Inaccurate Display URL Driving You Nuts?

Inaccurate display URL error from Google AdWords driving you nuts? This article explains the issues and how to solve them relating to the Display URL and Destination URL.

Affiliate marketing using paid search engine marketing needs to be understood thoroughly or you will become quite frustrated with the process. Most individuals use first tier pay per click (PPC) search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. As Google is the largest in terms of volume, and the most discussed, below is an explanation of the terminology Google uses and written for those new to Google AdWords and affiliate marketing.

If you are merely sending traffic to your own website you will probably not have any problems with your advertisements. However, when you are affiliate marketing you may have very different Display URLs and Destination URLs which can cause your advertisement to be disapproved by Google if you do not understand their rules.

Affiliate marketing can be very confusing, especially when you constantly receive a “disapproved” for your ad due to an “inaccurate display URL”.

Destination vs. Display
When you create a campaign in Google AdWords, there is a Destination URL and a Display URL. The Display URL is visible to the person viewing the advertisement, while the Destination URL is the actual page the person will be directed to when they click. As an example:

Display URL:
Destination URL:

Google states you cannot use the following methods when affiliate marketing and using AdWords:

  • Redirect URLs – defined as a Destination URL which sends the visitor to a page and then then page automatically redirects them to the site you are marketing, an auto-redirect is not approved
  • Bridge Pages – defined as a page for the “sole purpose to link or redirect traffic”. The redirect makes it sound as if it fits under the above definition however it is referring to a non-automatic redirect. Confusing? Yes, sort of, they consider a bridge page to be a page that was solely created to have the individual click through to the affiliate site. This is a difficult one to explain, however let’s say that the page you sent the person to only has 3 links and all 3 links go to the affiliate site. That page would be considered a Bridge Page, however the difficulty lies in the fact that you have to send the person to a page and make sure it is not considered a bridge while you do want them to click through and buy to obtain your affiliate fee. There is no hard and fast rule but clearly some pages are allowed and others are not, as longs as there is other content and links you should be okay.
  • Framing – if you have ever created web pages you may think this refers to the frames you can create loading different and distinct web pages, however Google defines is as a page that replicates the look and feel of the site you are sending the traffic to. An example would be making a duplicate copy of the affiliate sites homepage with links into the affiliate site, of course that is the extreme but you get the idea.

All of the above are types of Landing Pages, which is the page that the Destination URL sends the person to.

What if you want to send the individual directly to the affiliate website?

Here is where it gets tricky. Notice the Display URL and Destination URL above both have the same domain name, that is Google’s default rule. If the Display URL domain and the Destination URL are different they will disapprove, reject, your advertisement.

There seems to be a simple answer, if you are advertising for coke you would just use the Display URL as as the Destination URL to their site is also, however there are two problems here, one is that coke may not want you to use their name as it is their Trademark and two chances are that if you are affiliate marketing the link you have received to track the activity back to you in order to pay you looks more like this, notice that if the Display URL is or even your own site landing page, the affiliate link domain of (a affiliate link) does not match.

Important Note
Even if the site allowed you to use their domain in the Display URL, Google will only show one advertisement with that Display URL. If someone else is bidding more for the keyword then you and has spot number 2 you will never show up using that Display URL. Due to this you will likely want to use Fix Number 2 below.

Here come the solutions.

Fix Number 1
If the affiliate does not mind you using their domain name and you are sending traffic to Google will allow you to use in your Display URL and the non matching Destination URL as they state they will know that the Destination URL is sending the person to ultimately.

Fix Number 2
If you cannot use the domain of the site, or do not want to due to the fact that Google will only show one Display URL at a time, you will need to send send the person to your site. Therefore you will create a landing page on your own site but be sure not to create a Redirect Page, Bridge Page, or be considered to have a Framed Page. The most difficult rule is the Bridge Page rule.

First of all, this solves the issue of the Display and Destination URL domain not matching as both show your domain. The affiliate URL will be in the landing page you create, not a problem there.

Secondly, you need to assure it is a page on your site that is not solely there for the affiliate program, chances are you will need to make sure it is part of your site, more content than just the affiliate information and more links into your site, no hard fast rules here just use your best judgment.

There are other reasons your advertisement may not display in Google AdWords, however you should not have the inaccurate Display URL issue anymore.


  1. Yes the Inaccurate Display URL will drive you nuts as their url is a 404 so you will get no explaination from Goolge
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  2. Brian,

    Thanks for this explanation. Just experimenting with affiliate stuff and you are the only person that I received clarification from.

    Thanks again

  3. I came across something I'm a bit pussled of.

    I am doing affiliate Marketing with adwords, and have a domain where I just use sub domains that meta redirects to the specific affiliate url.

    I have one campaign that I set up in June, which was approved which displays my sub domain and also has the sub domain in the targeturl. I then set up another sub domain the excact same way to another campaign, and did the same, but this one will not be accepted.

    Any ideas?

    • It sounds like, if I am reading your situation correctly, that the page on the subdomain has an automatic redirect. Those typically cause problems depending on where they redirect to – particularly an affiliate page. If you got one by Google it was probably a mistake on their part when it got through.

  4. I am having trouble with Google Adwords. Its seems that google does not like my display url which is It redirects to Apparently from what you are saying if I am doing affiliate marketing the display and destination url have to be the same. The problem then becomes the quantity of Characters that Google allows, which is 35. My url exceeds that by a couple. Is there any way around this without having to buy another domain name?

  5. Thank you so much for this. I have been looking for a solid explanation to get around this issue and you’ve answered it!

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