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Best way to test domain names in display URLs?
I learned something new today

 2:32 am on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

Today I learned that the domain name in an ad can have a MASSIVE affect on CTR. I assumed it could make a difference but I've never tested it before, and never realized it could make such a big difference...

I launched a new site, and I basically copied an existing adwords campaign for a similar site over to the new adwords account for the new site. I was in a hurry setting up my ads and long story short I changed just the display URL in my ad, and left and the rest of the ad the same.

After running for a few days on the SAME keywords and roughly the same average position, with the SAME ad with only the display URL different, the new ad literally got a CTR that is HALF of the ad for my other site.

CTR cut in half just because of the display URL? Dayum!

So now I have one more thing to test. Great.

So what is the best way to test different domain names in display URLs without having to setup actual sites on each of the domains? I can't really do this because the site is transaction based, and not just a few pages of HTML, etc.

For testing purposes can I get away with just registering a bunch of domains and forwarding or redirecting them all to my main site? I just need to see which one helps my ad CTR the best, and then I will make that my official domain for the site.

Even more evil, could I get away with just making up display urls and keeping the destination url the same for a few days? (i.e. the display URL and destination URLs are not even the same domain) Or will G catch this immediately?

I'm assuming Google doesn't encourage this but at the same time I assume I could get away with it for at least a few days which would give me enough data for my test.

What about my quality score as it pertains to my landing page, if I do a redirect? Will G base my quality score on the final URL that the user gets redirected to, or will my quality score be horrible since my destination URL is just a redirect?

Is there a better way to do this? Ideally one that is Google-approved? I would be curious to get input from anyone on this, especially AWA.




 4:54 am on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here is some of my experience:


If you do 301, it will be against AdWords' rules about display URL.

If you point more than one domain name to the same site, you are risking SEO consequences, plus AdWords will figure it and apply different QS to your keywords, depending on URL.

If AdWords stayed “blind” on multiple domain names pointing to same sites, it would be running totally opposite concept to its Search sister.

AdWords still makes exception on case bases in regards of product names. If you are an owner of the product (manufacturer) then you may be able to have “product.com” in your display URL while pointing to “company.com”.


 5:03 am on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply, I'm off to read your thread.

You said...

If you point more than one domain name to the same site, you are risking SEO consequences, plus AdWords will figure it and apply different QS to your keywords, depending on URL.

I could care less about SEO consequences right now, but are you saying AdWords will apply different QS to my keywords based solely on the different URLs? Meaning that they actually take your URL "quality" into account, the way they do with your landing page? Meaning a keyword stuffed URL will help you get a higher quality score?


 8:48 am on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

according to Adwords policies, the domain of your display URL must match the domain of you landing page. You MIGHT get away with it for a few days, but i seriously hope you don't.

From a user perspective, nothing is more irritating than false advertising (which includes landing on a different domain than you clicked on)

If you read through some other threads on this forum, you'll see that most people strongly resent using 'fake' display urls


 9:10 am on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

As a matter of policy I would agree. But in a case like this why would anyone really care? If they see my ad and the display URL says mygreatsite.com or mybestsite.com what does it really matter ... they are going to end up at the same place when they click the ad and find what they want.


 7:49 pm on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

To make it clear in regards of policies: We talk about domain1.com and domain2.com in display URL with landing pages corresponding to themselves. No policy breach at all.

Recently I’ve noticed that keywords in ad groups which served ads with “product” display URL all got poor QS ranging from $0.15 up to $5 or even $10 in some rare cases.

Above I confirmed that same keyword and ad text, and absolutely same landing page within same site (same content), but different display URL had VERY different QS applied.

Basically Google AdWords has favored one URL over another.

… and I agree with that as it gets in line with regular search which does not like duplicated content through multiple domain names pointing to the same site.

What I did not agree with was the fact that “poor QS” domain name (display URL) actually did very well from user perspective as it was real product name. Since then I’ve never been able to recover from that loss. People simply stopped clicking onto my ad as much as they did in the past. Yet AdWords “says” great or OK for all of the keywords now.

Before: people said “your ad is great”, but AdWords said “your QS is bad”

After: people said “your ad is so so”, but AdWords said “your QS is great”

I lose and people lose.

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