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Optimizing Your Google Ads with Ad Extensions

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What are Ad Extensions?

Ad extensions are a special type of ad format that allow you to append extra information to your text ads. They have now assumed even more importance, as Google has now incorporated the impact of ad extensions when calculating Ad Rank for your ads. If you are not using ad extensions in your ads, it may affect your position on the search results page, especially if you have the same Quality Score as your competitors. If you have the same Quality Score and max CPC bid for a particular keyword but they are using ad extensions, their ads will appear higher on the search results page for a particular search query.

Ad extensions help improve your ad’s visibility on the search results page so that you can stand out from other ads. According to Google, using ad extensions can have dramatic changes on your CTR, increasing it by up to 33% for some extensions. Ad extensions are very straightforward to setup. They are also displayed at no additional cost to the advertiser.

Ad extensions don’t always appear but when they do, the benefits are tremendous. Benefits of Using Ad Extensions include:

  • Display a map with your business location(s)
  • Appear larger in the SERP and stand out from the competition more.
  • Increase CTR.
  • Ads with sitelink extensions tend to look more like organic search results.
  • You can use ad extensions to bring users to pages of your site that would ordinarily be more expensive to advertise than the cross-selling term you’re advertising on.
  • Allows the user to see a snapshot of your content without actually visiting your site.
  • You are able to list a click-to-call phone number
  • Connect +1s from your Google Plus page to your ad (and vice-versa)
  • Include your business’ seller ratings, customer reviews, branding statements, etc.

Google Ads will show your extensions depending on a number of factors:

  • The position of your ad on the Google search results page (Most extensions only show in ads above organic search results).
  • Your Ad Rank, which combines your bid and quality score, the quality of your ad and landing page and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
  • Your keyword’s quality and maximum CPC bid
  • Other ad extensions that you’ve enabled.

There are two main types of ad extensions: manual and automated.

Manual Extensions

Manual ad extensions are extensions that you create within your Google Ads account. They include mobile app extensions, calls, sitelinks, location and callouts.

Here is a brief look at the manual ad extensions offered by Google Ads:

Structured Snippet Extensions

A Structured Snippet extension is a callout extension with a hierarchy that is predetermined by Google. They are very similar to callout extensions but they are structured extensions with a parent category. There’s a header that is predetermined by Google, and there are multiple little snippets of information that are related to that header. There is a predefined list of headers that you can choose from including Amenities, Brands, Courses, Destinations, etc. You cannot create your own headers. You must choose from the headers that Google gives you. If you’re in the Travel space – Destinations, if you’re in the retail space – brands, etc.

Up to two headers can show with one ad.

Structured snippets helps to give potential visitors more context and information about your products, and can be used for practical product/service information, while callouts are used for benefits and promos. It gives people and idea of what type of information they can expect to find on your website.

Price Extensions

Price extensions allow you to create a pseudo shopping experience inside text ads by displaying your products before you get charged from Google. If you sell something, you can use price extensions You’re allowing people to see the price of your products before they click through to your site. This allows you to deter people from your ad who will never become customers. So, you’re able to qualify your ad by displaying your prices in the ads without having to use up space in the headline.

Price extensions expand your ad and give people the option of going to specific areas of your site. You can have a description, price and give people a clear idea of your pricing options. Price extensions are really powerful because they allow people to determine whether you’re the right company for them.

App Extensions

The app extension is exclusively for companies that offer smartphone apps. Clicking the link in the ad can either lead to the app’s description in the app store (Google Play or the Apple App Store), or simply begin downloading. Clicking on the ad’s headline will still lead to your website.

App extensions help advertisers raise awareness of the fact that they have an app. In addition to the launch of the app promotion ad, the mobile app extension lets app marketers deep link to a specific page within their mobile app, right from the ad. A user who already has your app installed can be brought to a specific section inside your mobile app, and could complete a conversion right inside your app. This provides marketers the opportunity to build a conversion right within the app.

