Writing a pay-per-click ad

Self employed women writing a pay-per-click ad at home on her laptop

The wording of a pay-per-click (PPC) ad can make a dramatic difference to how well it performs. A well-written ad doesn’t just help attract the right visitors to your website. Good writing can also reduce how much you have to bid, get your ad displayed in better positions, and improve conversion rates.

The basic principles of writing a PPC ad are similar to writing any advertisement. But tailoring your approach for PPC can deliver much better results.

1. Use keywords appropriately.

Choosing the right keywords is only a starting point. You also need to use them intelligently in your ad:

  • Using keywords in your ad helps show the relevance of your ad. Search engines and other PPC advertising options can reward relevance with lower cost-per-clicks and better visibility for your ad.
  • Using keywords makes it more likely someone searching using those keywords will pay attention to the ad. Keywords in the body of your ad are picked out in bold by Google Ads.

2. Get the clicks you want.

  • Like any ad, you want a compelling headline, copy that highlights benefits and a clear call to action. Stand out by highlighting what makes you different from other advertisers.
  • With limited space, you really need to focus on a simple message. You can add extra detail on the landing page that visitors get taken to.
  • Being specific can improve cost-effectiveness. For example, by including prices you can not only encourage your target customers to click, but also discourage (wasted) clicks from people who would not pay that amount.

3. Check what's available for each advertising platform

Ad formats and character limits vary for different advertising platforms, and some offer several different options. For example:

4. Consider using extensions for Google and Microsoft Advertising.

  • Extensions can be a free way of expanding your ad, giving it more impact. For example, you might be able to include extra links to other pages on your website.
  • Extensions will only show up in your ad if Google (or Microsoft) thinks they are worth including.
  • Find out more about Google Ads extensions and Microsoft Advertising extensions.

5. Create different variations.

  • PPC ads are generally more cost-effective if you use focused keywords and matching ads, rather than one more general ad. The more focused you are, the more likely it is that your ad will attract visitors who really want what you offer.
  • You may need different versions of your ad for different devices – for example, shorter ads for mobile.
  • You can also create and trial different versions of ads, to see which ones work best. For example, you might use different headlines, or different images for ads that include them.

6. Get your landing pages right.

  • Make sure the ad links to a landing page focused on the same keyword. Landing page relevance can be rewarded with lower cost-per-clicks and better ad visibility.
  • Follow through on the ad’s call to action. If the ad promises a 20% discount, make sure the landing page offers it – and that it is as easy as possible to make an immediate purchase.
  • Use the landing page to back up any claims your ad makes and build trust. For example, you may want to include customer testimonials, or details of awards and qualifications.
  • If you are running multiple ads, consider creating different versions of the landing page tailored to each ad.
  • Give each landing page an URL (web address) related to the keyword.

7. Check your ads for readability and impact.

  • Proofread your ad thoroughly.
  • Use ‘title case’ throughout to make your ads easy to read. In Other Words, Capitalise All the Main Words.
  • Check the ad on different screen sizes and devices (eg smartphones, tablets and computers).

8. Continually test and improve.

  • Analyse ad performance to see which ads, on which platforms, are delivering the best results. Focus on what you are trying to achieve (eg sales) rather than just how many impressions or clicks you get.
  • As well as trying out different ads, consider A/B testing of different versions of your landing pages.

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