Writing PPC ad copy is tough. Even the best writers can get stuck spinning their wheels on campaigns that don’t convert. It's because PPC ad copy is so much more than just text. There must be a strategy behind every word.
PPC ad copy is never one size fits all either. What works for one company, might fail for another. Why? Because it’s all about the audience. You have to understand what stirs emotions in your buyer, and what makes them tick. Then you can write strategic ad copy that drives action.
We work with a lot of clients on their PPC campaigns, and consequently, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Keeping in mind that every business strategy is different, here are a few PPC ad copy best practices that you can customize to your own audience and campaign goals to help you drive conversions.
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1. Have a Deep Understanding of the PPC Campaign Goal
When you launch a PPC campaign, there’s a lot at stake. It’s an investment and usually not a cheap one. So PPC ad copy best practice #1 is making sure you have a deep understanding of the goal of your campaign. Consider your business needs and what exactly you are trying to achieve from your paid search ads.
Typically there are three common PPC campaign goals. Let’s take a look at each one to help you decide where your own campaign might fall.
Brand Awareness Campaign
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, your copy should introduce people to your company. Focus on crafting copy that positions your brand as an industry expert. You want to use words that reflect your brand’s authority. This helps users feel comfortable they are choosing a reputable company.
Focus on copy that:
- Describes unique features about your company
- Highlights any awards or recognitions that your company has received
- Uses social proof from notable figures in your industry
- Explains why your brand is better than other competitors in your industry
Focusing on ad copy that speaks to your brand’s authority and strengths will help establish trust and, therefore, brand credibility. This is an excellent way to increase awareness of your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your specific space.
Website Traffic Campaign
If your campaign goal is to drive more traffic to your website, your copy should be hyper-focused on getting users to click on your ad. This means being very strategic about the call to action (CTA) you choose to use.
Specifically, make sure that your CTA’s are matching up with the target audience and user intent. For instance, one type of audience type searching for a service might react differently than another audience type to a specific CTA. So when crafting your copy, you’ll want to consider user intent.
Also, try using more action-based words. Instead of “learn more,” try things like “watch” or “listen” or “subscribe.”
If you're taking things a step further with your PPC campaigns and looking to increase leads and conversions, your ad copy strategy should be similar. You’ll want to have very clear and strong CTAs. The strategy changes slightly when it comes to analyzing the performance data. Instead of focusing on click-through rate as you might in a website traffic campaign, you’ll want to focus on analyzing the keywords that give you the most conversions. Then allocate more of your budget towards these keywords.
2. Perform Robust Keyword Research
Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your PPC campaign, it’s time to start researching your keywords. This is one of the most critical steps of any PPC campaign. The campaign goal that you defined above will help you decide which keywords you want to target.
How do we effectively do keyword research for a PPC campaign? It’s a bit different from typical SEO keyword research. Because money is involved, you’ll typically want to go after keywords with a high search volume AND high user intent.
It’s best to start your PPC keyword research with a brainstorming session. Make a list of all the relevant keywords that you think would be good to target. An easy way to do this is to start with your website. Assuming you have a high-quality keyword-stacked website, analyze your pages for keywords directly related to your products or services.
Focus on the following five categories of keywords:
- Branded Keywords - these are keywords that contain the name of your company, brand name, or proprietary products or services.
- Competitor Keywords - the brand names of your competitors and/or the keywords that they are using in their campaigns.
- Generic keywords - keywords that describe what you're selling or the services that you're offering.
- Related Keywords - keywords that are related to the generic keywords in your campaign. The idea is to still target users searching for your services but not directly searching for what you do or offer.
Here’s a great chart from Wordstream that illustrates these four categories.
Once you have a list, it’s time to refine that list using keyword research tools. There’s a ton of different tools out there. We’d suggest using a combination of a few. This will give you different insights and make sure you explore all possible options. Here’s a list of some tools we like to use:
The big metric you want to pay attention to in these tools is search volume. The higher the search volume, the more people searching for that term in a given month. You want to hone in on high volume, low competition keywords. This is often called the “sweet spot” for PPC. These are the keywords that drive a good amount of traffic yet won’t cost you a fortune.
3. Analyze Competitors
By now, you probably have a pretty extensive list of keywords. Spying on what your competitors are doing can help you narrow down this list while taking your campaign to the next level. Most of the tools we listed allow you to do keyword research for your competitors in the same way you just did for your own company. So what do you want to pay attention to?
Organic Keywords - First, you’ll want to take a look at what your competitors are ranking for organically. What keywords are they currently ranking ahead of you for? You’ll want to create an ad group that targets these keywords.
High-Value Keywords - Second, take a look at what they’re bidding on. You can use your keyword tool to analyze what they’re paying per click, what they’re paying per month, their actual ad position, and the searches they appear in. This will help fuel your own internal PPC campaign strategy. You’ll also want to take notice of any high-value keywords that they’re targeting and if it might be worth trying to outbid them.
Branded Keywords - Then, you’ll want to do some investigating on your branded keywords. Are any of your competitors bidding on them? It happens, so it’s definitely something you’ll want to monitor.
