While advertisers will spend hours creating and testing ad copy for Google Ads, they often spend just a few minutes on ad extensions, if they even use them at all.
This is a mistake.
Google AdWords ad extensions are vital to a successful campaign.
They help you to differentiate your ad, your business and/or your offer. And take up more space in the process.
It’s one of the reasons Google keeps rolling out new extensions all the time. Their own studies reveal their importance.
Google Ads extensions have evolved over the years. I first wrote this article over three years ago, and have had to regularly update it ever since. What was available then, is no longer available in 2021.
In this article I will examine all the Ads extension currently available and answer a number of questions concerning them, such as
• Why Google AdWords’ extensions are so important
• How to create effective ad extensions
• Which extensions are important for your campaign
• Why the extension you want to show, might not be showing up on your campaign.
What are Ad Extensions?
Ad extensions are additional features that you can add to your text ad. There is no additional cost to using extensions, but to have them show you have to be in the top 3 or 4 spots. If you’re not, then they won’t display.
The higher the position, the more extensions you are liable to have.
Some ad extensions are just additional texts that show when someone sees your ad, while others are actual links that people can click on. When someone clicks on a sitelink, or click to call, the cost is the same as if they'd clicked on the ad.
Why Google AdWords Extensions Are So Important
The main benefit to Ad Extensions are that they make your ads stand out. According to Google, the addition of a new ad extension to your ad can result in a 10-15% increase in click through rate.
One advantage of extensions is that you can take up more real estate on the page, making your ad stand out. Google will show up to 4 extensions. This means your ad could be nearly double the size of the ads below it.
AdWords extensions allow you to provide more information about your business or the products or services you offer.
Even with the expanded text ads it’s hard to get all the information that you want sometimes. An extension is an easy solution. You can mention you’re on call 24/7, that you have A+ BBB Rating, or have been in business over 25 years.
Ad extensions have the potential to lower your costs by providing you with a better Quality Score. Google recently announced these are a factor in determining Quality Score. By having a higher Quality Score your cost per click can often be lower. It's one reason my Google Ads Management Services focus so much on extensions.
Creating Effective Ads Extensions
With a number of the extensions available, there isn't a lot of creativity involved. Location extensions, call extensions, etc., simply require you to enter information.
For many extensions, however you have to decide on what text to use. Which means which features or benefits to emphasize, unique features about the business, or what emotional triggers work best.
Two things to keep in mind is that you don't want to duplicate information you already have in your ad text. And that not all extensions will show.
How Google Ad Extensions Work and Which to Use
Here is a breakdown of the ad extensions currently available. The first three are extensions all businesses can use, while the rest will often depend on your type of industry your in and your market.
Sitelinks are additional links to your site. Instead of having prospects go to one page all the time, you can send them to various pages depending on their needs or interest. This to me is one of the best features to use as they also give more information about your business.
For example, a plumber can list emergency plumbing, sewer repair, grease trap cleaning, or other services. When they are looking for a plumber when they have an emergency they may have more than just a leaky faucet. It could be a backed-up sewer and they’ll click the ad of the plumber that lists that service and doesn’t just say 24-hour plumber.
According to Google, sitelinks can boosts click through rates by as much as 10-20% for ads and by as much as 20-50% for branded keyword terms.
One thing to keep in mind is that each sitelink is most likely the first time a prospect will be exposed to your business.
Whatever page you send them to, make sure it also serves as an introduction of your business. Also have a clear call to action on each page so that even if it’s a testimonial page, they’ll know to fill out a form or contact your business.
When doing sitelinks, you have the option of including a more detailed description, which I also recommend. They don't always appear in your ads, but when they do, they can make a difference. So, think of them as each having their own call to action and value proposition.
The title for each sitelink can be up to 25 characters, including spaces, while each description line can be up to 35 characters each. If you use the description you have to use both lines for some reason.
Surprisingly you can use third party sites as a sitelink, so you can one for your Facebook page and another for Twitter. I’m not sure why you’d do this however, as it would be better to have them arrive on your site.
You can also send mobile visitors to a different page if you want. Simply click on Advanced options to find this option.
Also under Advanced option is the ability to add a start and end date for a specific link or to have it only run during certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.
You can do sitelinks at the account, campaign or ad group level.
Primarily for: all businesses.
With callouts you can add additional information, but in a shorter form and with no link. These can be used to highlight something about your company or a sale.
You have just 25 characters total, including spaces so it can seem restrictive.
Ideally you want at least 2 callouts, as they will rotate.
One benefit, especially for sales, is that you can schedule them. You can also have separate callouts for mobile.
Callouts can add 10% to your click through rate. As you can see there is a significant increase in clicks by using extensions.
As with sitelinks you can schedule a callout to run a short period, meaning they are ideal for specific promotions or limited time offers.
They can also be scheduled to run certain times of the day.
Finally, they can be used only for mobile, meaning you can call have call to actions specific to a mobile device, such as Call Us Today.
