It is generally accepted by advertisers that AdWords sitelinks are important to overall ad performance. The extra space on the search engine results page and offering the searcher extra webpages to convert on are both easy wins. However, do you really know how well your AdWords sitelinks actually perform?
When you first look at sitelink performance under the ad extensions tab, the data you see is not actually sitelink data. Instead, it’s the aggregated data of the sitelinks and text ads.
That’s because these metrics reflect each time an ad was served while sitelinks were showing, which isn’t what we are looking for. The information is useful to see how your ad performs while those sitelinks are showing, but it won’t tell you stats for the sitelinks themselves. What we want to know is: do users actually interact with our sitelinks at all?
Thanks to Adwords’ Enhanced Campaigns this data is now much easier to see; you just need to know where to look. There are two main reports:
- Click Type – which portion of the ad drives most of the traffic?
- This Extension vs Other – which individual sitelink extension contributes the most to overall ad performance?
Report 1: Click Type
This report tells you which section of the ad was clicked when your ad was being served with a particular sitelink (either the headline or the sitelink extension). You want to use this report to see the overall CTR for clicks on the sitelinks vs clicks that occurred on the headline portion.
- The “Headline” row shows the number of clicks your ad headline received.
- The “Sitelink” row shows the number of clicks on sitelinks.
Where do you find this report? Under the Sitelinks extension tab, click on “Segment”, then select “Click type”.
Report 2: This Extension vs “Other”
This report gives us the ability to view sitelink data at a more granular level by segmenting by individual extension.
- “This extension” rows tells you the metrics for one specific sitelink.
- The “Other” row provides data for any other part of the ad that this sitelink showed alongside, and therefore tells you whether this specific sitelink contributed to the overall ad performance.
- “Other” could mean the headline of the main ad, other sitelinks, or other extensions entirely.
Where do you find this report? Under the Sitelinks extension tab, click on “Segment”, then select “This Extension vs. Other”. This report provides you with the most granular level of information.
Because we can view individual sitelink performance using this report, we want to take the data a step further to see what percentage of clicks and conversions came from the sitelink itself
- In your report, download into Excel and add 2 more columns:
- This extension % of clicks (clicks from this extension / clicks from other)
- This extension % of conversions (=IFERROR(conv from this extension/conv from other,0)
- This will tell us what % of those clicks or conversions were from people actually clicking ON the sitelink itself and therefore which sitelinks are the most compelling
Using an example case from one of my clients, I pulled the report for This Extension vs Other. In the table below, looking at one sitelink’s performance, you can see this sitelink generated 2.34% of clicks at a slightly better conversion rate than my headline. This suggests that sitelinks do drive value from a direct conversion standpoint (although on a much smaller scale).
When evaluating sitelink performance, keep a couple of things in mind:
- Make sure you have enough data
- It’s important to have sufficient data before making any decisions regarding your sitelink performance
- Sitelinks drive much lower volume than your main ad so you may have to wait a couple of months depending on how much exposure your ads get
- Treat it like ad copy and learn from your winners and losers
- Write new sitelinks based on your winning sitelinks’ language
Just like we evaluate strong vs poor performing ads on a consistent basis, we should also regularly evaluate sitelink performance. Consider sitelinks part of your overall ad copy testing plan, and make sure to look at the data and optimize your messaging.