Close your eyes (after you’ve finished reading this paragraph) and pretend that you’re in New Orleans on a hot summer night. Picture yourself strolling down Bourbon Street. Imagine it’s your first time there and that other than booking your hotel you really don’t know much about the city or which bars and restaurants to visit first. As you meander cautiously around street performers and drunken college kids whilst trying to dodge heat-seeking beads, how does the decision-making process play out in your head of which establishment to step into? What factors contribute to your final decision? You don’t have a ton of time because the army of people led by that 18 year old behind you with the giant cup full of some bright red concoction is getting very pushy.

bourbon night

Okay. Open your eyes now. I hope that you made it out of there alive. You probably have a horrible headache and are very sensitive to bright lights. This will pass. Go eat some beignets.

So, how did you make your decision? Was it because of the long line of people waiting outside to get in? That must mean the place is cool. Was it based on a review that you read from Yelp or maybe word of mouth from a friend? Did the place you chose have a menu outside so that you could view the night’s courses and prices? Or was it a combination of several of those factors?

Well, the same decision making process can be applied to customers looking for businesses on search engines. Google and Yahoo/Bing give you the opportunity to enhance your typical search text ad with ad extensions. These extensions add extra pieces of information about your business that give customers more reasons to click. Generally, ad extensions are very easy to set up and there is no additional cost to adding them to your campaigns.

The importance of adding these extensions cannot be overstated. The additional information provided via the extensions will help your SEM performance in many ways:

  • Increase real estate on the SERP to attract more eyes and clicks – this also helps to push your competition to lower positions, the right rail, or the bottom of the page
  • Provide an in-depth, informative advertising user experience
  • Establish third-party and social credibility and validation
  • Boost CTR and improve Ad Rank and Quality Score. In October of 2013, Google announced that it would factor your advertisement’s potential to serve extensions into its formula for Ad Rank.

Types of Ad Extensions

Sitelinks (In NOLA: the menu outside the restaurant)

These are probably the oldest of the ad extensions. Sitelinks adds landing page information that helps users find what they are searching for more specifically. These links direct to separate landing pages than your headline, and can take the user into deeper levels of your site.

There are two variations of sitelinks:

Basic – can appear with 2, 4, or 6 links

Descriptive – can appear with 2 or 4

Social Annotations (In NOLA: the line of people waiting to get in/word of mouth)

Social Annotations link your Google+ Page to your AdWords campaigns, so that all your +1s – from your page, your website, ads and search – get tallied together. This means more recommendations for your ads, helping to inform users about your content. Additionally, this extension helps to establish peer validation.

Review (In NOLA: the great review you read on Yelp)

These help to establish company credibility by displaying a quote from a review written by a reputable third-party resource.

Location (In NOLA: the receptionist at your hotel gave nearby recommendations)

These display the location of the nearest storefront. Additional features include a map pin, call options or navigation assistance.


On mobile these let you click a button to call your business. On desktop, your business’ phone number is displayed

Other Ad Extensions

Here are additional extensions that are available:

  • App Extensions
  • Consumer Ratings Annotations
  • Previous Visit Annotations
  • Seller Rating Annotations

No matter what type of business you run, there is at least one extension that is right for you. However, there are many other extensions to be used, and most depend on what your business goals are. Not all extensions can be combined to display at the same time, so finding the right combination that gives you the best return on investment is key.

Take your ad from this:

To this: