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What Good Are Location Extensions, Anyway?

Published: February 24, 2014

Author: Katie Walton

Sitelinks get a lot of love from the PPC community – and why wouldn’t they? They’re easy to add, give extra space, help to reduce ambiguity – and let’s not forget the CTR boosts that they bring. But in the midst of all the sitelink-love, it’s easy to overlook their less flashy friends. I say no, let’s not forget the other extensions! They can help our accounts too!

And, to prove it, let’s take a look at perhaps the lowliest of all extensions, the humble location extensions, and see what impact – if any – they can have on an account.
Luckily for you readers, I have an account to which we recently added location extensions, so I can provide a before-and-after analysis and see whether, when it comes to location extensions, we should forget about it or hop to it.
The account is for a national members’ organisation in the UK, and it launched in October 2012. The focus of the account is on driving traffic to their site, and they have no conversion tracking in place. The small account has four search-only campaigns targeting the whole of the UK; we set up location extensions on February 5.
For that day and the following day, no other changes were made to the account, and in that time we saw account-wide CTR jump by 25% and average position climb from 2.8 to 2.4 (a -14.33% change according to AdWords) compared to the previous two days.


While on aggregate the stats are great, not every campaign fits this trend. All campaigns showed improvements in average position, while one campaign stood out as actually showing a 51.04% drop in CTR.
When we segment our data by click type, we can see that while location extensions are appearing 30% of the time, no one is clicking the extension. So the location extension isn’t directly boosting CTR with extra clicks. However, we do see that this extension typically appears in high average positions. This may be an indicator that the account is benefitting from the new Google ad rank formula that includes the impact of extensions.

 Total Reach

Clearly, though, we’re looking at a very small data set here. And yet, when we expand out the date range to span February 5 – February 19 (i.e. the last full day of data before writing), we see the account following the same general trend.
NB: Changes to negatives keywords, bids, and ad copy have all taken place in this time, so performance improvements can’t be isolated to the impact of location extensions.

ctr 2

Again, overall CTR and average positions are moving in the right direction, but now one campaign is showing a CTR drop and another has seen average position dip – although CTR is up slightly.
Where we’ve seen the drop in CTR, we’re not seeing a statistically significant change. In fact, actual clicks have remained consistent for this campaign from period to period. So while we could dig into the data and see if there are any additional factors to consider, at this point it’s unnecessary and probably unhelpful.
Let’s not forget the campaign that’s seen a huge 47.23% rise in CTR. The numbers here are statistically significant and that’s a bloody good news story. Is this all due to the impact of location extensions? Probably not. Am I going to get rid of the location extensions when they’re clearly adding to the mix? Not a chance.
So what should you do with your own accounts? Overall, the data suggests that if you aren’t already using location extensions, and if they are relevant to your account, you should definitely add them. Time will tell whether they’ll prove to be a win for every campaign in this account, but for one at least, it looks like I’ve definitely found a winner.

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