Coastal Media Brand

A typical AdWords newbie is often guilty of several profit-squashing mistakes when setting up his first campaign. There are dozens of no-nos, but perhaps none so egregious as writing ineffective ads.

An effective AdWords ad is one that gets lots of clicks — that’s the only thing you should be concerned about when writing your ads (except, of course, Google’s editorial policy). If you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll get impressions; if you’ve got a page that converts to sales, you’ll get a return on your investment. But getting people to your landing page is the ad’s job, and there are some things you can do to pump up your clickthrough rate (CTR), which will improve your ads’ positioning and lower your click costs.

First, some ad basics. Each AdWords ad comprises four lines of text: the first is the headline, which can contain up to 25 characters including spaces; the next two are the ad copy, 35 characters each; and the last is your display URL, also 35 characters. (There is actually a fifth line — the destination URL — but that won’t display with your ad and shouldn’t affect your CTRs). Obviously, the headline is most important, because it’s usually the first thing a searcher sees. If you can make your headline jump out from the rest, your ad will be more visible. Fortunately, Google makes this pretty easy.

You may have noticed that, when searching on Google, your search query is bolded when it appears in any of the search results. The same thing goes for sponsored search results: if you include the keywords you’re bidding on in your ad text, specifically the headline, your ad will stand out.

But what if you’ve got hundreds or thousands of keywords? You can’t be expected to write a different ad for each keyword, right? Of course not — and you don’t have to. In AdWords, your keywords can be separated into groups, aptly dubbed “ad groups.” Each ad group should contain a set of keywords and phrases that all have a common thread. For example, if you’re bidding on the term “widgets,” you should place each phrase containing that term into one ad group. You then write an ad whose title contains the word “widgets” — for example, “Get Your Widgets Here.” You can even repeat this for terms within ad groups. For example, in your “widgets” group, you might have the terms “red widgets” and “green widgets.” You can take these out and place each in its own ad group, along with any other similar phrases. Then your ads will be even more focused — for example, “Get Red Widgets Here.” The more keywords that appear in your ad, the more relevant your ad becomes.

Chris McNeeney, author of “AdWords Miracle,” has some great copywriting tips. Chris used to write classified ads for a living, and his mastery of the art is evident in the techniques he outlines in his book. For example, he talks about a method called “stop them in their tracks.” To stop potential customers in their tracks, you’ve got to come up with ad copy that tells customers to do the opposite of what they’re trying to do. In keeping with the widgets theme, you could write an ad whose headline says, “Don’t Buy Any Widgets!” Follow that up with some relevant ad text that entices people to buy your widgets rather than someone else’s, by including the benefits your widgets offer; e.g., “Check out ours first. Better, cheaper, and guaranteed.” This kind of ad will get people’s attention right away, and getting their attention is all you need to do.

And now, an experiment. Pretend you want to buy something online. Head over to Google and do a search for whatever it is. See the sponsored links? Look at the headlines. Which one jumps out at you first? I’m betting it’s the one that seemed most relevant to your search because it contained the exact information you searched for. What’s the headline look like? I bet at least one of the words is bolded (if not all of them), and I’ll bet the rest of the ad lets you know exactly what you’ll get when you click on it. This is the best way to figure out how to write ads. Put yourself in the place of your target market, and then actually do some searches and check out the ads. Which one makes you want to click? Ask people you know to do searches and tell you which ads grab their attention. You’ll probably find it’s the same kind of ad every time.

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