5 ways to optimize the links in your PPC ads

Google search ads have been a critical part of many brand’s marketing strategies for years now. And this is likely to remain true as the sector continues to grow.

Carefully choosing keywords, honing your ad messages and adjusting your budget is as important as ever. Text, CTAs and PPC bids are often tweaked by marketers, but have you considered optimizing your ad links yet?

This can seem like a small element but, when it comes to planning out your PPC ad campaigns, its an important aspect to take into consideration. In search ads a link’s eye-catching color means it can act as a strong CTA and is one of the few opportunities you have to stand out on a SERP. Additionally, mobile ads make the display link even more prominent in relation to the full page being displayed. Take advantage of this focused attention.

mobile ads show the link text prominently

Whether you want to improve the links in your SERP ads or make your display network PPCs more effective, check out these five link optimization tips:

Use deep links to boost app engagement

Deep links are URLs that take visitors to a specific page within an app. Using them is a great way to boost app engagement, increase your conversion rate, and improve the return on investment of your PPC ads.

People who’ve got your app downloaded are warm. Instead of targeting them with an ad that just opens your app to the main page, you should bring them further down the sales funnel.

Encourage users to perform a specific action in your ad text. Then, send them directly to the place in your app where they can easily complete that action. You may want the person to buy a product, check in, or book a flight. Whatever it is, users are more likely to convert if they find what they’re looking for without any hassle.

Setting up deep links is a technical task and you may need help from your app developer. Find out more about how to set them up, whether your app is for iOS or Android.

Make use of AdWords’ display URLs and site link options

We’ve already established how important it is that visitors arrive on a page relevant to the ad they clicked on. This goes for all your PPC ads.

The only issue is that the URL for a specific product page can be rather long and unsightly. Luckily, the fourth line of your ad text – the ‘display URL’ – allows you to choose what link will appear in your ad.

So if Asos wanted to advertise some black suede shoes, it could choose a link like:


Instead of the actual product page link:


This part of your ad should show users where they will go after clicking through. The only rule is that if you’re entering a display URL that is different to your final URL, they must have the same root domain.

Site Link Extensions

You can also add extra links to your PPC ads with Google’s site link extensions. This will present those who see your ads with a choice of links that they can click to arrive at your site. Often, businesses will choose to display key pages, like store hours, location or even a specific product. You can add sitelinks to all your ads, or at a campaign or group level.

Beyond simplifying the user journey, these ads can also stand out in a results page.

site link extensions on a Panda Express ad

Tag your URLs to clearly see the impact of your PPC ads

“Measure everything” is a rule which most marketers live by – and that’s no different when it comes to PPC ads. While AdWords offers metrics within the platform, they don’t last forever. Even worse, too many edits to your ads can result in the loss of stats.

The best way to track your ads is to include UTM parameters in each ad link. Google AdWords offers a handy auto-tagging option. However, the results will only show up in Google Analytics. So if you’re using an in-house tool, other analytics software or a CRM tool for UTM reports, they won’t be able to process these UTM tags.

Alternatively, you can add UTM parameters to your links manually by adding them directly to your destination URL. Following some recent updates that made the AdWords platform more advertiser-friendly, you can also enter the tracking information within its own box – which you can edit later on without losing your ad stats.

Consider using branded links to boost CTR

Branded links have been proven to improve the CTR of social media posts by up to 39% when compared with other URLs. You can bring these click-friendly links to your search campaigns too.

A better CTR lowers costs and will result in a better Quality Score for your PPC ads. The reason for this increased engagement is because branded links can really help your PPC ad stand out. They are made up of a custom domain and a keyword after the slash, so they can include a strong CTA. By using an out-of-the-ordinary domain name, you can make sure your ad grabs the attention of web searchers.

image of a Google ad with a branded link

If you use a custom link shortener for your PPC ads, just make sure to enter the same custom link when filling in your ad’s display URL and final URL. By using branded links, you’ll be able to change the destination URL of your ad links without losing any stats. You can also easily add UTM parameters to your links and track all the analytical insights in a single dashboard.

Route traffic depending on device or location

With dynamic link routing, you can control it takes the visitor when they click on your link — depending on different conditions:

  • the device they are using,
  • their current location or
  • the current time

This will ensure that your visitor gets the most user-friendly experience possible. This will take a little more coding expertise, but consider teaming up with a developer who can help you. It lets you use just one link but sends your visitors on different paths depending on other factors. You can have a visitor go to a breakfast special if they click during the morning and get a lunch special in the afternoon.

Right now, though it’s great for UX, it can take some time to configure dynamic routing. It’s necessary to work with a developer to build HTML for conditional statements. You can define conditions and link to the content that should be displayed in each context. You also need to choose an overriding piece of content that will display when none of the conditions laid out are met. But soon, visitor routing will be much easier for marketers as Rebrandly will allow for dynamic link routing which doesn’t require any coding. The rules will be set out in the tool and then a neat link with these conditions affixed to it can be shared.

Whether visitors see a page in their own language or a promotion for a nearby store, this customized experience can significantly affect your conversion rate. It’s a great way to add a personal feel to display ads with broad appeal.


These tips take you from the basics right through to the most sophisticated ways to optimize your PPC ad links. It is an essential – but often overlooked – element of any online ad. Using ad links when planning an AdWords campaign can really make an impact on your click-throughs and conversions.


This guest post comes from the SpyFu community. Louisa McGrath is a content manager at Rebrandly, the link shortener empowering marketers to put their brand on their links. She can be seen blogging around Dublin city center, except on Sundays when she stays in to pore over the newspapers.