Ever since the Google AdWords sitelinks option was launched in November 2009, I’ve been curious about how great of an impact this would have on our clients’ PPC performance. I wasn’t sure exactly how things would play out, but figured it would help improve click-thru and conversion rates (especially for general keywords). If someone typed in “shoes,” you could ideally show sitelinks for “women’s shoes,” “men’s shoes,” “running shoes,” “basketball shoes,” etc. and drive the user closer to the conversion funnel.
What are Google AdWords sitelinks?
To quickly review what sitelinks are for Google AdWords campaigns, they are the links underneath the ad copy that allow an advertiser to drive users to other pages within a site. See the screen-capture below:
Challenges with sitelinks:
- Each individual sitelink needs to be sent to a unique landing page.
- Tracking performance (conversion metrics) for each individual sitelink must be done through analytics.
- Sitelinks are only visible at the campaign level; therefore, the more granular your campaigns, the more specific your sitelinks. Imagine if ad sitelinks could be at the ad group level (come on, Google!).
- You must be in one of the top 3 positions for sitelinks to show in your ad. Google makes you bid higher to receive the added benefits of sitelinks.
- AdWords sitelinks do not always show even if you are somewhere in the top 3 spots. You also need a high conversion rate compared to other advertisers bidding on the same keyword.
Myths of Google sitelinks:
- Sitelinks receive several clicks in comparison of the headline of the ad. The truth is quite to the contrary. Generally, from data I’ve reviewed, sitelinks receive anywhere from 1-2% up to about 20% of clicks in comparison to the headline of ads. The latter % is generally for branded search terms as well.
- Google sitelinks need to be sent to conversion-ready landing pages in order to see added benefits. The main benefits of sitelinks are actually improved click-thru rate and lower CPC. This allows for increased conversions and captured clicks/market share from your competitors. Again, as stated in the first myth, very few people actually click the individual sitelink.
What impact can Google sitelinks have on your account?
- Sitelinks increase click-thru rates: We added sitelinks to one of our client’s campaigns in mid-August. When comparing the full month with no sitelinks (July 2012) vs. the full month with sitelinks (September 2012), click-thru rate increased by 156%!
- Sitelinks decrease cost-per-click: Looking at the same data, but focusing on CPC for July 2012 vs. August 2012: cost-per-click decreased by 30%! With rising CPC for most industries over the past couple of years, this might be the biggest value-add.
- Sitelinks improve conversion rates: Sitelinks can increase conversion rate, but they will lead to an increase in conversions as long as your CPC drops. Think about it … if your spend stays constant/consistent, but your click-thru increases and CPC drops, you’ll be able to receive more clicks with the same monthly spend! Looking at conversion rate comparing July 2012 to August 2012, conversion rate increased by 81%.
Is your account using AdWords sitelinks? If not, do you now have enough reasons to try these out? Implementing Google sitelinks could be the quickest and easiest way to show meaningful results for your PPC account. Do not wait any longer!
To learn about how to take advantage of other Google Ad extensions, check out this post.
**Disclaimer(s): I believe these improvements are on the higher end of what you can expect, but felt they really highlighted the benefits of using sitelinks. In addition, there were other slight changes made from month to month that could also have positively impacted click-thru rate. Adding sitelinks was the main source of improvement in CTR and avg. CPC. With most of our other clients, Fathom saw the same type of trends (to variable levels) after implementing Google sitelinks as illustrated above.