The Complete Guide to Ad Extensions – Part 1

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “The Complete Guide to Ad Extensions – Part 1.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How has the recent update to ad rank which takes into account ad extensions impacted your campaigns? Will your ad extension policy and implementation change at all based upon the new ad rank formula? Why or why not?

  • It hasn’t yet, but it probably will eventually. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Not much at all. Extensions became slightly more important, but they already were. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Haven’t noticed a change thus far. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLLoyd20)
  • Personally, I don’t see a huge impact. You should already be using extensions whenever you can. – Matt Umbro
  • None that I have noticed. But then again, who doesn’t use extensions in the first place. – Andrew Bethel (@abethelga)
  • So far we haven’t seen a huge change, may be too early to see anything significant. – Parallel Path (@parallelpath)
  • Still haven’t noticed anything, especially since almost all of our ads have extension anyway. – Gruen Agency (@Gruen_Agency)
  • The only impact has been all my AdWords reps insisting I bid for positions 1 & 2 regardless of ROAS to get extensions to show. – Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
  • Haven’t noticed anything significant, we already had extensions on all of our campaigns anyway. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • We made sure that ad extensions are included across all of our campaigns. It improves both ad rank and value, we have to! – Billy McCall (@TheWTMIV)
  • Hasn’t much, already been trying to get the most mileage out of Ext that would work best per client. – Kirk Williams (@KECreate)
  • Saw quality score improvements on a highly technical/competitive client. Went from 1/3s to 3/5s. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
    • If sitelinks increase CTR then yes, they will impact QS. But not because of a change in adrank calculation. – Andrew Bethel
  • Made implementing extensions more of a priority. Less a perception of being ‘optional’. – Nathan Kilen (@nathankilen)
  • Rephrased answer: Yes, if QS is an issue, would implement sitelinks (at min) to see if that helps raise QS. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Noticing more consistency of ad extensions showing up in SERPs than ever before. – Jamie Berger (@JamieHBerger)
  • Not likely. If they start changing and giving more weight to certain extensions, then maybe. – Jeremy Brown
  • I’ve taken the custom description more seriously. Seeing more conversions from sitelinks since we started testing. – Michael Henderson (@innuHendo)
  • Yes… eventually. Just like Text Ad CTR, Sitelink Extension CTR will matter more. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • I’ve always made ad extensions (relevant to client) a priority. This just reinforces that. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)

Q2: How do you determine which ad groups get sitelinks and which sitelinks get descriptions?

  • All ad groups get sitelinks and all sitelinks get descriptions. Sometimes they may use the campaign level sitelinks. – John Holland (@ppathholla)
  • High-volume ad groups get Sitelinks (if campaign ones not great). Brand terms get descriptions. I have yet to see 1 non-brand query show Sitelinks with descriptions. Sure it happens, but extremely rare. – Jeremy Brown
    • Top impression ad groups get sitelinks and only branded sitelinks get descriptions. It’s a matter of costs vs. benefits. Is it worth your time to write descriptions for all sitelinks? – Matt Umbro
      • Definitely not. I tell folks to never put descriptions unless brand campaign. – Jeremy Brown
      • Good point. When I billed hourly I didn’t put much time into non-brand sitelinks. – John Holland
        • Well when you have 100s of ad group level sitelinks it makes it more difficult and time consuming. – Matt Umbro
          • Sitelinks are worth it. Just not the descriptions. Won’t add those for non-brand until I see ’em. I can see Google using descriptions when only 1-2 ads show, but bumps other ads too much otherwise. – Jeremy Brown
            • Using description sitelinks in competitor campaigns might be worth it. – Matt Umbro
              • Low CTRs and QS for competitor campaigns. Doubt they would show. You need both of those. – Jeremy Brown
                • Valid point, even then I might just copy branded sitelinks to competitor campaign. – Matt Umbro
  • If you’re asking about their own unique sitelinks, only the highest volume ad groups. Otherwise use campaign. – Robert Brady
  • We add some kind of extension to each ad group, and they always have descriptions. But dif AG’s might get dif extensions. – John Budzynski
  • AdGroups already using multiple destination URLs definitely get sitelinks w/ descriptions. – Nathan Kilen
  • My small clients don’t usually have a social presence I’d want to spend $ on. – Pamela Lund
    • Good point, however, sitelinks don’t get clicked a ton, more to take up search real estate and increase CTR. – Matt Umbro
  • Our franchisee clients only have regional landing pages, so no sitelinks. sitelinks for all and descriptions for brand terms! – Gruen Agency
  • Lots of different opinions on sitelink implementation. Would love to know reasons why not to use them. – John Holland
    • Unless you have a one page site and you only want all possible traffic going to this page. – Matt Umbro
    • I often avoid using them for ecom on ad groups pushing an individual product. – Kirk Williams
      • I always use sitelinks when I can, even if individual product, I want that extra real estate! – Matt Umbro
        • It’d be interesting to do a test. I’m all for real-estate, but not if it risks that conversion. – Kirk Williams
    • can add to confusions if improperly used. A buyer can see a newer options & wud try finding more details instead. – Ganesh Acharya (@ganeshjacharya)
  • For efficiency, Campaign Sitelinks considered for descriptions. Consider Ad Group sitelinks if Destination URLs are different. – James Svoboda
  • The junk parameters worked the few times I’ve tested them. – Jeremy Brown
  • In some ways sitelinks can muddle the funnel & take away from your awesomely- crafted, made-to-convert landing pages! – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
    • True, but most of the time they are very rarely clicked…there to help headline CTR. – Matt Umbro
  • Extra real estate is worth it. Just make sure the sitelinks support the intent rather than muddle. – Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)
    • IDK, I think extra real-estate is only worth it if profitability backs it up. – Kirk Williams
  • AdWords rep confirmed sitelinks desc are likely to only show on branded terms. – Pamela Lund

