Writing killer Google PPC ads

Posted on: 2014-02-14 in How To   |   Tagged: business writing business writing tips copywriting ppc

Detailed keyword research, a whopping budget and beautiful landing pages mean nothing if your ad copy is crap. Here’s our guide to copywriting for Adwords. By Heather Baker and Jim Beckham.

Step 1: Know the rules

This is what your PPC ads should look like:

  • Headline: 25 characters
  • Description: two lines of 35 characters
  • Display URL: 35 characters

Also note

  • The description lines can't lead into the Display URL. For example, the second description line can't say, "See this site:" or "Learn more at...".
  • The Display URL field can't be used as another line of ad text.
  • Your ad text can't appear cut off or incomplete.
  • The display URL needs to be on the same domain as the real URL. So you can’t sneakily pretend to be Google or Microsoft.

Step 2: Identify your true competitors (and what’s working for them)

Use the auction insights tool on adwords to identify who is also bidding for your target terms and who is getting the top adrank consistently. Then, based on this unbelievably valuable insight, you can find these companies and their ads. Note that you might not be up against direct competitors, but even advertisers that are completely irrelevant to your business need to be treated as competitors as they are going for the same share of your prospects’ attention.

Complete the following table with information from up to five competitors:  





Ad description


URL (display)


CTA (call to action)


Keywords in headline


Perceived value (i.e. what value are they offering customers?)


Risk reversal (how are they minimising the risk of working with them?)


Proof (how are they showing the prospect that they are a good fit?)


Ad extensions (which ones are they using?)


If this looks familiar it's because we nicked some of it from the folks at Search Engine Watch.  

Step 3: Identify your assets

Have a look at your service offering and identify your own assets. What can you offer your searching prospect?

  • Testimonials: have your clients said great things about you?
  • Value for money: are you offering a good deal?
  • Quality: have you won awards? Are you proven to be the best in your industry?
  • Show off your customers: worked with any well-known brands? Now might be a good time to show them off.

Which one of these sets you apart from your competitors identified in Step 2? Go with that one.

Step 4: Come up with a great CTA

Ad copy is your only opportunity to tell your audience exactly what action you want them to take once they reach your website. Make your intentions perfectly clear to your prospective customers. Here are some great CTA examples:

  • Direct-response: Call, Register, Purchase, Checkout, Download, Donate.
  • Lead generation: Contact us, Request a Quote, Start, Verify, Access, Receive, Fill, Enrol.
  • Engagement: Watch, See, View, Read, Discover, Uncover, Check Out, Visit.

Step 5: Write your copy

Make sure you are writing for your audience, not yourself. Think of why your prospect would be searching. What would they be looking for? How can your copy answer their question / help them?

Use numbers and exclamation marks to capture people’s attention and abbreviations to save space. Annoying as it is, it Helps (i.e. increases click-throughs) if you Capitalise Every Word Besides the Articles in your copy.

Use your keywords in the headline. This is important because if the keyword a user searched for shows up in your headline, Google will make it bold, which will automatically make the ad seem more relevant to the searcher.  

Step 6: Add extensions

Another way to increase your click-through rate is to add extensions to your ads. Try reviews, contact numbers and location info. More on extensions here.

Step 7: Replicate on your landing page

One excellent way to waste money is to have a strong call to action in a great PPC ad that prospects can’t help but click on, only to send them to a landing page that doesn’t seem at all connected with the ad. The keywords used in your ad should be repeated on your landing page so that people feel reassured that they have come to the right place!

Step 8: Test

Use Adwords experiments (still in beta) to test different versions of your ads so that you are constantly refining them based on what works and what converts! 

What's worked for you? Please comment in the box below.

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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