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A Brief Look Into AdWords Visual Sitelinks

Blog | 14 Feb, 2017

Written by Caitlin Fikac and John Thompson

We tested visual sitelinks on 15 PPC campaigns. The outcome? On average, they experienced a 50% increase in Click-Through Rate (CTR).

What are visual sitelinks?

Visual sitelinks are a new extension, currently in testing, that uses an image instead of text, available exclusively for Google AdWords. These sitelinks are seen only on mobile devices and are shown in a swipeable carousel format. These new visual sitelinks can offer brands who rely on the aesthetic value of their product, a great way to showcase the experience in a visual manner where the plain text may not do it justice. It’s another tool that allows advertisers to dominate more of the already limited mobile SERP. When shown, visual sitelinks will actually allow your ad to own all, or almost all, of the SERP above the fold. 


Keep in mind:

  • Visual sitelinks will only appear (just as normal sitelink extensions) when your ad is served in position 1 and are available at the account, campaign or ad group level.
  • Visual sitelinks are only available if your account has been whitelisted.


Currently these sitelinks are in beta testing and live under the “Labs” tab in AdWords. After testing is complete, these sitelinks will most likely be found within the “Ad Extensions” tab with the other available extensions.

Exact guidelines for creation are listed below:

  • The sitelink must contain at least 4 images of the same aspect ratio, 16:9, that are relevant to the product advertised.
  • High quality, professional images (JPG or PNG)
  • Minimum image size 1280x720px
  • No text or logos overlay
  • No “catalog item” photos
  • Title (25 characters max) & description (50 characters max)

Several sources have noted that performance of the extension will be highly dependent on both the quality of the image, as well as how relevant they are to your keywords. This could be similar to Facebook’s relevancy score for ads.

The Results

During our 3-month testing period with 15+ campaigns, the campaigns with visual sitelinks experienced an overall uplift in CTR of 50%. However, don’t expect each image to generate its own specific clicks. We’ve found that when a visual sitelink is shown, 79% of clicks are on the headline of the ad, while only 21% of clicks to be on the images themselves. 

All in all, visual sitelinks are a perfect way to boost CTR, own the mobile SERP and highlight brand aesthetics that often get lost within basic text ads.

Looking Ahead

This extension release is hardly a surprise as this perfectly meshes with Google’s increasing focus on mobile moving into 2017. It will be interesting to see how PPC and Display begin to mix as our mobile-first world continues to revolve around convenience and instant gratification.

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