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Sitelinks, Callouts & Structured Snippets, Oh My!


At the end of August, AdWords released a new manual ad extension called structured snippet extensions, which it says it introduced because of the success of an automated extension — dynamic structured snippets — released earlier this year.

This new extension allows advertisers to include additional details about the business by utilizing 12 “headers,” including:

  • Amenities
  • Brands
  • Courses
  • Degree programs
  • Destinations
  • Featured hotels
  • Insurance coverage
  • Neighborhoods
  • Service catalog
  • Shows
  • Styles
  • Types

For example, a hotel could list its amenities, from free wi-fi to room service. Or a store could list the brands it carries. Here is an ad from Overstock that uses the structured snippet extension to showcase various styles of oval coffee tables.

Image of structured snippets

Structured snippets being used in an Overstock ad

It’s important to note that unlike other extensions, such as sitelinks and locations, structured snippets are not clickable.

However, like all other ad extensions, structured snippets help advertisers secure additional search real estate while helping to improve the headline click-through rate. For a complete breakdown of structured snippet extensions, make sure to read WebRanking’s in-depth post.

Extension Overload

You may be thinking that structured snippets are similar to callout extensions, and you would be correct. In fact, in the AdWords blog post announcing the new extensions, there is a graphic that explains when to use each extension and details the individual features of each.

Image of table

Comparing callouts and structured snippets

I’ve mainly used callout extensions at the account level. Since they tend to be higher-level facts about your business, account level is fine. With structured snippets, advertisers can choose from 12 headers, thus allowing for more granular segmentation at the campaign and ad group levels.

There is one more wrinkle to this extension discussion — sitelinks. They were the callout extension before this extension existed. Advertisers still used sitelinks to showcase additional relevant pages, but they also used them to highlight the business.

For example, “free shipping” may now be a callout, but at one point it could have been a sitelink leading to the shipping page. Or “24/7 support” may have led to the customer service page.

I mention sitelinks because of the dynamic they have in relation to callouts and structured snippets. All of these extensions are similar, but slightly different. Used correctly, they can give advertisers the ability to create powerful ad copy.

Using Sitelinks, Callouts And Structured Snippets In Harmony

Let’s look at a visual representation of how these three extensions can be structured, based upon my preferred layout. Though not represented in the graphic below, callouts and structured snippets can be set at the account, campaign and ad group levels. Sitelinks can only be set the at the campaign and ad group levels.

Image of structure

Ad extension structure

Now, let’s look at three scenarios of this structure in use.

Scenario 1: E-commerce Account

This merchant sells sunglasses for both men and women. The items we can call out include:

  • Free Shipping
  • Free Returns
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • In Business Since 2000
  • Live Chat

If this client had many positive reviews and received third-party recognition, we could use these features as callouts. However, the seller ratings and review extensions would cover these value-adds. For the purpose of this scenario, we’ll assume that the positive reviews are being utilized by these two extensions.

To begin, we’re going to create a sunglasses frame style campaign. Our ad groups include:

  • Full Frame
  • Half-Frame
  • Rimless
  • Folding Readers

At the account level, we’re going to use the five features listed above as callouts. At the campaign level, our sitelinks can speak to gender and accessories (for now, we won’t use ad group level sitelinks):

  • Men’s Sunglasses
  • Women’s Sunglasses
  • Sunglass Cases
  • Lanyards

Our structured snippets will also be set at the campaign level, where we’ll be using the “Brands” header:

  • Burberry
  • Maui Jim
  • Oakley
  • Prada
  • Ray-Ban

Here is what an example ad would look like for a search for “full frame sunglasses.” This image and two below are courtesy of Andrew Hogan’s ad extension preview tool.

Image of text ad

An example ad for “full frame sunglasses”

Our ad copy speaks directly to “full frame sunglasses,” while we have relevant callouts, sitelinks and structured snippets. Again, we can go more granular, but we would have to weigh the time needed vs. the potential results. As a side note, like sitelinks and callouts, not all structured snippets will be displayed at once.

Scenario 2: Software as a Service (SaaS) Provider

This company offers a network management solution for mid- to large-size businesses. Our callouts are:

  • Easy Deployment
  • Pre-Configured Templates
  • Live Tech Support
  • On-Demand Reports

For this individual campaign, we’ll target “network management/monitoring” keywords. Our ad groups include:

  • Network Management Software
  • Network Management Solution
  • Network Management Tools
  • Network Monitoring Software
  • Network Monitoring Solution
  • Network Monitoring Tools

Since the landing page will most likely be honed for lead generation, and the navigation will be slimmed down (if not removed altogether), our sitelinks can speak to the business. They may include:

  • About Us
  • Resources
  • All Solutions
  • Free Demo
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials

Due to the nature of this product, many of the structured snippets aren’t applicable, so we have to get creative. We can utilize the “Service catalog” snippet to list various problems that the software addresses:

  • Network Visibility
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Identify Bandwidth Issues
  • Troubleshooting

Here is an ad for the query of “network management solutions.”

Image of text ad with extensions

An example ad for “network management solutions”

Scenario 3: Local Service Provider

Let’s take a look at one more example of a carpenter who services a 50-mile radius around Boston. We can use callouts to say:

  • Licensed & Insured
  • Accepts All Payment Types
  • Works Weekends
  • 20 Years Experience

The campaign’s ad groups will speak to the various service offerings, including:

  • Additions
  • Renovations
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens

As with the SaaS provider, our sitelinks can speak to the business. We can also use the sitelinks to generate brand awareness and followers, especially if the site is bare bones. Assuming the service provider is on social media, we can link to the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts (to name a few). Our sitelinks may be a hybrid of:

  • About Us
  • Testimonials
  • Like Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter

Since our ad groups already speak directly to service offerings, we can utilize the “Neighborhoods” snippet to tell users where we do business. Theoretically, the advertiser is only showing ads within the 50-mile radius, however, the end user doesn’t know this. This snippet reinforces the area of service, which in this case includes:

  • Back Bay
  • Beacon Hill
  • Charlestown
  • North End
  • South Boston
  • West End

When a user searches for “Boston carpenter,” here is the ad that shows.

Image of text ad with snippets

An example ad for “Boston carpenter”

Final Thoughts

The scenarios presented in this post are only a few ideas of how to use sitelinks, callouts and structured snippets together.

The important takeaway is to understand the purposes of each extension and craft your creatives accordingly. Each extension has its own value, and when used together, they can make your ads more relevant.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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