Writing PPC Text Ads that Matter

I am going back to the basics with this entry and discussing how to write text ads that will garner clicks. Too often I see ineffective ad copy that leads to low click-thru-rates (CTRs). I will share why it is necessary to include your targeted keywords in your ad copy and techniques to make your ads stand out.

First and foremost, when you write ads “one size fits all” does not apply. Why not? Let’s take a look at this example. When I search for “Panasonic televisions” I see these ads.


Notice that when my search query is mentioned in the ad, the term is bolded and immediately attracts my attention. I notice the third and forth ads and read these first. At this point, I’ve ignored ads one and two. They do not address my query. In fact, the first ad is not even advertising the brand for which I searched! Ads three and four both advertise Panasonic televisions, but ad four has flip-flopped my query. Ad three seems most relevant to my search and has a good message (low prices, fast shipping, and secure checkout). Even though Walmart and AllAmericanDirect earned the first and second spots in the auction, it’s ad three that I am going to click. The ad that the user sees must not only contain the search query, but the term must make sense in the context of the message.

Aside from the search query showing up at least once in the ad (multiple occurrences are even better) here are some other techniques to make sure your ads stand out.

Strong Call to Action

What do you want the user to do once the ad is clicked? You need to provide the next step through the call to action. Whether it’s to purchase a specific product, view a selection, or download a whitepaper, the call to action needs to be prevalent. Take a look at these two ads:

The first call to action is to “Start your day with Bosch” while the second ad’s call to action is “Order Now!” The first ad gives me a tag line while the second ad tells me exactly what I should do.

Bosch_Coffe_Makers_Standard Bosch_Coffee_Maker_Call_to_Action

Product Deals

Any messaging to make your ad stand out from the competition is beneficial. In BuyDig’s television ad, low prices, fast shipping, and secure checkout are offered. The other ads contain some form of value-added service, but BuyDig clearly offers the user greater incentives to click. A product deal and call to action can also be combined with messaging like “Free shipping when you purchase online.”

Keywords in the Display URL

The display URL must contain the domain of the landing page that the user will go to, but it can also contain your targeted keywords. Using the BuyDig example:


You can see that “PanasonicHDTVs” is in the display URL and the terms “Panasonic” and “TV” are bolded. That’s good keyword practice, but when you actually type this URL in it leads to an error page as the URL does not exist. Be sure to set up a 301 redirect so users who enter a nonexistent URL will be taken to the right page.


The most important factor to consider when writing text ads is to make sure the user search query is within the ads’ messaging. I cannot emphasize this enough. Every single ad that a user sees should contain at least one bolded term. The other tactics are necessary for effective ad copy, but should play off of the search query being present. When all of these tactics are in sync, you should see your CTR increase.

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