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PPC Ad Extensions You Should Be Using Today

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PPC Ad Extensions You Should Be Using Today

Ad extensions maximize your visibility in search engine results.

Here’s how Image Extensions, Structured Snippets, Price Extensions, and Call Extensions can help.

Not all ad extensions are created equal and they serve different marketing purposes.

Whether it’s on Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, ad extensions can help maximize your visibility in the search results and improve ad performance.

Ad extensions also allow for additional or more detailed messaging that doesn’t fit in the base ad copy, even with the new RSA format.

Don’t miss this opportunity.

Explore four PPC ad extensions you should be using today.

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1. Image Extensions

Image extensions are available worldwide.

Consumer’s visual experience when browsing products and services online have become more critical in recent years.

Image extensions help to create a more visually appealing search ad to engage with potential customers.

These extensions enhance the relevance of your search ad by including images of your products or services in the ad.

Image extensions appear on both desktop devices and mobile devices.

These images are not banner ads and need to follow requirements in terms of content, quality, etc.

You select images to upload to be served along with ad text.

Another option is to use Dynamic image extensions which select the most relevant images from your ad’s landing page and insert them into your ad.

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Once you’ve opted into this feature, images from the landing pages will be included as ad extensions in your campaigns.

To begin using dynamic image extensions, navigate to the Extensions tab of your account and click on Add dynamic image extensions.

No images, no problem!

You can create image extensions using stock images.

Now, you can select from a range of stock images provided by Google. Navigate to the Image Options drop-down menu and select Stock Images.

After that, choose the image that you think is most relevant to your ad.

Image from Google Ads, May 2022google ads image extensions stock

2. Structured Snippets

Structured Snippets are the “no brainer” of ad extensions.

They list specific aspects of your product or service.

It is one of the simplest ad extensions to create because there is a predefined “header” for values and you don’t need landing pages because they don’t link to the website.

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Each snippets extension has a “heading” such as:

  • Amenities.
  • Brands.
  • Destinations.
  • Degree programs.
  • Courses.
  • Featured hotels.
  • Insurance coverage.
  • Neighborhoods.
  • Service catalogs.
  • Models.
  • Show.
  • Styles.
  • Types.

After selecting the header, enter the values – such as “free WiFi” or “pool” for amenities.

These extensions show frequently on both platforms.

Here’s an example of a company’s brand:

google ads structured snippet extensionsImage from Google Ads, May 2022google ads structured snippet extensions

This simple ad extension can add value by giving the searcher more information and differentiating your ad from competitors who are not using this extension.

3. Price Extensions

Price extensions are a great alternative for advertisers that don’t have product feeds and can benefit from showcasing products and services with price points.

Price extensions are presented in the search results below the main ad text and can be useful in attracting greater attention to the ad as well as driving to deeper content on the advertiser’s website.

A minimum of three and up to eight items, or cards, can be added per price extension.

A searcher can then scroll through and click on items individually to view.

Similar to the structured snippets, Google has predefined types of price extensions:

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  • Brands.
  • Events.
  • Locations.
  • Neighborhoods.
  • Product categories.
  • Product tiers.
  • Service categories.
  • Service tiers.
  • Services.

Each card has a header and description of 25 characters each, appearing above and below the price.

The advertiser also has the opportunity to use a price qualifier.

This is designed for products or services that don’t have one set price point, so “from”, “up to”, and “average.”

For example: “Monday Dinner Specials from $35.”

These extensions can be added to the account, campaign, or ad group level.

Adding to the ad group level is a great place for more detailed items to be tailored to a subgroup.

For example: “European vacations” vs. “French vacations.”

These ad extensions can also be scheduled for a start and end date, along with custom hourly scheduling.

Do I hear a seasonal promotion coming on with price extensions?

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I think so.

4. Call Extensions

Call extensions serve a phone number with your ads that redirect to the official phone number.

These are still highly relevant as an ad tactic as mobile has become the primary device for many searchers.

Advertisers who have avoided call extensions in the past should take a second look.

Besides connecting searchers directly with the business by phone call, using the PPC platform’s forwarding numbers will show call information, call conversions, and valuable search data on how people are finding the phone number.

Did you know?

You can turn on call recording and get recorded phone calls from ads that Google saves for 30 days.

In the following screenshot that blurs private data, the callers’ phone number is listed, the area code, and a full recording of the call.

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google ads call extensions reportImage from Google Ads, May 2022google ads call extensions report

A phone call can be counted as a conversion, defined by the number of seconds a caller is on the phone call.

The number of seconds should be defined based on each business’s unique phone behavior for closing callers.

If phone call lengths are below this threshold too frequently, or many calls are missed, it’s a good time to review a few simple optimization ideas:

  • Are too many “wrong” numbers coming through? This could be due to the ad being triggered by different business names or competitors based on keywords. Check the search queries and ask phone reps what they have been hearing from callers. These keywords can be used as negative keywords.
  • Too many missed calls? Ensure the ad is scheduled during business hours only when someone is available to answer that call. That could mean not running ads during the lunch hour, for example.
  • Calls from physical locations not serviced by your business? This is usually just a case of adjusting geotargeting to be more accurate. Although, it could present an opportunity to learn more about these callers and the current market demand.

