First 2018 came for our warmth. Then it came for the Georgia Bulldogs. Today, it set its sights on review extensions.
That’s right, people: starting this month, your Google ads will no longer have the privilege of being accompanied by third-party reviews. And in February, your extensions (and their data) will be wiped from the UI completely. On Google’s review extensions support page (now sporting an angry red box), they still extoll the virtues of social proof in ad copy. There is a sliver of good news, though: if you’ve been running review extensions for the last few years, you’ve got a few more weeks to export your historical performance data before Google wipes it from your account.
Quote: “There’s nothing better than getting a good review, and customers like to see them too when searching for products and services online.”
Very true, Google. SO WHY DID YOU TAKE THEM AWAY?!
If you didn’t know about review extensions, here’s what you missed out on.
Third-party review extensions allow(ed) advertisers to share positive quotes, awards, or rankings with prospects. Their appearance, like that of all ad extensions, occurred based on a combination of their existence, your ad rank, and Google’s good will.
Review extensions could exist in two different forms: as either an exact quote…
Or a paraphrased review:
They were notoriously difficult to get approved but, once they were live, they offered really great social proof that was otherwise unmatched among ad extensions. This testimonial translated to a solid uptick in SERP dominance; per Google, Review extensions enhanced CTR by up to 10%.
Review extensions, you will be sorely missed.
While there’s nothing today that can straight-up replace review extensions in your Google Ads account (formerly known as Google AdWords), there are still plenty of ways to simultaneously enhance the effectiveness of your search ads and occupy more real estate on a search results page.
Do they offer verifiable social proof? Nope. But these are still effective solutions to the gaping hole left where your review extensions used to be.
Sitelink extensions are clickable links that appear beneath an ad’s description. They typically feature a headline of their own (depicted below) and can also accommodate short descriptions.
There’s a good chance you’re already using sitelinks to drive prospects to pertinent pages on your website, ones that offer opportunities to download a whitepaper or contact your business. Why not create a testimonial/proof page on your website and direct prospects to it via a sitelink? This is a great way to do something a little different on the SERP (you rarely see advertisers point prospects to testimonial pages using sitelink extensions) and create new remarketing audiences based on those who visit the page.
While callout extensions are often treated like a throwaway—everybody uses them but there’s rarely much though behind them outside of “free shipping” etc.—you can use them to say something more profound about your business.
Instead of running generic callout extensions at the account level (as many do), why not get granular with them? Write down everything that makes your business unique then, at the campaign level (or ad group if you’re feeling zealous), figure out how you can use the strict character limit to craft something relevant. If you sell shoes, for example, don’t just run that played out “Free shipping” extension universally; touch on the specific things that make your kicks special instead.
Though they look similar to the callout extensions above, structured snippets are a different animal entirely. They afford advertisers the opportunity to catalogue specific aspects of their product or service, whether that’s brands sold, coverage offered, or any one of a dozen more categorical options.
Again, instead of leveraging these suckers at the account level (or not at all), make them campaign or ad group specific. Keep them short and sweet for mobile users. Maybe even experiment with different snippet headers (models vs. styles, for example).
Finally, offering subtle instances of social proof in your copy can be a great way to entice your prospects into clicking an ad. Though Google will suspend ads that are hyperbolically superlative (think “BEST WIDGET ON THE PLANET #1 WIDGET BUY MY WIDGET IT’S THE BEST WIDGIT”), paraphrasing reviews within the confines of your ad text is not strictly forbidden.
While the loss of review extensions will be a blow to some, Google Ads offers enough alternatives that it shouldn’t negatively impact your performance for too long. Oh, and don’t forget to download that data before it goes kaput. You never know when it could come in handy for future optimization: after all, Bing review extensions are still alive and well!
Allen Finn is the co-founder of Toasted Collective, a cannabis-focused digital agency. Many moons ago, he worked at WordStream, where he reigned as fantasy football champion for some time.
See other posts by Allen Finn
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