AdWords Display URLs – All Lowercase? [UPDATED: It’s Official]

Well now it’s official.

Google have updated their AdWords blog to announce the change of display url appearance. From now on, your primary domain will be in lowercase but your tail at the end can still be capitalised. See some examples below:

Time to put those w’s back in!

To read Google’s official statement, click here.

[Previous Post – December 17th 2010]

About two weeks ago I noticed on my computer that all AdWords display urls on the Google search results pages were showing up in lowercase.

I did a quick whip around the office to check to see if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing but to no avail.

However, I am now convinced that Google were testing a new ad format on a limited sample of users.

My ads have gone back to normal for now but another blogger identified the same phenomenon last week.

Why do I believe this was a deliberate test by Google:

1. For some reason, my PC has been included in other Google trial runs in the past. This included access to Google Instant prior to launch and the appearance of the new purple AdWords background colour a week or two before the full roll out.

2. It makes sense for Google to try & make their sponsored links look as similar to their organic search results as possible in order to blur the lines between paid and organic results. This would help to increase the CTRs of the top three paid ads and, therefore, increase revenue for Google.

3. We have seen other efforts on Google’s behalf to try and get advertisers to aim for the top 3 ad positions in recent times. The most significant change has been the new places map overlay which now covers up ads on the side of the screen when a user scrolls down the page:


Google don’t appear to have announced anything yet so they may have just been doing a limited test to see what would happen in terms of click through rates. However, if there were to be widespread changes to display urls in the future, many advertisers would need to:

  • Rethink display URL capitalisation tactics (e.g vs
  • Perform new www vs non www split testing. Currently, in most split tests, non www ads perform better than www ads. However, this is likely due to the extra capitalisation that is allowed in AdWords display urls (e.g. ads will generally have a higher click through rate than or ads).
  • Amend every ad in every campaign in order to harness the results of aforementioned split testing.

As mentioned, this may have just been a case of Google experimenting with AdWords results to see what would happen. Only time will tell if this new Ad format will be rolled out and how they will affect current AdWords campaigns. However, considering the rapid rate that Google have been making changes to their search results pages lately, I would keep a close eye on this one!

If you’ve seen these lowercase urls in YOUR search results or would just like to discuss the implications further, feel free to comment below.

Paul Goldston

Digital Creative Director

As Digital Creative Director at Reload Media, Paul looks after digital campaign ideation, product diversification, Reload Media's marketing activity, internal education and basically everything and anything digital. Coming from a background in performance marketing (as Reload's very first full-time PPC consultant back in 2009), Paul confidently balances high-level creative thinking with data-driven campaign performance. Paul is, in his words “obsessed with providing market leading customer service and helping our internal teams to deliver genuine business impact for all of Reload Media’s clients”.