Creating Effective Ad Copy In Google AdWords

Creating Effective Ad Copy In Google AdWords

Throughout previous blog posts I have touched on the subject of writing effective ad copy, however not in-depth. A well written, well placed ad is extremely vital to success when advertising in Google.  Therefore, I have dedicated this entire blog post on the subject along with some examples of great ads as well as ads that are well to be frank, not so great.

What Are Google Ads –

For advertisers wishing to advertise their product or service, a list of keywords they wish their ads to display and coordinating ads are required. Google limits ad size to specific character limits in order to display uniform ads to their users.  With all of the ads for different advertisers relatively the same size, it is up to the advertiser to use Google’s allotted character restrictions to differentiate their ads and persuade Google users to click on their ads.

Here are the current character limits of a Google Ad:

Title/Headline – 25 Characters.
Description Line 1 – 35 Characters.
Description Line 2 – 35 Characters.
Display URL – 35 Characters.

Why Writing Google Ads So Important?

For Google search, advertisers are charged each time a Google user clicks on an ad and is directed to their website.  Called the cost-per-click model or (CPC), the amount Google charges depends on how much the advertiser has bid in their campaign in conjunction with the quality score of their ad.  To learn about quality score, see my blog post – Why Advertisers Need To Know Their Quality Score.

T.O.P. AdWords Campaign Review & Ratings SystemAn ad that is not well written will end of doing damage to an advertiser’s marketing efforts in a number of ways:

First, the ad may not be clicked very often.  This will leave website traffic undiscovered which defeats the purpose of advertising.  This scenario often occurs when ads are not related to the search term even if the page that the ad would direct users is related.

Second, an ad may be too broad.  An ad that is too broad has the potential to deliver a ton of traffic, but not the right traffic.  This scenario will cost the advertiser money each time a user clicks with little or no results.  In addition, this scenario can create high bounce rates (a term when a user clicks on the back button after viewing the first page on the advertiser’s website).  Having high bounce rates will lower an ad’s quality score, which can result in Google charging more for each future user’s click on the ad as well as lower placement on the page.

What Is Included In A Well Written Ad?

  1. Ads should be relevant to the keyword term. Ideally, the keyword term would be in the ad’s headline or ad’s description or display URL or even better, all three. As a bonus, when the keyword is included in the ad headline or ad text, Google will typically bold the keyword in the ad.  However, if an advertiser is using 20-30 keywords in an ad group, including all keywords in the ads may not be possible (unless using dynamic insertion).  Therefore, at a bare minimum, an advertiser needs to ensure the ad is highly relevant to the search term for which it is displayed.
  2. Set expectations. An ad must convey what a user can expect once they click and are directed to an advertiser’s website. Ads that do not match their corresponding landing page, will result in high bounce rates and thus a low quality score.
  3. Include benefits and features of the product or service being advertised. Consumers need to be convinced of why they should click on an advertiser’s ad opposed to ads from their competitors.
  4. Include offers and be specific as possible. ‘Save 10%’ in the text is better than ‘Low Prices’ in the text, but ‘Low Prices’ in the text is better than no specifics at all.
  5. Ads should be unique from competitors advertising the same keywords. When creating an ad, advertisers should research and perform a search for their keywords.  If three advertisers are using the exact same headline, try something different.  By being different yet relevant, ads may gain higher click through rates which will ultimately improve quality score and lower what Google charges on a per click basis.
  6. Ads should be grammatically correct. Check for misspellings, poor grammar, etc.
  7. Ad relevant keywords to the end of the display URL. Google allows advertisers to append their URL, take advantage of this feature.
  8. Implement all relevant ad extensions. Google offers numerous ad extensions including sitelinks, call extensions, callout extensions and location extensions.  I can’t stress this enough, use them!!!  Properly implementing ad extensions can dramatically improve an ad’s click through rates and improve quality score.  For details on how to implement ad extensions, see my blog post – When It Comes To Your Google Ads, Size Does Matter.

T.O.P. AdWords Campaign Review & Ratings SystemAd Examples –

Now that we’ve looked at what ads are and some best-practices for writing, let’s take a look at some real life examples.  I did a search from my office in Pasadena for ‘dentists’ and below are examples of ads that were displayed.  Some were good and some were bad and some could be better. 

Here are the top three ads as appearing in the search query:

Dentist-Top-ExampleThe top three ads are for 1800 Dentist, Sherman Oaks Dentistry and Beverly Hills DDS.  Of the 3 ads listed, all use the keyword in the ad headline and 2 of the 3 ads have added the keyword ‘Dentist’ to the display URL, which is good.

However, out of the 3 ads there is a grand total of 1 ad extension being used.  Sherman Oaks uses a call extension, but that is it!  No location extensions, no site link extensions listing benefits, no callout extensions bringing more attention to benefits, NOTHING.  This is a complete waste of one of Google’s most effective tools, ad extensions. 

Did I also mention that I did this search from Pasadena, CA?  For those not familiar with Southern California, both Sherman Oaks and Beverly Hills are at least a 40 minute drive from Pasadena on a good day.  Will someone drive that far for a dentist when there are so many other quality dentists in Pasadena?  Maybe, but not likely.  For this industry, I would recommend against bidding in such a large geographical region unless you offer specialized services not commonly found.

I would rate these ads as a C+.

Let’s look at another ad.

Bad Ad Example for Google Search Dentist

This ad appeared in the right column next to the organic listings where ad extensions are not eligible to display, so it is not possible to tell if they have ad extensions active in their account.

However, again this is an ad for a dentist in Orange Country (an hour plus drive from Pasadena). This advertiser does use the keyword in the search title which is good, but what the heck is getting your teeth zoomed?  I’ve been going to a dentist for 40+ years and I’ve never heard of that term.  How many other potential patients searching for dentists have?  It is specific that it is only $399 and includes custom whitening trays, but speaking in dentistry lingo or any other industry lingo is a mistake and I would image the results on this ad to be poor.

I would rate this ad a D-.

One more ad example, courtesy of Smile Generation.

Good Example of AdWords Ad For Dentist

This ad again appeared to the right of the organic searches so it would not be eligible to display ad extensions, however they have done a lot right with this ad.

This advertiser uses the keyword in not only the ad headline, but also the ad text.  In fact, they list a benefit for the user in the headline along with using the keyword all while setting user expectations – ‘Find A Dentist Near You’.  The first description line conveys a unique message – ‘Trusted Source for Dentists Online’ and the second description line ‘Schedule An Appointment Today!’ provides a specific call to action.

I would rate this ad an A- only because they have not appended the keyword to the display URL; otherwise I would rate an A.

Summary –

These examples of good, bad and so-so ads are not unique to dentist advertising in Pasadena, CA.  Examples of each type of ad can be found in almost all searches done using Google that feature multiple ads.  This is great news for advertisers getting started or those who are writing well-constructed Google ads. 

By creating solid ads an advertiser will have an immediate advantage over most of their competitors.

Finally, make sure testing is done on ads.  Google allows advertisers to test multiple ads simultaneously and serve the ad with the highest click through rate more often than ads with lower click through rates.  Although you may feel you have written the perfect ad, still test. Potential customers will be the judge of the most effective ad based on the click through rates.  So pay attention and best of luck with driving traffic!

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Happy Marketing!


Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.