When My Google AdWords Ad Went *POOF*!

Has Google gotten suddenly strict with “Display URL”?  Was there a memo?  Did I (and my AdWords rep) miss it?

I decided to trial some of my AdWords Optimisation rep Kevin’s efforts on a group in one of my campaigns.  To begin with, I added one of his ads to one of my groups for testing.

Coming from a programming background, I’ll often make one change at a time, test, and then if everything is OK change some more.  Sometimes I forget myself and recklessly make hundreds of changes with no documentation.  I also drink alcohol and eat foods high in sugar and fat.  I must have a death wish :-)

For the rejected AdWords ad, Kevin was using a shortened version of my URL that I had used elsewhere *but* it was a 404 URL.  For example, if my real URL was http://www.yummychocs.com/home/nothome/somewherenew/yummy/chocs/index.html I was displaying http://www.yummychocs.com/chocs/

When reviewing AdWords guidelines, I was given the impression that short but non existent URLs were acceptable.  Indeed, I was trying to be representative of the landing page within character limits.

I looked at Google’s advise and while it says: “If your actual destination URL link is too long to use as your display URL, use a shortened version (such as your homepage) that meets the character limit for this field” it does not specify that the URL has to be a valid page on the site.

Is anyone else using URLs that 404 in their Google AdWords “display URL”?  Has anyone else found this happen to their account?  Is Google violating their own guidelines when optimizing client accounts?

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9 Responses to “When My Google AdWords Ad Went *POOF*!”

  1. Julie Joyce says:

    I’ve only done this with a valid page that contains a redirect. It’s an interesting problem though…

  2. And curiously why did my Google AdWords person use that URL structure if it was going to be rejected…?

  3. Stephanie says:

    I think this is something Google should fix before they approve the URL, otherwise it just wastes time and causes confusion like this.

  4. Jane says:

    404ing URLs are serving as display URLs as far as I can tell. ProposalPortal.com are bidding on “seo tools.” Their display URL is http://www.proposalportal.com/PPC, which 404s. KCHut.com is bidding on “seo guide” and their display ULR, http://www.kchut.com/seobook goes nowhere, either.

    What reasons did you get for the rejection? Just that it 404ed?

  5. g1smd says:

    I don’t do PPC, but my programmatic solution would have simply been a line in the .htaccess file that sends a 301 redirect from the short URL to the long URL.

    That doesn’t break any web standards and does exactly what it says on the tin. I would have assumed that Google would have suppressed ads that lead to 404 pages.

    My .02 :shrug:

  6. Julie Joyce says:

    The issue is the DISPLAY url, correct? So technically it should not matter whether it 404s or not. If it’s only for display, I can’t see why’d they disapprove it. Have you contacted them about it?

  7. that is so odd! I have been using non excistent URLs for my display URL for donkeys years. And my lovely Google AdWords Optimised rep Mark always does as well (hmm although I love the Irish accent so much I dont actually listen to what he is saying..) But I see no reason why they should suddenly should have changed the? I would call your rep!

  8. I know – the error I got in my account was that it was disapproved because the display URL violated the guidelines. I didn’t screenshot it though.

    I just tried to make it break again by switching it back and… it didn’t trip the same filter. Could be because I used the AdWords editor.

    I’ll keep testing!

  9. sem4u says:

    I have loads of display URLs that don’t actually exist and are just shorterned versions of the actual long URL

    e.g. example.com/satnav

    Never had a problem with them. I once saw someone using a phone number after the / in the display URL and this was OK with Google.

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