Primarily for: all businesses.
Structured snippets are like a summary of the services or types of products you offer. There is a drop-down with a list of headings you can use such as amenities, brands, courses, insurance coverage, and service catalog.
After you make your choice you can than start creating a list for the category you've chosen. If you've chosen brands, you can then start listing each brand on a line.
You must have three listings for each snippet and you can have up to 25 characters for each listing. Google recommends having at least four listings.
Despite the number of characters allowed I try to keep my snippets short so that more appear. Don't get clever with the titles, but use straightforward descriptions.
Think of this as being similar to your website's navigation. If you have categories for your products or services, thn use these as the basis for your sitelink.
You can have more than one structured snippet in your campaign, although only one will ever show. So if more than one of the categories applies to your business, use them.
Google will choose which to display based on the prospects search.
Like callouts and sitelinks you have advanced options related to mobile and to scheduling.
Primarily for: all businesses.
In the past you could put your telephone number in your ad, but with the introduction of call extensions this was prohibited.
The trade off, however, makes up for this. Now prospects have the option to click to call your business instead of going through your website to make contact.
Often phone calls have a higher conversion rate then visitors who go to your site. Especially if they’re in a hurry to speak to someone such as a home service provider when they have a problem at home.
You have the option of using your actual number or a forwarding number provided by Google. With this forwarding number you can track the success of your ads, which is why I always recommend it.
You can also schedule call extensions, which is critical if you're phone is only answered certain times of the day.
If you have both an 800 number and a local number I’d suggest using the local number, particularly if you serve a specific location. It’s a way to show you’re a local business.
Something else to remember about call extensions is that by using the call forwarding number you can keep track of conversion that result from it being used.
Yet, not all phone calls are really conversions.
For example, someone could click to call and find they’ve called the wrong business or already familiar with your company simply looking for directions.
Establish a conversion as any call lasting longer than 30 seconds.
Primarily for: service industries or business that sell products that typically a salesperson helps with the selling of.
With the app extension you can either send interested prospects to your site for information on app or allow them to download it directly by having them go to google play.
For this extension to work you have to have your app available to download in either Google Play or the Apple App store.
You can have a number of apps in your account, but only one will show at a time.
When setting up the link you choose your mobile apps platform, either IOS or Android.
Then you look for your app by entering its name, package name, or publisher. Then you decide what the text link will be. The default is download now, but you can make it anything, with up to 25 characters available.
Primarily for: any business that has an app.
Location extensions are great for businesses that have a physical location or that want to show they’re in the community they’re targeting.
To utilize locations extensions, you must have a verified Google My Business listing for each location you want to use and have to have it verified in the same account as your AdWords account. Or at least know the email address of the account the listing is verified in.
For any business that has locations in a community, getting their location verified is crucial, no matter if they’re using AdWords or not.
If you’ve linked it properly, then you’ll see one of the circles filled in under the extensions tab.
If you have more than one location in your account, then you have the option of choosing only certain locations to show.
Primarily for: businesses that have a brick and mortar location.
Affiliate Location Extensions
As the name implies this involves a business that has products that are sold in a retail chain. With this extension customers can find locations near them that sell their product.
This extension applies to major retailers and auto dealers. After choosing one or the other, you’ll see a list of the brands available under that category and by country. For example, if you chose retailers and then the United States.
In the United States you’ll have 81 brands to choose from.
You add this location extension at the account level.
Another advantage of this extension is that if the person is using a mobile device, they’ll not only see the nearest location selling your products, but get directions, as well.
Primarily for: businesses that sell products in a store.
With promotion extensions you can highlight a sale that is going on or special promotion going on with your business.
One nice feature of these is that they are set to run specific days and highlight the dates of the promotion, the amount of the discount or savings and take them to a specific page on your site that has further information.
You can have a variation on the promotion specific to mobile. You can even have a special designation if it's for a holiday such as Valentine’s Day or Black Friday.
If you are still using the old AdWords interface, this extension won’t be available. It’s only in the new interface.
You have four promotion types to choose from - Monetary discount, Percent discount, Up to monetary discount, and Up to percent discount.
With this extension you have up to 20 characters to describe the promotion and a link to a page on your site about the campaign.
You also have the option of providing a promo code or having a set amount (on orders of) that people must spend to get the promotion.
As with many of the other extensions, an advanced tab allows for special promotions on mobile and a start and end date, as well as scheduling.
Primarily for: products and services that utilize discounts or sale prices.
Of all the extensions, this one probably takes the most work, but if you sell products or services that have a fixed price it’s worth it. Think of them as site links for your products or services.
You can use them to list some of your products and include the price of them, as well as a link to a page on your site where the product or service is available. For local businesses such as a hair salon you can list different services you offer and the cost.
You have 25 characters for the header of what you sell. Be careful, however, as they often shorten this, as you can see from the example below.
Then you have the price and add a value behind it such as hourly or monthly.
