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How to write good, tailored ad copy for Google AdWords

There’s a lot of bad Google AdWords ad copy out there. Here’s a brief how-to guide for self-starters cranking away on their first campaign.

1. Lose the brand name

Unless the weight of your brand name can be likened to Coca Cola, or unless the search term in question happens to be your brand name, nobody cares about the name of your company. Instead, focus your ad on convincing the user you’ve got what she’s lookin’ for.

In the example below, I searched for “mugs.” I know it’s hard to resist the urge to plug the name of your store into the ad copy — sorry, Amsterdam Printing — but in the 1.4 seconds I’ve dedicated to scanning your ad, if I don’t see “mugs,” it’s over.

Example of bad ad copy




2. Promise instant gratification

Tailor your message to the search term as closely as possible. Your ad for “find good tweezers” should include “Find Good Tweezers” in the copy. Show a different ad when the search is “best tweezers” — that’s right — use the word “best” in the copy.


3. Deliver instant gratification

Whatever your ad promises, that is what you shall deliver. Take the user to a landing page that matches as closely as possible the search term and the ad you’re showing for that term. If your ad is for a free white paper on ad copy tips, there damn well better be a free white paper on that topic close at hand when I click your ad, or I’m leavin’.


4. Test profusely

All kinds of stuff has been purported to get clickthroughs. Here are a few ideas.

  • Try capitalizing the first letter of each word. It’s been shown to increase clickthrough rate (CTR).
  • Tout the awesome publications that have written about you. Do your customers care about the credibility of your brand?
  • Try using the word “free” vs. not using “free” and compare conversion rates.
  • Draw up a list of benefits and test an ad that focuses on each one.
  • Don’t test too many components at once. Try 2 different headlines with the same description, for example.


5. Use that display URL to your advantage

When the user’s search term is found in your ad, Google makes it bold. The more bold in your ad, the better your CTR. So put the search term in your display URL and measure whether CTR increases. Remember, the only requirement is that your root domain matches the destination URL; what comes after that is 100% up to you.