If you’re currently using Sitelinks in your AdWords campaigns, or plan to do so at some point, it’s time to listen up. Google recently announced that they will be strictly enforcing their current Sitelinks policy in upcoming months. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these policy guidelines to ensure that your campaigns avoid any negative effects.
Sitelinks are used to direct potential customers to web pages you promote within your ads. Obviously this is important because click-thrus translate into conversions, and conversions mean sales for you. These links can be used to take customers directly to important pages within your website, and often result in higher clickthrough rates for your ads overall.
The current Sitelink policy states that each Sitelink used within a campaign must connect to a different URL. This ensures that the customer is directed to unique landing page, and that they are seeing distinctly different content when they click-thru to your site. Sure, it seems simple enough, but Google has noticed that a lot of users are not building their campaigns within those guidelines. Many users are presenting duplicate landing page URL’s and customers are not being served unique content.
In the next few months, Google plans to start being more proactive about enforcing this policy, meaning you will need to connect your campaigns to distinctly different URL destinations. Google claims that in the beginning they will focus mainly on new or recently changed Sitelinks in the system. You will be required to submit your Sitelinks, and they will have to match a set of criteria before they are approved in the system. If your Sitelinks are duplicates and don’t match these guidelines, they will be restricted from appearing on the general display network.
This could negatively affect your ads by limiting their visibility. If too few of your Sitelinks meet the requirements, then you could be preventing your ads from appearing in premium placements online. For example, some placements have two and three line formats, and they require more Sitelinks to appear in conjunction with that ad. If you don’t have enough approved Sitelinks, you are preventing your ads from being seen in a larger, more prominent format. Even worse, your ad may appear without any Sitelinks at all, which means that your potential customers won’t be taken to most important pages on your site. This can result in lower click-thru rates and less conversions.
Google says that they are delaying this policy enforcement for a few months, but they are urging advertisers to start making changes to duplicate Sitelinks and URL landing pages now. Once they start double-checking this, your campaigns will be subject to the aforementioned rules.
This may seem like a daunting task, but taking control now ensures that your campaigns continue to display and run smoothly in the future. Begin by checking campaigns that you know display Sitelinks most often. These will probably be ads that promote specific products or services that your business offers. As a tip, try making sure that each of your AdWords campaigns has between six and ten unique Sitelinks. This opens the window of eligibility for you.
You can manage your Sitelinks by visiting the “Ad Extensions” tab in your AdWords account. From here, select “Sitelinks Extensions” and organize your URLs by impressions or click-thru rates. You can review each Sitelink by clicking through to the destination URL, which is free of charge. You can edit any duplicate landing pages that you discover by clicking the pencil icon and making the appropriate changes. Check back often to ensure that the content on your pages varies enough to qualify through the newly enforced policy. As with all facets of your campaigns, staying informed and paying attention to detail will ensure that your ads remain in good shape and attract your widest potential audience.