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PPC Optimization: Display URL Expansion


By including keywords or calls to action in your display URLs you can boost text ad performance in Google Adwords. This article shows a real-world example of display URL optimization.

Last time we explored optimizing your PPC campaign with gender targeting. We found that men tend to convert better than women for our example cosmetic dentist. In this article we’ll show how to optimize a Call Only campaign with Display URL optimization. You can expand the Display URL with keywords and calls to action to boost click-through and conversion rates. This article shows an example of display URL optimization.

Display versus Verification URL

In Google Adwords, the Display URL is what is shown in your text ad. It must include the “root” domain of your verification URL, but does not need a web page at the URL address. The verification URL is the web page that Google checks to make sure the phone number in your ad matches the web site. You can expand the Display URL to include keywords or calls to action to boost conversion and click-through rates (see Figure 1). To make your Display URL more legible, you can use dashes “-“, underscores “_”, and “Camel Caps” (i.e., /Camel_Caps), as long as the URL is in a legal format.

Expanding a Display URL in Google Adwords

Figure 1: Expanding a Display URL in Google Adwords

Display URL Optimization

One method we’ve found that works well is to first test and find your best “naked” text ad which has the highest conversion rate (and/or CTR) without an expanded Display URL (see Figure 2). Take that ad text and add an expanded Display URL using keywords or a call to action (like “/Book-Now” or “/Free-Consult”). In our case we added “/Book-Your-Taxi” to our root domain.

Results of Display URL Optimization

Figure 2: Results of Display URL Optimization

Results of Display URL Optimization

In this particular campaign, expanding our display URL with a call to action boosted the conversion rate by 10.3% from 82.68% to 91.23% (see Figure 2). Google also placed the improved ad at position 1.6, versus 1.7 for the old ad. When your ad moves up in rankings, Google deems the ad to be more relevant. Even though the CTR went down a bit, for Call Only ads it is the conversion rate that matters the most.

Caution: Danger Will Robinson

Note that expanding your display URLs doesn’t always increase conversion or click-through rates. When we tried display URL variations in other campaigns, conversion and click-through rates actually declined. As always with text ad optimization, let the data guide your changes.

Further PPC Text Ad Optimization

There are many other techniques you can use to boost the click-through and conversion rates of your ads. Using benefits, your USP (unique selling proposition), action verbs, call-oriented phrases and even text placement can improve the performance of your PPC ads. We’ll cover these techniques and more in future tweaks.


You can boost your conversion rates using Display URL optimization. By adding a call to action to a Display URL, we improved conversion rates by more than 10%.

Further Reading

This Ann Arbor and Southfield Michigan-based green taxi cab company volunteered their AdWords campaign as the subject of this article.
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