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In November 2009, Google introduced the ‘ad sitelinks’ feature which allows advertisers to add sitelinks that can appear under any advert within a campaign. Up to four sitelinks can be shown alongside your PPC ad, and these will only display if your ad gains top position in Google’s SERP. Hence the reason that to begin with the option to add sitelinks was only available in campaigns with higher quality scores and ad positions. This meant that commonly the only campaigns showing this option were brand-related terms. See Inside AdWord’s example below:

However AdWords announced last week that they are now making the sitelinks option available in all campaigns. This is of course good news, but remember that your adverts will still have to be highly ranked in order for the sitelinks to display. Inside AdWords states:

When a user’s query matches a keyword in your Ad Sitelinks-enabled campaign, Google will automatically determine if your ad qualifies to show Ad Sitelinks and whether to show the two-line or the one-line format based on the quality of that ad.

What should I do now?

Personally I think all advertisers should take advantage of this and add sitelinks to all campaigns – even if your average position is 3, you might still have the odd occasion where a keyword (particularly long-tail) does reach position 1. Many advertisers are experiencing positive results with the sitelinks, below are the results I have seen myself.

Why should I add sitelinks?

By adding sitelinks, you are almost certain to see an increase your click-through-rates (CTR) which will increase your traffic levels and also by landing users on a targeted page that you have described well enough with your link text, they are more likely to convert. We all know that users will use generic terms such as ‘football shirts’ when really what they are looking for is Man Utd’s new shirt for season 2010-2011. By offering them a path directly to the Man Utd shirt page, you’re removing more barriers in the conversion process.

When AdWords first launched this feature last year, I immediately added sitelinks to a generic campaign which mostly used the homepage as a landing page. The top 4 sitelinks covered the 4 most popular product ranges on the site.

On day 1, the click-through-rate improved by 12% compared to the day before:

As you can see in the graph, the click-through-rate continued to rise, as did the number of clicks. In fact, when comparing the month before and after adding the sitelinks, here are the fantastic results:

CTR +27%
Avg CPC -33%
Conversion Rates +17%

Note that the only changes made to this campaign during the second month were bid increases to ensure the top position was maintained. Despite this, the average click cost actually decreased by 33%.

Could this indicate then that since the click-through-rate improved dramatically that the quality score also improved, which in turn reduced the click cost? Quite possibly, and therefore very much worth increasing bids to get your sitelinks shown.

Furthermore with more traffic and a higher conversion rate (due to targeted landing pages) this resulted in the added bonus that we gained an extra 93% conversions with an additional 109% in revenue!

How do I add sitelinks?

You’ll find the ‘Sitelinks’ option in the campaign settings tab, under ‘Ad extensions’.

Here’s some tips to create winning sitelinks:

Think Top 4

Use the first 4 links for your most popular terms with high converting landing pages (I’m yet to see my 8th link display in an ad).

Headliners

Link text is 35 characters max – treat these like advert headlines & be more specific to the landing page rather than search terms.

Generic Landing Pages

Keep in mind that these links are added at campaign level, so if your campaign contains adgroups for many specific products for example ‘kodak camera Z915′ and ‘samsung camera TL220′, you may want to use more generic sitelinks & landing pages which could appeal to all searchers such as ’12 Megapixel Cameras’ or ‘Digital Cameras Under £250′.

Top-Sellers

If your campaign is more generic with adgroups such as ‘Football Shirts’ and ‘Worldcup Shirts’ you should create more specific sitelinks such as ‘England Football Shirts’ and ‘USA Football Shirts’ which represent top-sellers.

Promotion Time

Link text can also be treated as an additional description line to promote particular offers. Creating copy such as ’25% Off Summer Sale’ or ‘Bargains of the Month’ are also likely to increase your click-through-rates and drive sales.

So what are you waiting for? Go sitelink happy!

Have you had a similar experience with sitelinks? I’d love to hear your success stories!

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