Rethink Your Ad Writing: Google’s Display URL and Headline Changes

Rethink Your Ad Writing: Google’s Display URL and Headline Changes

Every once in a while Google will make changes to paid search, usually consisting of an add value or a tweak to their dashboard for easier reporting; typically I’m usually excited about these changes because we could all see the added value of sitelinks, location, product and phone extensions. It simply means that we have to adapt a bit, test, tweak our strategy and implement the best result. So, with the recent changes that Google has been “testing,” of course there will be some new strategies to use to remain in sync with Google.


Recently Google announced a couple of changes to the way ads will look in the SERPs, the first being that Google has begun to ignore capitalization in display URL domains, opting instead to show all display URLs in lowercase:



The second change that will affect the way ads look in the SERPs is that Google will start to extend the character limit for ad headlines. The overall character limit of the headline has not been extended, instead if the ad is in the top three results and the first description line of the ad is a sentence or has the necessary punctuation, Google will combine the two lines to make a longer headline:



As advertisers we can alter the display URLs, but we do not have control over extending the character limit for the headlines. We can only do certain things to make sure that our headline gets extended:

  • Make sure the first description line is a complete sentence.
  • Make sure the first description line has the necessary punctuation.
  • Bid to be in the top three positions – the headline extension will only work on the top three paid results.

The only problem I potentially see with this is that Google currently is not telling us when our headlines are extended and what the statics are for those “special” headlines. I don’t see how this could negatively affect CTR or conversions, but then again users do have interesting reactions to new things.


Here at Accelerate Online Marketing we will test to see what is going to be the best mix for each client, since each client is unique. We’ll find the best mix that will increase the conversions and CTR that is optimal for each client. We have done a test on one client’s display URLs and we have found that Google’s Display URL Change Negatively Affects CTR.

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