When users are searching on their smartphones for a specific product or service, they’ll see relevant ads displayed, and advertisers that have apps can append a download link to their app below the ad description. If a user is searching on their smartphone for HDTV deals as in the above example, the ad would allow users to see that they could get information via the brand’s app, rather than having to visit the mobile web site.

Call Extensions

Call extensions provide additional functionality to your Google Ads ads by allowing your customers to call you directly from your ad if they are using a smartphone. The number is clickable and can initiate a click-to-call scenario. On desktops (which includes laptops and tablets), call extensions add your phone number to ads rather than enabling users to make a direct call.

If you are a business that relies on calls, you should be using the call extension; it is very effective at generating calls, especially on mobile devices. Note that this is a call only format: people will have to call as they won’t have the option to click to visit your website during the hours that you specify in your account.

Note that if a user clicks the add and chooses not to dial the number, you will still get charged. If you’re using call extensions and location extensions, call extension numbers will take precedence. So, if you have a location extension that is pulling your phone number from your Google My Business account, you can override that phone number with a call extension number and use call tracking.

Location Extensions

Location extensions are known to increase CTR from 10 percent to 33 percent, depending on the market. These extensions lets advertisers include contact information such as address and phone number, so that people searching for your product or service in your local area will see that you (the advertiser) are local to them. Location extensions show your business addressphone number and a map marker with your ad text. On mobile phones, location extensions allow you to include a link to get directions to your business, and may also show how far a particular user is from your business location.

Location extensions can work independently or in conjunction with Call extensions. If you’re using location extensions and have included a phone number in your location extension, your ad can be shown with a “Call” button, as well as a “Get Directions” link. If you are a local business, it is absolutely vital that you are using location extensions to display your location and increase your exposure.

You need to have a GMB account to have location extensions, and it has to be linked to your Google Ads account. Here’s what is included in an account with location extensions:

  1. Business hours
  2. Google+ reviews
  3. Hours
  4. Directions
  5. How busy the location is at certain hours
  6. Whether the location is open or closed

Location extensions can be automated, so if your account is linked to your GMB account, you’d need to manually disable location extensions if you don’t want them to appear.

You can use address filters at the campaign level based on your targeting settings. So, if you’re you targeting a specific area and only want to show a specific location, you can select which location you want to show for any given campaign or ad group.

Promotion Extensions

You can run deals and include links to those deals. They are best run with callout extensions. You can add the actual deal you’re running, and include coupon codes in the extension. You can also add the end date.

Promotion extensions include different holiday deals that you can select from a list.

You can configure 2 start and end dates:

  1. This start and end date will show up in the ad so the user can see when the promotion will actually run so that users can actually see the specific promotion date.
  2. The start and end date of the promotion – this is configured in the advanced settings.

Who it’s good for:

  1. eCommerce companies
  2. Service companies that want to offer special discounts
  3. Restaurants
  4. Local service businesses
  5. Travel agents

How Promotion Extensions Work

Promotion extensions that you setup are going to apply to all of the ad groups in your campaign. If you setup promotion extensions at the campaign level, they’ll be eligible to be attached to all of the ads in the campaign. If you want to setup ad group specific ad extensions, then you need to navigate to the specific ad group to add the ad extensions.

Review Extensions

Review extensions are powerful social proof that Google adds to text ads on Google search and Google search partner pages only. Review extensions are personal endorsements from 3rd parties, and provide the opportunity to share positive reviews, testimonials or awards about your business with your target audience. Review extensions can help potential customers in their search for products or services by identifying which businesses have been positively reviewed by other consumers.

The review must be a review within the past 12 months, and it needs to be a quoted or paraphrased review from an independent third party. It cannot be a review from a testimonial on your site, it must be from a 3rd party site. The actual review has to link to the reviewing site.

Review extensions provide marketers with the opportunity to use superlatives such as “best” in ads. Better still, these come directly from previous customers, making them all the more powerful.

