3rd December 2019
Google Ads search extensions explained: Increasing your PPC performance
A Google search ad looks quite simple on the face of things, and once you’ve got things set up, you’ll have provided four pieces of required information and content – the URL that the advert will take users to, up to three headlines, a display path, and 1-2 larger descriptions. To get a search ad running, this is the minimum requirement, but you don’t want to leave it like that.
Google offers a variety of “extensions”, a series of different features that provide additional information and conversion methods to users, and can help you to get better results. A stat from Google shows that the implementation of extensions can increase a campaign’s click-through rate (CTR) by approximately 10-15%. By ensuring your ad is complimented by a selection of relevant, useful extensions, your ad’s quality will increase, and as such, it’s more likely to appear in higher positions in search results. It’s not just the higher position that increases the CTR though – adding as many relevant extensions as possible means more are likely to be shown, which means the advert will take up more space, making it much more prominent.
So, what ad extensions are available, and how can they help you to get more results out of your PPC?
While your original ad will link through to a specific page of your website, you can add more links to your placement. You can create an unlimited number of sitelinks per advert, with a minimum of two required to get them showing in results. Up to six of them will display underneath the main body of your advert on desktop, while a maximum of eight will show on mobile devices.
Each sitelink has a clickable title of up to 25 characters, with the option of adding two brief (35 character maximum) description lines. While your sitelinks may still show without the descriptions, adding them will make it more likely that they’ll be displayed.
Sitelinks are a great way of providing people who see your advert, with additional opportunities to click onto your website. With different options available, users are more likely to find something they want to click, with popular ideas for sitelinks being for things such as “Special Offers” or “Contact Details” – having things labelled in this way means users might instantly know where to find the information they need, giving them more reason to click.
Callout extensions are a way of fitting in any additional information that you couldn’t include in your main description area. As with sitelink extensions, you can create as many individual callouts as you wish, with Google choosing to rotate these based on numerous factors including click data and relevance.
A callout extension can feature up to 25 characters of text, and can be used to highlight key selling points, and smaller pieces of information about your business. You can also set up callouts to run only between selected dates, something that is perfect for highlighting things such as short-term special offers and deals.
Callouts are displayed underneath the description section of your ad, and look identical, meaning they come across as almost a continuation of your main text. At any one time, if Google chooses to add your callouts to your listing, there’ll be anywhere between two and six of them visible.
Another way of getting more information onto your ad is with the structured snippet extension. A structured snippet is essentially a list, allowing you to compile details that may help to convince a user to click onto your website.
A limitation of the structured snippet feature, is that your information must fit into one of Google’s 13 pre-determined list headers, which are as followed:
- Degree programs
- Featured hotels
- Insurance coverage
- Service catalog
Some of these headers are geared towards specific industries, but some such as “Brands” and “Service catalog” are much broader, with most businesses able to come up with relevant, useful information to list there.
You can fill in as many of the headers as you wish, with Google rotating them and showing a maximum of two at a time on desktop, and one on mobile. Under each header, you can fit up to 10 items, each of which have a maximum of 25 characters.
While the primary function of a Google search ad is to get people to click through your website, you can get people to instantly convert into a lead without even going that far.
If you want to increase the amount of leads you get over the phone, you can add a call extension to your advert. It’s very simple to set up – all you have to do is add your business phone number.
Call extensions display in two different ways – if you’re on desktop and see an ad, you’ll see the number displayed next to the URL, while if you’re on mobile, the number will be in a tappable button, allowing customers to get in touch with you in one easy motion – pressing this will charge you the same as when someone clicks on your ad.
When setting up a call extension, you’ll have the option to enable “call reporting” – this means Google will display a different number on your ads, that will reroute calls to your set number, allowing Google to track how many calls have been made as a result of your ad. In the UK, a trackable number will usually show with a 0333 dialing code, but this enables Google to list any calls as conversions, something which is useful for enhanced “maximise conversions” bidding.
Similar to call extensions, this function encourages users to send you a text message, with the button to do this displayed under the advert on mobile devices.
It’s a quick way of generating leads and capturing a potential customer’s details, with the whole process fully customisable by the advertiser. You can select to have customers messages sent either to your email address or your phone number, and can write your own call-to-action text for the button. You can also set up an automated customer message, meaning users don’t have to type out their own, and can write a default auto-reply.
As with call extensions, this method of lead generation is fully trackable by Google, allowing you to add to your conversion data.
