Posted by: Affiniti Digital Media | September 19, 2011

Google AdWords Sitelinks – do they really provide an ROI?

I was struck recently by an article about the benefits of Google’s “Sitelinks” functionality in AdWords. In case you’re not familiar with what they are they are the additional links (smaller text in blue) beneath the paid for search results in Google, thus:

Google AdWords Sitelinks - 3 sitelinks beneath main search result

Google AdWords Sitelinks

AdWords sitelinks are a relatively recent initiative by Google. They are controlled within AdWords and are optional. Without sitelinks the clickthrough URL is that embedded in the main blue headline. With sitelinks you can have up to 4 extra links each with their own url – so you can pitch extra messages to the readers and separately link them to relevant pages deep into your website. In theory this all sounds great stuff – but the question is does it pay off?

I am a great believer in measuring performance. I’d recommend that wherever possible decisions are based on proper data rather than hunches. The problem at the moment is that Google does not provide sufficient data within AdWords to be able to accurately determine whether sitelinks provide a proper incremental return. The only option at the moment is to run your campaign with sitelinks for a period and then as a control run it without for a similar period and see whether profit is enhanced or not. This isn’t ideal as other factors could influence the results and skew the decision.

What I would say is that while Google don’t provide discrete conversion data for sitelink traffic that the jury is out on whether it pays off. We’ve used sitelinks ourselves in campaigns and we do see an increase in clickthroughs from the adverts but it’s not clear whether the extra cost generates extra revenues. So be cautious about using sitelinks and we have to hope that Google brings their reporting up-to-speed on sitelinks soon.


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