9 Tips to Write Effective Google AdWords Copy

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If you are doing Pay-Per-Click Advertising for some time, you have probably figured that your Ad Copy plays a vital role in the success of your PPC campaign. Even after having your best keywords & a very compelling sales copy – your PPC campaign may fail. And among many reasons, the one that I’m going to elaborate on is your Ad Copy.

Sometimes we tend to forget that no matter how technical the whole PPC gets with things like Quality Score, Campaign Optimization etc. – An Ad Copy is still just an Ad Copy. It has much less technicality and if you can keep it plain and simple, it would probably work best for you.

So here are 9 tips that you can consider while writing your next PPC Advertisement:

1. Be Specific: Don’t write a generic Ad copy for all your keywords. You should try to be as specific as possible, so that your Ad can deliver the right message to your customers. For example, if you are selling shoes and you have different types of shoes in your inventory – e.g. Mens shoes, Women’s shoes, Tennis Shoes, Walking shoes etc.; you should make few set of keywords for each of the different type of inventory that you have and then write compelling Ads for each of those set. The best way to do this is to have multiple Ad groups for your different set of keywords so that you can easily write specific Ad copies for the different ad groups.

2. Highlight your Unique Value Proposition (UVP): How different are you from your competitor? What makes your product or service unique? What benefit would the customer get after buying what you sell? – If you can answer these questions then hopefully you will get your UVP. Your Ad copy must highlight your value propositions. Your proposition must be something that your competitors either cannot, or does not offer. It must be unique and something that your customers can relate to and can benefit from. Examples of some of the popular Unique Value Propositions:

  • Olay: “You get younger-looking skin”
  • Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”

In the above examples, all the UVPs are pretty straight forward and uniquely describe the products purpose of existence and proposition to their respective customers.

So when you are writing your Ad copy, you must include your UVP that differentiates you from your competitor. A searcher would naturally want to know, why he should buy from you; and your copy must answer that question. For instance, if you offer free shipping, 24/7 support, money back guarantee or you are professionally certified, won awards or anything else that can help you to boost your initial credibility and trust – then Include it in your Ad copy.

3. Don’t forget your keywords: Advertisers often try to make their Ad copies very creative. But sadly very few of them do well in terms of Click-through-rate and conversion. Creativity is good and is essential for writing any sort of advertisement. But when it comes to PPC, sometimes too much creativity can hurt you. Because of the nature of PPC Ads, it’s very important for you to grab the searcher’s attention right at the beginning. Think of a traditional Google search page for instance – When a searcher performs a search, he is presented with a page full of blue colored links in a white background. He is looking for a particular solution of a problem and Even though you offer the solution and you have put up your Ad on the right side of his screen, he just can’t spot you! Do you know why? – Because your Ad copy probably doesn’t include the words that he is searching for; this makes your Ad irrelevant to his search! Try to Think, Isn’t that how exactly you perform a search? When you search for a term and you are provided with 10 results, you naturally would go with the results which have the exact same words of your search query on them. Google by default automatically bolds your searched keywords in the SERP. Thus if you search for blue widgets, all the occurrence of the word ‘blue’, ‘widget’, the phrase ‘blue widget’ and all their synonyms would be bolded.

So when writing your next Ad copy, make sure to include your main keywords in your Ad Headline and Ad Description so that they are automatically bolded when the searcher includes those keyword in his search query. Having your keyword in the Ad copy also makes your ad more relevant thus gives you a better Click-through-ratio (CTR) and a better quality score.

4. Include A Call to Action: Many advertisers forget to include a call to action in their Ads. Having a good call to action can increase your CTR and also increase your campaigns effectiveness. A searcher needs to know what’s in it for him if he clicks on the advertisement. He is already in a page full of related links that he was searching for and you are just one of those guys. So if you are going to take him away from this great page, you will have to make sure that he knows what he will get from your page.

