Risky Advice on Evading Adwords Display URL Rules

Just a quick heads up for my readers here…

Adwords new display URL rules went into effect yesterday. Pretty simple stuff – the domain name you show in your ad’s display URL must match the domain name where the visitor actually lands after they click the ad. Pretty simple for most advertisers, but for affiliate marketers who want to avoid looking like affiliates, a little troublesome… and even for honest affiliate marketers trying to play by the rules, it creates a challenge.

Affiliate marketing via PPC advertising is tough, and one of the ways you try to get ahead in the game is by split testing domain names, and using keyword-specific domain names to raise the click through rate as much as possible.

Bryan Todd, over at Perry Marshall’s shop, wrote an article on how to get around these rules in order to split test domain names in ads. I appreciate Bryan offering a solution, but I wish he’d been a little more careful with his research. While the process Bryan outlines apparently worked with *his* hosting setup, it won’t work for everyone, and there are SEO implications that weren’t considered.

Bryan’s plan (pointing another domain at the I.P. address of the existing web site) works if the web server is configured to serve up the same site as the default. Many servers will instead deliver something else, like a default page, if you do what Bryan recommends.

If your server configuration happens to work with Bryan’s method, you’ll still have more than one domain name serving up the same web site. That’s duplicate content. If you must split test domains (affiliate marketers are advised to do so), and you care about SEO, you’ll want to copy the site and use robots.txt to make sure that only the Adwords quality bot reads the extra domains.

7 thoughts on “Risky Advice on Evading Adwords Display URL Rules

  1. Over here in the UK the majority of retailers that I’ve worked with have been demanding for a while that affiliates using PPC to drive traffic require to use landing pages rather than direct link to the clients URL. They were using the Quality Score algo within PPC as the justification for this. I’ve always used SEO to do affiliate marketing as its given me more control of what I do.

  2. Pingback: Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing

  3. Hi Dan,

    Interesting post.

    I ended up here while looking for more info on this as Bryan’s method seemed a bit simplistic.
    Thanks for the wise words.

    How do 301s figure in all this.

    What’s the difference & how does it affect the average website owner?

    Cheers,
    Mike

  4. Mike, the rule is pretty simple – the “display URL” that you show on your Adwords ad must have the same domain as the actual landing page destination.

    So, any kind of redirect from one domain (display URL) to another (landing URL) would be bad news. Redirection within the same domain (for tracking or whatever) should be fine.

    Very few website owners will be affected by this rule at all, but there are reasons why people split test the performance of domain names, and some folks have used 3rd party testing services for landing pages that also use a different domain.

  5. Hi Dan,
    I hope i can be clear about what i’m asking.

    I have 2 other domains names pointing to the same page within http://www.redi-heating.com. The two domain names, http://www.geothermalheatingchicago.com and http://www.geothermalcoolingchicago.com. Besides being an analytics tracking nightmare, which i haven’t solved yet, i’m not sure if i’m running into trouble with my PPC or not.

    I have set these 2 domains up as secondary domains of redi-heating with the hosting company. The DNS points to the same place that redi-heating points to. An index.asp page redirects each domain to where i want them to go.

    Is any of what i said a problem? Could i, should i do any of this differently?

    I get brain-tied trying to figure this out. Thanks for your help.

    claudia

  6. New client has ten domain names with various keyword filled words he is using to direct traffic from ppc. The domain names are matching the keywords in the ppc ad, and used to up the quality score for the display URL. He purchased domain names that he wanted to match the display url in ppc ads keyword and to be able to better track his ppc results, via Perry Marshal’s suggetions, they are in the “Blob Sled Run” consulting group at Perry Marshall’s AdWords Camp.

    Now, the domains all deliver the same content (parent website) with pointers. How much of an affect is this creating on the parent domain website? How can I test and determine the approximate effect in reduction in page rank, SEO page ranking of their top keywords, etc having added these extra domain names pointing to the parent domain?

    How can I fix this properly to reduce the affect and still allow him to use the extra domain names for ppc?

    Thanks, Jennie

  7. @Claudia & Jennie, as long as the content you deliver for the Adwords ad appears under the same domain name you display, no worries.

    For SEO purposes, you do want to avoid having the same content indexed under different domains.

    I’d suggest hosting the “clones” separately, even if it’s on the same server, so that you can have a robots.txt file and stop the spiders from crawling.

    Claudia, if you’re doing the redirect with a script, you could also have that script send out an X-Robots header to keep them from indexing the duplicates. Google & Yahoo will honor that header but not MSN or Ask.

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