Paid Search (PPC)

Noticed a drop – or an unexpected jump – in your CTR recently?  You may have been affected by Google’s latest AdWords update.  Here’s what everyone using PPC advertising on Google needs to know about the change.

The update is not drastic, so there’s no need to panic.  Quite simply Google is standardising the appearance of Display URLs in adverts.

From now on the domain in the URL will always be displayed in lowercase letters.  So if previously you had an advert including the URL it will now show as  You don’t need to amend anything, the change will happen automatically.

This AdWords update isn’t in action across the board yet.  It was announced on the 10 January 2011, and yet on 18 January 2011 I still saw adverts like this:

Google AdWords standardising Display URLs in adverts - or not

So, it may take time for your account to be affected by Google’s update, but all you need to know is that it’s coming.

If you’ve already seen changes in your AdWords performance that concern you – or if you seen any in the future – there are a few things that you might want to do:

1. Use the AdWords Ad Preview Tool to try to work out if you are actually being affected by the update.  This tool lets you view your ad as a searcher would, but with the bonus of not generating more impressions, which would lower your CTR.

2. Consider testing new ad copy.  If what used to work doesn’t anymore, try something new.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, the drop in CTR may be temporary so always test your new copy against the existing advert to see which performs best.

3. It may be that your clicks have dropped because your ads don’t stand out from the crowd any more.  But, there are other ways of getting searchers to take notice, like linking your Google Merchant Feed and AdWords accounts to “Show Products” in your ads.

This latest Google AdWords update is just one of a series of changes – some major, some minor – to have taken place in the past year.  While the new features are opening up new possibilities to advertisers, the speed at which they are coming means business owners and managers using AdWords will have to stay on their toes to keep up.

Read the announcement on the Google AdWords blog

Recommended Reading:

Google AdWords UK: Trademark Policy Update

Spyfu Review

The Impact of Google Instant on Your PPC


Katie Saxon

7 responses to “Google AdWords Update: Changes to Display URLs”

  1. Simon Grandidge says:

    Thanks for this Susan – I will share with my contacts.
    Just for clarity – does the lowercase extend to the extension?:
    You say: “So if previously you had an advert including the URL it will now show as” – but will it all be lowercase – i.e.: “”?


  2. Susan Hallam says:

    Hi Simon

    Only the main URL will become lowercase, and the folder or subdirectory will remain uppercase.

    Quoting directly from the AdWords blog:


    Following the change, the domain portion of your display URL will always be shown in lowercase letters. For example, if your display URL is, it will appear as

  3. Strange – google have just (like last Friday) done some work for me – suggesting some optimisation of some adword groups and have specifically used Uppercase in the domain part – why would they do that given the above? Also any info on whether using uppercase in the Sub part actually makes a difference? Personally I’ve always felt using all lowercase looks best and more elegant, but google using that style makes me think otherwise.

    NB. Happy New Year.

    • Susan Hallam says:

      Very odd that Google staff are still using Uppercase – (cue the spooky music….) …. Are you sure they really were from Google? And not Google imposters?

      I reckon mixed case makes the branding on some domain names easier to identify, and the classic example going around the web at the moment is the difference between and

      NB. Happy Martin Luther King Day

  4. Curiouser and curiouser… I too would question whether they were really from Google?

    Although it may simply be that as Display URLs had not yet been standardised, uppercase in the domains was still an effective tactic for tempting users to click on your ads. After all you don’t need to take any action to change the URLs, and there was no specific date set for the update, so it did no harm to base their advice on the situation last Friday.

    However the update does seem to be in place now. This may still not be across the board – but the ad examples I showed in this blog post have been updated:

    I’ve also noticed that the ad preview tool is showing adverts with standardised Display URLs, suggesting that AdWords in the UK has been updated. Has anyone noticed a change to their ads?

  5. Hi guys – all our company’s reviews on Google Places have disappeared! ( We had 10, all really positive and they’ve vanished. I’ve gone on to Google’s forums and whilst other people are experiencing the same problem, (some for several months)…there doesn’t appear to be any solution. Can anyone shed any light on this ?

  6. Hi Abi – have you moved recently? Looks like you’ve got 2 listings on Google Maps, so make sure your details are up to date on directories!

    Wayne’s written a guide to local search that might help you:

    Good luck

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