Tracking Sitelink Conversions

Sitelinks are handy ad extensions that you can use to include extra links below your text ads. If you'd like to learn more about sitelinks, check out our dedicated article.

In this article, we'll walk you through out to set up conversion tracking for sitelinks.

Note: Below we'll explain how Marin tracks sitelink conversions. 

The Sitelinks URL Builder uses the {copy:xxx} parameter, which copies static tracking parameters (i.e. tracking values) from the destination URL of the sitelink's parent ad and inserts it dynamically into the sitelink URL.

Using the {copy:xxx} method, you can track exactly which keyword triggered the click, but you won't know which sitelink was clicked on. Please note that certain URL structures are not supported by Sitelinks URL Builder. Find out more by reading A Guide to Sitelinks URL Builder's Supported URL Structures.

The following example illustrates how Sitelinks URL Builder constructs a sitelink URL, and what it would look like on click:

Original (keyword) URL:{creative}&pkw={keyword}&pmt={matchtype}

Modified sitelink URL:{copy:mkwid}&pcrid={creative}&pkw={keyword}&pmt={matchtype}

Resulting sitelink URL (on click):

Please note that when using this method through Sitelinks URL Builder, you cannot run a keyword-level report for sitelink data. Since sitelink URLs copy the tracking from the keyword that triggered the sitelink, Marin cannot detect whether a conversion came from the keyword itself or a sitelink.

A Note If You're Using Publisher Tracking

The publisher tracking method does not utilize any tracking parameters. That means it does not have a parameter in which you use the {copy:xxx} parameter. In this case, the publisher tracking will automatically attribute conversions to the sitelink and the keyword that is associated with the sitelink click with no {copy:xxx} parameter. If publisher tracking is turned on, we bring down the keyword level conversions in Marin.

Sitelinks URL Builder can also work when building redirect URLs, although, as mentioned above, some URL structures are not supported. The following example illustrates how Sitelinks URL Builder constructs a sitelink redirect URL, and what it would look like on click:

Original (keyword) URL:{creative}&pkw={keyword}&pmt={matchtype}&

Modified sitelink URL:{copy:mkwid}&pcrid={creative}&pkw={keyword}&pmt={matchtype}&

Resulting sitelink URL (on click):

  • Note that if you have parameters that require copy within an encoded Click Through URL, Sitelinks URL Builder will not append these parameters with {copy:xxx}, because Google does not support copying parameters from encoded URLs or into an encoded format URL.
  • Similar to keywords, when building redirects for sitelinks, Marin requires that you input a Click Through URL for the sitelink. Sitelinks URL Builder will then wrap it in a fully built redirected Destination URL for the sitelink.

Tracking Microsoft sitelink conversions is very similar to the process above, and you can use the {copy:xxx} parameter in much the same way. Marin offers full support for Microsoft sitelinks and follows the same process as outlined above.

The following dynamic parameters are inserted into sitelink URLs by Microsoft automatically:

  • QueryString: The text string the user searched for.
  • MatchType: The type of match that triggered your ad (exact, phrase, or broad).
  • AdID: The ID number of the clicked ad.

However, using the {copy:xxx} parameter alone is recommended for more accuracy in tracking.

Tracking Baidu sitelink conversions requires a slightly different approach, as Baidu does not offer the same {copy:xxx} functionality as Google and Microsoft.

Note: The following method is not recommended with publishers other than Baidu.

You can follow these steps to attribute sitelink conversions to the individual sitelink:

  1. Create a new campaign named ‘Ad Extensions’, and within that a new Ad Group named ‘Sitelinks’. Both of these need to be set to the Paused status.
  2. Upload one keyword to this Ad Group for each sitelink you’d like to track. We recommend using keywords that are unlike any others you use in Marin: ‘sitelink1, sitelink2...’ for example. Again, these keywords need to be set to the Paused status.
  3. Post these paused changes to the publisher.
  4. Once these 'placeholder' keywords are posted to the publisher, drill down to the ad group level in Marin and copy their new destination URLs. Then, just replace {creative} with the word SITELINK in these URLs, and remove the {mediatype} parameter from the URL also.
  5. Take the edited URL and copy this into the actual Baidu sitelink destination URL seen in the publisher. Do this for each of your placeholder keywords/sitelinks. Conversions being generated by your sitelinks will now be reported in your placeholder keywords.

Yahoo! sitelinks conversions can be tracked to the individual link, similar to the Baidu method outlined above. In addition to changing the creative parameter, all dynamic parameters (any parameter using { }) will also need to be removed.

Here is an example that explains the steps you need to take: 

  1. A placeholder keyword has been created with the following destination URL uploaded to the engine:{YSMMTC:std:adv:cnt}123456&pcrid={YSMADID}&kword={YSMKEY}&match={YSMMTC:std:adv:cnt} 
  2. Replace the {YSMADID} creative parameter with the word SITELINK
  3. Remove the {YSMMTC} match type parameter and other Yahoo! dynamic parameters. Once you have completed this step, the finished URL should look similar to: 
  4. Take the edited URL and copy into the Yahoo sitelink destination URL. 
  5. Repeat the process for each unique link.

How To Test That The {Copy:Xxx} Parameter Is Populating Correctly

While there is no official way to test whether or not sitelink tracking is working, you can check whether or not the {copy:xxx} parameter is populating correctly. To do so, just follow these steps: 

  1. Go to Google or Microsoft and search for one of your keywords. 
  2. When your ad and sitelink set appear, copy the URL of both the ad and the sitelink. You can usually do this by right-clicking each link and choosing Copy link address or similar.
  3. Compare the mkwid values in each URL. If they are the same, the {copy:xxx} parameter is working correctly.

Important Notes

  • There is currently no way to automatically view and report which campaigns have sitelinks within the Campaigns grid. 

    If you have not named these campaigns with a recognizable name for a sitelinks campaign (ie. SiteLinkCampaign1), you can use ns as a workaround to tag those campaigns. You can then filter on that dimension and pull a report on those selected campaigns. Please see our Help article for more information on how to use and report on Dimensions.
  • Please don't test the landing page with {copy:xxx} parameters, as it will be parsed in the real URL that visitors click from publisher ads. Otherwise, you might be landing on a page that doesn't exist (or showing 404 error page).
  • You can use {copy:xxx} to track conversions for group-level sitelinks and attribute them to the keyword. Marin currently does not automatically build URLs for group-level sitelinks, but they can be applied manually.
  • {copy:xxx} can also be used to track conversions for group-level sitelinks, and attribute them to the keyword. Marin currently does not automatically build URLs for group-level sitelinks -- but they can be applied manually.
  • Please do not copy and paste the URL from a place holder keyword to the sitelink, as the URL will then be encoded and some value track parameters will not work. This will cause sitelink tracking to fail.
  • You can measure the performance of sitelinks by reporting on the attributed keyword, group, or campaign that served the sitelink. Since sitelinks copy the unique id from the keyword, Marin is unable to report on the individual sitelink. The traffic generated by the sitelink will attribute directly to its parent keyword.
  • For any existing sitelinks that do not contain the {copy:xxx} parameter within the URL, a change will need to be made to the URL in order for the system to recognize a change and trigger URL Builder to append tracking. To do this, you can simply add a forward slash '/' to the end of your URL when uploading.

Written by Marketing @ Marin Software

Last published at: January 18th, 2024