received his BA in Cognitive Psychology from Dartmouth College. See Joey’s LinkedIn profile and follow him on Twitter @jmthefourth.