How to Write a Good PPC Ad Copy?
Writing good Google Ad copy isn’t all that different from writing copy for other ad platforms. The difference—especially when compared to platforms like Facebook—is that the strength of your entire ad is dependent on the strength of your copy. There’s no images, no video, and a very limited amount of characters available.
However, that doesn’t mean great Google search ads are all that difficult to create. You’ll simply need to follow the basic rules of writing powerful copy: target specific audiences/pain points, have a great offer, and push readers towards a single action.
In this article, we’ll show you how to adapt those golden rules and learn how to write amazing PPC ad copy for Google. But first, let’s briefly talk about what makes Google Search Ads so special.
What is Ad Copy?
Think of ad copy like a text version of a salesman. Every word, phrase, and piece of punctuation used will be chosen for a specific purpose. Maybe it’s to add credibility early on in the sales pitch. Maybe it’s to pinpoint a specific need, fear, or desire held by the target customer. Or maybe it’s to introduce a sense of urgency so readers feel they need to buy now—right now!—to avoid missing out on an amazing deal.
That’s how ad copy works. It pushes you, the reader, to take a specific action.
And in the case of Google Search Ads, the action readers need to take is a simple click through to the next phase of the funnel (typically a landing page). But to make that happen, you need to be careful how you word your argument and structure your ad copy
Structure of ad copy
Expanded Search Ads, the most common search ad type in Google Ads, are made of 4 components:
The ad headlines are made of up to 30 characters and are separated by either a dash "-" or a pipe "|". Take these separators in mind when writing your ad copies.
For example, you might not want to use other dashes in your text in order not to confuse users with the separator dash. On the other hand, you might want to take advantage of it and create sort of a fourth headline.
Headline 1 and 2 are mandatory, Headline 3 is just optional.
All right, let’s go a step further, and talk about how you can use these elements to support your ad copy and drive more conversions.
Descriptions are made of up to 90 characters.
Description 1 is mandatory while Description 2 is optional.
Paths represent the display URL path you want to show in your ads. Both paths are optional and can host up to 15 characters each.
This is the landing page for your ad.
Why you need to improve your ads
Before going further in our guide, we need to clarify why you need to make such an effort in optimizing your ad copies. Of course, a better ad copy drives people's attention and therefore more clicks. However, this is not always a good thing. Your ads need to drive only the clicks that are relevant to your product or service. Quality of traffic is certainly more important than quantity.
Because the more your ads are relevant to your product and to a user's search query, the more you are offering a good service to Google's users (and yours too!).
By proxy, Google is also offering a better service to its users. Therefore, Google rewards you for doing a good job. It does so by decreasing your cost per click. So better ads not only mean higher-quality clicks but also more clicks at a cheaper price. Which means more conversions at a cheaper cost.
So what's the end result of this equation? Higher ROI.
This is the key to understanding the importance of good ad copies.
Now it is time to dig into some techniques you can use to improve your ads!
How to write good ad copy for Your PPC: 11 Effective Tactics
1. Use all ad components
As mentioned above, not all ad components are mandatory. However, we strongly recommend you use all of them.
This means creating all 3 headlines and 2 descriptions in Expanded Text Ads and possibly all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions in Responsive Search Ads.
Of course, also do create the 2 paths. Google always rewards you for fully using its features, especially the newest ones. The reward comes once again in the form of a lower cost per click.
But this is not all. If you use all components your ad will literally look bigger on the SERP. This means more attention from users and most importantly less room for your competitors, especially on small mobile screens.
We guarantee that many of your competitors don't bother in creating all headlines and descriptions. So this is your chance to stand out! All it takes is a bit of extra work.
2. Understand the role of the different components
How to Use Headlines Like a Pro
Every Google PPC ad that you write will have between 2–3 headlines. Each headline should “play well” with the others. That is, you should try to set up your argument in a way that each headline naturally leads to the next. Here’s how to make that happen:
- Headline 1
As you might guess, Headline 1 is the most important. This is what users read first and likely the only part of your ad they will ever read. Therefore, it is paramount that you nail this component. Use the name of the product you are advertising or a short description of your service. It also should contain the keyword your ad is triggered by.
The more the Headline 1 is relevant to every specific search query, the better!
The best way to do this is to use the actual search term within your ad copy. It’s also a good idea to combine this search term with a powerful benefit inherent in your product(s). You could also opt for credibility here, to help improve conversions. For example, someone searching for a “craft beer kit” might be enticed by a Headline #1 that reads “World’s best craft beer kit.”