For instance, if a searcher is thinking of getting Auto insurance, he needs to go to a destination where he can straight away get what he needs, an insurance quote. He doesn’t want to end up on a site where they will give him insurance tips, articles etc. Below are some live examples of call to actions that some advertisers are using:

Google Adwords Copy

The first example on the left is an Ad for Auto Insurance. The call to action is very loud and clear – If you click on the Ad, you will get a rate/quote in less than 8 minutes! It sounds convincing right? Now let’s look at the Ad on the right, its call to action is to Book online for huge savings. Thus a searcher already has an idea (+expectation) from that website even before clicking on them.

Now let’s look at some examples:

Google AdWords Call to Action

Do you see any call to action in either of these ads? If a searcher is searching for car insurance with the intent of getting one, he won’t be interested to ‘learn more’ about car insurance in general. He would just want to go straight to business! So the Ad that I showed you before is likely to be more compelling to a searcher with that intent. Similarly, Florida Car Rental Ad doesn’t clearly say what it provides. There is no call to action and by reading the ad it seems like they are going to put the searcher in the middle of some text and a bunch of links.

So what are some of the good Call to actions? Well, there is no golden rule. You really need to test and see what works for you. But before that you really need to understand your own business model – why do you want the searcher to come to your website? What happens after they come to your site? Based on the answers, you will be able to find some good call to actions.

5. Stand Out from your Competitors: Many advertisers believe that copying Ads of the top performing advertisers can make your PPC campaign a success. Well, I don’t agree. Certainly you can take ideas from your competitors while you are writing your ad copy. But blatantly copying their Ad ‘word to word’ makes your Ad insignificant.

Many search queries today often show near duplicate ads, with the same title and some minor changes In the Ad body and a different display URL. This is definitely not helping the advertisers because a searcher gets confused when they see the same kind of Ads lined up in a column. So it is often seen that they go for the one which ‘stands out’ and is different than the rest of the group. Check out the example below:

Google AdWords Stand Out

6. Get Right To the Point: Leave the Mumbo-Jumbo out! You don’t have the luxury of a lot of space to write your PPC Advertisement. Google Adwords only allows 25 characters in your Title and 35 characters each in Description Line 1 & 2. So avoid all the unnecessary words and include things that add value to your advertisement. You will get only about 5-10 seconds before the searcher moves away to a different page, so you really need to grab his attention the first time he sees your Ad. So if you are selling a product, you may want to give away the unit price in your Ad copy so that the ones that find your product affordable will click on your Ad and the rest won’t (saving you some money). Because ultimately no matter how good & convincing your sales copy is, the conversion does depend partially on how much money that person can afford to pay on that very moment. If he has a maxed out credit card and your product costs 1000 bucks then your offer is no good to him and his click would be of no value to you.

It is always good to tailor your offer according to the searcher’s query. For instance, if someone is looking for “Cheap Hotels”, you might want to highlight the price factor in your ad copy. On the other hand if they are looking for “luxury hotels”, you might want to highlight some of your premium facilities – e.g. swimming pool, spa etc. So think of some offers and specific details that you can give away right within your Ad copy which will save the customer their time & your money.

7. Ad Formatting is Important – Make sure your ad is formatted properly with correct casing & spelling. I run across hundreds of ads in a day which looks just horrible because they aren’t properly formatted. For instance, the title is not Proper Cased, everything is written in small letters and over the top of that there are one or two spelling errors.

You only get a very small window of opportunity when it comes grabbing the attention of your customer via PPC. So make sure that the searcher gets a good first impression by looking at your ad copy. Capitalizing the first letter of each word is a common practice which makes your ad copy look attractive. However, you can test with various other methods and use the method that works best for you.

8. Your Display URL is a part of your Ad Copy. Use It wisely: Many advertisers don’t pay any attention to their display URL. But display URL does play a huge role in your Ad’s effectiveness & click-through-ratio. You can put absolutely anything in your display URL, provided that the domain matches with the domain of the destination URL. No matter what your domain name is, you can include your primary keyword with a trailing slash in your display URL to ‘assure’ the searcher that they will indeed go to the right page. For instance if a searcher is looking for Pink Laptops, which ad below would be more compelling?

