PPC Chat Streamcap – AdWords Sitelinks

This week, our host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) put together a great set of questions on this week’s pay-per-click topic “AdWords Sitelinks”. I hope someone at Google reads this, many ideas were discussed that they could implement! The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Do sitelinks work better for the purpose of using more real estate or do you find the links to provide highly relevant clicks?

  • If they had conversion tracking data I may know better… – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • I may be in the minority but I believe sitelinks help you get a headline click more than the actual additional links. Strictly from what I see in AdWords (segmenting by click type) sitelinks have a much lower CTR than headline links. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Its ALL about the extra real estate I think. Bigger ad = more attention. End of story. – John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
  • Even for small campaigns I use them for the real estate factor. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Sitelinks work well for both but depends on your motives. More real estate good for brand awareness, Relevant clicks good for CR. – Eric Farmer (@click_eric)
  • Mostly for using more real estate. Increases CTR, that’s the main goal and only goal I can really see. – Luke Alley
  • Take up more space & I think it gives my ads a more legit look. They have high conversion rates as well. Lower CTR than headlines. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
    • How do you see conversion rates for ads with sitelinks? – Luke Alley
      • I actually just wrote a post about it this morning. – Michelle Morgan
  • I think it has a use for both – they can also be useful for determining user intent on a brand term. -Arianne Donoghue (@ArianneDonoghue)
    • Perhaps but even in branded campaigns I see lower sitelinks CTRs. – Matt Umbro
      • I see that too – but it does boost the overall CTR, even if the clicks on sitelinks themselves are lower. – Arianne Donoghue
  • More real estate is nice, but I think sitelinks are most useful for showing the scope or depth of products, for e-commerce. – Dennis Petretti (@Denetti)
  • Based on my own testing/tracking similar to Michelle’s in Analytics it is mostly real estate now. Will definitely know more once we get data like CTR & conversions on each link in a Sitelink set. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • This is a must have. I don’t like Google optimising them for me with data that I don’t have without using 3rd party info. – Arianne Donoghue
  • When done right, more targeted site links provide great CTR (and traffic). – Tropik Media (@TropikMedia)
    • Ah when done right, interesting point that we will be getting into. – Matt Umbro
  • I think they could help for “upsells” as well, but I need to test that with real data first. – Mark Kennedy
  • Definitely increase in headline CTR over clicking individual sitelinks, according to click type segment. – SEMantiks (@SEMantiks)
  • My Google rep admitted to me that Sitelinks can actually improve Quality Score too! – Eric Farmer
  • CTR on actual sitelinks is low but I agee with Matt, additonal info but does def help increase clicks on headlines. – Matt Hopson (@matthopson)
  • Our CTR has ofc increase, but more important, the conv rate has as well. This makes for cheaper CPAs. – Eloi Casali (@Eloi_Casali)
  • Unclear & Need More Research: Do Sitelinks increase CTR above and beyond the inherent CTR boost of being in the Top 3 anyway? – James Svoboda
    • A bit hazy, kind of like view-through conversions. – Matt Umbro
  • They are only a few clicks on them, most clicks are on ad title in my exp. The sitelinks themselves give the whole ad an incredible uplift, but most clicks still occur on ad title for me. Still CVR increase. – Eloi Casali +
    • Maybe that’s why my tracking isn’t matching up? – Melissa Mackey
    • If you have more links you look more authoritative, even if the sitelinks don’t get clicked nearly as much. – Matt Umbro

Q2: Aside from Google’s reporting, how do you track sitelinks metrics?

