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AdWords New Display URL policy

 6:04 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google just announced a new AdWords Display URL policy change here:


In a nutshell, the domain portion of the display url will now always be shown in lowercase. So while before you could run an URL such as:


it will now show as:


This is absolute garbage. There's no valid reason for it. I don't care if AdWords has decided the CTR is better, MY testing over the years has proved that displaying the URL the way it was intended to be displayed works better. What's more, if a client spends all kinds of money branding emails, web properties, invoices, catalogs - everything down to SERVICE TRUCKS - with the display url as WidgetProducts.com, then what business does Google have to *break* that branding consistency for AdWords?

I have at least one client with a five figure/per month spend who is so angry at this that we're meeting next week to decide whether to continue with AdWords at all. He sees this as damaging to the brand he's been working for years to build.

I know Google doesn't care what I or its advertisers think. But on the off chance that someone still reads this forum, maybe they'll take this feedback back.

Changing the URL policy is not fixing anything that's broken. It's not preventing any click fraud. It's perfectly okay to *suggest* that your testing shows that lower case URLS have better CTR. It is NOT okay to force your advertisers into it.



 6:50 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I still read the forum, but mostly via what people tweet in Twitter. :)

Anyway, I totally agree with you. Not only does this go against the results of extensive tests that you, I, and countless other advertisers have done, it goes against branding. Companies have spent millions to brand BigBlueWidgets.com, but Google, in their infinite wisdom, decides they have to be bigbluewidgets.com Senseless.

And what about the URLs that run together and look just plain wrong? I saw this one on another forum:




Big difference, eh?

Google, you've blown it on this call.


 6:52 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ha, the WebmasterWorld censored my example! If that happens here, how bad will the SERPs look with all lower case urls? LOL


 7:00 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to agree. Absolutely ridiculous change based on trying to satisfy the lowest common denominator. Most people won't test different case characters and one the overall average Google figures lowercase will give a better CTR (more $ for Google). So now they punish the sharp advertisers who actually test. Yet another case of "let us do it for you". No thanks, I'm actually smart enough to do it for myself.


 7:06 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I love this part-
As you've probably figured out by now, we believe that regular website testing is the best way to ensure an optimal user experience, and we encourage you to test variations of your own website.

Um, I *DID* do testing on my site and found that mixed case performed better than all lower case.


 7:45 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

LifeinAsia - that's one of Google's problems, they only test in aggregate and don't care about individual users. For the millions (or more?) URLs they tested there was likely a small CTR advantage to doing lower case. In their thinking "overall" it makes them more money to force lower case. If advanced users that actually test this stuff get shafted...they don't care. As long as they are making more money they are happy.

It's like testing a million websites and finding that overall a big orange BUY NOW button gives the best conversion rate. To their thinking there's no reason to test individual sites, just slap the same button on every site and you're done. I think it's endemic to Google employees' way of thinking. They only see in aggregate, not individual sites or businesses.


 7:49 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I know that. The point I was making is that in the same message they tell everyone that they will be assimilated, I mean standardized, that they still encourage individual testing. Even though this testing (domain name case variation) is not something that can be done any more.


 8:04 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

They should of continued to make it optional. Many companies like to display their domain names in the same way they do graphically in their logo with certain letters capitalized. In other cases, capitalization helps users to distinguish the different words in the domain as some domains can spell different things depending on where each word in the domain starts.


 9:22 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is rich - on the AdWords Help page for Optimizing Ad Text [adwords.google.com...] it still says this:

Use capitalization to your advantage. Capitalize the first letter of every word in your display URL to bring more attention to your company name and brand. For example, www.CheapTireShop.com will encourage brand recognition much better than www.cheaptireshop.com. Ads that use intercapitalization can also look more professional.

Good goin', Google.

(hat tip to @Dr_Pete for finding this)


 9:33 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd like it to stay, but I've got a reasonably valid reason for using it. My company name is upper and lower case, it's a contraction. Like WebmasterWorld, now webmasterworld.


 9:35 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

@netmeg given what I've seen on Google's help pages before, expect them to correct that mistake sometime between 6 months from now and when h3ll freezes over.

This is an even bigger issue for sites where two words in the brand start and end in the same letter. Take an example like "WidgetTypes" for example. Being able to advertise www.WidgetTypes.com is better for brand recognition that www.widgettypes.com. I know from experience that in those cases a ton of users end up typing www.widgetypes.com

It really sucks when the advertiser doesn't happen to own widgetypes.com


 9:41 pm on Jan 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd like it to stay, but I've got a reasonably valid reason for using it. My company name is upper and lower case, it's a contraction. Like WebmasterWorld, now webmasterworld.

Yea, so's my client's. They legally changed the company name around five years ago.

@robdwoods - I wouldn't expect the page text to reflect the new policy yet - but it's just such a completely *opposite* philosophy to what they say on the page (... brand recognition... ...more professional...) Is anyone even checking up on this stuff? I'm thinking, not so much.


 2:58 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

i'm not a fan of this change either.

capitalization aids fast brand recognition.

to knock my socks off, run an automated trial, where we get at least a hundred clicks for free, then are presented with data showing the improvement, and a yes/no account wide button.


 6:10 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

> This is absolute garbage. There's no valid reason for it.

I'll chime in with the same comment too.

I do think this is to make the display URL look more like the ones in the SERPs. If it does, people may mistake an ad for a regular SERP thus increasing CTR. However, why leave the /direction portion as is?

If someone at Google is reading, why not give us the choice? I like to test and have control over my ads. This is taking control away. How about a compromise where above the SERPs, the URL shows in lower case but as is on the right side?


 9:43 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

not a fan


 10:39 pm on Jan 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

If someone at Google is reading, why not give us the choice?

I'm reminded of a Dilbert cartoon "This is where you learn your my coworker, not my boss" :).

Google's not looking for feedback. They've made the decision. It's over, now we get to deal with it.


 7:19 pm on Jan 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is not a big deal. At least not compared to other more serious issues like their obscure and quasi-unappealable account suspension/disabling procedures...


 7:43 pm on Jan 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Itís like I mentioned in another section. Not everybody sees what you are seeing. I see a very minimal implementation of what is mentioned and the companies may have set it that way in many instances. Last week Google froze my returned results to 10 a page. After a week you could set it back to 100. For two months the results would sit on the page number for the previous search then bam it corrected. Theyíre playing with their lab rats and thatís all you are to them when it comes to money.


 1:21 am on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

This really makes no sense for markets like Japan where the capitalization can help Japanese users read the URL better.

I think they are doing this so that users can't tell the difference between paid & organic.

Not that your client's CTR is improving but clicks to paid search vs organic has improved.

They just left out what the improvement was on.


 5:55 am on Jan 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

New Update: They are going to give the top ads an additional 75 or so characters to help them blend into the organic results as well ;-)


 9:13 pm on Jan 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Agree with the points here, we have tested this with a few billion impressions and proved that Caps in URL perform better across the board, super disappointing


 4:58 am on Jan 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

The testing and optimization that lead to this change was referred to in Google's latest earnings call with analysts, wherein a Google exec said this was on of two primary drivers of their 'beat the Street' quarter (the other was Ad SiteLinks).

If there was something lower than lower case, and Google's testing showed it made for higher CTR & revenues, they would use it.

ooops, sorry, i meant shorebreak

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