Looking for ways to optimize the ad copy on your paid search ads?

Paid search success means optimizing quality score, landing pages, bids, targeting, and countless keyword combinations.

Paid search ad copy is also a key component of Google Ads success.

Any business running Google Ads campaigns should audit their ad copy from time to time. This means testing various messages and calls to action within each ad group.

Here are a few ad copy testing ideas to help your business leverage the benefits of paid search marketing, agency-led or in-house.

Who Should Audit Your Paid Search Ad Copy?

If there is a specific problem with your account, take the time yourself to identify what it is impacting performance. However, if you need a more comprehensive gut check, it may be better to get a fresh set of eyes from a dedicated account manager. It’s easy to overlook the “basics” and assume you have everything set up correctly if you’ve been in charge of the account since day one.

Elements of a Google Ad

At the most fundamental level, PPC ads on Google AdWords can be broken down into five different pieces.

Let’s take a look:

  1. The Headline

The headline is typically the first piece of your ad a searcher will see. Aligning your headline with the keywords in your ad group and landing page gives you the best chance for Quality Score success.

For many years Google AdWords allowed 25 characters for a single headline and 35 characters per line for two lines of description text. Then Google gave us two headlines (30 characters each) and an 80-character description line.

As we head into 2020, there are two required headline fields, and one optional, each with a 30 character limit. All headlines appear next to each other, separated by a vertical pipe (“|”). Note: The headline may wrap to a second line, depending on the size of the user’s screen.

  1. Description 

Google Ads allows two 90-character description fields to give your business control over the ad’s messaging. This is where you’ll promote your business and add a call-to-action for the user.

  1. The Display URL

The display URL is the URL users will see when viewing your ad. It is not necessarily the URL visitors will be taken to after clicking your ad. Display URLs are not active links, but they give search users an idea of where they’ll end after clicking the ad.

  1. The Final URL

Not visible to users, the final URL is where the URL visitors will be taken to after clicking your ads.

Copywriting Basics & Psychology

As you’re auditing your Google Ads campaigns, you can make the ad copy more effective by appealing to psychological phenomena. “Fear of missing out” (FOMO), is one example. If you give the searcher a sense of urgency (i.e. he or she will “miss out” if they don’t buy today), they may be enticed to click.

Make sure your headlines and ad copy highlight the value you offer.  Include your brand name to potentially increase CTR and (of course), include the keyword at least once (preferably in one of the headlines), to show your ad’s relevance to the search query.

Remember, you want the searcher to take action. That’s why your ad copy should use actionable words. Something like “buy now,” and “join today” are common,  but if you really want to step it up a notch, come up with a creative alternative.

Make sure your ad copy identifies the pain points your specific product/service is solving. Does it save people time or make their job easier?

Does your ad copy use a competitive differentiator to make you stand out? This will show the searcher why you are providing them a better product or deal than your competitors.

Check out what your competitors are doing with their PPC ad copy and try to replicate what’s working for them (while setting yourself apart at the same time). The more unique you seem, the more likely you are to pull interested searchers away from the masses of ads filling up their search results.

Check for consistency as well. Are the ads promoting prices or offers that have expired? Is there a different message in the ad copy from what the searcher will find on your landing page?

Finally, don’t forget the basics of good writing. Are your ads grammatically correct? Do they contain spelling errors? Do your ads use the punctuation allowed by Google (i.e. do they contain any exclamation points, registered/trademark symbols, etc.)?

Things To Look For When You’re Auditing Google Ads

Local targeting. Localization is setting up your geo ad groups so that you’re making sure you have ad groups specified for local regions (where conversions tend to be strongest).

Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). DKI allows you to customize your ad to match the user’s search query, creating a more specific, highly targeted ad that perfectly matches the searcher’s intent.

Description Length. Google gives you 35 characters per line for your description text, but that doesn’t mean that you have to use all of them. Try something shorter and test that against the champion ad.

Ad Extensions. Ad extensions make your ads more real estate on the search results page. They’ve also been shown to increase CTR by an average of 30 percent. Make sure to test and tweak your ad extensions the same way you do your ad copy. Every word has to earn its place in your ad! Make sure each extension you ad is relevant, accurate, and has proper conversion tracking in place. The Sitelinks, Location, and Call Out extensions are the good extensions for earning higher ranks.

A/B Test …. Don’t A/B/C/D (etc.) Test

How much data is enough for a successful test? Usually if you are achieving at least a 1 percent click-through rate on your ads, you have enough data around the 30,000 impression mark to make an informed decision on which ad is better.

One of the things we do at Symphonic Digital is conduct a pure A/B ad copy test. This means we usually have only two competing ads running at the same time so that we can get the data we need to see which version is better. Typically, our champion ad is the one we suspect will perform well or that has performed well in the past. We test it against a challenger, which is a variation on the champion (with one element changed).

Test different paragraph lengths and different persuasive approaches. Does your audience respond better to a “hard sell” or more value-driven approach? Will you win more prospects with statistics or storytelling?

Make sure you test only two ads at a time. Sometimes we look in campaigns and we see multiple ad copies being tested. It can take months to get enough data to make decisions when you’re doing that. Besides, Google will serve the ad with the highest click-through ad anyway. Meanwhile, your quality score for that ad group is going to plummet if one ad isn’t doing as well as the others.

Our recommendation is to just keep it a pure A/B ad test, so you always have a champion and a challenger ad.

Use Google Ads’ Campaign Drafts and Experiments

This approach to testing creates experiment and control groups that you can use to quickly monitor results and implement changes. Start with a campaign draft to test changes to an existing campaign; soon, you’ll bet tweaking your ad copy (and other elements) to make minor (but impactful) improvements.

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