Saad AdWords

Other than the fact that the first ad doesn’t provide much information, its display URL is non descriptive and very generic as well. So the user may think that they will be thrown in the home page of a site from where they will have to again do a search for ‘pink laptops’. On the other hand, the ad on the right does a much better job with the display URL. It assures the searcher that they will be sent to the right page which contains information about Pink Laptops only. Do you notice how the phrase “Pink-Laptop” is also bolded in the display URL? That’s also a plus point, because it will draw a searcher’s eye into that Ad copy.

So the bottom line is, try to use keywords in your display URL, if that’s possible. You don’t even need to have a page called pink-laptops on your server. Display URL is only for display purpose. You can choose your display URL to be whatever you want and send them to your choice of destination – provided that both are under the same domain.

9. Test…Test & Test: The entire success of your campaign depends on how far can you test and implement the change that brings you a positive ROI. Testing is absolutely essential and should not be ignored at any cost – No matter how good your campaign is currently performing. Now the question is – what should you test? Well there are lots of things that you should test, but unfortunately testing itself is a very huge area that I can’t cover in this post. But I have briefly summarized a couple of points below that should help you to get started with testing and perhaps sometime later, I’ll try to write a dedicated post on some of the best PPC Ad testing methods.

Here are few tips for Testing Your Ad Copy –

  • Test your Ad Headline. Create few variation of the headline and see which brings you more CTR and more conversation. Don’t get fooled by high CTR – high CTR does not necessarily mean that your ad is performing well. Rate of conversation is what that matters the most.
  • Test different offers. Each of your Ad might include an offer, and you may create few offers to see which one works the best. For instance does an offer of ‘20% off’ performing better than ‘$50 dollars discount’ etc.
  • Test your Unique Value Propositions. Sometimes even after you have identified a unique strength of your product or service, it may not be the best converting one. So always test with different value propositions and see which one works for you.
  • Run multiple Split tests of your Ads. Have at least 3 Ads set up in each ad group and run it for a considerable amount of time before coming to a conclusion about their performance.
  • Make small changes at a time. For instance, start with your headline first. When you are changing the headline, don’t make any other changes. Run that test for a while and find out the best headline that gives you a good CTR. Once you achieve an acceptable result, move to the next item and test it thoroughly. Continue this tests until you have covered all your bases. CTR is an important indicator for your Ad’s effectiveness because CTR is directly related to your Ad copy where as conversion is only partially related. Conversion depends a lot on your sales copy/landing page as well. So concentrating more on CTR initially would a better idea and slowly you can work your way up to increase your conversion.
  • Even the slightest of changes matter. You might not find all tests worth doing, but you should know that even a single punctuation mark can make a significant difference on your CTR. So you should make sure that you test every single dot in your ad copy thoroughly. Some basic items to be tested are – www vs non-www in your display URL, different use of caps in your headline & description, trailing dots (….) at the end of your ad copy, use of other punctuation & special characters etc.

Bonus Tip:

Correlation between Your ad copy and your Landing Page: On most of the cases your landing page will be prepared first, before you get on to write your Ad copy. But sometimes advertisers tend to forget what is offered on their landing page and writes their Ad copy totally from their imagination & creative mind. Thus even a good Ad copy with High CTR often fails miserably because after a customer goes to the landing page, they can’t just find what the Ad copy has promised. So you need to have some sort of correlation between your Sales copy and your Ad copy. One easy way of doing this is to highlight & include your UVPs & benefits in your landing page that relates to the promise that you made in your Ad copy.

Hopefully you will find some of these tips useful when writing your next PPC Ad Copy. Hopefully I’ll cover more of PPC soon. If you have any specific questions, that you would like to ask – you can directly email me or reply in the comments below.

Saad Kamal writes about Search Industry News, Social Media & Online Marketing for Small businesses and other daily tech news in his Search Marketing blog. Contact Saad via Email or Twitter for more information.

Saad Kamal
Saad Kamal writes about Search Industry News, Social Media & Online Marketing for Small businesses and other daily tech news in his Search Marketing blog. Contact Saad via Email or Twitter for more information.
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  • http://blog.ecom4vn.net NONG DAN

    Great job, thank u verymuch for sharing !

  • http://www.dan-london.com Dan London

    I agree. Ad copy is essential in pre-qualifying a visitor.

    Each ad should correlate to the landing page to help with conversion and quality score.

