Google AdWords Sitelinks: How to Use AdWords Ad Sitelinks Extensions


In the first two installments of our series on AdWords ad extensions we covered AdWords location extensions and Google’s product extensions. Today we’ll walk through AdWords sitelinks, namely:

  • What are AdWords sitelinks and why are they important?
  • How do I use AdWords ad sitelinks in my account?
  • When should I use sitelinks in my AdWords account?

We’ll also provide information on why sitelinks may not be showing in your account and how best to leverage sitelinks in your campaigns.

What Are AdWords Sitelinks and Why Are They Important?

Sitelinks Example

Ad sitelinks are a feature in AdWords that offers you additional links to pages beyond the destination landing page in your ad. In the above image, “Free Shipping,” “Free Personal Engraving,” “3G or Wi-Fi models,” and “10-hour battery” are all sitelinks.

The image here is a good example of some of the powerful benefits sitelinks can provide, including:

  • Additional real estate for your ad (not unlike the other ad extensions)
  • The ability to highlight and elaborate on certain benefits and features (free shipping and personal engraving or 10-hour battery)
  • The ability to point to specific models of a product in response to a generic query (3G or Wi-Fi enabled)

The benefits of sitelinks are pretty obvious: you’re able to direct people to a greater number of pages on your site from within the same ad, without paying a premium. Using sitelinks can also help improve click-through rate (and subsequently Quality Score) and allow you to create a different experience for searchers.

How Do I Use Sitelinks in My AdWords Account?

Sitelinks are quite easy to set up within AdWords, like most of the ad extensions available to advertisers. Select “View: Sitelinks Extensions” in the Ad extensions tab, then click the “+ New extension” button:

Sitelinks Extensions

Next you’ll be presented with an option to either create a new sitelink extension, or use existing sitelinks from other areas of your account (called shared extensions):

create new sitelink extension

Shared extensions are handy if you’re leveraging the same sitelinks in multiple campaigns, but in the event that you’re creating a new sitelink or sitelinks you can click through to “Create new extension” and create the new sitelinks:

Add Sitelinks Extension

This leads us to the questions of when and how you should be leveraging sitelinks in your account.

When Should I Use Ad Sitelinks in My AdWords Campaigns?

Like with most AdWords extensions, ad sitelinks are a pretty useful tool and are typically valuable in any campaigns where they’re eligible. The trick is really in how you implement them, or which sitelinks you show. In understanding how to get the most out of AdWords sitelinks, it’s helpful to know a bit more about how they’re served by AdWords.

What Ads Get Sitelinks?

AdWords has a few different sitelink formats (from Google’s documentation on sitelink formats):

  • Three-line and two-line formats - Sitelinks are designed to trigger in situations where an ad provides the ideal answer for a search query. These ads are most likely to trigger on unique brand terms.
  • One-line format - Sitelinks will trigger with more generic terms, but may also include brand terms.
  • Embedded format - Sitelinks will trigger whenever your ad qualifies to appear above the search results and the text in your ad exactly matches one or more of your sitelinks.

Basically the idea is you’ll only be showing sitelinks on ads/queries that you’re seen as highly relevant for (read: have a high click-through rate on) already.

Why Aren’t My AdWords Ads Showing Sitelinks?

The main reason your ads aren’t showing the sitelinks you added to your account is that they simply aren’t considered “authoritative” or “relevant” enough. As you can see from the above description Google wants to award sitelinks to sites that have displayed that they are synonymous with a branded query or are appearing above search results.

Sitelinks adwords

Create Sitelinks to Speak to the Queries They Show For

So as you’re thinking about which URLs to show for which queries you want to understand where your sitelinks are going to be showing. You can understand where a majority of your “above the fold” impressions are being generated by looking at a top vs. side report, and you can also drill down to look at how different extensions perform from within the ad extensions tab.

You want to tailor these sitelinks to speak to the queries generating “top” or above the fold impressions – like in the screenshot above, where the sitelinks nicely complemented the iPads query, which likely generates a large number of Apple’s impressions within that campaign (and where a single term is that core to your business, this would be another argument for splitting it out into its own campaign).