  • I cannot answer because our 3rd party sitelinks tracking isn’t working. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Best way is using a third party tracker of some kind. Most effective way to get data PER LINK. – Arianne Donoghue +
  • I’ve tagged links in the past and reviewed in GA, but nothing like Michelle Morgans solution. – Matt Umbro +
  • Testing a new 3rd party tracking program as well, which could be used for this. – Mark Kennedy
  • 3rd party tracking, i get clicks and sales from the sitelinks themselves. I do not like to attribute those sales to keywords. – Eloi Casali
  • Wish we had 3rd party tracking… I have a feeling Google will roll out conversion data for sitelinks soon. – Luke Alley
    • Wait a sec, in adwords, tracking conversions, they don’t give you the convs from the sitelinks ? – Eloi Casali
      • I REALLY hope I’m wrong, but as far as I know they do not. Right? – Luke Alley
      • They do, but only at the sitelink level, can’t see which one converted. – Matt Umbro
      • They don’t tell you if it was the Headline from the main ad or the Sitelink itself. – James Svoboda
        • Really? Where?? This is what I see… http://t.co/WznUu8D – Luke Alley
          • If you go to the main dashboard and segment by click type you can see aggregate stats for sitelinks. – Matt Umbro
  • Yes. In basically the same manner as Michelle Morgan. – James Svoboda
  • Plenty of 3rd party tools say they can track, still annoying that G’s only official way of tracking is via the extra param in GA. – Matt Hopson
  • Thing is, even with a third party tool, you still have to marry up and click and conversion data separately. Pain in the butt! – Arianne Donoghue
  • UTM tagging, google analytics – create a sitelinks segmentation report. – Tropik Media
  • You can tag destination URLs for sitelinks so at least they show up in analytics. Not a perfect science though. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)

Q3: Would ad group level sitelinks be too cumbersome for management? Why or why not?

  • “Do you wish to apply these sitelinks to all adgroups in your campaign? No? Which ones?” is what i want to see. – Eloi Casali +++
  •  I think ad group level sitelinks would be too much. But I’m in lead gen. Could be an awesome benefit for ecomm. – Michelle Morgan +
  • Only if if trackable, would be helpful for related products in other adgroups. Bit of cross selling, maybe. – Mark Kennedy
  • Def would like the option for either campaign or ad group level sitelinks. – Melissa Mackey
  • I would love to have the option of ad group level sitelinks. – Matt Umbro
  • I’d be a big fan of ad group level sitelinks. The more control I have the happier I am. – John Lavin
  • Depends on your industry, Michelle nailed it on the head. – Eric Farmer
  • How great would it be for every one of your ads (or most) to have additional relevant links. You would own the real estate! – Matt Umbro
  • I’d like to see a feature similar to “negative Keyword Lists”. Select which ones to enable per ad group. – James Svoboda ++
  • I think they could be hard to manage, would need a new UI for them like the drag and drop method in Analytics. – Dennis Petretti
    • Not necessarily, different colors, sizes, etc of same product. – Matt Umbro
      • That would get pretty complex. I’d need to hire an assistant. – Dennis Petretti
  • Administering them would be a nightmare – or a bit easier with new version of Editor. – Arianne Donoghue
    • Yeah, would need a tweak in the UI so it didn’t get to difficult but would be very handy sometimes. – Matt Hopson
  • Already have product level ad groups. I’m not sure I’d need specific sitelinks at that low of a level. – Dennis Petretti
  • Not if the content is there to support it! – Tropik Media
  • I tend to split keywords out that I want to sitelink target – so ad group sitelinks wouldn’t be much of a change to me. – Paul Maddock (@paul_maddock)

Q4: How do you determine which pages become sitelinks?