Here are guidelines you need to follow when setting up review extensions:

You must provide a direct quote or a summary of a key point from a review from a “reputable” third-party website. (The extension includes a link to the website with the review—but you will not be liable for clicks to that website.)

  • The review must be about your entire company, rather than a specific product service. When reviews focus on your entire business, it means the reviews can be relevant to all of your ads.
  • It must be an accurate, current, credible, non-duplicate third-party review of the advertiser’s business. It must also comply with all Google Ads policies.
  • It needs to be a recent review—no more than 12 months old.
  • It needs to be brief and succinct: you are allowed a maximum of 67 characters for the extension.
  • You need to have permission from the source to reference their review.
  • The review content should be visible in the text on the source page.
  • The tone and content of the review must match the original source.
  • Ellipses (…) should be used to show missing words or phrases in the middle of the review.
  • Reviews must reflect the overall content of the source page.

Google has stated that they will “review and validate” all extensions with both human teams and robots. It is also prohibiting advertisers from using individual user reviews, which are easily manipulated or fabricated. Instead, the review must come from a third-party, independent source and a link to the source must be included alongside the review. This is in line with traditional Google Ads policy. You will not be charged for clicks on this link.

The following types of reviews are prohibited:

  • Second-hand reporting (rather than linking directly to the source)
  • Individual customer reviews and testimonials
  • Aggregate reviews and rankings from user review websites
  • Press releases created by the advertiser.
  • Paid endorsements
  • Websites that require logging in to see the review content.
  • Websites that are not deemed family safe by Google standards.
  • Reviews requiring extra clicks to view (such as in videos, audio, PDFs)

You can set review extensions at the campaign or ad group level, although Google recommends that reviews be set at the campaign level, since campaign level review extensions are prioritized over ad group level extensions. Only one review extension can show for your ad. All reviews must be approved by Google before they can run.

Sitelink Extensions

Sitelink ad extensions give your ads the opportunity to appear larger in the SERPs by adding up to 6 additional links to your website placed right below the ad. They are known to increase CTR by as much as 30%. Sitelinks send searchers to specific pages on the advertiser’s website, and provide the opportunity for you to extend your ad copy, expand on the benefits of your offer or direct visitors to other pages and products on your site. This will make your ad stand out and give potential customers more confidence in your business.

Sitelinks appear in one of 2 formats: a single line format, or a double line format. Sitelinks are limited to 25 characters in most languages, or 12 characters in double-width languages. Double-width languages are languages that use double-width characters, like Chinese, Thai, Greek, Japanese, and Korean.

Google allows advertisers to specify or nominate the specific text that they would like to appear for their sitelink descriptions. This gives advertisers much more control over what is appearing on their enhanced ads and to be specific about what text they would like to appear.

Typical Pages to Use for Site Link Extensions

  • Contact page
  • FAQ page
  • Clearance pages
  • Warranty pages
  • Popular pages

How many site link extensions to have?

Try to have a minimum of 8 site link extensions because you’ll be able to see which ones are performing the best because Google will rotate them.

The Ad Rank Factor

Your Ad Rank (which factors in the expected impact of your extensions, your bid, and Quality Score) determines whether or not your ad is eligible to be displayed with ad extensions. Consequently, you may need to increase your bid or your Quality Score (or both) in order for your extension to show.

Following are a number of things to note about sitelinks:

  • you can enable a sitelink at the campaign or ad group level
  • you can schedule when sitelinks can show
  • you can customize sitelinks for mobile devices
  • Your campaign needs a minimum of two approved sitelinks with different landing pages in order for sitelinks to appear with your ads on desktop or tablet, and one approved sitelink with a different landing page from your ads to appear on mobile.
  • you can have one sitelink reviewed apart from your other extensions
  • you can edit a sitelink while retaining its performance history.

This means you’ll be able to better evaluate the performance of each extension. For example, you can break down each extension performance by campaignad group, or ad id.

