Visual Sitelinks: The Secret to Improving your CTR?

7th December 2017

two minute read

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Visual Sitelink Extensions have been available as a beta for Google Partners for a number of months now. We tested the new feature on 20 campaigns and discovered major performance gains in CTR (Click Through Rate).

What Are Visual Sitelinks?

The new feature allows advertisers to add images into their paid search campaigns to help these ads stand out to potential customers. They aim to enhance the visualisation of ads by gaining attention within a competitive space, in a way that text ads cannot. High-quality images make promoting or selling a product or service easier.

The sitelinks were first tested back in 2013 as ‘image extensions’ and were available on desktop only. The second phase of Google’s Visual Sitelinks beta was introduced in 2016 for mobile search ads, and became available to UK businesses.

How Do They Work?

Visual Sitelinks work like any other ad extension; they are triggered by keyword searches and link to pages on an advertiser’s site. They are available at account, campaign or ad group level. But be aware, Visual Sitelinks only display when your ad is served in position 1.

They are displayed as a series of swipeable images below your search ad and are only available on mobile, which doesn’t come as a surprise considering Google’s recent push for advertisers to prioritise mobile advertising.

The Guidelines

Google make it clear that the Visual Sitelinks extension will be profoundly dependent on the quality and relevance of the images used.

  • Creating an ad requires at least four images of the same ratio with text , an image title (25 character limit) and a description (50 characters)
  • Images must be relevant, high quality, and professional (JPG or PNG)
  • The title must have a maximum of 25 characters and the description must have a maximum of 50 characters
  • Images should not contain text or logo overlays
  • Images can be used as a logo, or a standalone image
  • Excessive white space or catalogue-style photography will not be approved
  • The minimum image size is 1280x720px

The Results

Visual Sitelinks have been only available to certain Google Partners for a number of months now. We tested the new feature on 20 campaigns over a 4 month period and this is what we found.

Overall, campaigns experienced an 18.57% average increase in CTR.

We compared ads in position 1 with Visual Sitelinks, with adverts in position 1 without sitelinks. We found that, when compared to regular sitelink extensions, 16 campaigns experienced a positive result in click through rate, whilst 4 campaigns dropped in click through rate.

The best performing campaign experienced an increase of 248.46%.

The average CTR for ads with Visual Sitelinks was 11.28%.

Overall, these results indicate that visual Sitelinks are a positive feature that advertisers should be utilising. There is currently no fixed date for the full rollout of these; it will depend on the beta results. However, we expect them to be available in the near future.

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