Optimizing Search Ads with Ad Extensions

When selecting Google Search ads, advertisers have the opportunity to carefully create ads and utilize Google ad assets to gain quality leads and achieve an exceptional return on their ad spending.



Optimizing Search Ads with Google Ad Assets to Achieve an Exceptional Return on Ad Spending

Every second, there are billions of searches performed on Google, and the majority of search pages include Google ads that cross 12 different types of Google ads and 23 different ad formats.

  • Search ads
  • Responsive
  • Call (previously Call-only)
  • Dynamic
  • Display ads
    • Uploaded
    • Responsive
  • Video ads
    • Skippable in-stream
    • Non-skippable in-stream
    • In-feed
    • Bumper
    • Outstream
    • Masthead
  • Shopping ads
    • Product Shopping
    • Local inventory
  • Smart ads
    • Search
    • Display
  • Performance Max ads
  • App ads
    • For downloads
    • For engagement
  • Discovery ads (Demand Gen)
  • Local Services ads
    • Google Guarantee
    • Google screened

Google Search Ads

One of the most popular ads is the search ad, which appears on search engine results pages (SERP) for search queries relevant to  advertisers’ products and services.  

What follows is a summary of the three format options found within Google search campaigns and how they can be optimized using Google Assets, formerly known as Google Ad Extensions, to gain quality leads and achieve an excellent return on ad spending.
Responsive search ads

With responsive search ads, Google uses machine learning to mix and match headlines and descriptions provided by advertisers to serve ads tailored to queries entered by potential consumers. A minimum of 3 and up to 15 headlines, that are no more than 30 characters each, can be provided. Additionally, 2 to 4 descriptions of no more than 90 characters each and 1 to 2 URL paths, no more than 15 characters each, can be provided. 

In any given ad, Google will select a minimum of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions to show in different combinations and orders. Part of the ad text may automatically appear in bold when it matches or closely matches a user’s search query. Over time, Google tests the most promising ad combinations, and determines which combinations are most relevant for different queries. 

When writing headlines and descriptions, it is important that advertisers do it in such a way that they make sense when Google mixes and matches them. Each should contain the targeted keyword, be written with some pizzazz, and attract  customers while repelling non-customers.

Advertisers can control where individual headlines and descriptions appear by pinning headlines and descriptions to specific positions. Pinning one headline or description causes it to only show in that specific position. 

Because pinning reduces the overall number of headlines or descriptions that can be matched to a potential customer’s search, pinning can affect Google’s assessment of the ad strength. Advertisers may try pinning 2 or 3 headlines or descriptions to each position so that any of them can show in that position. This provides more flexibility for how ads can be shown.

Headlines or descriptions pinned to Headline position 1, Headline position 2, or Description position 1 will always show. Content pinned to Headline position 3 and Description position 2 are not guaranteed to show in every ad. If you want text to  appear in every ad, then you must pin it to either Headline position 1, Headline position 2, or Description position 1.

 It is recommended that you have one responsive search ad per ad group with at least ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ Ad Strength. Ranging from “Incomplete”, “Poor”, “Average”, “Good”, to “Excellent”, Ad Strength can help you optimize the performance of your ad. A higher Ad Strength will maximize the performance of your ad. Only 3 responsive search ads can be set for each ad group.

Call Ads

As the name suggests, this search ad is primarily used to drive phone calls but can also gain clicks to your website. Call ads are shown on mobile devices when searchers are looking to call a business. They let advertisers target users on devices capable of making calls, encouraging them to take immediate action by calling their business. 

When someone submits a relevant search, call ads are displayed with a Google call forwarding number. From there, the user clicks the ad to call, is connected with the advertiser, and the conversion is recorded. The Google forwarding number allows for details of the call to be tracked, such as the date and time the call occurred. 

What makes call ads special is that they offer a quick and easy way for users to reach you. With call ads, you shorten the sales funnel and reduce the number of clicks. You connect with potential clients at the moment they need you – not an hour or a day later, as often happens when a user fills in a form on a landing page. 

In addition to showing your phone number and a call button, call ads  include the following details about your business.

  • Business name
  • Business phone number
  • Two headlines of 30 characters each
  • Two description lines of 90 characters each
  • Your website URL (also known as a final URL)
  • Display path (two 15-character segments)
  • Final URL (link to webpage – optional but recommended)
  • Verification URL (link to webpage that includes your phone number)

These fields are eligible to show when your ad appears on mobile devices, but some may be omitted in order to make the most of the smaller screen space on these devices.

Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads use the content of your website to automatically generate ads that target relevant searches. They look identical to any other search ad when shown on the SERP, but can be helpful for businesses with an excellent website. They can be helpful to target keywords that traditional search campaigns may miss and to use Google to freshen up their ad copy. However, they’re not the best choice if your site’s content is poorly structured or you want a high level of control over your ad copy.

Google Ad Assets (formerly known as Google Ad Extensions)

To further enhance search ads, advertisers must ensure every applicable asset is included to extend their visibility, give potential customers more information about their business and offerings, attract better leads, and generate better return on investment from ad campaigns. Research shows that search ads displaying ad assets had as much as a 10% higher click-through rate on headlines.

