Improve your Ad Rank, boost your click-through rate and steal clicks from the competition.
Google Callout extensions are a great way to highlight your offers alongside your adverts in Google search.
Callout extensions will allow you to add more text under your adverts to highlight your free shipping, discounts and more!
A quick primer…
What is a callout extension?
Callout extensions are in many ways like Google Ad ‘sitelinks’. Unlike sitelink extensions, callout extensions aren’t clickable. They don’t link to pages on your website, but instead support your advert with additional text.
Callouts appear alongside other ad extensions such as call extensions, sitelinks and seller ratings.
They can be added at either account, campaign or ad group level.
- Callout extensions allow you to occupy more real estate on the first page of Google
- This in turn helps to increase your click-through rate. Each ad can show 2-10 callouts below the advert itself
- Callout extensions only appear in one of the top ad positions in the Google SERP
- Google recommends 12-15 characters per callout, with a hard limit of 25 characters
- Get the messaging right and they’re proven to increase conversion rates too.
They are also now included in the Ad Rank formula – by not using them you could be hurting your campaign performance.
Callout extensions can be accessed through the ad extensions tab within your Google Ads account. I will be showing you how to set them up, step by step later on in this article.
Have you ever felt constrained by the ad character limit? Treat callouts like an extra line of text making ads larger.
The best bit: they don’t cost you a penny more and allow you to drive more traffic and increase your conversion rate.
Use callouts to highlight your brand strengths, unique selling points and benefits.
Do callout extensions work?
Callout extensions make your Ads more visible.
If you’re not convinced here are two case studies showing their effectiveness:
Case study 1: PPC Hero
PPC Hero ran two tests to determine the effect on performance by adding sitelink extensions that lasted 30 days.
The first test campaign used only account level callout extensions. With the second using tailored campaign level callouts.
The results from the first account were impressive; they saw an increase in click-through rate of 221% and a conversion rate of 40%.
The results from their second test were also strong. An increase in click-through rate of 38% and conversion rates were up by 20%.
In the first test the advert’s average position was 2.2 without callout extensions and 1.6 with callout extensions.
Cost of conversions decreased as a result.
Case study 2: BidCops
BidCops conducted research into the effectiveness of callout extensions for increasing the click-through rate of adverts.
After implementing callout extensions on two accounts they saw an increase in click-through rate of 20% and 11% on the third account.
They saw improvements in click-through rate of all Goole Ad accounts in the test.
It’s easy to see how callout extensions could improve CTR; they provide so much extra screen real estate.
This is especially true when combined with other extensions like extended sitelinks.
Callout extensions best practices
1. Structure your callouts
You can add your callouts at either ad group, campaign or account level. This gives you a lot of flexibility to tailor the message.
If you add them at account level they will be eligible to appear next to any of your adverts.
At campaign level they will only be eligible to appear next to any of the adverts within that specific campaign. Consider these your fallback.
If you add them at ad group level they will only be eligible to appear next to adverts within that specific ad group.
The latter option being the most work, but also gives you the most control over your messaging.
The first place you want to start at is your account level. This will allow you to get more real estate for all of your adverts, straight away with only a few minutes work.
You need to create callout extensions that resonate with all of your adverts within your campaign and add these first at account level.
If creating account level extensions, start with your account-wide benefits and features. If it applies to your whole business then you can be confident it will be relevant to all your adverts.
Some good examples of account-wide callouts are as follows…
B2B and service businesses:
- Free consultation
- Buy now, pay later
- No service fees
- Money back guarantee
- Cancel anytime
B2C and retailers:
- Free shipping
- 365 returns
- 10% off flash sale
- Interest free credit
- 24/7 customer service
And here are some less desirable examples:
- History of results
- Award winning
- 50yrs combined experience
- Guaranteed satisfaction
Why are these less desirable? Because they’re talking about the business and not the customer.
You have limited space, so put the customer first.
Once you have created account level callouts you will want to dive in deeper. Create more specific callouts at the campaign and ad group level.
It’s worth your time.
Being more specific will improve your click-through rate and conversion rate.
Let’s take a look at campaign level callout extensions. Campaign level callout extensions are more specific to that particular campaign.
Consider highlighting product or service benefits. Perhaps a promotion that applies only to that campaign.