To get sitelinks to show, you must fulfil the following criteria:

  1. Your keyword’s Quality Score must be very high; and
  2. The two line format tends to show up when the ad provides the ideal answer for the search itself.
  3. Each page you include in your sitelinks must contain unique and original content.
  4. Your ad must appear in a top position (above the organic search results) on Google search result pages.
  5. The landing page of your ads and sitelinks must be original, unique and relevant to your ad. Sitelinks within a campaign that point to the same content won’t show.
  6. Other ad extensions that are enabled in your campaign will help determine whether sitelinks should appear in your ad.
  7. The search term used by a potential customer must be relevant to your ad.

Advantages of Sitelinks

  1. According to Google, sitelinks have been found to increase ad click through rate (CTR) on average by 30%.
  2. Your ad takes up more space and stands out from the competition more.
  3. The user gets to see a snapshot of the content they can expect to see on your site. If your site offers exactly what they are looking for, this is a great way to show potential customers that you have what they are seeking.
  4. You can use sitelinks to put multiple messages into a single ad.
  5. You can use sitelinks to showcase the most popular pages of your site.
  6. Right-clicking to open all sitelink pages still only counts as one paid click.
  7. Sitelinks can be used to cross-sell to other areas of your business within the same ad.
  8. Sitelinks can bring users to pages of your site that would ordinarily be more expensive to advertise than the cross-selling term that you’re advertising on. For example, rather than advertise on ‘Nike sneakers’, you could have a ‘Men’s Nike shoes‘ sitelink leading to your full range for Nike shoes for men, women and kids for about 1/3 of the price of advertising directly on ‘Nike sneakers for men’, ‘Nike sneakers for women’ or “Nike sneakers for kids”.

Callout Extensions

As with other ad extensions, callouts provide the opportunity for your ad to appear larger in the SERP by showcasing specific attributes about your business that will show beneath your ad on the Google search network. Callouts can also be used to include concise details about the products and services you offer and showcase deals, product details, your unique selling point, branding statement, sales and other special or seasonal offers. This allows you to enhance your ad and make it look more enticing and convincing – and increase click through rates. Callouts can also be displayed along with other ad formats like ratings, reviews and call extensions, and can help your ad appear in higher positions on the search results page.

Callouts are similar to sitelink extensions. Unlike sitelinks however, callouts are not actual links, so a separate landing page is not required. This offers a lot of flexibility in messaging and means that websites of any size can take advantage of callouts.

Callouts can be set at the account, campaign, and ad group level, and you can edit your callouts across these levels without having to edit each ad. You are able to customize callouts for mobile devices, and you can opt out of appearing on specific devices altogether. You can also schedule when callouts should appear by time of day and day of the week.

Setup Requirements

The character limit for each callout is 25 characters, although Google recommends a maximum of 12-15 characters per callout. Up to four callouts can display per ad, and you are required to setup a minimum of two callouts at each level from the ad extensions tab. However, Google recommends that you setup at least four callouts at the account, campaign and ad group levels. This ensures as many callouts as possible are available to show with an ad. Google also recommends using se sentence case rather than title case, e.g. “Customer service” not “Customer Service.” Google says they have seen better results in testing with sentence case.

Following are a number of things you can do with callouts:

  • you can enable a callout at the accountcampaign ad group or ad level.
  • you can schedule when callouts can show.
  • Note that if you setup callouts at all levels, the most granular level callout (ad level) will be shown. This means that the most granular level of callouts available will be shown with your ads. For example, if you have callouts at the ad group, campaign and account levels, the callouts you created at the ad group level will be shown in the order that you have created them.
  • Desktops, tablets and mobiles can show up to 4 callout extensions.

Examples of Callouts

  • 24-hour customer support
  • 100% money back guarantee
  • Free next day delivery
  • Price matching
  • Discounts from 20%

Using Sitelinks and Callouts

You can use sitelink and callout extensions at the same time to help your target audience learn more about what you have to offer. You can use your callout text to help people decide whether to click on the ad itself, or a more specific sitelink displayed below your ad.

