Crafting strong ad copy on Google Ads isn’t hard, but to do it right, we have to flex both art and science muscles.
We’re only given a small number of characters on search engine results pages (SERPs), so we have to make them count.
When writing copy, it’s important to think about the experience your visitor is having from query, to ad copy, to landing page.
If there’s a hiccup along the way or they feel like they might be going down the wrong path, they’ll hit the back button.
Worse, they might conduct another search and find another company ready to meet their needs.
Additionally, as much as we would like it to, no ad can convert a prospect without a strong accompanying landing page.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to ad writing, but following some best practices will help make us more successful.
With that in mind, below are eight tips for writing the best ad copy (backed up with landing pages) for Google Ads:
1. Leverage Keywords Where Possible
A staple best practice of ad copywriting is to include keywords in ad copy to mirror the searcher’s query.
By parroting back phrases similar to what they searched for, we’re telling them that they’re in the right place.
Keywords in Ad Copy
In the real world, if you order something from a coffee shop, you expect them to call out exactly what you ordered when it’s ready.
If you order an Americano and the barista yells out “Coffee!”, they’re technically correct.
But it’s not immediately clear to you that it’s your coffee or someone else’s.
Adding keywords to ad copy is fairly simple, but it’s important to make sure the keywords are being used well.
Don’t just stuff in as many as you can. An ad that’s saturated with keywords likely doesn’t convey any message and could be worse than an ad with no keywords.
It’s more important to accurately articulate what you’re selling.
Keyword placement in ads can also play a large role. I highly recommend you test keyword placement within your ads to see what works best.
Sometimes it’s best in Headline 1. Sometimes Headline 2. And sometimes it’s best used in a sentence in a description. You won’t know until you test!
That’s just the ad copy component. What about the landing page?
Keywords in Landing Pages
Using search keywords in the headlines and/or text at the top of a landing page tells the visitor, “You’re in the right place. We have what you’re looking for.” (“This is your caffè Americano,” if you will.)
Unfortunately, swapping text on landing pages isn’t quite as easy as doing it in ad copy.
If your landing pages need to be hardcoded, then logic might suggest that you need to create a new page for each different keyword phrase you’re targeting.
In my opinion, though, unless you’re driving extremely high traffic through those pages, this isn’t necessary.
Instead, choose some common phrases, likely the most highly searched variants of your keywords, and turn them into headlines.
Ideally, the number of pages you’ll need to create will go down depending on the number of keyword phrases you have in your account.
Let’s take an example: I’m advertising scheduling software for hourly employees.
A basic headline could be “Employee Scheduling Software,” a typical query in the account. Easy and to the point.
But the page that uses this headline could easily be used for phrases that are close to, but not exactly, that phrase: scheduling employees, tools for employee scheduling, schedule hourly employees, etc.
Try to write headlines that can work for multiple phrases to limit the number of pages you need to make.
And do this while also getting as close as possible to the initial search query.
2. Be As Specific As the User’s Query
Every time a person conducts a search, their query holds a degree of specificity.
It’s important that you match their specificity as much as possible.
If they’re not being specific, in other words, you can keep your ad copy relatively broad and cover the basics.
If they are being more specific, you should try to match whatever their query is.
Let’s use the example of shoes. Here are some ways you could adjust your copy based on differing degrees of searches:
An example of how ad copy matches a search query.
The only piece adjusted is the first headline, but it creates a much tighter theme with the query and lets them know they’re in the right place.
The same principle holds through with the landing page and is potentially even more important than the copy itself.
One of the keys to conversion rate optimization is giving your prospects what they need.
Continuing the shoe example above, here are potential pages that you would want to direct people to:
- “Shoes”: www.example.com
- “Women’s shoes”: www.example.com/women
- “Women’s Nike shoes”: www.example.com/women/nike
Obviously, this is a fake website, but the landing pages used match as close as they can to the query.
Each time we add a word—from “shoes” to “women’s shoes” and from “women’s shoes” to “women’s nike shoes”—we learn more about their need and can match that with a more specific landing page.
Each time someone searches, they’re telling you what they want. Listen to them and deliver results with as much specificity as you can.
3. Always Include a Call To Action
When it all comes down to it, we’re running ads because we want the visitor to take a specific action.
For some, that might be making a purchase. For others, it might mean filling out a lead form.
No matter the action, it’s important to either use that phrasing in the ad copy or give them a clue as to what you want.
Using a call to action in ad copy helps frame the visitor experience. It can operate similarly to the Prequalifying ad copy mentioned in the next section.
Once they understand what you want them to do, it can help weed out people who aren’t interested.
This practice helps save you the cost of the click.
