PPC Optimization or, 20 Ways to Say “CLICK HERE”

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There is a classic scene in the movie Roxanne in which Steve Martin takes a bet that he can come up with 20 better ways to insult himself than just saying “Big nose.” While trying to work on copy for ads, it struck me that PPC optimization, or optimizing ad copy, is a lot like this.

PPC advertising

Optimization is a word often thrown around by marketing experts nowadays, possibly motivated by feelings of inadequacy next to online tech rockstars. Their phrasing usually goes something like this: “put your message out there and then start optimizing until you have the best conversion rates ever seen on planet Earth.”  It is as if ad platforms come with a little button that says “optimize” that you push once you have uploaded the content, and magically a month later the world is brighter, shinier, than if you had come up with your very own buzz terms.

However, the reality is closer to: you put up two versions of your content (whether it be an Adwords ad, an online display ad, or even a landing page), and run traffic to both simultaneously. The version that performs better is kept, and the version that performs worse is dropped. Next you put up a new alternate version and run it against the earlier champion, in a sort of marketing playoffs bracket. Once again you axe the loser and bring on another challenger, and so on, until you have a truly “optimized” version.

The challenging part of all this is not in how to run the split tests. Oh no – there are myriad tools for that (it’s even built into most ad platforms, like Google Adwords). The challenge is coming up with all the alternate versions of your headers, cross heads, feature benefit statements, and calls to action. Whether you’re working with text ads or banners, you also have the joy of being restricted to a sort of haiku-like sparseness in how many characters are either allowed or practical for the medium.  Google adds a little twist to this, by disallowing the words “click here” in the call to action. (Google’s own ad, btw, which shows up on every search: See your ad here)

So, here goes with my twenty something betters (all from actual ads currently running on Google):

  1. For the joiners: Signup Now!
  2. For the chatty: Call today
  3. For the organized: Schedule your appointment today
  4. For travelers: Book now
  5. For the lonely: Visit today
  6. From an engineer-led startup: Demo Our Software Now!
  7. For the content hoarder: Download Our Guide Now!
  8. For the adventurous: Explore Your Options
  9. For the cheapskates: Use Our Free Service Now!
  10. For the inquisitive:  Find Out More
  11. For the seeker: Locate an Advisor
  12. For the 1%: End Your Tax Nightmare With My Help
  13. For the autodidact: Learn More
  14. For the ugly: Look & Feel Great Now.
  15. For those who like to haggle: See all prices
  16. For those looking for love: Reserve Your Date!
  17. For the skeptical: Check Availability & View Packages
  18. For the studious: Enroll Today
  19. For the ranscendent: Become a financial advisor / motorcycle mechanic / certified dog groomer
  20. For those with big noses: Pick!


Photo credit: PPC Cube – courtesy © XtravaganT – Fotolia.com

Leslie VanZee

Leslie VanZee

Communications Manager at Vantage Local
Leslie Van Zee is passionate about entrepreneurship and understanding what makes small businesses successful. An avid fan of lean startups, she makes sure to get... Read Full Bio
Leslie VanZee

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  • Cristian from Senkai Labs

    Good post! I will add some more: Reserve your spot now for events, Try our demo now for software, apps or SaaS, Check our prices/rates for ecommerce, Call me back in 5min for customer service, Take a tour for feature-guides, Get try X course for Y, etc.


  • Damien Town

    Great article – thanks for that 🙂 Reminded me that I need to be more adventurous with my ad copy and move away from ‘Join Now’, Buy Now, Play Now, etc! LOL 🙂

  • rankya.com.au

    Thanks for the useful information, and yes, call to action is the start of the conversion optimization process. These are great samples you shared, and as you have stated, fine tuning would be required for different services / products. But the best way always is, why not save time by using methods that others have fined tuned.

    Great article, thanks Leslie

  • Ryan Patrick

    Nice stuff, great alternatives to the forbidden “click here”.

  • Hamza

    Nice List. People have already started to develop a blindness to the once all powerful “Click Here”. But I think that there are much more words than just 20 which can be used as alternatives to “Click Here”.

  • Rob

    I think it’s good they don’t allow “click here”. Could you imagine seeing 8 ads a page all with the same “click here” wording. Lol. People already know they can click them. Is there any statistics on how many people that use the internet actually ever click on ads on search engines or anywhere? I’m guessing whatever number it is will only become lower and lower as time goes by.

  • Alex Rascanu

    Good ad copy optimization ideas, Leslie. We actually linked to them in our latest search tips of the week blog post.

  • Nikki C

    What about for the average shoppers? The key words to use for PPC for retail companies. “Buy now, on sale or low prices” are great keywords to use on PPC. Like your tip about running two ads at the same time. This should always be done so you know what to avoid in the future.

  • Web Development Company

    I read your blog and i like the reliable option that you had mentioned.