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Supercharging Your Ads With Google Sitelinks

At SMX West last month, in a session called “Supercharging Your Descriptions With Sitelinks,” Google Senior Product Manager Jerry Dischler covered various strategies related to Sitelinks—specifically for the new Google AdWords ad unit that offers additional links below the main destination URL. (There’s a similar new listing format for organic search as well, which may well be what gave Google the idea for the ad unit.) In this post, I’ll cover some best practices from the session and will include suggestion for choosing appropriate Sitelinks as well as ideas for Sitelink copy.

As I wrote last month in Google’s new search ads, Sitelinks provide links to deeper content on your site. You control the list of potential links you feed into the interface, as well as the anchor text. But presumably, as an advertiser, you’d like these links to achieve specific objectives, rather than just throwing random links in ads. Advertisers are already coming up with clever ideas to better connect with customers’ interests and needs.

Sitelinks are most likely to appear on queries related to an advertiser’s brand. Before, that left the advertiser with little creative room to move: a generic call to action and simply a navigational link to the home page. With Sitelinks, the fact that the majority of impressions will be associated with a core set of ad groups dealing with brand keywords gives the advertiser a bit more to do, without overwhelming them. Those brand keywords become more versatile for things like seasonal promotions.

Here are some timely examples of the ways advertisers are already taking advantage of Sitelinks:

Seasonal & limited time promotions

Many advertisers used Sitelinks to promote Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. They can be effectively used for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter and various other seasonal occasions. For example, Saks Fifth Avenue advertised a one day only special event to people who searched for their brand.

Saks 1

User segmentation

Sitelinks can be used to segment site visitors if your company has more than one line of business. A good example of this would be Dell asking their customers if they are a home user or a business user. Sitelinks can also be used to weed out business your company does not want to target. For example, one of our clients targets terms that appeal to both B2B and B2C markets but it’s B2B terms that the company wants to target so they use Sitelinks highlight B2B offerings.

Brand segmentation

Some companies want to make advertisers aware of other brands they sell. For example, the Gap has five brands including Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and Piperlime. For the Gap, Sitelinks helps drive sub brand awareness and unite the Gap Inc’s overall offerings.

Most valuable pages

Advertisers can use Sitelinks to point visitors to the most valuable site pages. Here are some ways in which MVP can be used with Sitelinks. They can be used to:

  • push people further along the purchase funnel
  • push people to the deeper, more focused and better converting pages of your site
  • push people towards your more profitable products

For example, QVC used Sitelinks to direct people to the content most searched for on their site including fashion, jewelry, home and clearance.

QVC 1

Panelists at the SMX West Sitelinks session also discussed best practices related to Sitelink ad copy. They are:

Be brief. Brief, short and clearly worded links are better than long and descriptive ones. So, if you’re selling a product like flowers try Sitelink ad text like:

  • Birthday flowers
  • Specials and discounts
  • Just because
  • Christmas & holiday flowers

While Sitelink descriptions can be up to 35 characters long, Google’s Dischler said that Sitelink copy with less than 15 characters tends to perform best.

Longer descriptions like “birthday flowers – free shipping” or “birthday flowers – order now” may lead to lower CTR’s. If clickthrough rates are a goal, you’ll keep those descriptions shorter, and focus on converting prospects once they’ve arrived on your page—not before.

Use a consistent tone. Keep the tone and messaging of your Sitelinks consistent with the headline of your landing page. Consistency is a key principle of direct response in general, but particularly when it comes to keeping users on a landing page after they’ve seen a text ad online, so that they have a higher chance of converting.

A high proportion of some companies’ paid search budgets currently focus on brand terms. Until recently you had no choice but to go with generic calls to action and the home page as the destination URL. Now, large brand advertisers in particular have an opportunity to make those brand keywords work harder, courtesy of the new screen real estate that opens up to the top ad on the page if it qualifies for Sitelinks.


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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