    I wrote a short eBook on the subject over at http://www.lulu.com


  • http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Your copy should always have attributes of your whatever your keyword you are targeting.

  • FahSEO

    This is an excellent guide! Thank you very much for sharing.

  • http://www.seokeywordranking.com Will

    I never think I’m going to enjoy these lists but I inevitably get all nerdly excited when I read them and dream about the potential. I look forward to my next Adwords project, thank you!

  • http://webanalysis.blogspot.com Anil Batra

    Good points, I recently wrote a blog post on the next step from adcopy i.e. the landing pages and how they need to be relevant. http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/01/search-pay-per-click-tip-simple-way-to.html

  • http://www.y920.com/ Y920

    Very Good Info.. Keep Rock On..

  • http://www.tiffanyshop.org stevenchen

    y certification exams is be

  • http://www.bloggeries.com Bloggeries Directory

    As someone who played extensively with adwords last night … Thank you! Lot’s of great stuff here. I need to make more campaigns is what I was thinking and now it’s confirmed.

  • http://www.nikableu.com Kim

    Thanks for a great list.

    People also respond well to numbers, like ‘Save 50%’, Lose 13 lbs. in 3 weeks’, or a list like yours: ‘Learn 7 ways to …”

    I also look at the ads already on the SERPs.

  • http://www.trustwsisolutions.com Richard Beane

    Great ideas – especially the use of unique URLs for ads. Thanks for sharing the ideas.

  • http://www.seohostingservice.com/index.html SEO Hosting

    I personally found that testing only 2 ads at one time agaisnt one another is the best way to go. You cannot test 3, 4, etc. against one another effectively. And get the best results.

  • John

    Remember to serve your ads evenly, not best performing by default. This way you get to “split test” 🙂

  • John

    @ SEO…

    I personally found that testing only 2 ads at one time agaisnt one another is the best way to go. You cannot test 3, 4, etc. against one another effectively. And get the best results.

    Why not?

    Sort by lowest CTR and either remove or enhance. Repeat repeat repeat until you get the most desired results.

    Not hard really.

  • http://webmasterseoblog.com Seo blog

    YOur copy is great tip….Thanks for share it

  • http://www.ourfuture-ng.com David

    Very elaborate and informative.Certainly it will help me in my subsequent Ad campaign.

  • Est

    Thank you! I was looking for some comprehensive help with my Ad Campaign! Bless you!

  • http://njmmatoday.com NJ MMA Blog

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post! I’m going to print it out and stick it on the wall in front of me 🙂

  • http://www.nidelab.com Website. designer in noida

    Thanks a lot …. this will really be very helpful and the matter of the fact is the whole content fall so smoothly at place …. make it very readable …. appreciate the effort.

  • http://www.sabaseo.com Ramzi

    Excellent article. My company personally sets up a lot of Adwords campaings and we follow a smiliar process. We generally start with the landing page first so that we can identify the UVP and thus write ad copies that highlight those. Great job.

  • http://marketingdifference.co.uk/blog Ian – Marketing Difference

    Highly sensible advice its frightening the amount of ads with generic copy that doesn’t match the keyword or the product.

  • http://www.jungsonn.com Nicole Thompsen

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  • Darcie Eilert

    One of the best articles I have read about creating your own adds, you nailed it. I needed to be reinforced and it did the trick… Just starting my own small business and will be creating my Web Site this week. I’m really excited, so much information on the Net what a great time for people to start a business, if we use all the resources available to us it has to create enthusium for what ever kind of pie you are into. My creative juices are starting to flow and it feels great…So, thank you for keeping it (sssimple) just kidding with the mispelled word.

    Darcie Eilert

  • http://www.mingjongtey.com Ming Jong Tey@Millionaire Mind

    Brilliant Saad,

    I can’t agree more on “call to action” for ads. It is extremely important to have a strong call to action so that people will take action to click NOW! Also, be specific and straight to point so that people don’t think twice and just click your ads!


  • http://www.AgileWealth.com Paul

    Great information and lots of detail on the specific cases thanks.
    I’m in the process of creating my 1st PPC ad, so feeling overwhelmed, but this post has helped quite a bit.