Google has made a series of changes to the way ad text is served and displayed recently, and it’s important to follow how they’re displaying ad copy and what level of control you have.
Towards that end, they recently announced that display URLs domains will be included in headlines, stating that:
…starting today, we’ll automatically show your display URL domain in the headline for select top placement ads on Google. As a result, your brand will be featured more prominently in your ad, and you can use the text in the headline to highlight other information. Potential customers, on the other hand, will be able to more easily identify the site to which they’ll be taken after they click on your ad…
When shown in the headline, the display URL will be separated from the rest of the text by a vertical bar and will include only the domain, not the “www.” prefix or any subdirectories. Your display URL will also continue to appear as normal below the description line. Of course, if the headline already contains your domain, we won’t display it again. Finally, it’s possible for the display URL domain to appear in addition to a description line that is promoted to the headline, as long as the resulting headline is sixty-eight characters or less.
This is a global launch that affects all countries and languages.
So what does this have to do with you and your campaigns? As with all new AdWords features, the important thing to think about is not just the tweak itself, but what it represents in terms of the direction of the AdWords platform and any product-related trends on Google’s side. Let’s take a look at what a branded query might look like with the domain appended:
Wow – that is a LOT of real estate! And pulling up a domain that I’ve searched for makes the result look even more authoritative. I’d be hard pressed to avoid this result in response to my search.
So what does this tell us about the general direction Google is taking with the AdWords platform?
One important thing to note is that this is yet another move to help searchers identify authoritative sites and to work to put a searcher performing a navigational query to the domain they’re looking for. Another tip here is that if Google is rolling out platform-wide changes involving the display URL (which they’ve just done recently) they are likely seeing a non-trivial impact on click-through rates and the way people navigate to sites based on the display URL. They also mentioned that seeing the domain name the user will have a better experience on the eventual landing page, which again is clearly the product of their findings. It might be worth designing a test pulling your domain name into your headlines if it’s a strong brand or associated closely with a keyword and search queries.
And in terms of general trends, all of the recent updates – this one included – seem to continue to offer advantages to ads and advertisers who can develop a dominant relationship with a query. With SERPs like the one above you see the type of coverage an above the fold, top ranking can get you – that result is very difficult not to click on, and Google keeps layering on more advantages for brands that can become synonymous with certain keywords.