Understanding Why Ad Extensions Are Important and Which Ones You Should Use
Back in October, Google announced a big change in how they calculated Quality Scores (if you need a primer on quality scores, watch this great video by the chief economist at Google): The presence and quality of ad extensions on your ads will directly effect how much you pay per click. This has basically taken ad extensions out of “strongly encouraged by Google” territory into the “mandatory for anyone trying to run an optimal AdWords campaign” sector.
Ad extensions add possibly valuable information for prospective clients/buyers and (more importantly for Google) elongate your ad: Above is an SF area plumbing company that has properly incorporated Sitelinks, Call Extensions, and Location Extension into their ads.
Why has Google made this change? They would like you to think it is entirely because it is what is best for their advertisers and consumers, and that ad extensions are crucial lubricant to the searcher/advertiser interaction. In many cases, that may be true. However, if you look at the plumbers ad above, it is easy to think of times when it might not be ideal for Mr. SF Plumber to show all of his extensions. What if his 2843 Folsom St. location is in an unsavory part of the city, or is in a corner of the city far away from the people he is advertising to? That may discourage searchers from clicking on his ad. What if his “Call for $47 Special” is the most enticing plumbing deal San Francisco has ever seen? All the extra text of the Sitelink extensions can distract from that awesome deal, taking the focus from Mr. SF Plumber’s #1 Value Proposition. Having ad extensions isn’t always in the best interest of advertisers, but advertisers having ad extensions is always in the best interest of Google. Why is this? It all boils down to one simple fact: Ad Extensions increase Click Through Rate, and Google loves Click Through Rate. For all its emphasis on being fun, bubbly, and advertiser friendly (they do a great job), Google is still a gigantic corporation driven by profits. Online ads provided 97% of Google’s revenue in 2013, and AdWords accounted for 70% of that. Every time someone searches on Google and clicks on an organic listing instead of an ad, Google loses money. All of these ad extensions are designed to get searchers to click on ads instead of organic listings, and if you aren’t compliant in adding them, Google will punish you for it. Now that we know just how important ad extensions are to Google, and in turn to us, let’s take a look at all the different types of ad extensions and, depending on your business, which ones you should include (click the links below for more info on each extension or check out this post by Google for an explanation of each). Sitelink Extensions: Every advertiser should have sitelinks, no exceptions. They make ads much larger, which Google loves, so you must love them also. Even if there is only one page that you want to send your AdWords traffic to, create sitelinks with different text than your main ad and link to that same page. Also, make sure to take the time to fill out a sitelink description, as you want to give Google robots the option to make your ad even longer!
Call Extensions: For everyone that isn’t strictly an e-commerce site or a large company where displaying a phone number is nonsensical, I recommend call extensions. For advertisers trying to generate phone calls it is a no brainer, but even for advertisers in the grey area between lead generation and e-commerce it is probably best to have them. Remember, if you and your competitor have the exact same ad but you have call extensions, Google will probably show you above them! Location Extensions: A must have for any local business. If you ship nationwide, they are not necessary. Review Extensions: If you have positive reviews, I suggest including them as an extension, as they elongate the ad as well as anything else! There are also many extensions that will show automatically if you quality, such as Google Seller Ratings, which show if you’ve accrued 30 ratings in the last 12 months from Google ratings partners. If you don’t currently qualify for Google ratings due to not having enough reviews from Google’s review sites, it may be worth it to use those review sites and accrue some ratings! Google hath decreed from on high that ad extensions are here to say, and we loyal subjects must abide. A lot of your competitors may not be aware that they have become so important to quality score computation, so get those extensions optimized ASAP!