Marketing Insights
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Posts Tagged ‘sitelinks’

5 Quick Ways to Increase Paid Search CTR without Breaking a Sweat

By January 28th, 2013

Mouse ClickBefore writing this post, I performed a few web searches to scout out my competition. Based on that research, there appears to be one thing that everyone agrees upon about increasing paid search click-through-rate (CTR), the benefits:

  • Increased Quality Score
  • Increased ad position
  • Lower cost-per-click

However, given the title of this post, I figured just about everyone has their quick ways for increasing CTR—and I was right. There’s about 20 “quick” ways to increase your CTR, but not all of them are quick. Create granular keyword groupings? Restructuring campaigns and resetting Quality Score is a long term strategy. Give something away for free? Let’s choose to ignore that one. Look for assisted conversions? I personally don’t enjoy swimming in an ocean of data. Include pricing? And if prices change, it’ll be a fun week. Though all of these tactics and more do plenty to increase CTR, my goal today is to present five ways search marketers can increase CTR without breaking a sweat.

1. Implement Ad Sitelinks

This is unanimously the number one way to quickly increase CTR. Sitelinks provides up to six additional deep links to specific and highly relevant content on your site. These links not only expand your search engine results page (SERP) real estate, but they also enable search marketers to point users towards high-value landing pages, such as form fills and store locators. Keep in mind that up to six links can be added per campaign, which was increased from four in 2011. So if you haven’t touched your sitelinks in a while, it’s time to go back and ensure you have six updated links available.

Google Ad Sitelinks Example

For more information on sitelinks and how to enable them, click here.

2. Pause Poor Performing Creative

Remember that creative test you were running way back when? Well it’s still running, and one or more of those creative is hurting the entire ad group. As you prioritize ad groups for CTR optimization, be sure to evaluate the performance of existing creative. Though some poor performing creative will be easier to spot than others, be sure to reach some level of statistical significance before cutting ties and pausing those creative. It’s important to remember that poor performing creative represent an opportunity cost. By weeding them out of your account, you can drive more traffic through more relevant and engaging creative.

For additional best practices on creative testing and optimization, click here.

3. Leverage Differentiating Text

There are so many elements search marketers can test when it comes to differentiating their creative from their competitors. Let’s use a short list with simple explanations:

  • Call-to-Action: a staple for all advertisers, a simple, yet strong call-to-action encourages users to engage with a purpose. For example, “Register for free today!” or “Shop early and save”.
  • Unique Selling Point: incorporating free shipping, price match guarantees, promotions, and other unique selling points into creative not only sets you apart from competitors, but makes your creative that much more compelling.
  • Numbers and Figures: to break the repetitiveness of words and sentences, use numbers and figures (i.e. &, ®, ™) as an effective way to bring attention to creative.
  • Display URLs: there are a number of ways to arrange your display URL and incorporate keywords into them to increase relevance. For example, “” or “”. However, keep in mind that some users copy and paste display URLs into the navigation bar, so be prepared with a redirect or an effective 404 page.

4. Mine for Negative Keywords

Most search marketers know how to mine for negative keywords, but the tune changes when discussing how often. Generating a search query report is simple; with some enterprise class solutions generating them automatically. Identify keywords that have received impressions, but very few clicks. But also take note of irrelevant tokens that appear often in queries. For example, tokens like “free”, “reviews”, and “used” often appear alongside relevant keywords. Add these and those irrelevant keywords to eliminate unwanted impressions and clicks.

Negative Keywords Create A Virtuous Cycle

For more information on developing an effective negative keyword strategy, click here.

5. Use High Volume Tokens

Keyword tokens within creative will appear in bold whenever they match or closely match a user’s search query. To improve the relevancy of your creative to the keywords within an ad group, include tokens with high impression share within creative text. For example, if users are more likely to include “clothing” in their query, rather than “apparel”, generate creative that includes the token “clothing”, even if both tokens appear in multiple keywords within the same ad group. Using the most relevant tokens within your creative will increase the relevance for a larger share of impressions and help increase CTR.
Incrementally increasing CTR takes testing and continuous optimization of keywords and creative. This involves using both short term and long term strategies. Hopefully, with the tactics I’ve imparted, you can begin increasing your CTR today…quickly and sweatband-free.

Will Ferrell Sweatband

Bing Ads Introduces Sitelink Extensions. What’s Different?

By October 17th, 2012

Last week, Bing Ads announced the release of their extensively piloted Sitelink Extensions. Seemingly identical in functionality to Google’s Sitelink Extensions, this feature is available today via the Bing Ads user interface, Desktop Editor and API. For more information about enabling and managing Bing Ads Sitelink Extensions, click here.

During the pilot phase, advertisers leveraging Bing Ads Sitelink Extensions experienced an average increase in click-through rate (CTR) by 20%, compared to Google’s reported average increase of 30%. In comparing Bing and Google search results, the disparity between reported increases in CTR might be due to the frequency of Google displaying a more favorable sitelinks layout.

Kay Bing Ads Sitelinks Example




Kay Google Sitelinks Example







The most notable difference in sitelinks layout on the above search for “kay” was Google’s use of a two-column format, as opposed to Bing’s single-line format. Though Bing does display sitelinks in a two-column format, it didn’t occur very often in the searches I performed. Also, because of the single-line format, the Bing ad was forced to truncate the sitelinks, leaving out the link for “The Leo Diamond” landing page, which the Google ad does display.

Macys Bing Ads Sitelinks Example




Macys Google Sitelinks Example








Conducting another search, this time for “macys”, shows an even greater disparity in layout. Again, the Bing ad is delivered with sitelinks in the single-line format, but this time with four links. However, this Google ad maintains the two-column format, but expands to show five sitelinks. It’s interesting to note that Google highlights the keyword “Macy’s” in their ad, but Bing does not. Also, Google opts to include an icon along with the “Sale & Clearance” sitelink, most likely drawing more attention and generating more engagement.

What stands out the most between the two sitelink layouts is the amount of real estate Google ads command in the search engine results page (SERP). In both of my examples, the Google ad takes up nearly twice as much space as the Bing ad. It’s my guess that the difference in reported CTR increases has something to do with this; with higher reported CTRs for ads that more frequently command more real estate. Though this is obviously a very small sample size based on my initial observations, I’m interested in seeing if Bing will continue to make tweaks to their sitelinks algorithm to encourage more paid clicks. If you’ve recently implemented Bing Ads Sitelink Extensions, please share your thoughts or findings in the comments section below.

How to Optimize Google Sitelinks for Conversion

By March 31st, 2011

Not to be confused with Sitelinks for natural search, when enabled in an AdWords campaign, Google Adwords Sitelinks will display additional links underneath a standard text ad, and are used to drive clicks to deep content on your website. Typically Ad Sitelinks will only be served below text ads with higher-than-average CTR, position and quality score such as a creative served when a user searches one of your trademarked brand terms or a domain name that you own. Sitelinks are useful for messaging new promotions, driving traffic to high-converting content, and creating exposure for areas of your site that do not rank high in natural search.