5 Tips for Writing Effective PPC Ad Copy

July 13, 2015 | 4 min read
By Jordan Crawford

effective ppc ad copyOne of the biggest misconceptions about writing PPC ad copy is that it is a creative act. While there are certainly times when you have to be creative to fit the copy into AdWords’ character limits, at the end of the day you are writing to a formula, not your high school English teacher. Now, this is not to say your high school English teacher will not see your ad – she very well could. Whether or not she sees your ad is not determined by how much alliteration you use in your copy but by the Quality Score that impacts your Ad Rank.

Quality Score Basics

If Ad Rank and Quality Score are new terms for you, do not fear! Here are the basics that you need to understand about Quality Score when it comes to writing ad copy. Every time someone conducts a search on Google that triggers an ad that competes in an auction, Google calculates an Ad Rank. Your Ad Rank is determined based on the following Quality Score factors:

  • How much you are bidding for the given keyword
  • Your ad’s expected CTR (based on historical performance)
  • Your display URL’s expected CTR (based on historical performance)
  • The quality of your landing page
  • Your ad’s relevance to the search query
  • Geographic performance
  • Your targeted devices

Got it. Now what does that have to do with ad copy?

As you can see, there are many factors that you go into Quality Score and not all of them are directly related to ad copy. That being said, ad copy is an important component and often one of the factors you have the most control over and maximizing its potential is in your account’s best interest.

The Quality Score factor that you need to pay the most attention to when writing PPC ad copy is your ad’s relevance to the search query. This means writing your ad copy specific to the keywords in the given ad group you are writing ad copy for, which brings me to my first tip for writing effective PPC ad copy:

1. Include your keywords in the headline and description lines

Whenever I draft ad copy, I always have the ad group’s keywords in view on my screen because that is exactly what Google is going to look at when someone conducts a search. Not only does having your keywords in your headline and/or description help signal to Google that your ad is relevant to the searcher, it also helps your ad stand out in search results. If your keywords are in your ad copy and match a searcher’s query, that portion of your ad will appear bolded in search results, as shown in the example below:

basketball shoes

2. Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)

Unless you are running a campaign for pure brand awareness, at the end of the day you want clicks on your ads to results in a conversion action – whether it be signing up for a free trial, making a purchase, downloading a white paper, etc.

Telling the user upfront exactly the action you want them to take will help get clicks that are less likely to immediately abandon your page and that are more likely to convert when they get there. The reverse is true as well. If you are running a promotion that are pushing in your ad copy, make sure that promotion is clear on your landing page as well. If you don’t, you risk upsetting potential customers and getting an angry call from the legal department.

lawyer (2)

3. Pull text from your landing page

Going hand-in-hand with having your ad’s CTA match your landing page is pulling ad text from your landing page. This helps ensure a) that the person who clicks on your ad is not surprised by the landing page’s content and b) is the easiest way to combat writer’s block.

I often pull out 3-4 phrases from a landing page that I think are unique selling propositions and build ad copy around them. Sometimes you have to be creative when fitting them into the prescribed AdWords’ character limits, but pulling those from the landing page will give your copy a solid foundation to build off of.

4. Test having punctuation in the first description line

When there is punctuation in the first description line of an AdWords ad, there is a possibility of the first line being pushed up to the headline (an extended headline) when the ad shows in the top one or two positions. This helps your ad take up more ad real estate, and we have seen it help improve click-through rate in many of our accounts. Below is an example of a standard ad and an expanded headline ad:

yoga mats

The punctuation can occur anywhere in the first description line (does not have to be at the end) and must be either a period, question mark or exclamation point (hyphens, semicolons and commas do not count).

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Testing new ad copy variations and features is essential to maximizing ad performance and staying ahead of your competitors. Rotating in new ad copy keeps your ad copy fresh (especially important for remarketing campaigns since people may have already seen your ad copy multiple times) and helps determine which ad copy variations perform at the highest click-through-rate.

AdWords also offers different ways to dynamically insert text into your ad copy based on the user’s exact search query or the hours left in a promotion.

What have you found to be most effective when writing ad copy? Comment below or tweet me @jcrawford326!


