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Search Engine Advertising: a Step By Step Guide – Part 2

Step by Step Guide to Search Engine Advertising

In part 1 of this guide to search engine advertising we discussed how to choose the right keywords to advertise on. This second part will talk about making effective ads for your PPC campaign.

Search Engine Advertising – Step 2: Writing Good Ads

Now that you have a good set of keywords to advertise on, it’s time to write the actual ads themselves. Most search engine advertising is done with text-based ads, so I will focus on those. You can also do more visual ads such as banners, but they’re more difficult to make and you have much less freedom to experiment and fine-tune them. With text ads you can make as many changes as you want, tweaking and optimizing them until you get the best results.

Use The Keyword In The Ad The first and most important tip for writing good text ads is that your ad should contain the actual keyword you are advertising on. Having the keyword in your ad indicates to a user that your ad is relevant to their search query. This means the user is much more likely to actually click on your ad. Using the keyword in your ad is a vital aspect of writing successful ads.

As a consequence you’ll find yourself writing many different ads, one or more for every set of similar keywords. Sometimes you’ll write ads specifically for one keyword. This isn’t a bad thing – on the contrary, it’s the key to a successful PPC campaign. If you want to save time by writing generic ads, you’ll appeal to no one and your ads will get very few clicks. It’s important to stand out and be relevant, and that means writing ads that contain the keyword you are advertising on.

An example: say you have a furniture company and you advertise on many furniture-related keywords. One of those keywords is the word ‘sofa’. What ad do you think a user is more likely to click on when he’s doing a search for sofas? This one:

High Quality Furniture Many Different Styles, Very Affordable

Or this one:

High Quality Sofas Sofas from $99, Many Different Styles

The second one is a more relevant, appealing ad and will attract more attention and generate more clicks. So divide your keywords into small sets (Google AdWords calls them ad groups) and write ads for each ad group that contain the actual keyword itself. Sometimes you’ll find yourself writing ads for one single keyword – this is not a bad thing. In fact, especially for high profile keywords that get a lot of traffic, it’s a very good thing!

Write Compelling Ads Using the exact keyword in your ad doesn’t just make your ad more relevant, you can also be much more specific in what you offer. That’s  the second aspect of writing good ads: make it compelling.

In your ad you have limited space to make an impact on a search engine user, so you need to draw them in with a compelling offer or call to action. If your business is cost-competitive, try to include a low price in your ad. This will serve two purposes: it will filter out users who aren’t even willing to pay the low price, and it will compel users who are willing to pay that amount to click on your ad and look at what exactly you’re offering. This means the traffic you generate through this ad is more likely to yield actual customers.

Another way to compel users to click on your ad is to include a call to action. Urge users to “learn more”, “act now”, “free download”, or make use of your “limited one-time offer”. These are all classic marketing phrases that work well in search engine ads. Don’t be afraid to use them, as long as you keep one thing in mind: never deceive. Always deliver what you promise.

Proper Use of Language and Punctuation Few things can lower a user’s opinion of a company more quickly than errors in spelling and grammar. Always make sure your ads are properly written, both in spelling and grammar, and don’t contain any errors. This shows a basic level of professionalism you need to project in order to win the confidence of your prospective customers.

Sometimes you may be tempted to use bad grammar or punctuation to make your ads stand out more. You may want to ad exclamation marks or special symbols to emphasize your text. Don’t. Ads that contain these tricks come across as amateurish, and many search engines like Google maintain strict editorial policies that forbids these practices. Your ad will get deleted and after repeat offenses you may even suffer penalties on your account.

One exception: capitalization of words. Even though technically it may be incorrect, it’s still a good idea to Capitalize Every First Letter in your ad. This makes your text stand out more and helps boost the success of your ads. Only capitalize the focus words, the smaller words like “the”, “and”, “in”, “up” and so on shouldn’t be capitalized.

Test, Test, Test Once you’ve written a good ad, write another one for the same keyword. And another one. Vary your ads with different headlines, different offers, and different calls to action. The best way of doing this is to duplicate an ad and change only one aspect of it.

Then keep a sharp eye on how these ads perform. After you’ve gotten several hundred clicks on your ads you can see which ad performed the best. Take this ad and use it as the basis for a new set of variations. Take the best ad from this new set and use that for new versions. Once in a while throw in an entirely new ad with an entirely different setup and see how its performance compares.

Never stop testing. Always seek to squeeze that extra bit of performance out of an ad. Sometimes a small change, one different word in the headline or a minor variation in your call to action, can have a huge impact on the success of your ad. Test methodically and consistently and soon you will know exactly which ingredients work and which don’t.

In the next part of this guide we’ll go into creating effective landing pages for your PPC campaign.

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