  • Relevance to the sitelink copy; optimized for conversions. – Melissa Mackey
  • User has to be able to convert from the sitelink, and page has to be relevant to the entire campaign. I personally don’t worry a TON about the page (as long as users convert) – use sitelinks more to eat up SERP real estate. – Aaron Levy
  • Any page that I think will help a searcher make a decision to convert. – Mark Kennedy
  • Usually client comes with a request put a page forward. We test. If it doesn’t win in sales, it gets trashed. – Eloi Casali
  • Commercial or tactical needs usually, or what may help drive highest CTR – i.e. what consumers are looking for. – Arianne Donoghue
  • Depends on the campaign but can include related items or best sellers (as long as they relevant to ad copy). – Matt Hopson
  • If you have conversion-oriented landing pages that differ from those in the individual ad groups. – Eric Farmer
  • Does anyone use analytics to determine top pages (and subsequently use these as sitelinks)? – Matt Umbro +
    • Top pages no, top CONVERTING pages however… – Aaron Levy ++
    • Yes. – Eloi Casali +
    • Haven’t. Good idea though. – Michelle Morgan
  • Also depends on if you are trying to target embed sitelinks. – Matt Hopson
  • I’m doing more and smaller sized Campaigns these days, so Sitelinks are easier to control based on Tighter Themes. I also test upper funnel pages for targeted Campaigns like overarching product categories. – James Svoboda
  • I try to fill out the steps of the lead process. Info vs investigating vs fill out form vs reviews. – Michelle Morgan
  • I determine what I want my sitelinks to say/display then worry about the pages. Its all about the appearance at first. – John Lavin
  • Another good place to look is at the natural sitelinks, which areas of the site/ products are popular? – Matt Hopson
  • Start with popular site content. And also make sure conversion objective pages make the cut. – Tropik Media
  • Does anyone else use the same page for different sitelinks with different anchor text? i.e. 1 page, 3 Sitelinks. – Luke Alley
    • Yes – Melissa Mackey
    • Haven’t don’t that. Does it work? – Michelle Morgan
      • Has worked for the real estate factor. Def not for tracking purposes though. – Luke Alley
    • I haven’t, but goes back to being able to track correctly. – Matt Umbro
    • I have heard other people use that strategy. Mostly for real estate factor. – Mark Kennedy
    • YES! A must. – James Svoboda
    • I do – based on top phrase match versions of search analysis. – Scott Clark (@scottclark)
    • Yes, if I have multiple value props I want to display for the same product. – Eric Farmer
    • I haven’t tried that, but it would be good for anchor text testing. – Dennis Petretti
    • Got to be careful doing that as it is against sitelink policy (even though Google do it themselves). – Matt Hopson
      • Agreed – links will eventually get disapproved if same page used more than once. Must be different from headline link. – Arianne Donohgue
      • If that’s the case you all didn’t hear it from me! 😉 – Luke Alley
      • RE: Multi-Version Sitelinks – Would never do this if I had accurate data for each individual link! – James Svoboda

Q5: Which format of sitelinks do you prefer: stackable, 1 line or embedded? (by stackable I mean comprising at least 2 lines)

  •  A5 Stackable – I want the entire SERP to be me me me! – Aaron Levy ++++++
    • Coming down to the extra real estate again. – John Lavin
  • Stackable. I think the one like makes it look like it’s all running together. – Michelle Morgan
  • The one that has the most real estate! Would love to see data on this. – Luke Alley
  • My 3rd choice would be embedded. Want the space the sitelinks take. – Mark Kennedy
  • Stackable. Embedded don’t have the same eye-catching pop. An underline would help. – James Svoboda
  • Stackable. 3 line links as it takes up the most real estate. – Matt Hopson
  • Stackable – push your competition below the fold! – Eric Farmer
  • First stackable, then 1 line, then Embedded. Wish they did Embedded Sitelinks in ads on the side! – Arianne Donoghue +
    • I’d change strategies if they did. – James Svoboda
  • I wonder if sitelinks will ever be the size of the headline, similarly to the new organic listing sitelinks. – Matt Umbro
    • Doubtful, except for MAYBE brand stuff. Too much real estate for one advertiser hurts google in the long run. – Aaron Levy
  • Stackable is great. I think many underutilize stackable placement tho. Apply heatmap evaluation to sitelinks… mix it up. – Tropik Media

Q6: Do you see stackable and/or 1 line sitelinks being available on the right ads in the future?

