Since Google announced changes to the way it ranks adverts on its AdWords system, campaigns that use ad extensions have a better chance of ranking well (and costing less) than those that don’t. In an extract from his new PDF guide, Matt Loughlin, Head of PPC at Receptional, outlines the key ad extensions you should consider for your PPC campaigns.

Google AdWords ad extensions can help boost the performance of advertising campaigns. In other words, you get more traffic to your site while spending less on ads.

How do they work?

Ad extensions allow you to enhance your listing by providing more information. Your ad takes up more space in Google’s listings and searchers can more easily find the information they’re looking for. You can add locations, contact details, sitelinks or hand-picked products.

Ad extensions add a new dimension to your listing and allow you to provide information that’s relevant to users’ search terms. Each ad extension has specific benefits, so it’s important to choose the right extension for your campaign.

With that in mind, here’s our guide to six must-have ad extensions.

Social extensions

Using a social extension will give you the option to link data from your company’s Google+ account to your AdWords campaign. This extension tallies all the +1s from your Google+ page. The total is displayed in the contents of your ad listing.

You are probably aware of the importance of social media marketing. Social extensions are a great way of demonstrating that your company has a significant number of connections. The extension validates the good work your company is doing and shows the strong relationship have with your clients.

Google says that using a Google+ extension results in “5-10% uplift in click-through rate”.

Image Ad Extensions

Images can be far more engaging to an audience than text. AdWords has now introduced image ad extensions. Although still in beta testing, the early results look promising – all you need is your own images.

Using an image extension will help to show your customer base the quality of your product or service in a way that plain text can’t. Whether it’s an item of clothing, a vehicle or a holiday, an engaging image can spark an emotional response from searchers.

The images are displayed when Google deems that the search query is a good match for visual content. You have complete control over the images that are paired with your regular search ads.

Past experience has shown us that good imagery can bring about a sharp rise in click-throughs and it’s an excellent option for an ecommerce site.

Call Extensions

Adding a phone number to your ad will make it a lot easier for customers to contact you directly. Google offers two options for call extensions.

The first makes use of Google’s free call forwarding service. While this previously cost $1 or £1 per phone call, the charge has now been removed for enhanced campaigns. If you choose to use a call forwarding number, you’ll be able to set a conversion length for the call and receive phone call data for your campaign.

Alternatively, you can add your regular business landline instead. This has become increasingly important on smartphones, where your ad will include a ‘click-to-call’ button. This means that the user simply has to tap the on-screen number to begin a call.

This is a remarkably simple process for a customer and this improved user experience is likely lead to more successful transactions.

Offer Extensions

Offer extensions are invaluable to independent traders who are looking to drive more foot traffic to their locally based business.

The ability to distribute promotions through AdWords campaigns with offer extensions is great news for those who wants to convert online searchers to in-store buyers and perfect for a target market that would rather make a purchase in store.

When a user clicks the ‘view offer’ button at the bottom of an ad, they will be taken to a page hosted by Google where they can print off a voucher or save it for later use.

Offer extensions are easy to set-up. All that’s needed tis to select ‘offer extensions’ from the drop-down ad extensions menu and complete the details of your offer.

Once again, you have complete control over the ad. The offer can be scheduled – giving you security over when and how the vouchers can be used – and monitored, meaning you can track the return of investment on the extension.

App Extensions

The latest figures suggest that more than 102 billion apps will be downloaded by the end of 2013 and Google AdWords now gives you the option to connect your own app to your ad.

In this extension, smartphone users can see a link to download your app in your ad listing. Clicking on the link enables download from either iTunes or the Google Play store.

Should a user already have your app downloaded, clicking on the link will send them to a specific segment of your app to finish the conversion. With many companies now encouraging customers to carry out transactions via apps, this extension is a prime method of getting your app on people’s screens on a regular basis.

Advertisers have found that using the app extension has increased conversion rates.

Video Extensions

Video extensions are in a state of flux. After being trialled a few years ago, low user engagement levels forced Google to rethink their strategy and the extension was retired.

Thanks to accessible software, creating video content with high production values has become easier than ever. And the increasing importance of video online has seen Google reintroduce video extensions – allowing companies to show off their content (we’re looking at you, Netflix).

What next?

Implementing ad extensions for Google AdWords is a sure-fire way of enhancing your PPC campaigns. When implemented well, extensions can give you a fantastic competitive advantage. Extensions will almost certainly help to improve your click through rate (CTR), improve your keyword quality scores and reduce your CPC (cost per click).

Of course, not all ad extensions apply to all organisations – but it is worth checking out what’s available. For an overview of the 16 different types of ad extension – and how best to use them, simply download Receptional’s free PDF: The Complete Guide to AdWords Ad Extensions.

Matt Loughlin is the head of Paid Search at Receptional.com, with over 6 years' experience in PPC marketing.

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