Using Various Paid Search Ad Extensions to Gauge Online Performance
Today, too many search marketers struggle with both increasing search volume while also systematically measuring the origins of that growing traffic. This kind of visibility can crucially impact where you choose to position spend, and ultimately, which audience segments your advertisements reach. It’s basically like you’ve been swimming with your eyes closed all this time, and suddenly you get a pair of goggles – serious game changer.
In fact, we recently helped a client struggling with this very issue. Their team’s main concern revolved around how sitelinks were affecting both their PPC advertising efforts, as well as their organic search traffic. We decided to tackle the problem head on, by testing a variety of different ad extensions on performance.
We had been running brand campaign review extensions throughout their engagement, but wanted to validate and quantify the conversion rate impact, along with volume (CTR), by testing other types of extensions – namely enhanced sitelinks. Before our engagement, the client was not taking advantage of this tool for their brand campaigns. Once we activated the feature, they saw immediate positive results. Within a day, click through rate (CTR) increased by 11%. However, this volume picked up with no effect on conversion rate (CR).
In most cases, a client would see such an immediate spike in CTR as a positive; however, the added real estate these sitelinks took over on SERPs became a cause for concern, as they were now negatively affecting Earned (SEO) efforts. To holistically rebalance the client’s Paid and Earned efforts, we reverted our changes and turned off both review extensions and enhanced sitelinks. Consequently, we saw an immediate and dramatic change in our campaigns’ performance.
- As expected, CTR decreased within the following 24 hours.
- Surprisingly, CR quickly declined as well, by 12%. This was a fairly unexpected outcome, since when we saw that initial CTR increase, we hadn’t seen any sign of a CR increase. Our (and the client’s) internal alarm bells started ringing. While CR leveled out somewhat over the following days, it still performed well below normal and did not stabilize on its own.
We turned review extensions back on, and immediately CR surged by 30%. This was obviously more in line with what our client wanted to see. In doing so, we confirmed our hypothesis regarding the amount of control we had over brand campaign performance via sitelinks and extensions.
This test confirmed that we could regain more control over campaign performance simply by testing various types of ad-extensions.
Will using ad extensions boost traffic?
Yes. The increased real estate enhanced sitelinks occupy jumps out at anyone browsing the web; these feature draw searchers’ eyes directly to brand ads. While this may not directly lead to conversions, it will most certainly lead to increased traffic.
What if I just want to boost conversions?
If your brand is solely focused on conversions, then you should focus on review extension optimization. As we saw in our test, pulling back review extensions led to a significant drop in CR. Review extensions – essentially 3rd party reviews – give brands external validation, particularly when the excerpts provided are from reputable sources.
Someone in the market for your brand’s product or service oftentimes equates a review extension as social proof of your authority, particularly in instances where competition is fierce. All it takes between losing a consumer to the web and getting a conversion, in many cases, comes down to having a human voice and positioning your product as positively as possible. Leverage this feature to strengthen your brand’s online authority, validating shoppers trust in your product, and ultimately boosting conversions.
Conclusions and Summary
We validated that performance metrics like CR and CTR can be controlled by search marketers, to a large degree, by implementing simple changes to sitelinks and reviews. Of course, the effectiveness of a campaign depends largely on the client, budget, and a number of other factors. However, in the right situation, these tools can be extremely valuable in achieving and measuring various performance objectives.
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