The more the Headline 1 is relevant to every specific search query, the better!
There are several macros or automated systems you can use to dynamically populate Headline 1 (or any other ad field) with relevant text. One is keyword insertion, another one is feed-driven search ads, which we are going to talk about later in this article. Otherwise, you might also want to look at the IF function, the Countdown function, Location Insertion, or even Ad Customisers.
- Headline 2
Headline #2 is where you capitalize on the attention you’ve just captured with Headline #1.Or, it could also be used as an extension of Headline 1 in case 30 characters were not enough to properly describe your offer.
This ad component is your opportunity to give additional details about your product or service, like the brand, store location, product price or a potential sale.
Here, work on your unique value proposition—what makes your product so much better than any of the competitors on the market? What are you offering that no one else is? How are you a uniquely better brand than the other schmucks advertising to the same keywords?
- Headline 3
Headline 3 doesn't always show up. It is up to Google whether to show it or not and it usually depends on the size of the screen your ads are showing on. For example, you are way more likely to spot your Headline 3 on desktop rather than on mobile.
Expert Tip: Beware the "Longer Ad Headlines" automated extension.
Sometimes Google replaces your Headline 3 with some automated text, usually your domain. You can opt-out from this automated extension by accessing the "advanced settings" under the Automated Extensions section.
Headline 3 is usually used to show the name of your company or your website domain.
There is no strict rule here, but this is what we suggest as sometimes the display URL is overlooked and it is important to showcase your brand, especially if it is a well-known one. You can also pair your brand name with a CTA, for example "Shop on Adidas.com Now!".
Writing PPC Descriptions That Convert
- Description 1
Because Description 2 doesn't always show up, treat Description 1 as it was the only one users will see. It is absolutely essential that you include at least some of your target keywords here. Google will bold exact match keywords that line up with whatever your audience is searching for. This will help you stand out in the results and compete with other ads.
Pro Tip: Force bolded text in your Google Ads to gain the advantage over your competitors!
How? There is a tool you can use to control what part of your ad should be bolded.
Technically it’s not considered a standard practice for Google, but it is possible to do and won’t get your ads disapproved. Your competitors may also wonder how it is you pulled it off. For users scrolling, it will appear as though Google has highlighted these keywords in your ads. This gives the impression that your ads are special.
For the most part, you’ll want to choose keywords that are highly relevant to what you're selling. However, it’s possible to choose certain features, product specifications, or call to actions that you want to highlight instead.
Control bolded text by:
1. Visiting the website adtools.org (This page won’t appear if your ad blocker is turned on. So make sure this isn’t the case)
2. Typing in the keywords that you want to have in bold.
3. The site will give you the text with bolded words. Copy and paste them into your ads.
4. Start running your ads.
You’ll find that, compared to your competitors, your ads are bringing more attention to them.
You’ll also want to include plenty of benefit-focused copy, as well as your offer. A free trial, free demo, or free shipping offer is a great way to entice a quick click. Remember to constantly put yourself in your customers’ shoes—what do they want/what pain are they trying to solve?
- Description 2
Description 2 could be a bit more generic and talk about your business and your brand in general, instead of a specific product or service, unlike Description 1 or the Headlines. You could highlight your brand values and your USPs (unique selling points).
For example: fast and reliable customer service, free delivery, free returns, etc.
3. Use as many ad extensions as you can!
Ad Extensions, as the name says, extend your ad with additional information or links. The most common are Sitelinks, Callouts, Structured Snippets, Call Extensions and Location Extensions. But also, Image Extensions, Lead Form Extensions and more!
They not only make your ads bigger and add extra information, they also give users more chances to click!
4. This is a competition—do your research!
Once you’ve got a list of target keywords, it’s a good idea to punch them into Google yourself and see what the competition looks like.
You can use a VPN to check the results from different parts of the country (if you’re targeting specific regions).
This is extremely important.
You want to get a good idea of the kinds of ads that your audience will see next to yours. Then, write your ads accordingly. Are your competitors offering a 20% discount? Offer 25%. Are other ads all talking about the same benefits? Try targeting something different.
Remember, this is a competition. There’s only so many people searching for your chosen keywords. Be strategic about how you write your ads, and try divert as many clicks as possible away from your competition.
5. Use keywords, but write like a human.
People don’t buy from brands. People buy from people. When you sit down to write your ad copy, try to avoid stuffing your ad full of keywords. Yes, you do need to target specific keywords in order to stand out. However, we’ve seen far too many PPC ads that look like they’ve been written by robots.
