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Kill 'Em With Copy

By Mariah Ore | August 14, 2014

Write Solid Ad Copy, Get More Clicks

Even though the search network isn’t traditional advertising, you do have a few square inches all your own in which to present yourself to your target audience. Below I’ve outlined a few guidelines to keep in mind while brainstorming, most of which are actually ones that Don Draper might agree with. Now if you only had a glass of whiskey, a secretary, and an office downtown...

1. Stick To the Rules

As usual, you have to work within the parameters of the system. In this case, that means following Google’s character limit as well as their editorial standards.

In a nutshell: your headline can only have twenty-five characters, and the next three lines, including the line with your display URL, can only have thirty-five.

Your copy needs to be grammatically correct, and the punctuation needs to be understated (no exclamation marks at the end of your title, no ellipses or bullets anywhere in the text). Your characters and symbols must be used for their intended purpose.

Another thing: Google is pretty traditional when it comes to its guidelines around inappropriate language, which shouldn’t be surprising given the range of users. They’ll also disapprove your ads if you use the word “click” -- keeping it fair and informational.

The guidelines may sound a little strict, but imagine how annoying it would be if your search results page was full of gimmicky, in-your-face ads. I’ll take understated any day over a million exclamation marks trying to convince me to buy -- plus, being understated builds credibility.

2. Identify What Makes You Different

Try to answer the question, “What makes your company special?” This may sound obvious, but in a page full of similarly-formatted ads and relevant organic results, your ad really has to make a strong case for being the best one -- especially if the searcher is really serious about buying. They want to find their answer as quickly as possible, and if they trust that you’re the authority, that click is yours.

3. Be Descriptive

Along the same lines, you have to be transparent about what the searcher will find when they click on your ad. They must be able to make the assumption that you have what they’re looking for based on your inclusion of industry-specific terminology and phrasing.

Want a hint? Incorporate the keyword into the text somewhere, as well as key industry lingo. Again, it boosts your credibility.

4. Include Special Offers

Just like any old ad from the newspaper, incentivizing the buyer with a discount or special offer is a great way to get traffic and eventual business. When it comes down to it, people are looking for a deal. If you can offer it to them, you have all the more chance at success.

5. Include A Call-To-Action

You aren’t required to include a call-to-action in the ad copy, but a lot of search engine marketingadvertisers swear by it. Why? You’re bridging the gap in the searcher’s brain between the question they need answered and the answer you have for them by offering them an easy way to get what they want.

Since AdWords is a form of direct response advertising, you’re looking for more than just recognition from your client. You want that conversion! Make it easy for your potential customers to become your actual customers.

6. Know How To Use Punctuation

I’ve often wondered about this myself when writing ad text -- are exclamation marks cheesy? Should I end a line within the ad with a period? It’s all subjective, but for the record, exclamation marks are OK, and periods, when grammatically correct, are acceptable tools for emphasis in AdWords.

In her article for the WordStream blog on the topic, Elisa Gabbert recommends that you use a period at the end of line #1. If your ad comes up at the top of the page (and therefore combines the header and the first line), Gabbert points out that instead of trailing off into nothingness, your header will end with a period. In doing so, you evoke an air of certainty and cleanness, building even more trust and authority.

7. Use Your URL For Branding

Finally, at the very end of the ad, you have one whole line that you can use to re-iterate your brand name to the searcher. You’d be surprised at how much sway this can have with someone who is scanning a page and searching for something they recognize, and it’s part of the reason we often tell people that showing up on page one of Google multiple times is never a bad thing. If your URL comes up often enough, the human eye sees this little URL snippet and recognizes it instantly without having to read it.

That being said, you have to format it in a way that makes this possible. Capitalize the beginning of each new word after the domain (i.e. http://www.rei.com/Cruiser-Bikes). If you have the ad linked to a specific landing page, make sure that you change the display URL to be simple and relevant. A perfect example is an ad by Cafe Press for HBO's Silicon Valley shirts. The landing page URL is http://www.cafepress.com/+silicon-valley+t-shirts but the display URL in the ad looks like this:

Cafe Press Ad

If you have enough space, this will help to further convince the searcher that you have what they’re looking for.

And Now, You Wait

If you’ve violated any of Google’s guidelines, you’ll hear about it soon enough. Keep an eye on the freshly-written ads to make sure that none of them have been disapproved. If they are… well, maybe that’s another article.

Mariah Ore

Though she’s not great at writing bios, Mariah can write case studies, articles, and even emails (wow!). When she's not working on Logical Position’s blog or marketing materials, you can find her salsa dancing, writing poetry, exploring Portland, and just hanging out with friends.
By Mariah Ore | August 14, 2014
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