Bonus: Automated Extensions + Manual Ad Extensions

When you opt into automated extensions, Google Ads will create extensions on your behalf and show them with your ad if they’re predicted to improve your performance.

These automated extensions will now be eligible to show alongside their manually-created counterparts.

Google Ads is rolling out several new improvements that make sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets easier to manage.

When you create sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets, you can add them at the ad group, campaign, or account level.

This will make it easy to review and manage the extensions that Google Ads creates on your behalf.

To see which automated extensions are shown with your ads, look for “Automatically created” extensions in the table view of the Extensions page.

Final Thoughts

Ad extensions can be critical to rising above the competition in search results with more visibility and strategic messaging.

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It’s important to review ad extensions and audit them on a scheduled basis (try quarterly) to ensure you are learning about new opportunities available and revisiting old ones.

More resources:


Featured Image: Top Popular Vector/Shutterstock

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

Creating and selling educational courses can be a lucrative business. But if you already have a product to sell, you can actually use courses as a marketing tool.

Back in 2017, about two years after joining Ahrefs, I decided to create a course on content marketing.

I had a very clear understanding of how an educational course would help me promote Ahrefs.

  • People like courses – Folks like Brian Dean and Glen Allsopp were selling theirs for $500 to $2,000 a pop (and rather successfully). So a free course of comparable quality was sure to get attention.
  • Courses allow for a deeper connection – You would basically be spending a few hours one on one with your students. And if you managed to win their trust, you’d get an opportunity to promote your product to them.

That was my raw thought process going into this venture.

And I absolutely didn’t expect that the lifespan of my course would be as interesting and nuanced as it turned out to be.

The lessons of my course have generated over 500K+ in total views, brought in mid-five-figures in revenue (without even trying), and turned out to be a very helpful resource for our various marketing purposes.

So here goes the story of my “Blogging for Business” course.

1. The creation

I won’t give you any tips on how to create a successful course (well, maybe just one). There are plenty of resources (courses?) on that topic already.

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All I want to say is that my own experience was quite grueling.

The 10 lessons of my course span some 40K words. I have never attempted the feat of writing a book, but I imagine creating such a lengthy course is as close as it gets.

Scripts of the course in Google Docs.

I spent a tremendous amount of time polishing each lesson. The course was going to be free, so it was critical that my content was riveting. If not, people would just bounce from it.

Paid courses are quite different in that sense. You pay money to watch them. So even if the content is boring at times, you’ll persevere anyway to ensure a return on your investment.

When I showed the draft version of the course to my friend, Ali Mese, he gave me a simple yet invaluable tip: “Break your lessons into smaller ones. Make each just three to four minutes long.”

How did I not think of this myself? 

Short, “snackable” lessons provide a better sense of completion and progress. You’re also more likely to finish a short lesson without getting distracted by something. 

I’m pretty sure that it is because of this simple tip that my course landed this Netflix comparison (i.e., best compliment ever):

2. The strategy

With the prices of similar courses ranging from $500 to $2,000, it was really tempting to make some profit with ours.

I think we had around 15,000 paying customers at Ahrefs at that time (and many more on the free plan). So if just 1% of them bought that course for $1K, that would be an easy $150K to pocket. And then we could keep upselling it to our future customers.

Alternatively, we thought about giving access to the course to our paying customers only. 

This might have boosted our sales, since the course was a cool addition to the Ahrefs subscription. 

And it could also improve user retention. The course was a great training resource for new employees, which our customers would lose access to if they canceled their Ahrefs subscription.

And yet, releasing it for free as a lead acquisition and lead nurturing play seemed to make a lot more sense than the other two options. So we stuck to that.

3. The waitlist

Teasing something to people before you let them get it seems like one of the fundamental rules of marketing.

  • Apple announces new products way before they’re available in stores. 
  • Movie studios publish trailers of upcoming movies months (sometimes years) before they hit the theaters. 
  • When you have a surprise for your significant other (or your kids), you can’t help but give them some hints before the reveal.

There’s something about “the wait” and the anticipation that we humans just love to experience.

So while I was toiling away and putting lessons of my course together, we launched a landing page to announce it and collect people’s emails.

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The landing page of the course.

In case someone hesitated to leave their email, we had two cool bonuses to nudge them:

  1. Access to the private Slack community
  2. Free two-week trial of Ahrefs

The latter appealed to freebie lovers so much that it soon “leaked” to Reddit and BlackHatWorld. In hindsight, this leak was actually a nice (unplanned) promo for the course.

4. The promotion

I don’t remember our exact promotion strategy. But I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

I also added a little “sharing loop” to the welcome email. I asked people to tell their friends about the course, justifying it with the fact that taking the course with others was more fun than doing it alone.

