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Google AdWords Update: Change to Search Ad Display URL Format

Google recently announced [1] another significant change to the format of their search engine results page (SERP). This time the affected party is search ad display URLs, which will soon appear in a new standardized lower case format. If your display URL currently appears as <Subdomain.Example.com/Subdirectory>, following the change, it will appear as <subdomain.example.com/Subdirectory>. Marketers won’t need to make any additional edits on their ads, their domains will automatically be switched to lowercase.


For example, currently the URL for Fritzy’s Pet Care Pros appears as <www.FritzysPetCarePros.com>, after the change the URL will appear as <www.fritzyspetcarepros.com>.

Google maintains that the change should have a positive impact for advertisers: “In any given month, we experiment with hundreds of subtle variations of the Google search results page, testing everything from font sizes and colors to layouts and spacing, as well as dozens of other variables. Recently, we found that by standardizing the look of the URLs on the page, we were able to improve many of our user metrics, including ad clickthrough rates.” (our bolding)

But more clicks doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue. Without the ability to customize the appearance of the display URL,  PPC managers now have one less optimization lever at their disposal.    Patrick McCarthy, SEM Senior Manager at The Search Agency, explains that Google’s change could further increase competition for top positions: “As Google shifts to a more uniform ad format across paid and organic listings, testing of headlines, descriptions and vanity URLs becomes that much more important. The value of Ad Sitelinks and the additional real estate that comes with the Ad Extension, increases as well. Expect CPCs to rise as advertisers compete for top positions to ensure Sitelinks display.”

With all the changes Google is making to its results page, marketers must become even more diligent in testing new ad variations and measuring the overall impact.  As Mike Jarvinen, VP of Marketing Strategy at The Search Agency explains, “As an agency competing in competitive verticals, we are always testing every possible component of an ad to try and increase performance. The display URL and headline elements hold the strongest weight in ad performance and we are actively paying attention to this marketplace change both in defining the impact for our advertisers and isolating potential opportunities to increase performance for individual advertisers.”

Our representatives at Google have informed us that the changes should come into effect over the next two weeks. Have you already seen the reformatting on Google? How do you expect the change to impact your campaigns?

About Camille Canon

Outside of summer jobs and not-for-profit internships, The Search Agency is my first official place of employment. I recently graduated from Mount Holyoke College, where I studied Art History and German. I am an avid cook, baker, and destroyer of diets. My specialties are cream cheese brownies, biscotti cookies and lemon bars. I am also an Art enthusiast. Living in Berlin enables me to follow a young, emerging Art scene complete with “eccentric” performance pieces and temporarily converted butcher shop galleries. I also enjoy running, traveling, and handy work. Camille Canon + [8]