During today’s PPCChat on Staying Ahead of the PPC Competition, one of the topics was about checking competitors’ sites and Jeremy Brown made an excellent suggestion to copy the destination URL and remove Google tracking before visiting the landing page:
AdWords URL vs Landing Page URL
To explain the difference more clearly, I’ll use an ad I’m shown when I search for “google nexus 4″. If I copy the link address of the first ad (from Google) without any changes, it looks like this:
The URL begins with http://www.google.com/aclk? , which is the AdWords click tracking system. The landing page URL is deeper inside the URL in the “adurl” parameter and it’s URL encoded so that it can be included in the link. When you extract it and decode it, the actual landing page URL is:
The main reason to bypass AdWords tracking and go directly to the landing page is so you can be nice to your competitors and not incur any costs for them when checking their landing pages, and a smaller benefit (to you, as their competitor) is that it does not artificially inflate their quality score.
The Semi-Automated Way to Do It
The simple way to do this is to choose “Copy link address” in your browser, look for the “adurl=” value in the long copied text, decode it at another website, and then paste the decoded URL in the browser address bar to go to the landing page.
It works, but it’s a lot of clicking around.
Chrome extension – AdWords URL Extractor
A few years ago, I had someone write a Firefox extension for me to automate this functionality, and I recently looked around for something similar on Chrome but hadn’t come across it. So I figured it was time to create it. This was the first Chrome extension I’ve written, but thanks to Google’s documentation and some examples on Stack Overflow, it wasn’t too hard to put together.
I’ve published the extension in the Google Chrome Web Store:
Once you have this extension installed, you can right click on any links on the Google search results page and you will see the following menu pop up:
The extension adds the “AdWords URL Extractor” item in the menu, which has several sub-items to either open the landing page in a tab or window or to copy the URL into the clipboard. So it does the same thing as the semi-automated method but in a much faster way.
I’ve done some brief testing and it works for the main ad links as well as extensions and even the Google Shopping result pages.
Here’s the link to the extension download page again, in case you missed it earlier: AdWords URL Extractor
If you have any feedback for this extension, please let me know. Any suggestions for additional features will be considered, too.
PS – The extension will also extract organic search results in the same way, but its main purpose is for the ad landing pages so I’ve named it with the reference to AdWords (for now, at least).