Try writing your ad as if it were coming from a trust
ed friend. Use regular, everyday language and find ways to naturally work keywords into the text. The end result should feel organic and conversational (and you should reflect this tone on your landing page).
6. Don’t round up. Use real numbers.
Don’t say, “over 1M+ users”. Say, “1.68 million.” Don’t write, “huge discounts.” Write, “save 23%.”
Specific numbers feel more real. They promote trust. They add credibility to your ad and will help you stand out from the other marketers who can’t be bothered to read guides like this one before sitting down to write an ad.
What’s more, our eyes are drawn to numbers when set amongst a bunch of regular copy. If your competitors are using ads full of words, try including your pricing, the exact number of people using your product, or the percentage they can save when they buy today.
7. Add urgency. Now.
This is a classic marketer’s trick and works great for driving conversions. By adding urgency to your ad copy you can help push readers past simple browsing, and get them to click. If your sale ends next week, say that. If you’re only offering a discount to the first hundred purchasers, make that extremely clear.
Buy Now!, Shop Now!, Sign Up Now! etc, are simple but effective examples of CTAs. Although the use of CTAs is an old marketing technique, we reckon it is still relevant in online advertising as it shows users that they can accomplish what they're looking for, straight after clicking on an ad.
It also highlights what is going to happen after clicking on an ad. Say a search ad advertises tennis classes: will I be able to book them online straightway or do I need to speak to someone on the phone first? If the CTA says "Book Online Now!" then the user already knows what to expect.
On the other hand, it could have said "Call Us Now To Book Your Free Class"
By adding urgency or scarcity to your ad, you give users a healthy dose of Fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) and can help drive finicky buyers to make that coveted click through.
8. Create multiple ad variations
Google recommends a minimum of 2 Expanded Text Ads and 1 Responsive Search Ad per Ad Group. We agree with this but nothing stops you from testing more ad variations. For example, having an extra Responsive Search Ad wouldn't harm and we're sure Google wouldn't dislike it either.
Obviously, Google is only able to show one ad at a time. It chooses the best fit for any given auction. So having more options could help you better match every specific user's query. The way Google chooses the best ad is called Ad Rotation and it is an automated process based on machine learning.
9. Give ad variations enough time to optimise the rotation
Building on the previous point, because the ad rotation is based on a machine learning system, you need to give your ads enough time for the system to learn how they perform. So Google can make an informed decision.
Therefore, avoid constantly editing your ad copy. Rather, plan properly in advance and stick to the planned ad copies for a few weeks.
10. Choose the most relevant landing page
This is possibly the most important element of all. As we mentioned, the ad copy needs to be very relevant to the user's search query and the product or service you want to advertise. Therefore, you should also make sure users land on that specific product or service's landing page.
Avoid generic landing pages and show clearly what you want users to do on your page. Implement prominent buttons like "Add to Cart", "Request a Free Quote" etc, that should match your CTA in the ad copy.
11. Test and evaluate your ad variations
As always, don't just take our word and test ad copies by yourself. Measure the CTR and CPC of each ad variation and decide whether it is time to make some adjustments. A lower-than-average CTR, for example, might mean that something is wrong. Also, try the Ad Variation feature:
Expanded Text Ad Copy Best Practices
About halfway through 2016, Google released their new “Expanded Text Ads” to the Adwords platform. If the term is unfamiliar to you, let’s quickly talk about what these ads are, and how to write some great ones.
What are Expanded Text Ads?
Expanded Text Ads are now the default text-based ad available in Google’s Adwords manager. The alternative format—discussed in the next section—is called “Responsive Search Ads”. And, while Responsive Ads have their uses, Expanded Text Ads are easily the most popular. They’re the standard ads you’ll see in your Search Results; the ads you’re used to.
Expanded Text Ad Copy Tips: Writing Better Ad Copy
The great thing about Extended Text Ads is that you can be extremely specific. Responsive Ads (see below) will adapt their content dynamically. This can make data analysis somewhat difficult—it’s hard to test a specific headline, ad copy, or combination of the two.
Instead, use Expanded Ads to test specific campaigns, A/B test copy, and use the information to inform future iterations. We also recommend you read through all the advice in this article as you come up with new ideas.
The best practices of Responsive Text Ads Copy
Although Expanded Text Ads probably remain the most popular search ad format, nowadays Google is encouraging advertisers to create Responsive Search Ads instead. In fact, this is the only option you see when pressing the + button in the ads section.
