Want to fully appreciate the value of the structured snippet, a Google Ads extension that enables the search engine to give readers even more information about your business? Then you need just one old adage:
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
A cliché? Maybe. But it’s also a solid way to approach the web’s attention-grabbers.
Structured snippets are about putting your best foot forward and capturing your audience right in their search result. They’re also about getting the most out of every Google ad, but we’ll cover that later.
Right now, you need to know two things: 1) Structured snippets are important and 2) this is your chance to learn all about them.
Structured Snippets: The What and Why
When it comes to Google Ads extensions, you have all kinds of options: a callout extension, a location extension, even a sitelink extension — take your pick. But the good old structured snippet might just be the most powerful in the pack.
Why? Well, structured snippets combine brevity and critical information. These short additions appeal to that part of your brain that wants to skim everything from a 4,000-word news article to a 2-line Google ad. (Don’t even try to deny it. We’re all skimmers.) That means you can think of these extensions as tiny ants lifting 50 times their body weight.
Here’s the what and why of structured snippets:
According to Google, the structured snippet extension is designed to help your ads pack more of a punch. They’re structured in two parts:
- Header: This is usually a one-word description of an important part of your product or offering, such as “Features” or “Locations.”
- List of values: This is a handful of examples related to that header.
A computer ad can show 2 headers at a time, while a mobile ad will show only 1. Google’s available headers are as follows:
- Degree programs.
- Featured hotels.
- Insurance coverage.
- Service catalog.
The structured snippet ad extension works on the Search Network and can be added at the account or campaign level for increased relevance. Google says it chooses and displays the best-structured snippets based on what maximizes your ad performance.
Structured snippets are a free extension (though you’ll still be charged for ad clicks). Just keep in mind that they’re not quite the same as dynamic structured snippets, one of many automated extensions; these are generated by the system and show “when your ad is eligible and your landing page has a matching category for a search.” Manual and automatic structured snippets sometimes show up together.
There are plenty of reasons to jump on the structured snippet train.
First of all, it’s totally free — which means your ads get a boost at no extra cost, and so do the landing pages and other content marketing you’ve worked so hard to perfect. Google notes that the additional information can also improve your return on investment through increased relevance and higher clickthrough rates, helping you attract more of the right people. Finally, there’s plenty of room to experiment with headers and values, so you can create the paid search ad your business is dreaming of.
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Best Practices for Every Structured Snippet
Ready to get the most out of this Google Ads extension? Here are a few tips and best practices for every structured snippet:
Be Brief but Precise
The word “snippet” is a good reminder that these extensions are meant to be small and quick.
Let’s say you’ve chosen the “Locations” header. Even if your company operates in a million cities, there’s no need — and no room — to get that detailed. Just list the hardest hitters or the values with the most impact and let your ad copy do the rest.
(Hint: Google recommends adding around 4 values per header.)
Follow Relevant Requirements
Google can “disapprove” your structured snippet. This happens for a variety of reasons, so make sure you know all the requirements and that you’re following them to the letter.
For example, your header and values need to match; Google won’t let you choose “Amenities” and then start rambling off product features. Microsoft’s similar snippet extensions have rules, too — like making sure the snippet doesn’t repeat what’s said in the ad copy.
On top of that, it’s important to follow all the same rules that apply to any other piece of content marketing. Misleading, incorrect or inappropriate information won’t get you very far, and neither will promises or guarantees that break compliance rules in your industry.
Avoid Unnecessary Characters
Unnecessary punctuation and symbols can distract, confuse or frustrate a potential customer — and, worse yet, they can look a little like spam. Follow Google’s rules and avoid these characters to give your structured snippets more impact.
Think About Impact
Remember, a mobile ad can only have 1 header and a computer will only show 2. That means you need to ensure that every structured snippet you create has a high impact. Don’t just list off every detail vaguely related to your business and offerings; instead, focus on headers and values that will entice a potential customer and encourage them to click.
Enable Dynamic Structured Snippets
If you want to get the benefits of automated extensions, you have to switch them on — and dynamic structured snippets are no exception. It’s smart to enable these auto-generated snippets for a few reasons:
- They’re free, which means your ad gets more content without additional time or money.
- They can work right alongside your manually created snippets.
- You can pause or remove individual auto snippets if you’re not a fan.
Switch Up Your Approach
Google decides which of your snippets to display, so it makes sense to provide as many options as possible. You’re free to switch up your approach and keep track of the results — that way, you can learn what the system and your customers prefer, what works, what looks best and how you can improve.
Know the Limitations
Structured snippets won’t appear with every text ad, and when they do, they’re not clickable — which means they don’t offer multiple linking opportunities in a single ad. Additionally, if the algorithm doesn’t think a particular header/value combination is effective, it may favor other options and leave that one on the bench. The main takeaway here is that these snippets aren’t guarantees — but even then, they’re definitely worth it.
Structured Snippet Examples (and What You Can Learn)
You can read all the information in the world about structured snippets, but the real magic happens when you see them in action. Here are a few structured snippets and ad copy from around the web and what you can learn from them:
This is a great example of a brief but informative structured snippet. Notice that the headline is “Types” and the two values are “Best Sellers” and “Gift Books.” Based on the length of the rest of the text ad, any more values might have ended up getting cut off — but on the other hand, it could have been helpful to see additional examples of the store’s offerings. (That said, it’s probably pretty safe to assume that a bookshop sells books.)
Delta Air Lines
Here’s another structured snippet that uses the “Types” headline. Unlike the Bookshop.org example, this seems to cover most of what a potential customer would be looking for from an airline, rather than just one or two offerings — but that’s because there’s a lot more variation in book types than flight types. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note that both of these snippets have less than Google’s recommended 4 values, which means you can sometimes break the rules.
Here, we have a place where a structured snippet might have been helpful. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a quick peek at Fubo’s offerings — just a few examples of those 100 live channels? Then again, maybe none of Google’s available headings fit just right, because “Types” and “Brands” don’t cut it and “Service catalog” isn’t entirely accurate. Either way, this is an exercise in thinking about structured snippets and how they might be able to work with different types of ads.
Standard Restaurant Supply
This looks an awful lot like a structured snippet, right?
But hang on. We listed all of Google’s available headers above, and “Highlights” wasn’t one of them. Is it possible this restaurant supply store wrote a text ad to look like a structured snippet without actually using the extension? It’s not as if that breaks any rules — it’s just a creative way to get a bit more flexibility at the expense of some room in your ad.
Don’t Miss Out on Structured Snippets
You can’t overestimate the value of a first impression. And if a search ad is your company’s first impression, then a structured snippet is like dressing it up with a nice top hat: It draws attention to you and your offerings.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get more from your Google Ads spend. After all, structured snippets are free.