For example, if you are advertising men’s shoes for sale, you can use sitelinks to send potential customers to a page that features your range of Cerutti leather wingtips, and use callouts such as 30-day returns, free overnight shipping or free delivery over £25.

A great ad can contain several ad extensions at the same time. Consider the following ad. It includes a phone extension, location extension and sitelink extensions. You could also include callout extensions to the ad. Some ads have successfully combined seller ratings, sitelinks, location and social extensions all within the same ad.

Automated Extensions

Google Ads creates and displays the automated extensions formats (seller ratings, consumer ratings, social extensions and previous visits) when it predicts that they’ll improve your ad’s performance. No set-up is required, so the option to create automated extensions doesn’t appear in the drop-down menu of the Ad extensions tab.

Social Extensions

Social Extensions allow advertisers to incorporate social proof in their advertisements by integrating Google Plus “+1’s” into their Google Ads adverts. As an Google Ads advertiser, you can now earn more visible approval of your brand by appearing popular to potential customers.

If some of your connections +1 a company that is advertising a product or service, you might see their images below that company’s Google Ads ads as in the example below:

Until April 2014, you had the option of setting up social extensions by linking your Google+ page to your ads. Social extensions are now automated, which means you no longer need to set them up by linking your Google+ page. Social extensions will be shown when Google Ads predicts they will improve your campaign performance.

Social extensions are featured on desktop, mobile and tablet, and are available on the search Network only: All Features, and Search network with Display Select: All Features.

In order for social extensions to appear, you need to ensure that your Google+ page is linked to your website. Not only will this allow social annotations to show up, it’ll also increase the visibility of your Google+ page and websit in Google search.

Since they are automated, you cannot directly influence when social extensions appear. You can however make sure you have the best chance of seeing them appear by meeting all the requirements listed below.

  1. Quality scores must be very high.
  2. The domain of your ad’s Display URL has to match the website URL that you’ve added to your Google+ page. For example, if your ad has a URL of zyite.com/smartwatches will match with a Google+ page that displays the website URL of zyite.com because they share the same domain.
  3. Your Google+ page needs to have recent, high-quality posts and a significant number of followers – meaning a minimum of 100 for most companies.

Consumer Rating Annotations

Consumer ratings annotations can have a powerful effect on your Google Ads ad by increasing click through rate and conversions for your business, product or service. These types of annotations emphasize strongly rated aspects of your business such as customer service that have been rated by previous customers. Furthermore, because they are based on genuine customer testimonials, they can enhance your ad better than any flashy sales language that you can come up with.

Customer ratings extensions are available on the search network only: all features, and search network with display select: all features.

Here’s an example:

As you can see from the above ad, consumer ratings annotations are really powerful social proof that can help you really stand out from your competitors, increase your CTR and attract new customers. The ratings data is aggregated from the Google Consumer Surveys (GCS) platform, which launched in 2012. Surveys questions are typically served in pop-ups as paywall alternatives on publisher sites. Each rating is based on an average of 1,000 consumer opinions.

Google points out that using GCS helps to avoid the manipulation of reviews (both positive and negative) of the sort that Yelp and other self-reporting review platforms struggled with, giving customer rating annotations more credibility.

Note that Google manages the surveys and determines which brands to include, which tends to limit the scope of Consumer Ratings Annotations to those brands that have been included in surveys. That fact coupled with the threshold of 1,000 surveys make it more likely that these types of extensions will be available for smaller brands.

As with other automated ad extensions, advertisers don’t have any control over how and what information appears in their Consumer Ratings Annotations. Note that as an advertiser, you do have the option of opting out of these extensions.

