Why Your AdWords Campaign Needs Ad Extensions

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In October last year Google rolled out the latest update to its Ad Rank algorithm. Since this is the formula used to determine where your ad should appear within the search results any change to it is big news for search marketers like myself and this was no exception.

So what was it about this update that was so exciting? Well it signified a completely new addition to the way ad rankings are calculated in the form of ad extensions.

For years ad ranking was simply determined by your maximum Cost Per Click (CPC) bid multiplied by your Quality Score. Therefore to improve the positioning of your ads you needed to either increase the size of your bids or work to improve your Quality Score. With the introduction of ad extensions to the formula it means that if you aren’t already using them then you’d better start doing so right now or you could be missing out.

What are ad extensions and why do Google want you to use them?

Ad extensions provide a way to expand upon existing ads with extra pieces of information that might be useful to the searcher. The most widely used extensions include sitelinks which display additional links to pages on your site, and the location extension which allows you to incorporate your business address and telephone number into your ads. Other options include extensions to display seller ratings or product listings.

These ad extensions have in fact been around for a while now. However with the new Ad Rank algorithm their use has become much more important. Consider for example two competing ads with identical bids and Quality Scores. With the new Ad Rank formula it will be one making best use of ad extensions that will rank higher.

From Google’s point of view putting a greater emphasis on ad extensions makes perfect sense. Their research has shown that users like them and that they have a positive impact on click through rates. More people clicking on ads means more money for Google, it really is that simple.

Still not seeing how any of this benefits you and your business?

Here are some reasons why your AdWords campaign can no longer afford to be without ad extensions.

Higher Click Through Rates (CTR)

According to Google’s own figures, click through rates can be as much as 30 per cent higher for ads with sitelinks compared to those without. Even if you choose not to trust these figures there is plenty of evidence that introducing sitelinks to a campaign can significantly improve your average CTR, which not only means more visitors to your site but will also have a positive effect on quality scores.

Competitive advantage

If you make best use of ad extensions then you can expect that your average Cost Per Click (CPC) will fall and your ad positioning will improve. Therefore not only will you be getting more visitors to your website but you will be paying a lower amount for each one than you were before. Conversely if your competitors are using ad extensions and you’re not then the positioning of your ads will fall and you will end up paying more per click. Can you afford to let your competitors gain that kind of advantage?

More space to share your message and increase brand awareness

Have a bestsellers page or a seasonal sale you want to promote? Sometimes 95 characters spread over three lines just aren’t enough to get your message across. Ad extensions can be a great way to sneak in some extra ad copy.

Multiple landing pages and new conversion paths

A standard ad is restricted to just one link to your website. With the addition of sitelinks this number increases by as much as a further six. So that’s seven links to your site and seven possible ways to generate sales and leads.  By offering more options to searchers your chances of making a sale or generating a lead can be much improved.

Hopefully by now you should be convinced that ad extensions are best for your business. Luckily Google have made the process quite straightforward and it’s possible to have them set up in just a few minutes. Of course the work doesn’t stop there, just like every other part of your campaigns there is much testing and optimising to be done, so the sooner you get started, the better!

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