Writing an Effective Search Ad

Google allows a total of 105 characters in their text ads, including spaces. It’s therefore pointless to waste this precious space on fluff. Many search marketers make the mistake of describing their company or product in their ad, on the erroneous assumption that keyword advertising is fundamentally about promoting a product.

The only instance where brand messaging – promoting your company or product explicitly – generally works is with branded terms (for example, the name of your company or product), and even then, most companies don’t have a strong enough brand to pull it off. Using the ad copy to sing the praises of your company is usually a recipe for disastrous results, particularly in combination in search terms more related to the relevant problem than your product.

Thinking of your ad not as a billboard for your product, but rather as a tool to capture and engage with prospects suffering from the issue, problem, or challenge that your product or service can solve. Try to sell your company too soon, and you’ll turn people off. Conversely, more informational, offer-oriented ads will have engage prospects more readily.

In general, effective ad copy should:

  • contain a specific and tangible offer (ex: a free trial, an information kit)
  • state clearly why the searcher needs to take action (ex: “find out how …”, “learn 10 secrets …”)
  • qualify the visitor by extolling benefits that will interest the right type of prospect

Effective, response-oriented ad copy is direct and to the point, and above all: relevant to the search term. Some of the most successful search ads don’t mention the advertiser’s name at all, except in the display URL.

Here’s an example of an actual Google ad (company name changed to protect the misguided):

Network Performance
83 Fortune 100 companies rely on
Acme Global Services

and the same ad re-written to be response-oriented:

Boost Network Performance 20x
Free Info Kit explains how
White papers, case studies, more.

Remember: Google allows search marketers to run multiple ads against batches of keywords or even single keywords. Your search program is a highly efficient platform for testing offers, calls to action, landing pages, etc., all of which can lead to higher efficiency and better results.


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