UPDATED AdWords Sitelinks Policy Changes – What You Need to Know
Published: August 14, 2012
Author: Joe Stanton
By Mason Garrity, Account Manager
Wanted to provide everyone with an update on the roll-out of the policy enforcement detailed below. It looks like after receiving some pushback regarding this change, Google is delaying the enforcement of the policy on existing sitelinks. However, starting this week, they will be enforcing it on new or edited sitelinks. So if you are sending your sitelinks to the same destination URL, you can continue to do so for the time being without having them deactivated. I’d still be prepared to implement the next best solution for your account, as it seems Google will at some point follow through on this policy change. In the meantime, carry on as is!
You may or may not have heard, but Google is finally getting around to implementing some policies regarding what you can and can’t do with Sitelinks. Let’s take a look at what’s changing, when it’s changing, and how it is going to affect your paid search account.
Gone are the days of using Sitelinks as a mechanism solely for taking up more real estate and increasing CTR on your high-value keywords. Google is now going to be looking at them from a UX perspective; specifically, that each of your headlines provides a unique user experience based on its destination URL.
For many of us, this isn’t going to be an issue – ecommerce and sites that have multiple products or offerings should already be sending users to unique urls – but if you have a lead gen or a subscription model with a single, tightly measured user acquisition funnel, this may cause some problems. You can guarantee that sending them outside of this funnel to a different destination URL will certainly hurt your CVR, so although you have different USPs in your Sitelink headlines, they all lead to the same page.
Starting sometime in mid-September (maybe even sooner), Google will audit accounts based on this scenario. The grey area that came to mind was whether or not Google will take URL parameters and landing page content into account when they begin these audits. If you are using the same landing page for all Sitelink headlines (or ads for that matter) but using URL parameters to dynamically generate the pages’ content, will this be taken into consideration? Studying the below example from Google, it seems as though it will.
From the looks of this, it seems as if Google will take URL parameters that alter the UX into consideration. For those of you who use this technique as an efficient and scalable way to customize your conversion funnels, changing your Sitelinks shouldn’t be necessary.
The one caveat is that Google will not be doing any proactive warning if your account will be audited. If your Sitelinks are deemed removable, they will just remove them, so make sure you check with your rep or a policy rep (866-2-GOOGLE) if your account is going to be affected.
If you need to make changes and don’t want to send traffic to pages outside of your funnel, I’d recommend taking the time to create some new pages at different destination URLs; you can just use the same LP as your main funnel and change the CTA to reflect the Sitelink headline. The small amount of extra work is well worth the benefit of be able to continue running Sitelinks.
– Mason Garrity, Account Manager