You can add up to 8 products or services and then prospects can scroll through them. At a minimum you have to use at least four. You can add them at the account, campaign or ad group level.
You also have the option of sending prospects to one page if they're on mobile and a different url if they're on desktop.
You can set the specific price for some, but for others use a price qualifier if there is a range to the prices for a specific product or service. Like sitelinks, price extensions go to a specific page for each product or service.
Primarily for: businesses that sell products or have services with a fixed rate.
This extension Google is gradually phasing out and is only available in the old user interface. To see if it’s still available, click on the wrench in the upper right-hand corner and click Return to Previous AdWords. If it is still available, it might be worth doing even if you know its lifespan is short.
In its current format you first indicate whether you're paraphrasing the review or quoting directly. Then you put the text of the review and a link to the source. The reviews have to come from a trusted third-party source. Review Google AdWords policy on reviews to learn more.
Primarily for: businesses that sell products or services that people generally review.
Lead Forms - Beta
Google constantly introduces new extensions tosee which resonate best with prospects.
Lead forms is one that they're trying out and which is obviously modeled after Facebook lead forms
Prospects can fill out a form directly from the ad instead of continuing on to your website.
In setting up the extension there is a lot of information to fill in beginning with what call to action you want to use.
Then you provide a headline, description, and place your business name. Then check off what type of information you need.
Primarily for: any business that relies onleads for its business. Most likely if you have a form on your website, then you're likely to benefit from this extension.
Image Extensions - Beta
If there is a lot to do with a lead formextension, there is relatively little to do for an image extension.
If this extension is available in your account, you simply click Enable Images Extensions.
Once you enable it, you must verify the images on your site are authorized. If that is the case, you can the proceed and Google will pull images from your landing page.
With this extension you have little control,unless you have a single image on your page.
Google has tried variations of image extensions in the past with little success. I think this has the potential to catch on with many businesses.
The only thing that could prevent it from being rolled out as a regular extension is if makes the ad apparent that its actually an ad. Google has made many alterations to Google Ads so that theyblend with organic listings. With this, that would no longer be the case.
Primarily for: businesses selling products, but potentially even service industries if the response to it is strong.
In addition to the many extensions you can create, there are additional ones that Google can create on their own. These are usually for businesses that don’t currently use extensions. If you do create your own extensions, then those will be shown above dynamic extensions.
Since you have no control over these I'll only briefly mention the ones currently available.
Call Extensions - These are used if you're not already using call extensions
Dynamic Sitelinks - Google may decide other pages might be more relevant to show underneath the ad.
Structured Snippets – Again Google will create a category and listing for your ads.
Automated Location Extensions - another one that appears more often if you're not utilizing it.
Seller Ratings - This is reviews that people have left about your business on Google. With the ending of the reviews extension, this one should be close behind.
Callout Extensions – Again Google creates something based on your current campaign and site.
Make Sure You Update Your Extensions Regularly
One thing that I find when reviewing a new client's AdWords campaign is that they're often out of date or redundant. That they just don't contain incorrect information, but often content that is already in the ads.
When Google AdWords offered expanded text ads, many advertisers simply incorporated information that they were using in their extensions. Yet, they failed to update the extensions.
The best option is to incorporate information in your extensions that isn't already in the text of the ad.
Why Your Extensions Don't Always Show
What About Microsoft Ads
As with most features that Google AdWords offers, Microsoft Ads always follows suit. They offer most of the same extensions as Google Ads.
Yet, you've noticed I've said most. Not all. If you've transferred over your AdWords account to Microsoft, you might find that some of the extensions aren't available and as a result you might want to revise your text ad.
Currently Microsoft offers App extensions, call extension, callout, location, price, review, sitelinks and structured snippets.
Microsoft also offers extensions that Google Ads doesn't currently offer.
Image extensions are just what you think they are. Images that can appear alongside your text ad.
Google has experimented with this in the past and might yet offer it. Even Microsoft, however, seldom shows it.
Microsoft allows you to use a number of images and sizes, but will only show one.
Unfortunately, few seem to be using this extension, but this might be because fewer advertisers even use Microsoft Ads.
Another extension they offer is Action Extensions. You can add predetermined call to actions such as renew now, vote now, post jobs, see menu, etc. There are dozens to choose from so no matter your type of business you'll find one that is appropriate.
Since Google is constantly introducing new extensions you want to make sure you look into them as soon as they are introduced. If you find they might benefit your business, then begin utilizing them. If your competition isn't using them yet, it can give your business an advantage.
If you're not utilizing any Ad Extensions yet, then you should be. They can take some time to set up, particularly if you have a number that you can use. Yet, once done they can not only make your ad look more robust, but they can allow you to let prospects know what makes your business unique.
If you’re struggling with how to properly use ad extensions or with any aspect of Google AdWords and need help, then consider hiring a freelance Google Ads consultant. Contact me today if you’re interested in getting assistance.