Previous Visits Extensions

Previous visit extensions help people using Google Search rediscover a website they’ve visited in the past. These automated extensions appear just under the link text in your Search ad, and they require no set up. They tell visitors the number of times they have previously been to your site and the last time they visited. This works based on clicks from ads or if people found your site through organic search results as well.

How previous visits work

If a user is currently logged in to Google and has visited your site previously by clicking through from Google Search or clicking on your ad at least twice, annotations can show when people last visited from Google Search (“You visited site.com earlier today”, or “Last visit: 1 week ago”).

As with other automated extensions, you cannot influence when previous visits show up. According to Google, this extension will show when it is most likely to improve your chances of getting a conversion. You can go out of your way to request that they not put this information in your ads, but that would be pointless, especially since people need to have clicked your ad at least twice for it to show up, which at least indicates some interest in what you are selling.

Seller Ratings Extensions

Seller ratings are powerful social proof that Google adds to text ads to help potential customers identify which advertisers are highly rated for the quality of their service. They are known to increase CTR by as much as 17%. According to Google, seller ratings are based on an aggregate of reviews and information from the following sources:

  • Customer reviews collected by Google ShoppingGoogle Shopping aggregates reviews from a broad base of sources across the Internet.
  • StellaServiceStellaService is an independent company that rates the customer service performance of online businesses.
  • Google Trusted StoresGoogle Trusted Stores is a free certification program that can improve your conversion rate and average order size by reassuring potential customers that you offer a great shopping experience.

Seller ratings can help advertisers generate more targeted leads and increase click through rate and conversion rate. Ratings will only be displayed when an advertiser has at least 30 unique reviews from the past year with 3.5 stars or higher. At least 10 of the reviews must be in the customer’s Google interface language.

As they are automated extensions, you cannot influence when seller ratings show up. However, you can opt out of at social annotations at any time.

When your ads might appear with seller ratings

Your ads must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible to appear with seller ratings annotations. Once you meet the criteria, you’ll be automatically opted into showing seller ratings with your ads on Google search results and Google search partners.

Listed below are the criteria you need to meet for your ads to show with seller ratings annotations:

  1. Your campaign type should be “Search Network with Display Select,” “Search & Display Networks” or “Search Network only.”
  2. The customer must be searching on Google.com, Google.co.uk, Google.de, Google.fr, or Google.nl.
  3. In most cases, your business must have at least 30 unique reviews — each from the past 12 months — and a composite rating of at least 3.5 stars or higher. However, Google has stated that they may show ratings for advertisers with fewer than 30 reviews if they have sufficient data from other sources to determine an accurate rating. At least 10 of these reviews must be in the customer’s Google interface language. This means that those reviews must be displayed in the langage that the ad is written in.
  4. You don’t need a Google Merchant Center account for your ads to be eligible for seller ratings.
  5. You are able to opt your ads appearing for seller rating annotations. If you want to opt out of, you can let Google know via this form. . If you change your mind, you can always opt back in using the same form.

Customers on desktop and mobile browsers can click through to see the review of your business and verify the source and statements behind the ratings. Note that you won’t be charged for these clicks.

According to Google, most searchers hardly click on the actual seller ratings. One can only assume that these prospects take Google’s word at face value. The benefit of seller ratings extensions is the increase in clickthrough rates based on the star rating in the ad itself.

Dynamic Sitelink Extensions

Dynamic sitelinks are automatically generated sitelink extensions that Google provides free of charge for the top three ad positions on the search results page. They are used to connect potential customers to relevant pages on your website more easily.

Most ads are eligible to include dynamic sitelinks, as long as your campaign type is set to “Search Network with Display Select” or “Search Network only.” Your ads will then be eligible to show dynamic sitelinks on Google search result pages.

How Dynamic Sitelinks Work

When people are searching on Google for a particular product or service, they tend to perform several searches. As long as those users are logged into their Google account, Google will be able to determine which pages on your site would be most relevant to their search. Based on this scenario, Google will automatically show a dynamic sitelink to the most relevant page on your site for that search.