What Are Assets (Google Ad Extensions)?

Assets come in different forms, such as site links, callouts, structured snippets, call buttons, or location details. Assets are free and do not count towards the character limit. They are not guaranteed to appear when a search ad is presented. They only appear if they are approved, rank high enough by Google, and if Google predicts that they will improve the ads performance.

To optimize what is shown, advertisers should keep these best practices in mind:

  • Use every asset relevant to your business.
  • Consider adding 4 or more asset types. For example, you could add sitelinks, callouts, images, and one additional asset of your choice.
  • If it makes sense for your business, create assets at higher account levels (for example, at the account or campaign level, when available).
  • Many asset types require a bit of set-up. Some assets can be added automatically when Google Ads predicts they’ll improve ad performance. To optimize control, it is normally to your advantage to write the text for assets.
Manual and Automated Ad Assets

There are manual and automated ad assets. Manual ad assets are created and controlled by advertisers. They can choose when and where to show them, and customize their content and format. Automated ad assets are created and displayed by Google based on your website, ad text, or other factors. Different ad assets are available when completing them manually or allowing them to be created by Google. Advertisers can manage these by deactivating them in the Assets section. You can combine automated with manual ad assets.

Assets Types

Callout Assets: Callout assets highlight key features or benefits of your offerings. Callouts appear alongside your ad copy as short phrases. They provide valuable information and set your business apart.

You can add callouts (up to 25 characters) at the account, campaign, or ad group level. You choose where to add them, create the callout text, and schedule when you’d like them to appear. The order of your callouts, their length, and how they perform factor into how many callouts Google chooses to show for your ad.

A good rule of thumb is to provide more general information that’s applicable to your entire business, such as “Open 24/7” at the account and campaign levels, and provide more specific information, such as “free appraisals” at the ad group level. If you add callouts to an ad group, where they are also shown in the campaign, the ads in the ad group will use the ad group-level callouts (rather than the callouts you’ve attached to the campaign).

Sitelink Assets: Sitelink assets – manual or automated –  are links below the main search ad. They direct users to specific pages on the website. Sitelinks increase visibility and can boost click-through rates and conversions. Headlines are limited to 30 characters, while descriptions are limited to 25 characters. Ads that contain sitelinks with targeted keywords generally outperform ads that do not.

Structured Snippet Assets: Structured snippet assets manual or automated – are extra details in Google Search ads that make your ads more appealing and are responsible for as much as 35% of all clicks. Similar to callout assets, they appear after the ad description and highlight specific aspects of your products or services. However, unlike callouts, manual structured snippets require you to pick a predefined category from a selection offered by Google and create a list. These snippets appear as a list below your ad copy. Each is limited to 25 characters.

Call Assets: A call asset – manual and automated – allows advertisers to add a phone number to their ad, making it easier for customers to reach you.

Message Asset – Automated: When a phone number is included in an automated call asset, Google can also enable the message asset. This allows users to reach you via text message when they click the extension. You can then write back to them either by phone or by e-mail, depending on your preferred setting.

Location Assets: Location assets let you add your business address—manually or automatically—to your ad. They can help customers find you if you operate a physical storefront. If you make products sold through major retailers, you can also use affiliate location assets to help customers find your goods.

Image Assets: manual or automated – are small square images that qualified advertisers can include in their search ads. These can be photos of your products or storefront, but they cannot be logos.

Lead Form Assets – Manual Only: Lead form assets eliminate the need for users to fill out a form on your landing page by allowing them to submit their contact information directly on the SERP. 

Promotion Assets: Promotion assets – manual and automated – let you include information about limited-time sales and promotions in your search ad. You must create these assets manually.

Product Assets: By linking your Google Merchant account to Google Ads, product assets allow you to enhance your products listing. This is a useful tool for any campaign in which you’re selling goods related to your target keywords.

Price Assets: The price asset – manual and automated –  allows searchers to browse products and prices in an ad then click directly to them on your website.This is very useful for e-commerce.

Seller Rating Assets – Automated: A seller rating asset will show the rating of your business next to your display URL based on the obtained reviews.

App Assets – Manual: By providing a download link in your text ad, app assets make it easy for interested users to get yours – while allowing you to track downloads based on keywords.

In Summary

When selecting Google Search ads, advertisers have the opportunity to carefully create ads and utilize Google ad assets to gain quality leads and achieve an exceptional return on their ad spending.

Sources: Google, Google Support, Mega Digital, “22 Types of Google Ads: How to Choose the Right Campaigns,” Wordstream. “All 22 Types of Google Ads (+ When & How to Use Them),” HAWKSEM Digital Marketing Agency, How to Set Up a Google Ads Call-Only Campaign: A Simple Guide,” March 2023. Semrush Blog Dynamic Search Ads : What Are They & How To Use Them,” February 17, 2023. Shopify, “A Complete Guide to Google Ad Extensions,” March 30, 2023. Search Engine Journal, Google Ads: 14 Types of Google Ads Extensions & What They Do,” April 14, 2022.