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By Zoran Selinger on 10 Oct 2017

visual site links

Google is constantly upgrading AdWords with new features. Not all upgrades are rolled out at once and at times, some upgrades are retained for larger accounts. We were delighted to see visual sitelinks, one of Google’s latest ad extension innovations, appear in the Just Eat's AdWords account recently.

What Are Visual Sitelinks?

If you’re well versed in AdWords, you’ll know that ad extensions are additional pieces of information, traditionally textual or numerical information, for your business. We've been talking about these for years and adopting ad extensions typically increase your click-through-rate by several percentage points. Visual sitelinks are a new ad extension which replace text extensions with images.

Visual sitelinks are displayed below your ad in a swipeable carousel, appearing only on mobile and when you hold position one in the SERP. This new visual ad extension is not yet available to all businesses with only bigger brands who have received whitelisting from Google able to adopt them at the moment.

A Picture Paints A Thousand Search Terms

Textual ad extensions have obvious limitations, the most obvious of which is character count. This means in just a few words, a brand has to resonate with the audience. Knowing that ad extensions alone will typically increase CTRs, we were excited to see what an extension with rich content would achieve.

Just Eat is a great brand to test out such a feature as we shop for food with our eyes, not always our stomachs. Here’s what they look like in the current Irish mobile SERPs:

just eat's visual site links

Buying Up SERP Real Estate

Another benefit when adopting visual sitelinks is the space they take up. Not only are they the most eye-catching ad extension, they also take up more space in SERPs. This means by deploying visual sitelinks, you’re more likely to push competitor results below the fold and out of mind.

Measured Metrics 

As we’ve already mentioned, Google regularly updates features in AdWords. This means we are regularly testing new innovations to see which give our clients the performance uplifts. The performance of visual sitelinks will increase when using dedicated imagery for the ad extension which is relevant to the targeted keywords. Our first round of testing, to save both time and resources, involved us adapting existing creative to prove visual sitelinks are a worthwhile investment of further resources.

Given what we already knew about the impact of ad extensions on consumer behaviour, combined with Just Eat’s visually appealing products, we expected the use of visual sitelinks to increase click-through rate. Sure enough, ads with visual sitelinks brought a 12% increase in CTR versus ads without the visual extension. We would expect to build upon that figure with dedicated creative.

Wolfgang Essential Takeaway

Google is protecting SERPs and only allowed select brands into the “Visual Sitelink Club”. If your brand has been whitelisted and has access to this new AdWords feature, reusing your existing creative is a great way to get started. Visual sitelinks let you take over SERPs with visually appealing imagery that pushes your competitors out of sight while visually grabbing your customer’s attention and, more importantly, drawing their clicks.

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