Q3: What do advertisers need to know about desktop vs. mobile sitelinks?

  • Always designate your mobile specific sitelinks…I sometimes make them shorter as well. Desktop sitelink may get up to 25 characters while mobile 15 – 20. – Matt Umbro
  • Mobile sitelinks don’t need more real estate, just clickability (or tapability, as the case may be). – Gruen Agency
  • Mobile = less real estate. For everything. Plan accordingly. – Robert Brady
  • Proceed w/ care. “Fat Finger” syndrome w/ mobile leads to inadvertent clicks to destinations less preferred. – Nathan Kilen
  • Someone tweeted recently that you need 6 mobile Sitelinks or they/desktop can show on the other. Not confirmed. – Jeremy Brown
  • Quick question – does anyone see good CTRs on the actual sitelinks themselves not including branded campaigns?
    • Never. Most still click the headline. – James Svoboda
      • Exactly! That’s why I’m not afraid to put value based sitelinks on specific product ads. – Matt Umbro
    • No, CTR on actual sitelinks is terrible. – Melissa Mackey
      • I look at them as extra text for an ad that can impact overall CTR. Especially since they now are guaged so. – James Svoboda
    • Sitelinks with Coupons or Special Offers get lots of clicks, so be prepared for funnel dilution with these. – Julie Bacchini
    • YES! We have service-based clients when we break out (drain clogs v sprinkler repair v toilets) good results! – Gruen Agency
    • I have seen CTRs as much as triple standard CTR on non-branded. I feel it depends on how general the query is. – Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
    • Sitelink CTR for brand can be up to 10%, but non-brand is really bad. – Jeremy Brown
  • If the actual sitelink isn’t the most relevant for the particular ad group/campaign use it to describe a value (ie: Great Service). – Matt Umbro

Q4: What is your preferred way to use call extensions, ie: do you use Google’s forwarding number or your own number? Why?