However, you can still switch back to Expanded Text Ads if you want to.
You have to click on "+ Responsive Search Ad" first and then click on "Switch back to text ads".
Responsive Search Ads are made of up to 15 Headlines and 4 Descriptions. Paths and Final URL are the same as for Expanded Text Ads. The idea is that the system automatically chooses which Headline and Description combination to show at any given time. Of course, search ads on the SERP can still show up to 3 Headlines and 2 Descriptions, not more.
Because any combination could be chosen, it is important that every component of a Responsive Search Ad makes sense by itself, so the ad can make logical sense in any combination scenario.
Responsive Search Ads Tactics
Writing great Responsive Search Ads really comes down to one thing—variety.
Because you can test so many combinations of headlines, keywords, and descriptions; it’s important that you spend some time coming up with unique ideas. It’s not possible to know, without testing, which of your ideas will work best. So get creative and try:
- Changing where you place your target keywords (headline or description);
- Changing whether you appeal to a buyer’s emotion or logic;
- Varying the length of the headlines; or
- Using a variety of CTAs that will each speak to different customer pain points.
As you test your ads, continue to refer to the data and adjust as you go. See if you can figure out why some ads are working better than others—then write new ones!
Additionally, once you’ve identified ad copy that appears to work exceptionally well, you can actually signal to Google that you’d like it to appear more often. To do this, simply hover your mouse on a headline or description, in the proximity of the characters limit. A Pin symbol will appear. Click on it to pin that headline or description.
This will allow you to make sure one specific headline always shows as Headline 1. Or else, you can pin more than one headline so you can have 2 or more variations for Headline 1
However, we recommend you only do this once you’ve got some great copy that’s consistently driving great results—your overall goal is to continuously work to beat your best performing ads.
Feed-Driven Search Ads
We mentioned earlier that one of the best practices when it comes to ad copy is to include keywords in your ad text so that the ads are as relevant as possible to each search query. Actually, it is not just about including keywords, but also making sure that the product or service the ad is promoting is relevant for the query.
Therefore, ideally, you should have a different ad copy per every product you sell or every keyword. If you sell a small number of products or services this can be easily achieved manually. But what if you are a large e-commerce business that sells thousands of products? The answer is Feed-Driven Search Ads!
Thanks to Feed-Driven Search Ads you can populate your ad copies with the content of your product feed. Ideally, you will have one ad per feed row and therefore one unique copy per each product. This means that you can include the product name, product price or any other relevant attribute into your search ads, making them super relevant to product-specific search queries.
You can also create keywords based on your feed content. In fact, you can create keywords and ads based on the same feed fields. For example, you can create keywords out of the product name, and then include that same product name into the ad headline.
This way you can achieve a super ad relevance, which as you might know is an important part of the quality score and contributes to decreasing your cost per click.
Because this type of solution is "feed-driven", it means that you can use all the DataFeedWatch feed capabilities to organise your campaigns. For example, you can make sure ads get paused (or removed) when their respective products go out of stock. Or you might want to advertise only certain categories or certain promotions.
When you pair the power of product feeds with search ads, the sky is the limit! In DataFeedWatch you can create both Expanded Text Ads and Responsive Search Ads, as well as creating more ad variations for the same product. So no regular Google Ads features are left behind.
Advantages of feed-driven search ads over regular search ads
Now that you have understood the basics of search ads and feed-driven search ads, it is time to recap the advantages that you can achieve with the latter.
As mentioned already, with Feed-Driven Search Ads you can achieve a very granular ad relevance that cannot be achieved otherwise. This improves CTR, Search Impression Share and quality score, which in turns contribute to lower your CPC and improve your bottom line.
Thanks to this automated solution you are able to create thousands of ads in a matter of minutes. But most importantly, the ads will be automatically updated based on the content of the feed. If a product price changes, this will be reflected in your ad copy without any manual editing. Same for discounts, stock level, etc.
Whether writing Expanded Text Ads or Responsive Ads, the strength of your campaigns will be entirely dependent on one thing… the strength of your ad copy! It’s worth spending the time to edit and perfect your copy—remember that your first idea is rarely your best one.
Also keep in mind that the entire goal of your ad copy is to get a single, all-important click from your readers. Keep working on your ads until you’re consistently receiving clicks. Only then should you worry about the copy, design, or strategy of the rest of your Shopping Campaign (which, we’re happy to help with!)