It was a good idea, but not all good ideas succeed.

Google decided to eliminate review extensions in January 2018, and Google deleted the review extensions and performance data from AdWords accounts in February 2018. In place of review extensions, Google recommended sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets extensions.

How the Reviews Worked

Google knows the effect reviews have on consumer buying decisions. V12DATA reports 97% of consumers say reviews influence what they purchase.

So, it was a good idea to have reviews under Google text ads.

AdWords users could apply for an extension to feature these reviews under their text ads. The benefit was two-fold:

  • You received a nice endorsement under an ad.
  • There was more ad space because you didn’t need to mention the popularity of the product.

Google’s Rules for Ad Extensions

For a review extension to be approved by Google, the review needed to be about the business as a whole, rather than just the product or service. Google wanted the reviews to run on all ads a business ran, as opposed to a review for each live ad.

Other reasons a review would not be approved include:

  • It was a personal review, rather than from a publication or organization.
  • It repeated your business’ name.
  • The review was over a year old.
  • The review didn’t come from its original source.
  • The review was changed in some way (even adding a period or exclamation mark would lead to rejection).

If you’re shaking your head because these parameters seem difficult to stay within, I agree with you. It has never been a great feature because getting reviews to pass the approval process very difficult.


The End of Review Extensions

I have tried to get reviews approved plenty of times, but they were rejected repeatedly. The time spent trying to get the reviews approved was better spent developing, implementing and monitoring AdWords campaigns to find which ones performed best without reviews.

Ginny Marvin, reporter for Search Engine Land, also admits it’s not a surprise the ad feature is being evoked. It was launched in 2013, and with the stringent approval process, many advertisers weren’t using it.

In addition, the reviews only appeared on desktop devices. With nearly 60% of people searching Google on mobile devices, having the reviews featured on ads doesn’t make sense for many industries.

3 Alternatives to Review Extensions

In Google’s announcement about ending ad extensions, other options were recommended:

  1. Sitelinks
  2. Callouts
  3. Structured Snippets

I want to go over these, so you have a better idea of what might work better for you, even if you never even knew Review Extensions existed.


1. Sitelinks

Sitelink Extensions adds more links to your ads. They can take people to a specific page of your site, such as a product’s order page.

Sitelinks display differently depending on a user’s device. On desktop devices, up to 6 links may display with an ad. Mobile devices may show up to 8 links side-by-side in a carousel format. This way people can swipe to see each link.

Sitelinks can appear either at the top of Google search results or at the bottom of them.

Access Sitelinks at the account, campaign, or ad group level in AdWords. You can select the link text and the URL attached to it. Google determines if it wants to add a description to the link depending on whether it will help the user.

I have found that Sitelinks are best for those who want to increase conversions for a specific product or service. The data accompanying the clicks the ad received helps identify what people may be seeking after clicking on the ad. It’s an effective way to gauge how well a page converts, as long as your ad targets the audience that’s ready to make a purchase.

You can hone in on that audience with the help of Callout Extensions.


2. Callout Extensions

Callout Extensions allows AdWords users to promote offers, such as free shipping or a sale. These callouts allow your add to display 2 to 6 callouts in addition to the text in the ad. The number of callouts depends on users’ devices and other factors.

This is an example of what a Callout may look like:

Callout Extensions can be added to your Adwords campaign at the account, campaign, or ad group level. You can select where you want them displayed, create the text, and schedule when to have them appear.

It’s important to create a few different callouts because length, order of callouts, and when you want them to show factors into if Google will display them.

Google always makes the final call on what they show their users.

A/B testing is always part of the process in understanding what works for Google and its users. Callout Extensions need to be considered in your testing.

The good news is that Callout Extensions do not carry an additional cost.

What I’ve found to work out best with Callouts is to add them at the account level. Callouts that apply to the entire business display more often than those that only apply to a specific product or service.

I’ve also made sure to make them as specific as possible. The shorter the better while still making sense will spark people’s attention. For example, “Free shipping” or “24/7 support” work well for most industries.


3. Structured Snippets Extensions

Structured Snippets Extensions highlight products and services. They appear as a header below your text ad.

Snippet Extensions show up to 2 headers on desktop devices and only one header on mobile devices. The AdWords algorithm decides which header is best to display.

This is an example of a Structured Snippet Extension:

The Snippets help people learn more about products and services and boost your return on investment (ROI) for AdWords.

In your AdWords account, you can add Structured Snippet Extensions at the account, campaign, or ad group level. They are highly customizable, so you can set the date, days of the week, and times. You can also choose from the many predefined headers available.

When setting up a Structured Snippet Extension, “make sure your header and values match, as a mismatch is the most likely reason your snippets will be disapproved,” according to Google.

As you’re creating your Structured Snippet Extensions, be sure to:

  • Provide enough information
  • Optimize it for mobile users
  • Add as many headers as possible
  • Choose the right format

There is a learning curve with these, but as you create them, you will learn what works best for your consumers and Google.


Honorable Salute to Review Extensions

Farewell Review Extensions!

Even though they were created to provide consumers more information to make purchase decisions easier, it just didn’t work out that way. At least we have alternatives to fall back on, such as the Sitelinks, Callouts and Structured Snippets. With these options, we have power over our Google AdWords campaigns to make them as effective as possible in converting consumers into buyers.


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