URLs (Uniform Resource Locators)

URL-Structure

Whenever a user clicks an ad, redirection should lead to a specific Landing Page that fits the ad and the user’s Search Query.  A deep link leads the user to a specific landing page, connecting him to the information or product he is searching for. A URL is a composition of various elements, and the organization of these elements is called URL-structure.

Static and Dynamic URLs

Generally, we distinguish between static and dynamic URLs. Static URLs connect to webpages whose content is only changeable by hard coding it into the HTML. Dynamic URLs belong to database-driven websites, which are templates for database query results.

Dynamic URLs begin with a static part, and the dynamic part consists of parameters and that are often introduced with a question mark. Dynamic URLs generated by web servers and CMS change and are not customized. You can spot dynamic URLs because they include question marks (?), equal signs (=) and ampersands (&).

Example of static-URL:
www.shop.de/women/clothing/dresses/skirts

Example of dynamic-URL:
www.shop.de/women/clothing/dresses/skirts/?color=red&size=42

Domain-Linking

A basic URL is made up of separate parts:

  • Root domain: www.exampleshop.de
  • Top-Level-Domain: www.exampleshop.de
  • Subdomain: www.woman.exampleshop.de
Deep Linking Examples

A deep link points to a specific page or image on a website instead of the website’s homepage (see Landing Page).

  1. http://shoes.shopalike.co.uk/woman-ankle-boots-lace-up

This is an ideal link. The general category is on the first level. The structure is:
subdomain.rootdomain.top-level-domain/top-level-navigation

  1. http://www.exampleshop.co.uk/womens-clothing-dresses/

This is also a clear-text URL. Its structure is:
rootdomain.top-level-domain/ top-level-navigation

  1. http://www.tires-seller.de/pkw/reifen/sommerreifen/hankook/135-70-r13/

This is the third clear-text URL. It demonstrates a deeper specification by car type, category type, season of using, producer and size. The structure is:
rootdomain.top-level-domain/ top-level-navigation/2nd-level/3rd-level/4th-level/5th-level-navigation

  1. http://www.tires-seller.de/?gclid=CNGA7ITN9LECFUe-zAodXE8APw&wt_ga02=3236175564_14512855764&wg_gk02=Exact_3236175564_reifen+g%C3%BCnstig&ef_id=axFQKRWScAEAAEM6:20120819210955:s

This dynamic URL includes a Google Analytics and a tracking software part. Parameters are separated by ampersand (&).

?gclid=CNGA7ITN9LECFUe-zAodXE8APw Google Analytics part
wt_ga02=3236175564_14512855764 Tracking software part refering to ad
wg_gk02=Exact_3236175564_reifen+g%C3%BCnstig Tracking software part refering to keyword
ef_id=axFQKRWScAEAAEM6:20120819210955:s Tracking software part refering to efficient frontier

The structure is:
rootdomain.top-level-domain/Google Analytics part & tracking software part

Google Analytics is a service offered by Google. It collects statistical information about the usage of websites. Marketers are informed about the performance of their websites. A relevant issue for the advertiser using AdWords is to find out at which step users left the sale funnel. Google Analytics offers tracking methods for such information.
One major problem of deep linking is the lack of information about the person clicking the ad. If the advertisement is about “leather winter boots”, the gender of a clicking person is of importance but unknown. Many online stores are categorized in men’s and women’s wear.

http://www.exampleshop.co.uk/womens/

http://www.exampleshop.co.uk/mens/

In such a case it is difficult to link the user to a relevant landing page. If the decision is, to present a page for both genders, the above links cannot be used. Obviously, there is no page which fulfills the requirements to present boots for both genders. If the online store has a search function, it might be possible to achieve such a landing page through a certain search.

On the other hand, a combined page for both genders will distract both groups. It might be a confusing experience to filter between men’s and women’s boots and many potential customers would most probably leave the page.

In situations like this many companies simply target female audience – except for explicitly men’s products. Ultimately, every particular situation should be tested individually.

There are three types of URLs we use in our AdWords accounts:

  • Display-URL (green web address shown with the ad)
  • Ad-URL (web address where a clicking user is led to if Keyword-URL is not defined)
  • Keyword-URL (web address where a clicking user is led to)

deltamethod uses the Ad-URL only for Ad-testing or reporting, inserting in the URL useful parameters to filter ads when building reports. Other companies might use the Ad-URL instead of the Keyword-URL.

Best practices:

  • Make sure your keyword-URL works. Otherwise your keyword and ad will be disapproved.
  • Use small letters in your Keyword-URLs. Including capital letters can lead to performance loss, because of internal website redirects. Only parameters should use capital letters.
  • The history is lost whenever an Ad-URL or Keyword-URL is changed. Only adding parameters like size, which Google sees as minor changes, are an exception.

URL-Encode

URLs must be coded using the ASCII character set. Since URLs often contain characters not in this set, they have to be converted into a valid ASCII format.

URL encoding replaces unsafe ASCII characters with a “%” followed by two hexadecimal digits. Moreover, URLs cannot contain spaces. URL encoding normally replaces a space with a “+” sign. Presence of capital letters is not important in this case. The result of encoding might look like this:

http%3A%2f%2fwww.exampleshop.co.uk%2fsummer-dresses%2f

There is a function in CS which we use for encoding:

URLENCODE ({#keyword-URL-variable#}).

Read more in the Functions chapter.

Error-codes – Troubleshooting

If a product is not available on the website or their URLs have changed, companies have a possibility to use internal redirection. For example, if the section /shoes/ in the URL structure has changed to /nice-shoes/ a customer will see the latter page. Internal redirection is helpful to compensate for mistaken links.

HTTP status codes inform about problems. They can be read using certain tools like Firebug. Firebug is a web development tool that facilitates the debugging, editing, and monitoring of any website’s CSS, HTML, DOM, XHR, and JavaScript code. HTTP fox is an alternative add-on for Firefox. The most common HTTP status codes are:

200 – OK

301 – Moved permanently (refers to our example with /shoes/ and /nice-shoes/)

404 – Not found

500 – Server Error.