  • Haven’t used the forwarding number yet, would be really interested to know how it affects CPC. – John Budzynski
  • Own call tracking solution that tags back into Google Analytics. – James Svoboda
  • I like getting the conv. data in AdWords with the Google number. – Robert Brady
    • You can do that with certain call tracking providers. It’s a little more involved, but solid. – James Svoboda
  • I have clients who don’t let me use Google fwd number because of phone # branding inconsistencies. – Kirk Williams
    • Same here, plus the numbers sometimes lead to other businesses. Had it happen a couple of times. Clients tell me they get calls from people looking for totally different company. I was using the forwarding number in a few accounts and setting up phone call conversions, but have since turned off. – Matt Umbro
    • I’ve had clients that are concerned with “Owning” the number because they might be stored in mobile phones. – James Svoboda
      • Think that concern has merit or is the chance so minimal that wouldn’t have much effect? – Kirk Williams
        • Has merit. Especially if the business gets a high precentage of calls vs form leads/sales & repeat customer calls. – James Svoboda
  • I use callfire because I like the mp3 recording option of the phone calls and it links with Analytics. – Rory Witt (@Rory_Witt)
  • I have yet to see much success with forwarding numbers, went back to using our own. The reporting kind of sucks. – Jeff Loquist
  • We generally recommend client using own unique numbers so they retain control & can use their internal system for tracking. – Julie Bacchini
  • Forwarding helps in tracking but I’d prefer to show the company number. – Nathan Kilen
  • Google forwarding. Would rather have the data. Exception is if widely familiar number (think: Empire Carpet). – Jeremy Brown
  • Depends on the customer – some do not what own number. I’d prefer to use own number though. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
  • We have had good luck with both. Get more data w/Google forwarding. – Melissa Mackey
  • We prefer using session based call tracking so we use our own numbers. – Gruen Agency
  • I use fwding #’s in most cases. I like seeing the data in the UI. Most of my clients haven’t been charged anything for the calls. – Pamela Lund
  • Tracking in AdWords can be easier with forwarding numbers, but mostly use unique numbers. – Parallel Path
  • Doesn’t the “mobile clicks to call” metric give the same data as the call forwarding number reporting? or am I way off? – John Budzynski
  • Is anyone concerned now that Google is putting phone call conversions into the overall conversion data? – Matt Umbro
    • Perhaps not as much for Lead-Gen, but hugely so for E-com IMO. – Kirk Williams
    • Yes, that’s a concern. Are all phone calls counted as conversions or those over a certain time? – Jeremy Brown
      • Over a certain time…I don’t want my phone conversions being combined into overall conversions and inflating data. – Matt Umbro
        • Just spotted that line in the post. Will have to make sure those times are set higher. 3-5 minutes maybe. – Jeremy Brown
    • No. We count calls as conversions so it helps us usderstand conversion rates for mostly-call clients. – James Svoboda
      • As Kirk said, mostly concerned about inflated conversion numbers for ecomm clients. – Matt Umbro
        • Yeah, a call trying to sell my client spammy SEO services is NOT a conversion in my book. – Kirk Williams
          • Ecomm calls will have diff. value than Lead Gen calls. Make that clear with clients and how you optimize. – James Svoboda
  • Is there a certain time most people are using to count calls as conversions? I’m switching between 60-120 seconds. – Rory Witt
    • I generally set phone call conversions at 3 minutes at least. – Matt Umbro
    • It depends. LOL No, seriously–different markets, different baselines. – Theresa Zook
    • Be sure to take into account client’s phone system. Does a person answer right away or is it automated w/potential hold. – Julie Bacchini
  • Most of my clients salivate if they can get a customer on the phone, so, no, not so far. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
    • It’s a great feature, but for now I’ll stick with my own number even if I can’t track. – Matt Umbro

Q5: What value (if any) does the social extension provide and how do you track this extension’s effectiveness?

  • Dislike the Social Extension. Some clients have very few Google+ followers and it looks shitty. – Jeremy Brown
  • For some markets, it provides invaluable evidence of increasing brand reach. – Theresa Zook
  • I dislike the whole forced G+ integration thing in general. Social ext., YouTube, G Partners… bleh. – Melissa Mackey
    • Yes, but G+ is a different topic than just general social reach, right? – Theresa Zook
      • Oh, for sure. I just don’t like that G is forcing us to use it. – Melissa Mackey
  • If it displayed facebook likes it might have some value but nobody cares about Google+. – John Holland
    • I care! If you don’t have a certain number of +1s I’m not shopping on your site. – Matt Umbro
  • It can act as another “trust signal” but only if high volume of “follows” – mostly it expands real estate/increases ctr. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • We don’t have any clients whose G+ presence is strong enough. Would probably just be embarrassing. – Gruen Agency
  • Social extension is OK, but much prefer the seller ratings extension (I work with many ecomm clients). – Matt Umbro
  • I actually like the review extension. Those enable more room for ad copy and still have a review in there. – Jeremy Brown
    • I like the principle of the extension, but I think it clutters the ad too much. – Matt Umbro
      • But more clutter is more real estate! It doesn’t look super-clean I agree. – Jeremy Brown
        • Yes, however, other extensions look cleaner next to the ad. – Matt Umbro
  • Social extensions can be great if you have a large enough G+ following to make it persuasive. – Parallel Path
  • Can work as a bad trust signal if low # of followers. Still shows even if you run off extension. – Jeremy Brown
  • It’s mainly a concern for CTR (+/-) right now. Until we can identify how it affects G+ followers at least. – James Svoboda
  • I tend to believe Goog is tracking engagement on G+ extensions as it pertains to logged-in G+ users. – James Svoboda


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCChat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrew Bethel (@abethelga)
• Billy McCall (@TheWTMIV)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Ganesh Acharya (@ganeshjacharya)
• Gruen Agency (@Gruen_Agency)
• Jamie Berger (@JamieHBerger)
• Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• John Holland (@ppathholla)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@KECreate)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLLoyd20)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Henderson (@innuHendo)
• Nathan Kilen (@nathankilen)
• Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
• Parallel Path (@parallelpath)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rory Witt (@Rory_Witt)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

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This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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