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.


Just a clarification about AdWords Ad Sitelinks

"that marketers can actually buy this feature in their paid listings as well"

Just a clarification: you don't really "buy" this feature. IF it is available in your AdWords account / campaign you decide whether to use it or not.

Help or Hinder

I love sitelinks in the organic listings. I find them really helpful. They do force me to pause though and consider my action.

When I have a single link, I assume I will have to hunt around a bit once I hit the landing page.

When I'm confronted with multiple links, I have to select that which is most relevant.

Perhaps something in that process encourages me to believe that I've made my best selection at the ad stage vs. the landing page. Maybe I'm then less likely to continue if the landing page is not hyper-relevant.

Good questions Nate.

Just a clarification about AdWords Ad Sitelinks

Hey! May I know why you deleted my comment?

Thanks for your comments

Thanks Sakis and Monique for your thoughts.

@Monique you make a good point about how sitelinks make you stop and think about where you go on a site before you click out from Google - but my assumption would be that thought process ensured more relevant clicks and so ultimately a higher conversion rate per click. My only thought is - perhaps people click on one link, don't find what they're looking for - and then come back to the Google results to find the next link, thereby using Google in place of the site's homepage as a navigational tool. That'd artificially drive up the clickthrough rate of an ad, while artificially driving down the conversions per click. I'd love to hear from a marketer who's had this experience, though -- or to hear from Google themselves -- and see if they agree with that theory.

@Sakis, my apologies that your first comment isn't currently showing -- it appears that it has been flagged it for moderation. Hopefully it'll be back up soon, when our moderators get to it (I'm not able to approve it myself). I do thank you, though, for explaining more elegantly than I did how marketers can access this feature, so I'll re-post your comment here: "Just a clarification: you don't really "buy" this feature. IF it is available in your AdWords account / campaign you decide whether to use it or not."

Triggered in Webmaster too

You can also trigger site links from your Google Webmaster account, not just AdWords, though you don't see a differentiation between clicks if you trigger it activation this way.

I have seen huge increases in

I have seen huge increases in CTR on several accounts when using sitelinks. The conversionrate increase has differed. It's a matter of optimizing your sitelink texts and landingpages. If you add more than 4 sitelinks Adwords will show the 4 sitelinks with the highest ctr. Make sure to tag all of them though to make sure the conversion rate is up to standard for all of the sitelinks too

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