Once a visitor has had their expectations set with the ad copy, they should click through to a landing page that mirrors that same call to action.
If you’ve asked them to “Buy Now” in your copy, they should be given the opportunity to buy on the landing page.
If you’ve only asked them to “Learn More” in your copy, then be sure the landing page houses the information they need to decide whether to make a purchase down the road.
4. Test Psychological Approaches to Find the Right Fit
The messaging used in ad copy can be a critical selling point, but it need not be boring.
If anything, SERPs are getting overcrowded with the same type of bland messaging for all ad slots.
That’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd.
It’s important to test the different psychological approaches to ad copy to know which performs best with your target audience.
Here’s a quick rundown of the major types of ad copy approaches:
- Features: highlighting the physical or intangible aspects of the product/service. (Memory foam)
- Benefits: calling out the positive outcomes the visitor will have from the product/service. (More restful sleep)
- Problem: focus on the actual issue at hand to relate to the problem the visitor is trying to solve. (Tired of Wasting Time?)
- Solution: focus on the solution to the problem the visitor is facing. (Save Time)
- Testimonials: using actual feedback/testimonials to leverage social proof. (“This product has changed my life.”)
- Reviews: third-party reviews of the product/service, not from customers.
- Top of the Class: calling out any awards, ratings, etc. to show you’re the best. (Best in category award, 2018)
- Prequalifying: weeding out people who might not be a good fit for your service before they click. (“Luxury Tours,” attempting to weed out bargain travelers)
Once you’ve tested what works best, mirror that on the landing page to create a cohesive feel from start to finish.
Choose images and calls to action that mirror those approaches where possible.
5. Don’t Sell a False Bill of Goods
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating, and so it’s own line item on this list:
Your landing page should back up what’s in your ad copy.
Ad copy and landing pages need to work together. No matter what copy is used.
It’s important that the message and offer follow through to the landing page for a cohesive experience.
When this connection breaks down, it could look something like this:
A prospective customer conducts a search, clicks on an ad that says “20% off” only to get to the landing page and find out the offer is expired—or, worse, there’s no mention of it whatsoever.
As we discussed earlier, it’s important to get the visitor thinking about the call to action at the ad copy stage.
If that call to action isn’t on the landing page, then those precious characters in the ad copy, as well as the price you paid for the click, were wasted.
They are no longer primed to complete the conversion action you asked.
6. Use Ad Extensions Like Crazy
Ad extensions are pretty much exactly what they sound like: they’re additional areas of text that can extend the size of an ad.
There are many different kinds of ad extensions at our disposal. Here’s the full list from Google Ads:
Take advantage of every extension that fits your business, but don’t forget the main reason for your ad.
Each has its use and purpose, and I’m not going to go into detail on each one. The ones that lend themselves to nearly every business are Sitelinks, Callout Extensions, and Structured Snippets.
Sitelinks are simply additional text and links that can show up with ad copy.
Ideally, you should leverage these to add supporting information to the primary ad copy in the ad group.
These are essentially functioning as in-site navigation, but directly in the SERPs.
In the image above, the Sitelinks direct users to currently popular products and sections of Nike’s website.
Callout extensions are even easier than Sitelinks. These are simply a line of text, no longer than 25 characters.
Callout extensions are easy to implement.
Lastly, Structured Snippets let you create a list within an ad extension.
Simply pick the Header you want to start the list, then add in values below with 25 characters each.
Callout extensions are easy to implement.
There are a number of other ad extensions that can be added to any campaign.
More often than not, it’s best to have as many ad extensions types in place as possible so any of them can be called up at any point.
However, there is one caveat to this. Don’t forget about the main reason for the ad.
Sometimes one ad extension can be throttled and another type will be shown more often, potentially causing performance to drop.
Keep this in mind when setting up ad extensions. Have as full of coverage as you can, but don’t sacrifice performance for ad real estate.
7. #1 Rule: We’re Always Talking to People
Follow as many of the best practices above that you can, but don’t forget the reason we’re here: potential customers!
In every ad and on every landing page, we’re always talking to people.
The final thing we should do before launching any new copy or landing page is to give it a gut check:
- Is this something I would click on?
- Does this sound appealing?
- Does this ad make sense or is it just a bunch of keywords jammed together?
- Does the landing page answer the promise set in the ad copy?
Writing ad copy for Google Ads is a combination of art and science. It requires that you look beyond the ad itself to the landing page.
There are some technical best practices to follow that I’ve outlined here, but we also need to tap into our artistic side when speaking to other people.
If ad copy were purely algorithmic, after all, everyone would be rich by now.
Give these best practices a shot and let us know your results!
What tactic was the biggest help to you? What have you seen work best in your ad copy? Share with us in the comments!