Callout extensions: what are they and why should I use them?


Bev Rogers


If you’ve been keeping up to date with AdWords news, or clicked on the Ad Extensions tab in AdWords itself, you may have heard of something called the callout extension. But what is a callout? And why would you need one (or six)? Allow me to elaborate…

Callout extensions are sometimes referred to as ‘non-clickable sitelinks’. This sounds pretty useless until you remember that people rarely click on site-links anyway [1]. So the benefits of a callout are pretty much the same as for a sitelink. Just to remind you, these are:

  • Taking up space
  • More room for USPs
  • Higher Ad Rank [2]

However, seeing as you can’t actually click on them, callout extensions should be used differently from actual sitelinks. What makes something worth calling out?

  • It’s one of your USPs
  • It can’t be attached to a URL
  • It can be described in 25 characters or less

You can have up to four callouts per ad, though you can assign more and have them rotate. Callouts can be assigned at Account, Campaign and Ad Group level. As the extensions are still new, there is no way to create them in AdWords editor, and so you will have to actually open a browser. When you want to create a callout, go to the account/campaign/ad group you want to create it for and open the Ad Extensions tab.

ad extensions tab

You might see a message about how callout extensions are now available! Now click on the drop-down menu and you should see that at the bottom you can now see callout extensions. If you can’t, it may not have been rolled out to you yet and you’ll have to be patient and wait a little longer.

callout extensions

Now you are ready to create a callout. You do this in much the same way as creating a sitelink, but as you only need 25 characters its a bit quicker. Click the ‘EXTENSION’ button. You should see something like this:

callout dialogue

If you haven’t made any callouts yet, click on the ‘New Callout’ button. This will take you to a dialogue that looks like this:


This new callout will automatically be added to the list of callouts you are using. If you’ve already created a callout and want to add it to this set of ads, then press the >> button next to the callout.

callout extensions

When you have created/selected all of your callouts, press the save button, otherwise AdWords will not remember which callouts you assigned to these ads.

save button

Want something a bit more concrete? Let’s have a hypothetical example. Owls4U sells pet owls (note: you do not actually want an owl for a pet), as well as food and accessories for your pet owl. They offer a free health check for all owls they sell, but they also create a callout saying ‘Free Health Checks’. They want to include their tagline, ‘An Owl for Everyone’ on their ads where possible. However, since this is quite long, it doesn’t leave much room for more relevant ad text. Now they can put this in a callout, and if their ad gets a high enough position, then their tagline will always be there. Other things Owls4U could use as callouts are ‘Great for Problem Mice’, ‘Carries Your Letters’ and other general benefits of owls.

So when should we use callouts, and when should we use sitelinks? Well, we should always use both if possible (to get maximum SERP real estate), but different things should go in each one.

For example, Owls4U want to highlight their wide range of owls, they create a callout that says ‘Wide Range of Owls’, and create sitelinks for barn owls, tawny owls and eagle owls. They put these on ads for more general keywords, such as ‘pet owl’. The callout and sitelinks work together to take up space, and reinforce each other’s messages.

Owls4U has now been selected to supply owls for Hogwarts! Their website now proudly says ‘Suppliers of Hogwarts Owls’ at the top of every page, but they don’t have a separate page on their site about it (and even if they did, not many people would convert if they landed on that page). So Owls4U create an account level callout that says ‘Hogwarts Owl Supplier’ to appear on all of their ads.

Say Owls4U has a new range of owl capes, and wants to make people aware of this. In fact, even if you’re searching for owl food or owl hats, they want you to be aware, as owl capes are a new invention. They use a sitelink that takes you to a page where you can buy owl capes on all their ads.

So that’s callout extensions for you. If you manage to get all of your callouts and sitelinks showing at once, that’s up to 250 characters of information, and even more if you have extended sitelinks. Personally I’m very excited, as I will be able to push ‘Free Delivery’ out of ad texts and into callout extensions, giving 13 more characters for creativity!