All About Sitelinks and Callout Extensions

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One of the most useful Adwords features is ad extensions. Available extensions include call extensions, review extensions, location extensions, sitelink extensions, and callout extensions. This post is all about sitelinks and callout extensions.

At first glance, sitelinks and callout extensions appear to be the same thing. They’re both text that might be added to your ad if you appear in one of the top spots on the page. So what’s the difference between the two and how are they used?

Sitelinks contain a link; callouts are just text.

Sitelinks and callouts may look the same, but the key difference is that sitelinks contain a link (hence the name), while callouts are just text.

callouts and sitelinks

As you might expect, sitelinks appear in blue, indicating a clickable link; while callouts look like regular gray ad text.

Sitelinks require a relevant destination URL that’s different from your ad’s destination URL.

Here’s where things get both fun and tricky. To use sitelinks, you must use a different link from your ad’s destination URL. If you’re selling women’s dresses in your ad, you might add sitelinks for slacks, blouses, or accessories. You might use sitelinks for deals, as EAS does in the screenshot above. Just make sure that the links make sense and that they add to, rather than take away from, your ad copy.

For B2B advertisers, sitelinks can be challenging. It’s common for B2B advertisers to only have one relevant landing page, so sometimes sitelinks are a worst practice for B2B.

Callouts, on the other hand, are just text. You can say pretty much whatever you want, although you should consider the callouts part of your ad copy. Make sure they’re relevant.

Which one should I use?

Think carefully about the sitelinks you use. While it may be interesting to send people to your “Careers” or “About Us” page, these pages are unlikely to generate conversions. Remember, you pay for every click, whether it’s on a sitelink or the ad itself. Don’t send traffic to pages that can’t convert for you. The sitelinks in the screen shot above are all good – they’re sales-focused pages that should contribute to conversions for the advertisers.

So why use callouts? Callouts are great for B2B advertisers who don’t have good sitelinks, or for text you want to include in your ad but not link to. Examples include:

•    Slogans
•    Additional info about your product/service: what it does, who it’s best for, etc.
•    Info about the company: years in business, etc.
•    Anything that doesn’t have a landing page

I like to put slogans in callouts. Clients get very attached to slogans and taglines, but slogans usually take valuable characters away from benefits and calls to action in ad copy. Putting slogans in callouts is a great way to please the client without taking up real estate.

Use sitelinks and callouts correctly.

Let’s look at the screen shot again:

callouts and sitelinks
As I mentioned before, the sitelinks are all great. But the callouts in the EAS ad don’t make sense. “Join Team EAS”? How do I join? There’s no link to the page. Nor is there a link to the custom workout plans or coupons mentioned in the callouts. This is basically copy that makes a promise that can’t be delivered, and is a poor user experience.

GNC, on the other hand, is using callouts correctly and even creatively. Callouts are limited to 25 characters, so GNC split their “Quality Life-Quality Products” slogan into 2 callouts. This tactic may not work every time, but it’s clever and smart.

What are your favorite ways to use sitelinks and callouts? Share in the comments!

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  1. Once again, I agree with all you have to say Mel. Here is my general strategy for these options.

    In PPC campaigns I’m focused on creating buyer intent.
    I have a good understanding of the buyer’s intent viewing the ad due to the adgroup theme and keywords I have selected.
    I can then write ad copy focused on addressing that intent: Need, Product, Solution, Price
    Before sitelinks and call outs, we had a space crunch. Assurances, related products/services or location attributes took up space in the ad copy that was needed to address the intent. You either had to create multiple ads, even adgroups to keep a clear focus on the intent of the campaign.
    Sitelinks, callouts (and the other extensions solve this.

    Now I can hit my intent purpose in the ad text alone: Trusted San Diego Dentist, Free evaluations and upfront pricing.
    Add a Global Assurances in callouts like: A+ BBB, DDS, 12 Years experience, San Diego North County
    And supplement with Links: Dental Services | Free Evaluation | Upfront Pricing | Appointments
    Throw in a call extension or Google+ location extension and you have a very robust ad.

    I will normally have a list of Global Callouts and Sitelinks that can relate to virtually any ad.
    I will also have a set of intent specific callouts and sitelinks for a highly tuned ad

    What this means to my campaigns?
    Certainly the introduction of so many ad extensions means that rethinking and restructuring your ads to logically address the searchers intent is necessary.

    We also needed to address our conversion and attribution reporting to ensure we were understanding how sitelinks and callouts were impacting performance.

    Many ad extensions have driven positive growth with the exception of call extensions. A different topic for a different post, but in today’s click first think later society call extensions tend to promote very poorly qualified calls. This wastes the client’s time and has a negative impact on how they view your agency.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Love this framework, Jerry – it should really be considered an addendum to my post! You’re right that extensions, in general, are great. Call extensions are another story. 🙂

  2. I do something similar to Jerry and try to use global callouts to quickly test different features and/or benefits across a whole account or campaign.

    Also, did you know you don’t have access to callouts if you don’t select ‘All features’ as your campaign sub-type?

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