Hi – Welcome to Exclusive Concepts’ Your Daily Concept – Get Smarter Everyday. My name is Chris and today is PPC Tuesday. Last week on PPC Tuesday, my co worker Kevin talked about keyword match types, explaining the good, the bad & the ugly of Broad, Phrase & Exact matching. If you missed it, be sure to go check it out.
Today, I want to take a look at Pay Per Click URLs. You may wonder, what is the big deal about URLs. Someone searches for an ad clicks on it and goes to your website…done! Slow down – that doesn’t even scratch the surface. The URLs not only link your advertising to your site, they allow you to re-enforce your advertising, capture a bunch of data, and can even tell your site how to look. Yeah, all that with just a simple click! But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s start with the basics and take a look at how URLs factor into Pay Per Click advertising. First – there are 2 types of URLs used in PPC: Display URL & Destination URL. The names are pretty self explanatory: The Display URL is what is shown in the advertising , while the Destination URL is where the user ends up, also-known-as the landing page. You may ask: Aren’t the two URLs the same?
And I would answer: They can be, but usually not.
In the example, both have the same core: EXCLUSIVE CONCEPTS DOT COM SLASH PROFITABLE PPC. But they are not identical. Each has its own purpose and should be that way. You don’t want to have to structure your site so that it is compliant with your advertising. On the other hand, you don’t want to be forced to advertise what the landing page is called. There is just too much at stake at either end of the link to have it be completely transparent. Let’s look into these URLs a little further – their differences will become apparent.
Since each URL has its own purpose, the display & destination urls each have their own rules to follow. There are also advantages to both that can help leveraged for your advertising goals. First, the Display URL is essentially another line in your PPC ad, following the headline and ad text. It is allotted 35 characters, just like a single line of text. This means you can use some of those characters to help re-enforce your message and influence search behavior including keywords or value propositions to help make your ads more relevant. It’s not a free-for-all, though. There are some rules that need to be followed with the Display URL, which if are ignored will cause your ads to not run. The domain the searcher would land on must be represented in the Display URL. This is a cardinal rule & if it wasn’t in place, many ads could be deceptive and try and fool the searchers into visiting a site they did not intend to. For example, you cannot have an ad landing on redwidgets.com if the Display URL says bluewidgets.com. It’s deceitful and would lower the quality of the search results. Since search engines are only as valuable as their results, if users stop trusting the links they click on, they will stop searching there. This requirement eats into the 35 character limit. For instance, the top level domain (dot-com or dot-net – for example) already takes up 4 characters, leaving you with 31. Also, our experience shows that ads with WWW DOT included in the Display URL do have a better response rate, that’s 4 more characters leaving you with 27, and you haven’t included the mandatory domain yet!
So, even though there is some potential to re-enforce your adcopy with the display url, there are tight restrictions that limit its capabilities. The Destination URL on the other hand allows for 1,024 characters – or 30x as many letters & symbols – as the display url. This allows you to target any page on your site, no matter how long the path is. It also allows your landing pages to have URLs that might not make sense at first glance. Whether they don’t contain any actual words or use serial numbers.
This freedom allows you to find the most relevant page for you advertising, and you are not forced to build top level pages or consolidate your content. It’s a better user experience, and allows you target your advertising based on the page content, not where it lives. Imagine if you could only refer to your business…or your products, by their address – it may work for some, but not for most!
So now we know why there are 2 URLs and little bit about them, let’s get into some of the more advanced functionality.
Again, we will begin with the display URL. This link between the advertisement and your site allows you to capture more information, but that is only if someone clicks on it. The more relevant they find the ad, including the Display URL, the more likely they will want to visit that page. For those who are a fan of Dynamic Keyword Insertion (which is the ability to pull the terms searched into the ad copy) you can use this with display URLs. The most popular way is to format it so it will look like the term is the name of the page. Regarding the Destination URLs, you can do a lot to communicate what was searched, and what ad was displayed, into 3rd party tracking, or your analytics application. This intelligence can help give you insight in to how paid traffic behaves on your site. By tagging the source, specific keywords can be tracked for bounce rate, or number of pages viewed. It’s a great way to fill the gap between what happens after someone clicks on an ad and before they convert.
For example, if you ever notice “u-t-m” in the URL, those are probably parameters to speak to Google Analytics. This can take a lot of setup and then provide mountains of data, so much it can be overloading. But if you are concerned that your campaigns are not running efficiently, or feel there are gaps in your conversion path that cannot be recognized, it may be worth tagging your paid traffic and investing in the work that goes along with it. You can also have these tags influence the content on the pages, allowing the pages to speak directly to the user based upon what they searched and what ad was clicked on. This can be helpful if you need to have very specific landing pages, or need to maximize on subtleties within your market. Again, this will take an investment up front, but can turn kind of relevant content into really relevant content!
Finally, Redirects. Remember how I told you the domain must be the same for both the Display & Destination URLs? Like most things in life, there is an exception and in this case, its redirects.
All of the major search engines allow you to be inconsistent with the domains, if the destination URL is going through a redirect – or a page that has no content and is only meant to track the traffic that passes through it – before automatically resolving on the landing page. It happens in less than or within seconds and the landing page the user is taken to must still be consistent with the display URL.
This is usually used for internal tracking applications, taking the tracking URLs one step further to communicate all of the search info into a locally hosted page, drop a cookie to track what happens after the fact, and then sends the user to page they were expecting. If a company represented a number of advertisers and wanted to have them in their own dashboard, instead of being tracked individually, this would be a means to that end. So, what seems as a simple link from the search engines to your site is actually much more. It is a means to communicate externally with Display URL before someone clicks, and the page content on the Destination URL, after the click.
It also facilitates communicating internally. Capturing the data that caused the events, allowing for greater insight into how your website is used, and even as a means to tell your site how to respond to the traffic and what information to serve.
I hope this has been helpful. To Learn More about Exclusive Concepts Profitable PPC product, or any of our excellent services in our suite of online marketing offerings including our Conversion Booster, SEO Foundation or Precision Email Marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Also, if you have specific questions about how your PPC Account is structured, sign up for one of our Profitable PPC Audits, they are quick, free, and offer some great insight in how to optimize your campaign. Thank you, this has been Chris for Exclusive Concepts Daily Concept: PPC Tuesday. I look forward to talking to you next time.