Welcome email with a "sharing loop."

I have no idea how effective that “growth hack” was, but there was no reason not to encourage sharing.

In total, we managed to get some 16,000 people on our waitlist by the day of the course launch.

5. The launch

On a set date, the following email went out to our waitlist:

Course launch email.

Did you notice the “note” saying that the videos were only available for free for 30 days? We did that to nudge people to watch them as soon as possible and not save them to the “Watch later” folder.

In retrospect, I wish we had used this angle from the very beginning: “FREE for 30 days. Then $799.”

This would’ve killed two birds with one stone: 

  1. Added an urgency to complete the course as soon as possible
  2. Made the course more desirable by assigning a specific (and rather high) monetary value to it

(If only we could be as smart about predicting the future as we are about reflecting on the past.) 

Once it was live, the course started to promote itself. I was seeing many super flattering tweets:

We then took the most prominent of those tweets and featured them on the course landing page for some social proof. (They’re still there, by the way.)

6. The paywall

Once the 30 days of free access ran out, we added a $799 paywall. And it didn’t take long for the first sale to arrive:

This early luck didn’t push us to focus on selling this course, though. We didn’t invest any effort into promoting it. It was just sitting passively in our Academy with a $799 price tag, and that was it.

And yet, despite the lack of promotion, that course was generating 8-10 sales every month—which were mostly coming from word of mouth.

A comment in TrafficThinkTank.
Eric Siu giving a shout-out about my course in TTT Slack.

Thanks to its hefty price, my course soon appeared on some popular websites with pirated courses. And we were actually glad that it did. Because that meant more people would learn about our content and product.

Then some people who were “late to the party” started asking me if I was ever going to reopen the course for free again. This actually seemed like a perfectly reasonable strategy at the time:

7. The giveaways

That $799 price tag also turned my free course into a pretty useful marketing tool. It was a perfect gift for all sorts of giveaways on Twitter, on podcasts, during live talks, and so on.

Giving away the course during a live talk.
Me giving away the course during a live talk.

And whenever we partnered with someone, they were super happy to get a few licenses of the course, which they could give out to their audience.

8. The relaunch

Despite my original plan to update and relaunch this course once a year, I got buried under other work and didn’t manage to find time for it.

And then the pandemic hit. 

That’s when we noticed a cool trend. Many companies were providing free access to their premium educational materials. This was done to support the “stay at home” narrative and help people learn new skills.

I think it was SQ who suggested that we should jump on that train with my “Blogging for Business” course. And so we did:

We couldn’t have hoped for a better timing for that relaunch. The buzz was absolutely insane. The announcement tweet alone has generated a staggering 278K+ impressions (not without some paid boosts, of course).

The statistics of the course announcement tweet.

We also went ahead and reposted that course on ProductHunt once again (because why not?).

All in all, that relaunch turned out to be even more successful than the original launch itself. 

In the course of their lifespan on Wistia, the 40 video lessons of my course generated a total of 372K plays.

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Play count from Wistia.

And this isn’t even the end of it.

9. The launch on YouTube

Because the course was now free, it no longer made sense to host it at Wistia. So we uploaded all lessons to YouTube and made them public.

To date, the 41 videos of my course have generated about 187K views on YouTube.

"Blogging for Business" course playlist.

It’s fair to mention that we had around 200,000 subscribers on our channel at the time of publishing my course there. A brand-new channel with no existing subscribers will likely generate fewer views.

10. The relaunch on YouTube [coming soon]

Here’s an interesting observation that both Sam and I made at around the same time. 

Many people were publishing their courses on YouTube as a single video spanning a few hours rather than cutting them into individual lessons like we did. And those long videos were generating millions of views!

Like these two, ranking at the top for “learn Python course,” which have 33M and 27M views, respectively:

"Learn python course" search on YouTube.

So we decided to run a test with Sam’s “SEO for Beginners” course. It was originally published on YouTube as 14 standalone video lessons and generated a total of 140K views.

Well, the “single video” version of that same course has blown it out of the water with over 1M views as of today.

I’m sure you can already tell where I’m going with this.

We’re soon going to republish my “Blogging for Business” course on YouTube as a single video. And hopefully, it will perform just as well.

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The end

So that’s the story of my “Blogging for Business” course. From the very beginning, it was planned as a promotional tool for Ahrefs. And judging by its performance, I guess it fulfilled its purpose rather successfully.

A screenshot of a Slack message.

Don’t get me wrong, though. 

The fact that my course was conceived as a promotional tool doesn’t mean that I didn’t pour my heart and soul into it. It was a perfectly genuine and honest attempt to create a super useful educational resource for content marketing newbies.

And I’m still hoping to work on the 2.0 version of it someday. In the past four years, I have accrued quite a bit more content marketing knowledge that I’m keen to share with everyone. So follow me on Twitter, and stay tuned.



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