If you have a Google My Business profile set up (which you should!), you can link it with your Google Ads account.
If you’re trying to increase visits to a physical location, this extension type will display your address, and distance from the user, below your ad. It also allows users on a mobile device to click through to Google Maps for directions, putting them straight en-route to your store. It also encompasses a call button, encouraging contact in the same way as the call extensions feature.
If you’re a chain business with multiple locations, Google will show the most relevant, nearest location to the user who’s triggered your ad. Alternatively, you can pick and choose specific locations to be included on your adverts, giving you full control over your options.
If you want to highlight prices of things such as products and services that are available on your website, this extension type is a great idea.
Firstly, choose from the following type of price extension:
- Product categories
- Product tiers
- Service categories
- Service tiers
Then, add relevant items that fit into your chosen category, along with a brief 25-character description, and a price in the currency of your choice. You can also add a unit to the price, such as per hour, per day, and per year. Each item will link to a selected page on your website – as with your main ad link, you should make sure the landing page is relevant to the advertising copy.
The result of a conversion is something that varies from business to business. Sometimes, you’ll be advertising with the aim of getting someone to purchase products on your e-commerce website, while other times you might be trying to get people to fill in their details to become a new lead. Your overall PPC target will be determined by your business goals and sector, and there are many different things you can use a search campaign for.
If you have a mobile app, you might wish to use a Google Search PPC campaign to encourage installs of it, and the app extension means you can create a quick and easy way to do so, without having to send users through your website first.
The extension will display underneath your main ad, and will take users directly to your app store page, enabling them to download and install it immediately. You can add links for both Android and iOS app stores, with Google automatically showing the relevant link based on a user’s operating system. You can choose whether your app shows on mobile only, or add tablets to the mix too.
Finally, you can choose a piece of call-to-action text, featuring up to 25 characters, with the default being “Download now”.
If you’re running any special offers that you want to highlight, this extension will put it in an eye-catching position beneath your ads.
There are several pieces of information you need to provide to run this type of extension, starting with:
- Occasion: You can choose from a range of seasonal events, including “Black Friday”, “Winter Sale” and “Boxing Day” to highlight your deals, or leave this part blank. If you choose an event, Google will run your ad for a predetermined, relevant time period. For example, setting up a “Valentine’s Day” promotion will enable your extension to display on ads between 15th January and 28th February, although you can limit the window by setting your own start or end date. Not choosing an occasion, and not setting a date will allow your promotion to run indefinitely.
- Discount: After setting your language and currency, you can choose what type of promotion you are creating. This can be a precise discount, either in terms of a specific percentage or monetary value, or broader terms such as “Up to 50% off”.
- Details: You can now add a title for the item, with a 20 character limit allowing you to write something such as “All Books” or something more specific. It will then automatically be pieced with the information you’ve already put in. For example, if you select “Up To Percentage Discount”, type choose 25%, and then type “all lines” as your item title, your extension will read “Up to 25% off all lines”.
- Link: Finally, provide a link that clicking the extension will take users too. If you’ve got an offer on a specific item, the link should take you to that product page, while if it’s a broader deal, it can go to a category page.
NEW: Lead Form Extensions
Google Ads is currently trialling a BETA version of a new type of extension. With the aim of increasing leads, this is a direct way of getting users to leave their contact details, without going through your website first.
The lead form extension displays beneath your advert, and is made up of three key parts:
1. Extension CTA: This is the first part of the extension that will be seen by users, and will encourage them to interact with it, to open up the form. This consists of a selected CTA from Google’s list, with options including “learn more”, “sign up” and “get quote”, followed by space for you to add up to 30 characters of custom text.
3. Submission Message: After the user has submitted their details, they’ll be taken to a page that confirms their information has been received. On this page, you can create a 200 word message to display, and add a CTA button (either “Download” or “Visit website”), that will take users to your chosen URL.
The leads generated via this form can be viewed by you in two ways. The most simple way is to download a CSV of leads from the extension section of your account, however an alternative method is recommended. Using a “webhook” will take more effort to set up, but once it’s fully functioning, it will send acquired lead data directly to your CRM system.
Need help setting up or optimising your online PPC advertising? Our team has experience working with a variety of platforms, including Bing Ads, Facebook & LinkedIn. We’re also fully qualified Google Partners, offering assistance with Search, Shopping & Display campaigns on Google Ads.
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