Take what you learn and add it to your keyword list. This is vital information for any competitive PPC campaign and can help you determine how to position your PPC ad copy.
4. Follow Google’s Recommended Copy Guidelines
Now that you have your list of strategically chosen keywords, it’s time to actually write your PPC ad copy. You know the keywords you want to target and the action you want your audience to take when they see them. Now, what words are you going to use to get them to get there?
Before we get into the actual language, it’s important to make sure you're structuring your ad copy according to Google’s guidelines. They have some pretty specific standards. So you’ll want to run through this checklist before actually doing any writing.
All Ads Shoulds Have Three Headlines with a 30 Character Max
- Headline #1 - Highlights your targeted product, service and/or brand.
- Headline #2 - CTA placement as this is where eyes are typically drawn to.
- Headline #3 - This is where you state your value proposition and tell users the value of your services or why they should choose you over another.
All Ads Should Have One to Two 90 Character Description Fields
- Google allows users to have two 90 character descriptions. You don’t always have to use both fields, but take advantage of it when it makes sense.
Make Sure Ad Copy Matches User Intent
- Google will only serve an ad if it's matching search intent and answering the question that’s searched.
Include Keyword in Ad Copy
- Make sure that your ad copy mentions the specific keyword that your ad group is targeting. Highlight that keyword in your description to help remind you.
5. Be Precise and Strategic with Your Words
Ah, finally, the actual words. Remember, we’re only dealing with about 180 characters max. This means you have to be highly strategic about the language you choose. Here are some actionable insights to help you choose your words wisely.
- Use active language: “Grow,” “See,” “Find” are all excellent examples. Your ad copy should encourage your audience to do something.
- Be simple: Avoid complex language, industry jargon, and lengthy descriptions. When possible, use a single word to describe something instead of detailed adjectives. For example, you’d write “much lower prices” instead of “we have substantially lower prices.”
- Use numbers and stats: Numbers stand out in text and are easy to digest. Even consider using exact numbers to really stand out. Ex: 150X faster, 101K+ users, 33,255 users and counting, $99 off.
- Optimize your CTAs: Do some research into what type of CTA language performs best for your company and industry and perform strategic A/B testing. Use this data to fuel the language in your PPC ad copy. Here’s some interesting research from WordStream on the most popular CTAs in the top-performing ads.
- Use verbs: Take notice of any nouns you might be using that end in -tion and convert them to verbs.
- Use words that trigger emotion: Negative (and positive) feelings are pretty powerful. So don’t be afraid to use this strategy in your PPC ad copy. People are motivated to avoid pain, anxiety, anger, and FOMO (fear of missing out). But your ad copy doesn’t have to be all negative. Hopefulness and relief can also lead to some powerful emotions that drive conversion.
Ad copy needs to be strategic. These 10 secrets to marketing content that sticks will help you write PPC ads that stand out.
6. Utilize Ad Extensions
By now, you’ve got a pretty good game plan for strategic and high converting PPC ad copy. But here’s an added bonus. Google’s ad extensions are an easy way to load in valuable language beyond the standard 180 characters.
What are ad extensions? They are additional pieces of information that Google offers you to expand your ad. Think of it as a little freebie. It doesn’t cost anything extra to take advantage of ad extensions, and by the same token, there’s no guarantee that Google will display your ad extension for every search query. But, adding an ad extension generally improves click-through-rate by 10-15 percent. So it’s pretty important to utilize them.
There are quite a few different types of ad extensions. We list some of the most relevant for B2B businesses here. But in this post, we’re going to focus on what we like to call the king of all Google Ads ad extensions, the Sitelink.
The sitelink extension is probably the most versatile ad extension. Not to mention the most powerful. It works for all industries and appears across all devices. And Google reports a 10-20 percent increase in CTR (+20-50 percent for branded searchers). But what are they? You’d recognize them if you saw them…
When you search for something, the top result will give you a headline, description, and little “site links” to popular pages on your website with descriptions underneath. Some sitelinks pop up organically, but Google Ads allows you to have some control over what might appear.
Just like your PPC ad copy, sitelink descriptions need to be strategic. Here are a few best practices to help you get the most out of them.
- The link text in your sitelinks can only be 25 characters long.
- Your link description can contain two lines, each 35 characters long.
- You must utilize at least four link spaces for Google to display any of your sitelinks.
- Sitelinks are great for links that you don’t want to waste precious ad space on. Think of including your “Contact Us” or “About Us” pages. It’s a great way to include supporting pages in your ads without taking up precious ad copy real estate.
- Case studies also make great sitelink extensions. Follow up your PPC ad copy with social proof by pushing users to your testimonials page.
Boost Your Conversions with Strategic PPC Ad Copy That Converts
We can go round and round in circles talking about the best language for a PPC ad. But when we boil it all down, it’s really all about being strategic. Doing a deep dive into who your audience is and what they’re searching for will give you valuable insight about what your PPC ad copy should say.
Once you know what you should say, determine how you want to sound. No matter your industry, PPC ad copy should be personal. Write as if you are talking to your prospect on the phone. Not like a robot. And certainly not like a spammy ad. Your PPC ad copy should always be a native extension of who your brand is.