When searching with Google, you may notice ads in the top spots get some additional lines of information—star ratings, messaging such as “Book Online Today,” endorsements like “Best Hotel Chain,” or additional links to sites. These elements are called Ad Extensions. This feature gives searchers additional information about your business, thus giving people more reasons to click. Ad Extensions are a great way to secure more real estate for yourself on the search results page, inform users of your business before they even click on your ad, and potentially improve your ad’s click-through rate. While they mostly appear in search results, Ad Extensions can also sometimes show with your ads on the display network as well.

Ad Extensions are easy to implement, can improve your ad presence, and don’t cost you anything extra. Beyond their eye-catching nature and the improved ROI on your Google AdWords, Ad Extensions can help improve your ad rank position while keeping your costs lower/competitive. If you don’t know about Ad Rank, read more here, as it’s a fundamental part of how the auction system works for AdWords.

In terms of cost, you’re charged per click, as you would be with a regular ad, though you may also incur incremental charges on certain extensions, which we note as we go through each type.

When you log into your AdWords account and click on the Ad Extensions tab you will find the Ad Extensions setup pane. You will then see a refiner on the left, where you can choose which type of Ad Extension you’d like to set up. Ad Extensions have options to be applied at either the Campaign or Ad Group level, so you can get fairly granular with what you want to pair together.

There are manual extensions, which you as the account owner set up, and automated extensions, which AdWords will pull for you automatically. Let’s go through these one at a time.


Perhaps one of the most popular Ad Extensions is the one for Sitelinks. These extra links in your ad let you take users to different parts of your site when they click through, which allows them to navigate to what they need faster. This is a good place to showcase additional features and details such as a guarantee you may have, your hours, and locations. Sitelinks can be 25 characters long. There’s also an optional description field for when your ad qualifies to show it. This varies based on the space available on the search results page, and the competitiveness of the auction your ad is in.

Call Extensions

AdWords will not let you run ads with a phone number as part of the ad text. However, they offer an even better option with Call Extensions. For mobile users, this function adds a call button to your ads, which users can click on directly from their smartphone to get in touch with you. If they’re on a desktop device, the number will show as part of the ad, just below the headline.

This extension can be set up at the Campaign or Ad Group level, which is helpful if you have different numbers for tracking purposes. Note that when you set up Call Extensions, Google will offer the option to use your own phone number or a Google forwarding number.

If you choose a Google number, the phone number that appears in your ad will be randomly generated, and your actual business phone number will not be used. With a Google number, you gain access to advanced reporting options, such as when the call started and ended, whether the call was answered, the area code of the caller, and which campaign/ad group it was tied to. You can also designate calls as a conversion action, which then feed into your AdWords reporting for metrics such as cost per conversion and conversion rate.

The drawback to using a Google number is that your ad will display an 800-number. This can detract from the local feel of your business, especially if you focus on a certain service area.

Location Extensions

If you have a physical storefront location, this is a very useful extension. Local Extensions show your business address, your phone number, and a map marker along with your ad text. Mobile users have the option to click a link for directions.

The best way to link your locations extensions is to link your account to your Google My Business Page. If you do not have a My Business Page yet, set it up before you create a location extension. Here are more instructions to link your page to your AdWords account.

App Extensions

An App Extension shows a small link below your ad that either links directly to an app store (Google or Apple) for download, or to an immediate download.

You can create mobile-specific versions of this extension or you can disable this functionality for specific devices of your choice. AdWords does help with some heavy lifting as well: It knows what type of device the user is on (so if you create an extension for Google and a separate one for Apple it will show the correct version based on the device the searcher uses). It can also detect if the user is on a tablet or a phone, so if your app is only good on one or the other, Google won’t show your ad to users who have an incompatible device type.

There is no added cost to have this extension, but you will be charged for any downloads you get.

If you specifically want to advertise your mobile app, you can create a Campaign with that goal in mind. For more information on how to leverage AdWords to drive downloads of your mobile app, check out this resource.

Review Extensions

Review Extensions insert a one-line review quote from a trusted third-party source. These kinds of endorsements are a great way to build trust with a user and encourage them to click on your ads. You manually enter these extensions, but there are some rules that apply:

  • Quotes need to be from an official publication or organization, rather than a comment in a forum or a comment on a blog post.
  • You cannot repeat your business name in the review text.
  • The review needs to be no more than one year old.
  • You may not edit or change the review in any way.

There’s an even more extensive list of rules, and some AdWords users have been disapproved multiple times. Follow the rules as best you can and re-submit several times to hit the nail on the head.

Callout Extensions

A lot of folks confuse Callout Extensions for Sitelinks. The idea is the same. You can add text that calls out important points, but it doesn’t actually link anywhere—it’s just static text. These extensions are a great place to mention features and details that don’t necessarily need further explanation, including free shipping or a money-back guarantee. There is a text limit of 25 characters.

Automatic Ad Extensions

Google also has Ad Extensions you don’t set up on your own. Instead, Google automatically pulls info for you. But keep in mind: Automatic Extensions may still require some back end work, such as setting up a Google+ page or a system for customer reviews.

Automatic Ad Extensions include:

  • Consumer Ratings: This shows a company satisfaction score on your ad with a rating system of one to 10. The score is obtained by surveying customers through Google Consumer Surveys. If you’re interested in accruing surveys, you can read more and find pricing in the Google Consumer Surveys section.
  • Seller Ratings: These display a star rating according to a 5-star system, and can make your ad stand out. They are based on several ratings systems, including Google Trusted Stores, StellaService, ratings from your Google Consumer Surveys, and a list of other third-party review sites.
  • Previous Visits: If a user has clicked through to a website via Google Search before, it will note how many times the user has done so in the ad. Users must be logged in to Google when they perform that action for it to work.
  • Social Extensions: This will add in a line noting how many Google+ followers your business has. You need a Google+ page with a verified URL that matches the domain your ads drive to.
  • Dynamic Structured Snippets: These are lines of informative text pulled from your landing page. They are similar to a Call Out Extension, except you don’t specify what’s pulled in and they are generally longer. Currently, they’re only available for ads in English. You can choose to opt out of this feature as well via a form you submit to Google.

Evaluating Extension Performance

Like anything you run in AdWords, test, test, and test some more. Check the statistics with your Ad Extensions to find out what resonates with users. When you pick the Ad Extension from the dropdown, it will automatically show you stats for selected date ranges. This is also where you can see if any Extensions are disapproved after you submit them, so be sure to check often.

Now you can show up at the top of search results with an improved click-through rate. Use Ad Extensions to dominate search with all kinds of additional information to provide helpful content and gain credibility with searchers. Go forth and extend!


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