Google has made a number of improvements to their ad sitelinks extensions since they launched in 2009. Many of those changes have been cosmetic, including one-line text links, larger text sizes, text snippets, and more. All of this has been in the service of driving more clicks to Google advertisers. Their latest update not only offers potential improvements in ad performance, but an opportunity to get some of your clicks for free.
All advertisers who run campaigns set to the “Search Network with Display Select’ or “Search Network only” types will automatically be opted in to this new program. When a search result page includes one of your ads, Google may choose to display a dynamic sitelink on your ad if they feel a particular page on your site is relevant to the search query based on the user’s browsing history. This helps target users who are working their way through the discovery process. For example, a user might be researching local electricians and has decided they want to schedule an appointment.
This could be quite helpful to local businesses that don’t have time to set up individual sitelinks for their ad campaigns. Sitelinks provide a performance boost for advertisers and highly relevant sitelinks could conceivably see even better results. Google has also indicated that dynamic sitelink clicks are free for the time being. So if someone clicked on “Schedule an appointment today” in the ad above, the advertiser wouldn’t be charged for that click. They would, however, still be charged if a user clicked on any of the other components of the ad.
What’s the Catch?
Free clicks from Google may seem like an irresistible deal, but there are some caveats. Dynamic sitelinks will make up a very small portion of your overall impression share, so you can’t depend on them to generate a significant enough volume to impact your campaigns. For that reason, they shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for traditional sitelinks. You also won’t have any control over the URLs for dynamic sitelinks. This means that any custom URL parameters you might add at the keyword or ad level won’t necessarily be carried over. This could create a problem for tracking the results of these advertisements. There also doesn’t seem to be much information as to how reporting will work for dynamic sitelinks.
As I mentioned, Google has automatically enabled this feature globally for all of its advertisers. If you feel you’d rather not have dynamic sitelinks enabled, you’ll need to fill out a form to opt out of the feature. Otherwise, keep an eye on your ad campaigns to determine whether or not this new feature is having an impact on your performance. If more advanced reporting becomes available, you might find some opportunities to modify your existing sitelinks or build out new campaigns to target the relevant traffic.