AdWords Loophole Using Google Plus Local (Google Places) Destination URL

The other day I was doing some competitive research and I spotted an interesting thing – 2 ads with identical Display URLs on the same SERP. How could that be?

AdWords Loophole With Google Plus Local

This is actually kind of clever. Because AdWords lets us put anything we want in the Display URL, as long as the root domain matches the landing page domain, we can actually use a Google Plus Local page as a landing page and make it look like a paid result is actually a local result (to the unaware, casual searcher).

What’s more, it seems that Google doesn’t have any problems with multiple ads having the exact same Display URL using this method.

I know what you’re thinking. Could it really be that 2 different cosmetic dentists in the same geographic area have independently decided to use their Google Places pages as the landing pages in their AdWords campaign and also just happened to choose the same Display URL?

I wondered the same. And I clicked both of the results to find out.

AdWords Loophole with Google Places

Google Business Listing Loophole in AdWords

At first glance, these look like different businesses. At a closer glance, we see that they have the same street address but are listed in different cities. They also list different phone numbers and website URLs (both of which look like they were designed in 2003, btw). You can see how these 2 listings can be passed off as 2 separate businesses, even thought the maps clearly show the same location. In fact, they very well may be. The dentistry practice can have multiple dentists in one office, so why shouldn’t the dentist have his own listing separate from the office’s listing? That seems like a little bit of a gray area. So does the practice of running multiple ads for the same location, using identical Display URLs.

I’m not saying I disagree with this being allowed. It’s just interesting to see. I haven’t seen this in AdWords before and I bet most others haven’t either. The extension of this is, of course, whether or not it’s going to catch on.

You may be thinking, “Why use the G+ Local business page as the landing page in the first place? We can customize Display URLs with any domain.”

True. But I ask, “Why not?” The Places page has all the contact info, map, phone number (you’re tracking phone leads, aren’t you?), photos, videos, reviews… the only thing missing is a lead capture form. But that might just mean more phone volume, which is just fine by most businesses I know.

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  1. Cool, I’m going to try this out in my small local business marketing biznass. Let you know how it goes, Alex!

  2. Sounds good

  3. Interesting find, Alex. Nice job. There’s nothing wrong with linking to a Google+ page, especially if it can result in two spaces taken up in the SERPs. I’ll have to try this. Thanks.

  4. Thanks, David.

    I agree, nothing wrong with linking to the business page. Give it a try and report back! =]

  5. If a business owner has spent $$$ on their website, then I think they would prefer that the first landing page be their website (where they can control some branding elements, ie. font, color…etc), rather than a template site like Google+. If people were searching for a map direction, then I think it’s ok to send them to Google Place/Google+ pages. In your dental example, the search results were in the ad words (ie. Paid), so not sure why they would do that… does linking to a Google+ page gets the ad delivered more prominence even with a lower bid? I understand why the individual dentist does it, since she may not have her own personal website….

  6. In this example, both listings had a website URL shown in the Google+ page. So they do have their own websites. There may be a benefit if casual web surfers trust a Google page more so than a website of someone they hadn’t heard of. Everyone is familiar with what a business listing page looks like on Google, so there’s a certain level of trust in the information and the reviews. It would be interesting to A/B test the conversion rate on the G+ page vs the website’s landing page.

  7. Thanks for this Alex, going to set my Google+ page up today!

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