July 30, 2014 | Sarah Danks

If it’s free, but you don’t want it…is it still a good deal?

It’s no secret Google rolled with dynamic sitelinks for AdWords clients last week:

“We’re introducing dynamic sitelinks: automatically generated sitelinks that appear below your ad text, connecting potential customers to relevant pages on your website more easily.”

Great! But, wait…what’s that mean?

Do advertisers have to pay for clicks to these sitelinks? Turns out, NOPE! They’re free (“Clicks on dynamic sitelinks are free“)! But, wait…

Do I WANT people clicking on the dynamic sitelinks now appearing in my ad, instead of the original sitelinks I created?

So how come I don’t get to determine which sitelinks are shown?

“However, it’s important to continue adding and optimizing sitelinks because impression share for dynamic sitelinks will be low. In fact, the sitelinks you set up will always show…”

Oh, sweet! So the sitelinks I’m crafting will still be shown!

“…except for the few instances when the dynamic sitelink might perform better.”

Oorrrrrrrrr not.

I like how They say “the few instances,” as if to say, “I mean, it’s gonna happen SO RARELY we probably shouldn’t even mention it…

When we all know darn well it’s going to be more like 50% of the time dynamic sitelinks will show. Or maybe even more.

Of course, you can always opt out of dynamic sitelinks and not show them at all. Why bother with them, if you won’t be able to control them? Well, according to Google (and Larry Kim!), ad extensions impact AdRank. And using sitelinks in your ads boosts Quality Score, too! Holy hannah…and why would you ever opt out of something that’s only a positive for your ads??

Especially since The Google says,

“Sitelinks have long helped to connect people to the content they’re looking for by linking to specific pages on your websites.”

That’s all well and good — but wait, why are we talking about websites in relation to sitelinks on paid ads?? What if you’re not routing paid traffic to your website? What if, instead, you’re building standalone landing pages (as you should) for conversion? Where, then, does Google send traffic from their automatic dynamic sitelinks they’re creating for you?

Here are three scenarios we see with this:

Scenario 1:

Say I’ve got a website — www.mysite.com. Now, I have a PPC campaign but I want to build conversion-oriented landing pages instead of sending the paid traffic to my website pages. So I build a couple of landing pages, and I put them in their own “folder” within the domain: Landing Page 1 lives at www.mysite.com/lp/coffee and Landing Page 2 lives at www.mysite.com/lp/tea. According to Google, they’re going to automatically generate sitelinks for me…but since you can’t use the same URL in your main headline link as you do in your sitelinks, where will Google get the URLs for dynamic sitelinks?

They’re going to use random pages from the website (www.mysite.com), of course. But wait! I don’t WANT paid traffic floating about on my website — I want them on my landing pages, which have been built (and tested and revised and tested some more) specifically to convert paid traffic.

Scenario 2:

So maybe instead of building landing pages in a folder within your website’s domain, you opt to use a sub-domain for your landing pages instead. For example, lp.mysite.com. Let’s say you’ve got Landing Page 1 living on lp.mysite.com/coffee and Landing Page 2 on lp.mysite.com/tea. Well, now what’s Google going to do? How will they generate sitelinks for you, if there are only two pages built on this sub-domain?

Well, they’ll either use any/all unique URLs on that sub-domain for sitelinks (read: other landing pages), or if there aren’t enough…they’ll probably revert back to the main domain (www.mysite.com) and use pages from that for the dynamic sitelinks.

Scenario 3:

And, what if you’re a savvy marketer and you’re using a standalone landing page on a separate domain? Let’s say your landing page lives at www.mylandingpage.com. And it’s the ONLY page on that domain. Now what does Google do about dynamically generating sitelinks?

Technically, they can’t give you sitelinks — since there are no other web pages living on that domain, and they can’t use the same URL for more than one link within an ad…looks like you’re off the hook. (Unless they’re smart enough to find your main domain…?)

By all rights, landing pages built on an entirely separate domain — e.g., www.mylandingpage.com — shouldn’t be “eligible” for dynamic sitelinks, since there are no other pages/URLs residing on that domain.

Let’s look at the big picture: Google’s obviously testing this entire thing. It’s almost as if this entire “experiment” is nudging people towards using pages from their website as “landing pages.” Otherwise, how does it benefit the marketers using standalone landing pages?

Yes, yes, adding sitelinks to your ads boosts QS and AdRank, which is all good. But what does adding sitelinks — and, now, dynamically generated sitelinks that Google chooses — do for your CONVERSION? That golden egg you’re working so hard for?

The moral of the story is: Google is trying to gain that 10% increase in overall CTR for the top three ad spots. However, they don’t understand what the business objective is of each ad and dynamically generating their own sitelinks could be a detriment to overall conversion rates.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts things moving forward. What’re your thoughts???







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