Promoting Your Facebook and Twitter Pages for a Snip
This shouldn’t work but it does. Although Google generally requires Sitelinks to be closely related to the parent domain the odds are better than even that you can slip through the net and from a user’s point of view I don’t think there’s anything misleading about either of the two links in the above example. That said I don’t think this is a concious decision on the part of the big G and my suspicion is that the Google overlords just doesn’t monitor the relationship between the Display URL and Sitelinks’ landing pages as closely as they do those with ads.
Why would you do this? If you’re not an e-retailer and you’re running PPC against your own brand, I think the question should really be “Why wouldn’t you do this?” A single visit to your homepage, although valuable, is nothing as compared to the value of a relationship which is precisely what Facebook and Twitter are in the business of delivering. You don’t need me to tell you that a fan or a follower has a much deeper level of engagement with your brand and is much more likely to make repeat visits, than a passer-by who simply looks in the shop window.
Even if you are an e-retailer I still think you should give it a try, but I understand why you might be reluctant to siphon brand traffic away from your main site. It’s important to bear in mind that just as your Facebook and Twitter pages are not a substitute for your main site, the paid search links to them are a mere accompaniment, diversifying your offering, if you will. The searcher who is actively intent on a purchase is unlikely to be distracted from the task at hand by a Facebook link, while those more interested in interacting with your brand will likely deliver you more long-term value, if not a sale on that visit.
With its $5,000 per month starting price a Twitter advertising trial is, understandably, out of reach of all but the bigger brands. Advertising on Facebook is comparatively accessible but remains a daunting prospect for many and is, at the moment at least, no small task to do properly. Adding in sitelinks, on the other hand, is child’s play for anyone familiar with Adwords and will take you five minutes at most – and that’s if you stop for a cup of tea. In terms of cost, on a per click basis Facebook advertising is also almost always more expensive than your brand terms are likely to be in search.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, tracking is an issue. Not only does AdWords lump all of your Sitelinks’ search data together – anyone from Google want to explain that one? – but once the user has arrived on your Facebook or Twitter page, there’s no way of measuring the extent of their interaction. Did they become a fan? Did they post on your wall? Are they following you? Have they retweeted?
Although Facebook’s own advertising reporting interface, like AdWords conversion tracking tracking, is actually really smart, user friendly and works to a reasonable level of granularity, neither Facebook nor Twitter have Analytics equivalent to tell you anything meaningful about external sources of traffic. Until either site opens up its back end, those questions will go unanswered and you’re just going to have to do this the old fashioned way: Firstly you should benchmark the rate of follower or fan uptake (or decline) prior to the links being added. Next, take note of your Followers and Fans on the day you add the links. When you’re up and running I’d also recommend alternating days on/off during the first week and comparing the difference.
I did, in a reckless moment of blue sky outside the box thinking, briefly consider driving all my brand searches to Facebook but ultimately settled on this, much less dramatic way of combining search with social. It’s may not be refined but it is a little bit nifty.