In summary, Upgraded URLs will have a significant impact on how we create and track URLs, and is a positive step towards increased efficiency and ease in tracking management. However, being well prepared for this change and having a transition strategy will be key, especially when using third party tracking platforms. Google has already launched upgraded URLs and plans to update all accounts automatically by July 2015. This means all destination URLs will get changed to final URLs by then. For more information on upgrading URLs, please visit:https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6157310
From an account management perspective, ensuring the use of correct destination URLs is vital. However, as AdWords accounts become increasingly granular, and the number of landing pages you want to direct your ads to expand, making tracking or landing page changes can often be time consuming, inconvenient and complex. Google has recognised that this is a cumbersome process, and has responded by introducing Upgraded URLs. Improving the ease of tracking implementation and editing is a shrewd move by Google, ultimately allowing for more visibility on ROIs, which could lead to increased AdWords investment. Currently destination URLs are made up of two elements: the landing page and the keyword level tracking information (as shown below). Upgraded URLs aim to simplify this by having a final URL (effectively the landing page without tracking parameters) and a shared tracking template.
Using Upgraded URLS
Essentially, using upgraded URLs will mean you can input the landing page URL and tracking information separately, saving you from laborious concatenating in Excel. By using a shared tracking template, advertisers can now set shared tracking information on an account, campaign and ad group level. An implication of this is that if you are using tracking information that is shareable across the entire hierarchy of the account, all you would need to do is input this or make changes on an account level.
For advertisers using third-party click trackers through Doubleclick Search for example, upgrading to upgraded URLs may require additional steps. As such, it is important to contact your service provider before making the update as incorrect implementation could lead to your ads being disapproved! Currently Doubleclick Search recommends sticking with the existing Destination URL format until further upgrade details are released from their side. If you are using DoubleClick Search clicktrackers and want to save time on managing your URLs in the meantime, please see this link for implementation guidelines.
Who benefits from Upgraded URLs?
Virtually any account would benefit from being able to make tracking changes without retriggering the policy review process of the destination URL (except for the initial migration). This is especially true when operating in time sensitive markets or verticals which generally take longer to review by Google, such as gaming, pharmaceuticals and loans. The reduced crawling load means that the landing pages will generally load faster, improving the overall user experience. Additionally, not having to manually input shareable tracking information allows for more time to be productive elsewhere (like salvaging your social life).
Do Upgraded URLs support all ad formats?
Currently AdWords for Video, Gmail Sponsored Promotions and Lightbox are not compatible yet with Upgraded URLs.
Max Brockbank is Head of SEO at The Media Image. He previously served as Global Director SEO at Hilton Worldwide and Senior Client Success Manager at SearchMetrics. As a journalist, Max worked as a reporter and editor with regional and national newspapers including the FT and the Sun, and on global publications such as TIME Magazine.