Google ramps up Sitelinks Extension Policy Enforcement in AdWords

I don’t know if there’s been a change of leadership in the Google AdWords team recently, but this is the second policy update email I’ve gotten from them in the past week.  The first update came out Monday to let me know businesses must now invest some of their own money on AdWords before a Google will chip in.  Additionally, we found out Google will be retiring all AdWords coupon codes this Sunday.  For more information on this first round of new policies, check out my recap from earlier this week.

Luckily today’s policy update wasn’t bad at all.  In fact, Google just asked advertisers to comply with existing policies regarding the Sitelinks extension for AdWords.  You see, by default a Google advertisement only shows one link to the target business’ website; however, by leveraging the Sitelinks extension an advertiser can provide up to ten extra links to ten additional landing pages on their business’ website.  This greatly increases the probability a customer will find what he’s looking for with the first click so Google will likely reward that advertiser’s efficiency with a lower ad cost for subsequent impressions.

Screenshot of Google AdWords Sitelinks Extension

The Sitelinks are the two links in blue at the bottom of the ad.

The email Google sent me is fairly comprehensive, so I’ve summarized the highlights in the following bullets.  If you’d like to read the full text of the original e-mail it’s included after the tildes.  Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about how to use the Sitelinks extension for Google AdWords to boost your company’s own click-through rate (CTR).

  • The Sitelinks extension in Google AdWords makes your ads more valuable by presenting visitors with more relevant links to unique landing pages on your website.
  • Google is already reviewing all new sitelinks for policy compliance but will wait a few months to audit existing sitelinks.
  • Use this grace period to audit your own Sitelinks extensions for compliance before Google does!
  • If Google discovers duplicate sitelinks they will be restricted from showing.  This could decrease the quality of the ad in Google’s eyes, therefore increasing the cost for you to display it.
  • Google recommends having 6-10 unique sitelinks within each advertising campaign for optimal ad performance.

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Dear AdWords Customer,

We’re making a policy enforcement change that could affect the performance of any AdWords campaign that uses sitelinks. If you use sitelinks now, or plan to use sitelinks in the future, please continue reading to understand the changes and suggested steps you can take to avoid any negative impact to your campaigns.

WHAT ARE SITELINKS
Sitelinks make your ads more valuable by showing additional direct links to specific web pages that you want to promote. Users get to specific destinations on your web site more quickly. And, on average, you’ll see a higher clickthrough rate for your ads. That makes sitelinks a great way to improve your campaign performance. To see images or learn more about sitelinks, please see this AdWords Help Center article (http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?answer=2375416).

EXISTING SITELINKS POLICY
To ensure that users have a good experience with ad sitelinks, our existing policy requires each sitelink in a campaign to link to a different landing page URL with unique content on the landing page. That means a user can expect a meaningfully different landing page experience for each sitelink.

ENFORCEMENT CHANGE
Recently, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of sitelinks created with the same landing pages or the same content. So in the coming month, we will begin more proactive enforcement of our existing policy. Initially, we’ll focus on new and recently changed sitelinks. As your ads are being served, our systems will verify that your sitelinks meet the policy standards. Sitelinks that don’t meet the standards will be restricted from appearing.

IMPACT ON PERFORMANCE
Having fewer eligible sitelinks could keep your ad from showing in the larger 2-line and 3-line formats, where more eligible sitelinks are required. Remember, larger formats are more visible and typically have higher average clickthrough rates (CTR). And if you don’t have enough eligible sitelinks in your campaign, then your ads may not display sitelinks at all.

FUTURE ENFORCEMENT
We realize that manually checking and fixing duplicates for your existing sitelinks and landing pages might take some time and coordination. So we’re delaying more proactive enforcement with existing sitelinks for a few months. But don’t wait until the last minute. And remember, any sitelink that you add or change will be subject to proactive enforcement right away.

SUGGESTIONS WITH EXISTING SITELINKS
To increase the chances of having more sitelinks shown with your ads, we recommend having 6-10 unique sitelinks in each of your campaigns.

If you already have campaigns with sitelinks, we’d suggest reviewing each campaign to verify that it has 6-10 unique sitelinks. You’d probably want to start with the campaigns that show sitelinks most often. Usually, this would be a campaign with keywords like your business name and its best-known products and services.

Here’s how you can work through this using the AdWords interface.
1. Log into the AdWords interface and click on the “Ad Extensions” tab.
2. Select “Sitelinks Extensions” from the drop down menu.
3. Sort your sitelink extensions by impressions or clicks by clicking on the column header.
4. Click on each sitelink in the top campaign and follow it through to its landing page (there’s no charge for these clicks).
5. Fix any duplicates you find in each campaign by hovering over the extension area and clicking the pencil icon.

QUESTIONS?
For more information about sitelinks policy, please visit the AdWords Help Center (http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?answer=1054210).

You can also contact AdWords support with questions about this policy change or anything else related to AdWords (http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?answer=8206).

Thanks for your help keeping ad sitelinks unique and valuable for end users. We wish you continued success with AdWords.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

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