PPC Display URL Initial Capitalization

// // April 13th 2009 // SEM

Little changes can sometimes have a big impact. Nowhere is this more evident than in the display URL for pay per click (PPC) ads. Remember, the display URL comprises between a quarter or third of the entire ad unit!

Display URL

A recent SEOmoz post by User Centric confirmed the importance of the display URL through an eye tracking study.

PPC Ad Eye Tracking Results

In ads above the organic results the display URL carries a tremendous weight. While it carries the least for ads on the right, the impact of the display URL shouldn’t be ignored. Read on to find out why.

Subdomains and Subfolders

The same User Centric post goes on to detail tests of subdomains (subdomain.example.com) and subfolders (www.example.com/subfolder) on clickthrough rate (CTR). Their results mirror my own real world experiences. Subdomains and subfolders provide little value to PPC ads and often suppress CTR.

Why? Users are scanning the page and having a URL packed with information may simply overwhelm the eye. Simplicity remains paramount and more is not always better.

Initial Capitalization

What User Centric didn’t test, or perhaps took for granted, was the use of initial capitalization within the display URL.

Display URL Initial Capitalization

The above ads are exactly the same except for the display URL. I guarantee that your eye came to rest on the one on the right. The ad on the right uses initial capitalization and will consistently outperform other ad.

Time after time I’ve conducted this test. Initial capitalization produces a lift of between 10% and a whopping 50%. Why? The eye naturally gravitates toward capitalization. It’s how we parse sentences. For the more technically inclined, they almost serve as delimiters.

In general, initial capitalization works best with two word domains, but I’ve seen positive results for one word and multi-word domains as well. So don’t forget to make initial capitalization part of your testing plan.

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