So, for example, if you had a campaign for Polo shirts then you might want to use the following callout extensions:
- Huge range of colours
- Men’s slim fit polos
- Long sleeve polos
- Polos from £29.99
- 100% cotton
- Buy 2 get 1 free
If your campaigns are granular, do the same exercise for your Ad group level extensions.
2. Use callout extensions for promotions
Callout extensions allow you to display your promotion with your adverts. Meaning you don’t need to create new ad copy every time.
This is especially useful if you are running site-wide promotions and you have a large number of adverts.
A prime candidate is the flash sale or seasonal offer. It takes just a few minutes to create the appropriate account level callout.
When using callout extensions for promotions you should also consider using the scheduling option.
Scheduling allows you to set a start and end date.
3. Schedule your callout extensions
The scheduling option allows you to choose:
- A start and end date
- A callout specific ad schedule
This gives you the flexibility to choose what hours and days the promotion will run.
As I have mentioned above, as this allows you to automatically pause your callout once your promotion has ended.
It also allows you to plan far in advance, if you so wish.
Other examples for callout scheduling:
- Show a “call us today” option during business hours
- schedule a “live chat available” callout for out of hours support
- Stop your “next day delivery” callout from appearing on weekends
You get the idea.
4. Test your callout extensions
A big mistake that many marketers make is that they set and forget their callout extensions. They create a list of callouts, leave them to run and then forget to come back and optimise them.
You need to test your callout extensions the same way that you would your adverts.
Create several variations and let them run for a period of time to collect some data. Then review and and remove the poorly performing callouts, creating new ones in their place.
To review your callout extensions you need to view your data by going to your ad extensions tab. Click “Ads & Extensions”, filter by Extension type “callout extension” and you should see a data table that looks something like this:
You will see that some callouts have performed better than others.
At this point you have a few options. The obvious one is to sort by CTR, but you might consider creating a custom CPI column:
CPI stands for conversions per impression. It blends CTR with conversion rate.
CPI is a good barometer of the combined ad and landing page performance.
Be patient – as with ad testing, make sure you have sufficient impression, click and conversion data to make a decision.
5. Create mobile specific callout extensions
Extensions for mobile are given preference on mobile devices, but are still eligible to show on computers and tablets.
Conversely, standard callouts are given preference over mobile-optimized callouts on desktop computers.
By creating mobile preferred callout extensions you will improve your quality score. This will increase the chances of your callout extensions being shown on mobile devices.
You can (and should) change your message to reflect the device that your callouts are being shown.
6. Keep your callouts short and sweet
The maximum callout extension length is 25 characters.
That said, Google recommends you should keep them shorter and limit them to 12 to 15 characters. This will allow more callouts to be displayed under your advert.
Quick tip: treat callout extensions like bullet points as opposed to trying to use full sentences.
For example, if you offer free shipping, you should create a callout that says ”free shipping” as opposed to ”we offer free shipping”.
By treating them as bullet points you will also ensure that they make sense in any order.
This is important because Google does not allow you to choose which order your extensions will appear.
7. Create at least 6 callout extensions
Depending on the character spacing, browser, and device you’re using, 10 is the maximum number of callout extensions that can show with your advert.
So why am I recommending 6?
10 is very unusual, 4 is more typical.
The recommended length callouts (using 12-15 characters) will show 3 to 4 at once.
To ensure that you get the most out of callout extensions, you need to test. But you also want to avoid creating extensions for the sake of it.
Create at least 6 callouts so they rotate and you can test variations. If you can think of 10 legitimate callouts, then by all means – create them.
8. Use sentence case, Not Title Case
Ad copy best practices can be too generic. In many cases ‘Title Case’ is the preferred method. For headlines, sure, it often makes sense.
Google released data to show that using sentence case works best for callout extensions.
If you are unfamiliar with the meanings of title and sentence case:
- Title Case Is Where You Capitalise The First Letter Of Each Word.
- Whereas sentence case is where you only capitalise the first letter of the first word.
142 callout extension examples
If you are struggling for ideas for your callout extensions, have no fear!
I put together the definitive list of examples for your inspiration, and implementation.
This free PDF has examples of callouts for different industries – retail, service, accommodation, travel and insurance.
Honestly, it’s worth giving me your email for… 😉
To make life easy, I recommend finding at least 6 from the list and apply them at your account level.
It’s a good start and you can always return later to improve things.
