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PPC ad writing 101

There is an art to writing effective PPC ads. It’s not as simple as sticking to the 25-character headline, two 35-character description and 35-character display URL limits. Although, truth be told, sticking to the character limits is an art itself.

There are a number of things you need to keep in mind when drafting PPC ads, such as keyword insertion, landing page relevance, and adhering to search engines’ ad copy guidelines. It’s important to note that Yahoo!, Bing and Google have slightly different rules for PPC ads. You need to ensure that your ads conform to the search engines where they will be displayed.

1)     Keyword Insertion

Keywords are the cornerstone of PPC ads. After all, you bid on the terms for which you want to rank, not using them properly in the ad would be foolish. Using the primary term in your headline is first prize. The headline is the first thing that users see, so it needs to respond directly to the search query.

The headline also needs to be as compelling as possible. This is not always easy within 25 characters (including spaces), especially if the key phrase is a long one. If you can’t make it compelling at least try to make it geographically relevant (location-based), or ask a question, or challenge the user in some way.

Try and use some longtail variations in the descriptions. You have two description lines, each of which is 35 characters (with spaces). You can expand on the primary term in the headline and use longtail terms to show benefits, state features and prices, ask yet more questions, answer questions and provide location-based information.

2)     Landing page relevance

It is essential that the text in your ads and the keywords match the landing page. If you have a hardware or DIY site, you cannot have an ad for hammers go to the generic tools section, you cannot have a special promotion on cordless drills go to the home page. Make landing page relevance your mantra.

3)     Search engine guidelines

Ensure that you are familiar with the guidelines set out by each of the search engines: Google AdWords and Yahoo and Bing.

PPC ad writing tips

  • Start with the headline, as it will set the tone for the rest of the ad. Search for your competitor’s ads and ensure that yours stands out from theirs. Don’t forget to include your primary term.
  • Use the description to answer possible questions about your products. These are your unique selling points.
  • Include pricing information if you find it relevant, if for instance you have a special promotion, but make sure that the price is accurate.
  • Use strong calls to action.
  • Use your keywords.
  • Punt your benefits.
  • Qualify your traffic. Tom Demers says that you need to eliminate unqualified traffic with words like “premium” and “cheap”.
  • Don’t forget about local (geographic) terms.
  • Choose the words of your display URL carefully. Your display URL doesn’t have to be the exact URL of the landing page. It should also contain relevant keywords. Display URLs that start with www. get the best click-through rates.

Finally, find out more about dynamic keyword insertion (DKI). It has the potential to make your life ever so much easier (and more profitable).

(Image by idesign-er, stock.xchng)

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