Google AdWords, one of life’s great mysteries. Constantly evolving, forever elusive. Whether you’re identifying the best keywords for your client’s brand, optimizing your ad copy, or planning your bidding strategy, building an effective PPC campaign using Google AdWords extensions can feel like trying to unravel a ball of knotted yarn.
Google is notorious for their lack of transparency when it comes to algorithmic ranking factor updates. But there are a variety of free ways to improve your ad’s click through rates (CTR) that are still not being implemented by many companies. Google has been messing with ad extensions over the past couple of years, which provide the perfect opportunity to stand out from the competition.
When managing a local campaign, there are actually 3 types of extensions that allow you to utilize online reviews in your ads to increase your ad real estate, social proof, and CTR.
I’m going to dive into the value of these review boosted Google AdWords extensions and how to set them up in your AdWords campaigns.
What are Google AdWords Extensions and Why Do They Matter?
Google AdWords extensions allow you to supplement your ads with additional business information or call to actions that help boost conversions. Take a moment to watch Google Support’s video, breaking down the ways Google AdWords extensions can help small businesses:
There are currently 4 types of automated extensions that are applied to your ads without having to do anything on your end. Then there are 6 manual Google AdWords extensions that you would need to implement yourself, and they don’t cost you a dime.
The Benefits of Using Ad Extensions
The primary goal of a PPC campaign is conversion. In order to gain prominence in the placement of your ad, and to make sure that it shows up at all, you need to increase your Ad Rank.
Google AdWords considers three major factors when determining Ad Rank:
Wait, did they say expected impact of extensions?
Yes, the extensions play a role in your Ad Rank, and it makes sense. When you include Google AdWords extensions, you’re expanding the real estate of your advertisement. Instead of limiting the ad to one or two lines, extensions can double the visibility of your ad. The more real estate your ad takes up, the more visibility and higher CTR. In fact, ads with extensions see up to a 30% increase in click through rate. More clicks equals higher ad rank and better placement. It’s a fun little upward cycle. And remember, Google AdWords extensions are free!
Review Extensions, Location Extensions, and Sitelink Extensions
So you’ve got all of these new options to improve the value of your ads for the people searching your keywords. You also happen to have an arsenal of positive reviews that can boost the social proof of your business.
How can you use your existing reviews in these Google AdWords extensions?
You’d think the review extension would include any type of review, but you’d be wrong. The review extension is specifically for reviews from reputable publications and organizations. They cannot include a review from an individual consumer. This isn’t the place to try to add that amazing Yelp review your company received.
These are the type of authoritative reviews that consumers can confidently trust. The qualification of the reviews makes sense. Frequently, you can see ad copy that says ‘Award Winning Agency’ or ‘#1 in SEO.’ Instead of using your copy to innocuously showcase your accolades, use the review extension to include the actual quote and link to your company’s award.
There are a few policies to keep in mind when setting up your review extensions, the keys being:
Pro Tip:When someone clicks the review extension on the ad, you do not get charged for that click, BUT keep in mind that review extensions only appear on desktop and the google search network, not on mobile or the display network.
The location extension offers the functionality that you probably assumed were for review extensions. When you setup your location extension, not only will Google add your address to the ad, you’ll also begin to see your Google reviews.
According to the AdWords community manager, the location extension only requires 5 local reviews about the location over the past 12 months, with an average of 3.5 stars or higher to show. This is a much lower barrier of entry than Seller Ratings, which require 30 unique reviews over the past 12 months.
Pro TipYou need to make sure that when selecting your campaign sub-type, you switch from the default ‘Standard’ to ‘All Features’. This will grant you access to the advanced location features, which improves your ability to target your audience geographically, essential for local small businesses.
Even if you set your location radius, the advanced options allow you to limit your ads to ‘People in my targeted location.’ Otherwise, your ad will still be served to people outside your radius.
Sitelink extensions are actually the most effective Google AdWords extension. Since you can add a sitelink description and separate it into two columns, sitelink extensions contribute the most real estate to your ad.
While many companies use this space to highlight promotions, their about page, or specific products, sitelink extensions provide an excellent opportunity to share all of your user-generated reviews. If you’re using a widget to stream 3rd party online reviews to a landing page, you can title one of the sitelinks ‘Reviews’ to send visitors to your hub of social proof.
Pro TipWhen choosing your Google AdWords extensions strategy, there’s actually no guarantee when and where your extensions will show up. Since top performing ads get priority in ad extensions, the higher your ad ranks, the more likely 1, 2, or even 3 of your ad extensions might be served to searchers.
This is where a little bit of trial and error comes in, since Google chooses which extensions to display based on how valuable they assess the information is for the person who submitted the query. Experiment with different combinations of Google AdWords extensions, track your extension performance, and adjust based on the results.
How to Setup and Use Google AdWords Extensions
To get started, log into your Google AdWords account, navigate to campaigns, and click the “+ campaign” button in your AdWords Console:
Unless you’re familiar with PPC display campaigns, keep things simple and select “Search Network Only” for where your campaign will be served:
Now you can begin diving into your campaign settings. As mentioned above, the first action that you’ll want to take on this page is to switch from the default ‘Standard’ campaign type to ‘All features’ (this will give you access to the advanced location settings):
Especially for local businesses, to limit clicks to your potential local customers, set your location settings to ‘People in my targeted location.’ Now your ad will only be served to people within the geographic radius you specify.
If your business primarily serves tourists on vacation, you may want to actually select the first option under ‘Target’:
Once you’ve selected your bid and budget, you can begin to setup your Google AdWords extensions:
The key to the location extension is to make sure that your Google AdWords account is connected to your Google My Business profile. Directly from Google AdWords Support:
When you click the review extensions check box, and then click the + New Review button, you’ll see this module appear where you can add a reputable 3rd party review:
Notice that they give you the option to paraphrase the review or use the exact quote. Remember that AdWords will review your ad, so if you’re not following the review extensions policies, the ad won’t be approved.
Finally, setting up your sitelinks is easy enough as well. When you go to select your sitelinks, AdWords will automatically populate your options with your main navigation links:
As you can see above, you can add between 4-6 sitelinks and add a description to each one.
When you click the ‘+ New Sitelink’ button, you’ll see this modal window pop up:
Use the description field! It increases your ad real estate when your sitelink extensions are served with the ad. This is also where you can include your review landing page sitelink.
Setting up your ad extensions really isn’t that complicated, but the benefits are absolutely worth the 5 minutes it takes to configure them.
Surprisingly underused, Google AdWords extensions offer so much value without much time expenditure and zero cost. They increase the ad real estate, provide additional useful information, increase click through rate, and ultimately lower your bidding costs.
Capitalizing on the reviews of your company by major publications and organizations, as well as consumer reviews (via the location and sitelink extensions) increase social proof and authority in your PPC ad campaigns.
While Google AdWords extensions help businesses of all kinds, local small businesses can benefit the most with these campaign add-ons. Since most businesses are still not using this feature, there’s plenty of time to take advantage of extensions and stand out from your competition.