There are a number of different techniques for optimizing sitelinks – as Curt Weaver outlines in this post on the Marin blog, a number of the best practices around creating optimized sitelinks are similar to AdWords best practices in general, such as:

  • Understanding customer behavior
  • Testing different themes
  • Implementing proper tracking and closely monitoring results

Curt has some other useful tips for optimizing sitelinks, and if you’re looking for even more information on the subject, Melissa Mackey compiled (with the help of the #PPCChat folks) a great list of benefits of sitelinks. Finally, if you’re really hungry for AdWords sitelinks information, this PPC Chat streamcap is a goldmine filled with tons of helpful, actionable information from a variety of very smart PPC managers.

Ultimately, as with anything else within the AdWords platform, you want to take advantage of the edge offered to you by sitelinks and tailor your sitelinks so that they’re offering the right balance between increased clicks and increased conversions. And again, as with all things AdWords: test, analyze the data, and iterate!


How To Use Google Adwords
Sep 30, 2011

Great post. I think Google insights respects the Adwords Keyword tool very nicely. Very nice laid out tips. It was illustrated well and is simple to follow.

Nov 07, 2011

Very good post. Gives a very quick overview and the basic facts.

Nov 09, 2011

Great post.Do you know what the cost is if someone clicks on a sitelink?e.g. is it the same price as if someone clicked on the main headline ad?As sitelinks aren't necessarily going to be as targeted as the main advert, I'd hope they'd cost less.....Thanks

Tom Demers
Nov 09, 2011

Hi Joe,Thanks great question - I believe a click on sitelinks will cost the same as a click on your headline, so it is important to consider whether you want people visiting the pages you're including, and as with ad text being descriptive and qualifying the visitor to make sure they get what they came for when they get to the page can save you wasted spend on irrelevant clicks.Tom 

Jan 10, 2012

I found this in Adwords Help "The inclusion of additional links through the Ad Sitelinks feature should have no measurable impact on your ad Quality Score or landing page quality measurements." So, I'm confused when you said "Using sitelinks can also help improve click-through rate (and subsequently Quality Score)..."It looks like a higher CTR in this case, won't help on QS. Could you please clarify?Also, what would you suggest to use as sitelinks: other landing pages (best practices recommend to focus on offer and a single form) or a page within our website with more information (with all extra navigation and not focused solely in conversions)?In my case, B2B, a page within a website will just provide me more traffic but won't focus on conversion only. On e-commerce sites, I can see using pages within the site since most of them includes a buy link.Thanks for any insight.

Tom Demers
Jan 10, 2012

Hi Yesi,What I think that refers to is that the mere presence of sitelinks (ie if you simply fill in the sitelink information and have them available for your ad) that doesn't impact your Quality Score. The actual clicks that occur on sitelinks to count towards the click-through rate that's included in Quality Score, so additional clicks on those links will have a positive impact. I just confirmed this with my Google rep, as well.For your second question I'd say it makes sense to stick primarily to landing pages and transaction oriented pages, but for B2B lead gen alternative pages to send traffic to might be "softer offers" or more information rich pages that still make an offer. For instance in WordStream's case rather than just driving to the free trial of the product, they might also offer links to free white papers, case studies, etc. that would help move people along the conversion process and/or offer a different type of action to the searcher that they might be more likely to engage with. If the only alternative pages you have as options for sitelinks aren't very conversion friendly and wouldn't likely result in a searcher taking an action, though, I'd agree with you that just adding additional options for the sake of having more links and real-estate would likely be counter productive (but I'd also say you might want to take a look at why those other pages aren't likely to help someone take an action or move closer to a purchase :)).Thanks Yesi!Tom

Έπιπλα κουζίνας Καρδίτσα
Nov 22, 2012

Hi,I can not install sitelinks extension. There is available only the Places extension. What can I do?

Andy Kuiper
May 14, 2013

Nice stp-by-step-tutorial Tom - thanks Andy :-)

Naman Verma
May 11, 2014

Hi I have just sent this to my client..good stuff.

Jul 03, 2014

Nice post!  I have already used extensions in the past for products for ecommerce web sites and I have seen a really big inrease in the clicks and conversion rate. 

Creative Solutions
Mar 30, 2017

Thank you WordStream

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