Google callout extension guidelines
As previously mentioned, the maximum callout extension length is 25 characters.
The exception being languages that use double width characters such as Japanese or Chinese. In those cases, the maximum callout extension length is just 12 characters.
Google’s callout extension guidelines can be found here. For your convenience I have created an abbreviated version:
- Callouts can use %, &, and +, but other symbols aren’t allowed
- Callout extensions must not include any exclamation marks
- Do not include punctuation at the beginning of the callout text
- Do not repeat punctuation!!
- Do not use emojis or emotions 😭
- Do not duplicate your sitelinks to callouts
- Trademarks within the callout text must be in line with Google trademark policy
- Callout extensions are only available on the search network and the search network with display select.
Okay, let’s get busy…
How to create callout extensions
I don’t need to convince you of how potent these extensions can be.
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your first callout extensions.
Step 1. Navigate to Ads & Extensions tab and select ‘Extensions’ from the dropdown.
Step 2. Click the blue + button, the callout extension.
Step 3. Select at what level you would like to add your callout extensions.
Step 4. Enter your callout text. This is what you want your callout extension to be, for example, “Free shipping”.
Step 5. If you would like your callout to only appear on mobile devices then tick the box, otherwise leave it unchecked.
Step 6. If you’re running a time sensitive callout, you can set a schedule here.
Step 7. Once you are happy with your settings click save.
Why are my callout extensions not showing?
Your callout extensions will not be shown with every impression of your adverts. Don’t worry, this is normal behaviour.
However, if you suspect there’s a problem – let’s diagnose some more:
For your callout extension to show, you must have a minimum of 2 callouts approved and active.
Callout extensions getting disapproved for violating Google’s policies? Read the callout extensions guidelines further up this article to understand why.
Beyond the basics…
In addition to the basic requirements, Google decides whether to show your callout extension based on Ad Rank.
Ad Rank, built on bid and quality score
Ad Rank is based on the keyword bid, your quality score and past performance.
To improve your Ad Rank and increase the chances of your callout extensions being shown, you can work on your quality score. You might want to increase your bids on top performing keywords too.
Google have verified that when you have several ad extensions their Ad Rank formula will choose the ones that are the highest performing and most useful to its users.
Your callouts may not be showing because another combination of ad extensions are performing better.
Callout extension reporting
Callout extension reporting operates in the same way that reporting works for other extensions. There are limitations to the amount of data that you can analyse which I will explain.
To gauge the effectiveness of your callout extensions you can view your report in the ad extension tab. This will show you the data for your adverts while your callout extensions were being shown.
You can then compare this data with the campaign or ad group data for your callout extension to see if it has improved the performance of your campaigns.
So, for example, here is some account level data:
If you make frequent changes to callout extensions, be sure to pick a suitable timeframe that shows impression data for all active and approved.
Pro tip: if you want as little bias and skew on your data as possible, compare the performance of callouts running on exact match campaigns and/or ad groups.
In the data above you will see (generally speaking) a higher click-through rate doesn’t mean a higher conversion rate.
However, the star performers who saw 9.20% and 9.18% CTR, also saw strong conversion rates and joint highest CPI.
Note the 2nd from bottom callout. It has the 3rd highest CPI, but the 2nd worst CTR.
This is a prime example of an extension with potential. As this is at the account level, can this low CTR be improved by creating a more tailored version of this callout at each campaign level?
If the answer is yes, create new versions and pause the account level version.
Pro-tip: do you want to know the ratio of callouts showing vs not showing? Open a new tab, and compare campaign (or ad group) level impressions for the same timeframe.
What about clicks? Clicks can be of any type; a click on the headline of the advert, a click on a sitelink, or even somebody clicking on your click-to-call extension. This can be viewed by segmenting your data by click type.
There are limitations with the reporting. You can’t isolate the performance of your callout extensions as you don’t know which other extensions may have shown alongside your advert. And of course, what effect they may have had on its performance.
That said, it’s better than nothing and certainly worth optimising.
Callout extensions are clearly a very effective method of increasing the performance of your adverts.
By spending a few minutes today you can implement callout extensions at account level. You will start seeing the performance of your adverts increase within a matter of days.
If you want to get the best results you’re should implement them at campaign and/or ad group level. This will display the most relevant callouts possible.
Remember as callout extensions aren’t guaranteed to show 100% of the time, ensure your main USP is in your ad copy.
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