Does Google's 'Sitelinks' Feature Improve Or Hurt Conversion Rates?

I don't know about you, but I like the 'extended' search results I sometimes see on Google. I mean the ones where Google, instead of just offering a single link for the top search result, provides you with several deep links into a site. It makes navigation faster, and that's a good thing.

Those extra links almost always show up in organic results, so you may not have known that marketers can actually buy this feature in their paid listings as well. Google calls them 'AdWords Ad Sitelinks.' But -- I'm starting to wonder how well these actually work for marketers. I noticed today that in Google's case study about how Nationwide Insurance used Sitelinks [pdf], Google says the clickthrough rate went up 73% but conversions only rose 60%. The case study isn't clear on whether that's conversions per click or overall conversions -- but it certainly sounds like overall conversions. In which case, the clicks Nationwide got from Sitelinks actually converted at a lower rate than the clicks they got from traditional paid listings.

Now, this is just one example -- and as I said, it's based on my reading of the case study. But if Sitelinks really did drive conversion rates down rather than up, surely that'd be a concern.

I'm curious -- have you used Sitelinks? If so, what did you think of the program's performance -- especially the conversion rates? Let us know in the comments below.

Announcing The Forrester International Groundswell Awards

I'm thrilled to announce that this year Forrester will present the first-ever Forrester International Groundswell Awards! The Forrester Groundswell Awards are our effort to recognize not just the best ideas in social media marketing, but the programs that have proven the most effective at generating results for marketers. In the past we've run a single set of awards for all business-to-consumer marketers, no matter where in the world they were based -- and we've always been excited to see and reward great social media programs from outside the US. This year, with companies around the world ramping up their use of social media marketing -- and with many of them doing outstanding work -- we decided it was time to create a special category for non-North American marketers.

If you've run a great consumer-focused social media marketing program in the past year -- and if your program didn't specifically target the US or Canada -- then we'd love to see your entry for the Forrester International Groundswell Awards. The entry deadline is August 27, 2010 (get your entries in early so you can generate audience votes!) and we'll present the awards at our EMEA Marketing and Strategy Forum in London on November 18, 2010. Be sure to check out Josh's post for full details and rules. I'm looking forward to seeing your submissions!