  •  Google want to work to what is best for the user. showing too much of one advertiser limits choice=bad user experience. – Matt Whitehead (@maffyu)
  • Probably nit as Google wants to fit as many ads as possible. – Mark Kennedy
    • Couldn’t there be a drop down menu like there is for the product extension, something like “See additional links” – Matt Umbro
      • Google loves to test new things, so probably! – Eric Farmer
      • Possibly, if they could make it fit and work. Good point. – Mark Kennedy
  • It’s inevitable; however Google may reserve it for top ads just to boost CPCs/bids. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • Whatever brings Google the most $$$. – Luke Alley
  • Possibly. Product extensions can be used on the RHS ads so they might at least trial it. – Matt Hopson
  • Probably not, but they may feature Embedded sitelinks there – which was part of their original plan for this feature! – Arianne Donoghue
  • I think its a natural progression. We will defintiely see more sitelinks because they are so successful. – John Lavin
  • Embedded for sure, then maybe 1 line links. Stackable would take up too much room over there. – James Svoboda ++
  • And just when we’ve all adjusted our strategies accordingly, it will be different again. – Eric Farmer +++
  • I thought embedded already was available? Just really, really limited. – Aaron Levy
    • Haven’t seen it on the side yet. – Luke Alley
    • I’ve seen embedded sitelinks maybe 3 times over the last couple of months. – Matt Umbro
    • Embedded only show up id you Sitelink Anchor Text exactly matches text in your ad copy. Will not if no match. DKI might help this. – James Svoboda
      • I always have 1-2 sitelinks that match anchor, just in case. – Aaron Levy
  • Will sitelinks really make a difference though for side ads? They already have really low CTR vs top ads. – Andy Groller
    • Probably incremental effects. But Google makes more $ off those tiny increments. – Michelle Morgan
  • No, it will eat up too much placement space. I see fb like ads with images happen before sitelinks in right adspace. – Tropik Media
    • That would be an interesting development! – Arianne Donoghue

Q7: What sitelinks messaging do you find works the best (ie: call to action, benefits, price, etc)? Or, since we haven’t had historically accurate reporting, what do you believe works best?

  • Call to action, then benefits. I qualify that by saying call to action gets the best CTR; still working on tracking those conversions…- Melissa Mackey
  • Addt’l calls to action, help define ambiguous products, value props (in that order). – Aaron Levy
  • CTAs and competitive advantages; also order links w/ stackable layout in mind (i.e. strongest links 1 & 4 so at top of columns). – Andy Groller
  • Haven’t used price, that’s a good one to test. But I’ve been using calls to action mostly. – Mark Kennedy
  • I like to include a value prop (i.e.free shipping) within a CTA. – Eric Farmer +
  • I think it depends on the industry. I tend to stick to informational links, and contact-us-like links for our clients. – John Lavin
  • Using different points in the funnel have worked for me. One oriented to information, another lead form. – Michelle Morgan +++
  • It’s tricky to balance size (characters) with CTA & interest. Tested longer Sitelinks (25+ c’s) once and got less impressions. – James Svoboda
  • Call to action and price points can work well (if very competitive). – Matt Hopson +
  • Answering your searcher’s question/ search query. (i.e. depends). – Tropik Media
  • Order of sitelink operations IMO = CTA, Competitive Advantages, Benefits, Informational, etc. – Andy Groller
  • 4 links 4 options: 1 CTA, 1 Higher Funnel, 1 Complementary Link. – James Svoboda


AdWords Sitelink Extensions – Why They Work – by Andy Groller

Tracking Individual Sitelinks in Google Analytics – by Michelle Morgan

AdWords Policy Center: Ad Sitelinks requirements – by Google

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About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Eden Prairie, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap putterer togetherer, rarely an seo blogger, SEO Padawan, Tweeterer @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er PaulKragthorpe.

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