Extended Ad Headlines in AdWords - Are They Really Worth It?
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5 Tips for Writing Effective PPC Ad Copy

July 13, 2015 | 4 min read
By Jordan Crawford

effective ppc ad copyOne of the biggest misconceptions about writing PPC ad copy is that it is a creative act. While there are certainly times when you have to be creative to fit the copy into AdWords’ character limits, at the end of the day you are writing to a formula, not your high school English teacher. Now, this is not to say your high school English teacher will not see your ad – she very well could. Whether or not she sees your ad is not determined by how much alliteration you use in your copy but by the Quality Score that impacts your Ad Rank.

Quality Score Basics

If Ad Rank and Quality Score are new terms for you, do not fear! Here are the basics that you need to understand about Quality Score when it comes to writing ad copy. Every time someone conducts a search on Google that triggers an ad that competes in an auction, Google calculates an Ad Rank. Your Ad Rank is determined based on the following Quality Score factors:

  • How much you are bidding for the given keyword
  • Your ad’s expected CTR (based on historical performance)
  • Your display URL’s expected CTR (based on historical performance)
  • The quality of your landing page
  • Your ad’s relevance to the search query
  • Geographic performance
  • Your targeted devices

Got it. Now what does that have to do with ad copy?

As you can see, there are many factors that you go into Quality Score and not all of them are directly related to ad copy. That being said, ad copy is an important component and often one of the factors you have the most control over and maximizing its potential is in your account’s best interest.

The Quality Score factor that you need to pay the most attention to when writing PPC ad copy is your ad’s relevance to the search query. This means writing your ad copy specific to the keywords in the given ad group you are writing ad copy for, which brings me to my first tip for writing effective PPC ad copy:

1. Include your keywords in the headline and description lines

Whenever I draft ad copy, I always have the ad group’s keywords in view on my screen because that is exactly what Google is going to look at when someone conducts a search. Not only does having your keywords in your headline and/or description help signal to Google that your ad is relevant to the searcher, it also helps your ad stand out in search results. If your keywords are in your ad copy and match a searcher’s query, that portion of your ad will appear bolded in search results, as shown in the example below:

basketball shoes

2. Have a clear call-to-action (CTA)

Unless you are running a campaign for pure brand awareness, at the end of the day you want clicks on your ads to results in a conversion action – whether it be signing up for a free trial, making a purchase, downloading a white paper, etc.

Telling the user upfront exactly the action you want them to take will help get clicks that are less likely to immediately abandon your page and that are more likely to convert when they get there. The reverse is true as well. If you are running a promotion that are pushing in your ad copy, make sure that promotion is clear on your landing page as well. If you don’t, you risk upsetting potential customers and getting an angry call from the legal department.

lawyer (2)

3. Pull text from your landing page

Going hand-in-hand with having your ad’s CTA match your landing page is pulling ad text from your landing page. This helps ensure a) that the person who clicks on your ad is not surprised by the landing page’s content and b) is the easiest way to combat writer’s block.

I often pull out 3-4 phrases from a landing page that I think are unique selling propositions and build ad copy around them. Sometimes you have to be creative when fitting them into the prescribed AdWords’ character limits, but pulling those from the landing page will give your copy a solid foundation to build off of.

4. Test having punctuation in the first description line

When there is punctuation in the first description line of an AdWords ad, there is a possibility of the first line being pushed up to the headline (an extended headline) when the ad shows in the top one or two positions. This helps your ad take up more ad real estate, and we have seen it help improve click-through rate in many of our accounts. Below is an example of a standard ad and an expanded headline ad:

yoga mats

The punctuation can occur anywhere in the first description line (does not have to be at the end) and must be either a period, question mark or exclamation point (hyphens, semicolons and commas do not count).

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Testing new ad copy variations and features is essential to maximizing ad performance and staying ahead of your competitors. Rotating in new ad copy keeps your ad copy fresh (especially important for remarketing campaigns since people may have already seen your ad copy multiple times) and helps determine which ad copy variations perform at the highest click-through-rate.

AdWords also offers different ways to dynamically insert text into your ad copy based on the user’s exact search query or the hours left in a promotion.

What have you found to be most effective when writing ad copy? Comment below or tweet me @jcrawford326!

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