Google AdWords Sitelinks Extension Strategy for Retailers

We could spend all day talking about AdWords extension strategies, but today, we’re going to focus on one of our favorites: Google AdWords sitelinks.

If you haven’t set AdWords sitelinks up in your Adwords account yet, check out our AdWords Extension: Adding Sitelinks post.

According to Google, AdWords sitelinks extensions boost your CTR by 10-20%.  And when we looked at some of our most effective Ad campaigns, we found that AdWords sitelinks were a driving factor behind campaign success. While sitelink  extension formats may change, there’s no doubt that they should be an essential part of your AdWords strategy. They help draw your customers into your site, they’re pretty easy to maintain, and they offer greater insight into what your customers want.

What are AdWords Sitelinks?

Before we get started, let’s cover some basics. AdWords sitelinks are located in your Adwords account under text ads. The purpose? To help customers reach pertinent pages of your site (and potentially increase your site conversions). Here are a few examples of Adwords sitelinks in the wild:

google adwords sitelink extensions

adwords sitelink extensions dog food

sitelinks extension for apple computers

As you can see in the above examples, sitelinks don’t always look the same. Some have descriptions, and some don’t. Others are in a single line, while others show up stacked. Here are some of the requirements, as outlined by Google:

  1. 25 characters
  2. Accurate text that links to the content on your page (no clickbait!)
  3. No punctuation
  4. Careful use of Trademarks (check Google’s Trademarks Policy)
  5. No keyword insertion in the text

Want to learn more about setting up sitelinks? Read all of the requirements on the Google AdWords blog.

AdWords Sitelinks Showdown

There are many ways to test the effectiveness of your sitelink extensions. If you’re working on multiple campaigns, you could measure them across different products, or even get into the nitty-gritty of sitelink descriptions.

We chose to keep it simple and examined AdWords sitelink headlines for 5 similar retailers over a 12-month span based on themes you see below:


Sitelink extension headlines promoting a sale or a deal, including percentages such as “50% off” or “Free water bottle with purchase”.


All headlines that included the terms “spring”, “summer”, “fall”, or “winter”.


A larger bucket including deep links including specifics such as “women’s shoes” or “perennial flowers”.

After dividing all ad headlines into those three categories, we chose three AdWords metrics to measure our success:

  • CTR (Clicks/Impressions)
  • CVR (Conversions/Clicks)
  • ROAS (Conversion Values/Cost)


Which AdWords Sitelinks Headlines Are Most Effective?

After wrangling Excel reports and Pivot tables, here’s what we found:

Category 5.94% 3.14% 1121%
Sale 7.14% 2.73% 924%
Seasonal 5.07% 2.49% 797%

Let’s focus on the top two best performers: “Category” and “Sale”.

Category-Themed Headlines

Notice the incredibly high ROAS for “Category”? There’s a method for writing great sitelink headlines. Lewis Brannon, Senior Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy, explains:lewis-brannon

“For categorical sitelinks, it’s not so much about the headline or the verbiage, it’s more so about promoting the most relevant categories and sub categories that relate to the individual search,” says Brannon. “Getting super granular with your categorical sitelinks is key.”

Done well, categorical sitelinks also create opportunities to cross-sell.

“It’s also a great way to cross-sell to a consumer. For example, in your main branded campaigns, you’d want to offer sitelinks that relate to your top level categories and navigation. But for a specific category campaign, like ‘Jeans’ for example, you’d want to offer the user specific sub-categories like ‘Men’s Jeans,’ ‘Women’s Jeans,’ ‘Raw Denim,’ etc.”

What does this look like for an even more specific product search?

“If we continue with the “Levi’s 501 jeans” search example, an optimal group of sitelinks would be something like “Men’s 501,” “Womens 501,” “501 Limited Editions,” “501 Slim,” “501 Athletic,” etc.”

Sale-Themed Headlines

Surprised that sale-themed headlines have a lower CVR? Brannon has one possible explanation:

“In many cases we see that the sale verbiage is not heavily promoted on the landing page. If that is the case, the consumer can be easily confused and bounce. That’s why it’s paramount to maintain your landing page copy super consistent with your promotional copy in your sitelinks as to keep the continuity in the user experience.”

If you are writing sale-themed sitelink extensions, it’s also crucial to think creatively.

“Don’t just use the same stale “this-percentage-off” messaging. Give your sale a unique name that catches a customer’s attention”, Brannon says.

The Takeaway

Here’s what you need to remember while creating AdWords sitelinks:

  • Stay within the Google AdWords Sitelink Guidelines (above)
  • For sale-themed headlines:
    • Ensure the landing page connected to your sitelink emphasizes the sale you promoted
    • Craft unique and compelling sale names
  • For categorical headlines:
    • Get granular with categories and subcategories
    • Promote more specific products under category campaigns

Have questions? Fire away at

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About the AuthorLeanna graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) in 2012 with a BA in Creative Writing and lived in NYC for two years. In 2014, she returned to her home state of California where she enjoys eating too many fish tacos, skipping winter, and writing quality web content for CPC Strategy. Follow her on Twitter @slylikeasmeagol. See all posts by this author here.