6 Keys to Great PPC Ad Copy

Chad Kearns, Vice President of Marketing Services
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Through pay-per-click marketing, businesses have the opportunity to create highly targeted advertising campaigns in an effort to reach their most valuable customers online. For many businesses that cannot compete in the organic rankings for their most important keywords, paid advertising provides an outlet to get in front of the right customers at the very top of the search results. Often times, those ads are the first time a potential customer sees or hears about your brand. With the importance of making a good first impression on the line, writing great PPC ad copy is crucial to not only introducing your brand messaging and offering to a customer but also enticing them to visit your website.

Looking closer, your pay-per-click marketing ads are the gateway between a user’s (your potential next customers) need and the solution your business provides for them. Grabbing their attention, enticing them to your offer, and providing them with the necessary steps to convert starts with your ad copy.

Regardless of how strong your campaign targeting is or how great your landing pages and conversion funnels are, without engaging ads, your PPC marketing efforts may fall flat.

Writing great ad copy is not easy. Similar to other facets of operating a PPC account, writing ads require technical understanding and ambiguous business understanding. Thankfully, we’re here to help!

Anatomy of a PPC Ad

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of how to write your ads, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a PPC ad. It’s not uncommon for ad specifications and requirements to differ by advertising platform, so for this exercise, we’re going to focus on Google AdWords ads.

At the most fundamental level, PPC ads on Google AdWords can be broken down into five different pieces.

Let’s take a look:

1. The Headline: Limited to 25 characters, the headline is typically the first piece of your ad a user will see. Aligning your headline with the keywords in your ad group and landing page can provide the best chance for Quality Score success.

2. Description Line 1: With 35 characters allowed in your first description line, advertisers have the opportunity to promote their offerings.

3. Description Line 2: A second 35 character parameter allows for advertisers to build on their first description line or add a call-to-action for the user.

4. The Display URL: The display URL is the URL users will see when viewing your ad. It is not necessarily the URL visitors will be taken to after clicking your ad.

5. The Final URL: Not visible to users, the final URL has no character limit and represents the URL visitors will be taken to after clicking your ads.

Visual Formatting of a PPC Ad

Since Google’s banishment of right-rail ads in February of 2016, the days of standard vertical layout ads seem to be over. Now on Google search engine result pages (SERP), ad components are mixed and matched in a number of different formats. That said, it’s even more important to ensure proper ad copy writing and formatting. We’ll dive into that shortly but first, let’s look at a couple ways Google is now formatting their Search Network ads.

Here’s a look at a commonly formatted PPC ad in the SERP:

Ad copy example 1

If we break down how that ad is laid out, we can identify each of the four visual ad components.

Ad copy example 2

Below is another example of the same four ad components laid out different.

Ad copy example 3

Beyond the four fundamental visual components we have outlined and showed examples of, there are numerous ways to expand your ads with Ad Extensions.

Google continues to test and tweak their ad layouts over time. However, despite the formatting changes advertisers can’t control, Google’s ad requirements have stayed constant over time. That said, let’s dive into what we as advertisers can control- the ad copy.

By following these six simple recommendations, set yourself up to start writing great PPC ad copy today:

1. Be Relevant: Much of the ad relevancy battle can be won or lost through the setup of your PPC advertising campaigns and ad groups. Ensuring your campaign structure is set up in an optimized fashion is vital for relevancy success. However, your ad copy is also extremely important in gaining relevance with potential customers. Your ads should match the keyword theme in that corresponding ad group and the keyword/ad copy you’re using should match the landing page users are directed to after clicking an ad. If your ad contains keywords matching the user’s search query, those keywords in your ad will appear bolded in the search results leading to higher click-through rates. The more your ad matches the searcher’s intent, the more likely they are to click through to your website.

2. Stay concise: With the character limits outlined in the section above, advertisers don’t have much room for long, drawn out messaging in their PPC ads. These character limits can leave limited room for creativity. When getting started, be concise and to the point. Doing so will help stay on message and within the required character limits.

3. Use a Unique Value Proposition (UVP): After grabbing your next customer’s attention with the headline, use a unique value proposition to help your offer stand out from the competition. What makes you better than the other advertisers you’re displayed with? Why should I buy your product or use your service over the competition?

Using a UVP helps you stand out from the rest.

4. Guide with a call-to-action: Once you’ve enticed a potential customer with what makes you better than the rest, it’s time to tell the user what you want them to do after getting to your site. That’s where a call-to-action around a conversion point comes into play. Implementing a call-to-action into your ad copy is a great way to drive click-through and conversion rates.

Examples of call’s to action could be:
– Buy Now
– Shop Today
– Contact Us
– Sign Up

Using these phrases will help guide your visitors to your conversion point once they get to your landing page.

5. Use Title Case and Proper Punctuation: In addition to actual words and content within your text ad, formatting and punctuation are very important. We recommend using title case to write every ad. Using title case can be implemented by simply capitalizing every word in your ad except for articles and short prepositions.

Here are a couple of examples:

– 60% Off All Wetsuits Today!
– Contact Us Today for a Free Guide.

Additionally, we recommend finishing each description line with proper punctuation. Doing so ensures strong readability however Google displays your ad. Punctuation should be used in both description lines but not the headline of your ad.

6. Try experimenting! Test, test, test! Writing great ad copy doesn’t always happen on your first try. By implementing ad tests you can see what resonates and what doesn’t with your customers. Continuing to test to find what works best is how you continue to find and write great PPC ads as your account management continues.

Ready to write great ad copy? Awesome! Understanding and using these six keys will help guide you as you go.

Small Business PPC Services - Portent

Chad Kearns, Vice President of Marketing Services

Chad Kearns

Vice President of Marketing Services
Vice President of Marketing Services

As the vice president of marketing services, Chad is responsible for leading Portent’s marketing, sales, and services teams. He is dedicated to ensuring clients receive top-notch service and results, and is continually looking for ways to improve and expand Portent's expertise. When not at Portent, you can find Chad hiking, skiing, playing soccer, and spending time with his family.

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