Google Shaking Up URLs in Search Ads?

Google Shake UpWhile in London this week, Jason Billingsley spotted something different in Google search results.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the display URL in Adwords ads are above the ad copy, not below. Ad copy also appears on the same line as the display URL in some cases.

I did a quick search in Google Blogs (search within only blogs) to see if anyone has blogged about this yet or may know what’s going on. Over here in Vancouver, I still see the traditional ad display so all I can do is speculate that Google is shakin’ things up and testing the impact of different ad structure.

Adwords URL on Top

Close Up Shot of Google Experiment

Jason also observed that the text appears larger than usual which indicates Google may be testing out new formatting of not only paid search but also organic.

Of course it could be handywork of an internal prankster at Google, or the equivalent to Jason’s computer trying to drive on the opposite side of the road while across the pond. (PS, if you’re wondering what the stars are, that’s a feature of StumbleUpon – you can see which pages have been reviewed and rated by Stumblers, and if one of your friends gave it a “thumb,” that will show up too.)

Anyone have more information on this?

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15 Responses to “Google Shaking Up URLs in Search Ads?”

  1. Jeff says:

    The traffic monitoring helps in knowing which keywords are fetching quality visitors and which are just increasing bandwidth. There are nice and best traffic tactics generation techniques. You can get all those techniques easily at without any opt-in process.

  2. abundantc says:

    Could be related to the recent policy change related to display URLs.

  3. Michael Feiner says:

    Linda – I just ran the same query in Google and the URLs are as usual below the ad content (I’m based in the UK).

    Interestingly, the same query resulted in a substantially different number of results to Jason’s (2.07m to Jason’s 3.6m – I used the UK only filter otherwise I get over 10m results).


  4. I have replicated the findings with all toolbars turned off. All font adjustments 100% normal. Google often tests variations of page elements. I guess I am seeing a different data center set of results and a UI test.

  5. This doesn’t surprise me as searchers might consider the domain name more credible than the description.

    This theory would coincide with the display url and the destination url changes made recently by Yahoo…can’t remember if it was Google too.

  6. Just looks weird to me. Once you get used to something you kind of want it to stay the same if the change doesnt make things any better.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ads look more like search results = in other

  8. ulf marcus says:

    I agree with Adam’s smart analysis, that searchers probably consider the domain name more credible than the description.

    Not a bad move at all, really, to highlight the headline and the domain name before the viewer even gets to the description. As a sceptical non-american, I know I scan those ad’s very, very briefly and not just because they’re very rarely relevant. So to adress the credibility right up front like that seems like a clever move.

    Hopefully this might find it’s way to the standard ad’s, because this could really have an impact on the effect of ad words.

  9. Alvis says:

    In addition to finding the source site more credible, this will also save google one line (in height) of text for every 1/3 or 1/5 of their ads, allowing them to fit slightly more ads into their vertical column boxes. For a company that does huge volume, that could save millions of dollars by creating an incrementally denser ad surface area.

  10. I wonder if this will have a positive influence on the CTR of all ads. I doubt it…

  11. martin says:

    No one has commented on there being 4 paid for listings on the left rather than the usual 3?

  12. Can anyone reproduce 4 ads at the top? I can’t with “digital cameras” or for other general electronic products. I would like to see if this is becoming more common as it could create another hurdle for seo.

  13. I don’t see any of the above results on my end (Kentucky), and to be honest I’m not sure I like 4 paid listings at the top. :(

  14. Imagine with 4 paid search yellow-box results, 4 Google Shopping results and Google Maps all at the top of the page – ack! I’m thinking of mocking this up just for kicks…

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