What are Google search ads?
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to write effective Google search ad copy, let’s start off with the basics and look at what Google Ads paid search (previously called AdWords) is. When you type a search query into Google, you’re presented with a list of results displayed on the the search engine result page (SERP). This list is often a mix of organic and paid results. The results that have been paid for will have a green box with the word “ad” before the listing. If you’re wondering why you’d want to pay to appear in SERPs, take a look at our previous blog.
So how do I make my ads effective?
Success with Google Ads paid search is reliant on a number of factors, including ad copy, budget, scheduling, landing page, call to action (CTA), keyword targeting and keyword matching. It’s a complex balance of all these factors that leads to successful conversion however, effective Google search ad copy can make a huge difference on whether someone clicks an ad or not.
1. Keyword research
Keywords, or search queries, are the words and phrases people are using to search for a product, service or answer to a query. Before writing your Google ad copy you need to discover what these words and phrases are. Google’s keyword planner tool will not only tell you the average monthly searches for a keyword or phrase, but can also narrow this down by search location. It will also provide you with suggested search queries.
Moz’s keyword explorer is another great tool which allows you to discover search volumes and related searches (free accounts on Moz are limited to 10 searches per month). Don’t forget about Google ‘auto suggest’: simply start typing a search query into your Google search box and note the queries that are automatically suggested.
Once you have a list of target keywords you can use them to set up your ad targeting and include some in your ad copy.
2. Think about search intent
What is the intention behind someone’s search? Are they researching information to make a decision at a later date, wanting to make an immediate purchase, or perhaps they’re looking for a new service provider?
Understanding why someone is searching is key to determining the way in which your ad should (or should not!) be talking to them. For example, if you searched for “holidays to Greece in August” you may be presented with the following paid search ads:
Given the search included the word “August”, consider which ads may be the most effective: one that headlines “Holidays to Greece in August” and offers clickable links to different types of holidays, or one which mentions a different year “2020/2021”.
Timing is also a factor in search intent. If you performed the above search in July, then a “Book Online Now” call to action (CTA) may be appropriate and effective. However, if this search were performed in October, what CTA would be effective given the time scale?
3. Test different ad copy
As a general rule, make sure you have at least 3 different ads per group. This allows different keywords and search queries to be matched to different ads and gives you scope to experiment with different calls to action, headline text and site link and call out extensions.
Although Google may decide not to serve them all up, make sure you use all 3 headline text fields available and complete both description fields. Headline fields are limited to 30 characters and description fields to 90 characters, so you’ll need to make them work hard and cross-analysis will tell you which ads are working effectively.
4. Use your ad extensions
Google allows you to set a variety of different extensions for your ads including, sitelinks, calls, location, call outs and structured snippets. Although there is no guarantee Google will display these every time it serves your ad, when it does, it delivers additional information, offers extra clickable links and means your ad takes up more physical presence on the SERP.
The two examples below show how the use of ad extensions can dramatically increase the SERP ‘real estate’:
5. Title case for higher CTR
Ads which use title case typically experience a 62% increase in click through rate (CTR). That’s a pretty compelling stat which is hard to ignore! However, if you decide sentence case is more appropriate for your ad or brand, make sure you’re consistent through all ad copy. You can of course split test two different ads to establish whether title, or sentence case is more effective for you.