UPDATED: Is Google Following Its Own AdWords Policy for Sitelinks?

Update: It appears that Google has updated their sitelinks to go to unique pages and removed the phone number. 

Google has many policies in place for AdWords. Whether it’s for ads, landing pages, sitelinks or privacy, their policy center is loaded with a stockpile of rules. Some of which are to protect a potential lead/purchaser from having their personal information exploited, while others are simply restrictions that every advertiser must abide, like character limits in ad description lines. Since these policies are meant to apply to ­every advertiser – shouldn’t that include Google?

Let’s start off with a few excerpts from Google’s policy for sitelink extensions since they will be reference throughout the blog. Think of these as a good refresher or lesson on their policy:

  • “Phone numbers can’t be used in the hyperlinked headline or in a Sitelinks extension of a text ad.” (source)
  • “We don’t allow two or more sitelinks in the same campaign or ad group to point to the same landing page or the same content.” (source)
  • “We also don’t allow sitelinks that direct to the same landing page as the ad’s destination URL.” (source)
  • “Tabs on the same page count as the same page.” (source)

You may also recall that Google started enforcing their unique sitelink policy more proactively back in September 2012. Keep all of this in mind as I go through my examples with screenshots.

First up is an ad from Google for the query “adwords” that displays sitelinks, one of which contains a phone number – a violation of the first policy listed above.

Sitelink with Phone Number

This got me thinking, “What other policies are they ignoring?” So, as you can tell in that screenshot, I clicked on each sitelink to check out their landing pages. Here are my findings:

Learn How to Advertise on Google

How It Works Sitelink Landing Page


Benefits of Google AdWords

Benefits Sitelink Landing Page


Costs & Payment

Costs Sitelinks Landing Page


Free Setup Support

Free Setup Sitelink Landing Page


Did you catch that? The Free Setup Support landing page was exactly the same as the How It Works page (may be hard to see with the screenshots). In addition to that, it’s clearly laid out in their policy that tabs on the same page do not count as unique content so even the others shouldn’t pass.

Now I’m wondering if Google is doing this elsewhere or if I just happened to find the lone case. Well, one of the suggestions for the query “google adwords” was “google adwords express” so let’s check it out:

AdWords Express Ad Copy

Again, we have four sitelinks displayed, and if I were actually searching for this service, I think I would find these very relevant – answers to questions that, as an advertiser, I may have. Let’s see what great, unique content Google has available for us:

Learn How to Advertise on Google

How To Express Sitelink Landing Page


AdWords Express Cost & Payment

Costs Express Sitelink Landing Page

Success Stories

Success Express Sitelinks Landing Page

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Express Sitelinks Landing Page

Did you catch that?  This time they were so lazy to even have the landing pages contain any unique content. Every single sitelink led to the same page. The only item that was unique were the URLs due to some tracking parameters.

Well, maybe they’re at least sending users that click on the ad’s headline elsewhere:

AdWords Express Landing Page

Nope… Is it fair for Google to hold advertisers to a set of rules they themselves do not follow? I don’t think so, Tim (source).