5 Bad Google Ads: What Were They Thinking?!

Ad copy is a significant factor in Quality Score which can impact the cost of PPC clicks. Why and how? It’s mostly about “relevance,” and that is measured primarily by clickthrough rate (CTR). While CTR isn’t the only factor you should focus on (since ROI is paramount), it’s way up there.

Be wary of anyone trying to make things sound more mysterious than that. In this article, I’ll share some bad ads examples and provide some ad copy fixes.

Bad Ad #1 – Irrelevant Search Ad

Search query = used cars

Ad Copy:

Medical Equipment

Second Hand Medical Equipment

Spareparts & Tubes Extensive Databat


This site is likely advertising on the very broad keyword term “used”. Instead, they should be targeting terms like “used medical equipment” and similar terms.  Also, they should consider using a phrase or exact match for tighter matching and to reduce the frequency of the ad displaying.

To be charitable about it, there is some chance that between high bids, and Google’s expanded broad match, they’re showing up even with a reasonably intelligent keyword choice such as the broad match for “used medical equipment,” as Google’s semantic technology runs through a variety of experiments.

So “blame Google” for the “bad ad”? Not exactly. If you take a novice’s approach to matching options, then you’re to blame.

Bad Ad #2 – Misspelling In Search Ad

Search query = computers

Ad Copy:


Hunders of computers, printers,

games powered by Buy Sell Exchange


Spelling mistakes are an instant way to lose credibility with potential customers.

Bad Ad #3 – Nonsensical Search Ad

Search query = computers

Ad Copy:

No Match Computers

For all your computer needs check<

our no match weekly specials.


This advertiser just sounds plain nuts! What the heck is a “no match” weekly special? After closely examining the ad, I see that “no match” is the company name. At first glance, I got a very bad feeling about the company and it only takes a second for me to move on and consider another advertiser’s ad.

Bad Ad #4 – Nonsensical Search Ad

Search query = web hosts

Ad Copy:

So you are going to pay

top $ for exactly what we offer –

your money Ralph! Test us for free.


A headline that runs into the description text does not sound as “clean” as ads than have a distinct headline and description. In this game, 99% of the time, your bantering-style copy will under-perform. Also, in no place in the ad does the advertiser use the word “web hosts”. I’d also test confrontational language against respectful or plain language.

Bad Ad #5 – Passive Ad

Search query = accountants

Ad Copy:

SEEK Accountants SEEK has over 6,000 new jobs

Career advice and daily job emails


The ad above is company focused, but has a fairly passive tone. I’d change it to something like the following:

Need Accounting Work?

Discover over 6000 new jobs. Get

career advice & more. Call us today.


Tips For Successful Ad Text

Keep in mind the following pointers when writing ad copy:

  1. Entice users with a compelling call to action and value propositions.
  2. Avoid the passive tense. Try the active tense.
  3. Avoid “marketing speak” like “innovative”, “next-generation”, etc. Keep ad copy real.
  4. Don’t focus on “we” and “us”. Focus on your potential customers, their needs and  finding solutions to their issues and  problems.

Why waste time and money with PPC advertising if you’re going to write bad ads? Stick to the premise of writing good ad copy or stay home.

Note: Thanks to my colleague Stephan Spencer who suggested some of the ‘bad ad’ examples used in this article.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: was recently voted the 2013 Most influential SEM. She is the Vice President of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on search engine marketing strategy, landing page optimization (LPO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jamilkassam Jamil Kassam

    I love this ‘Don’t focus on “we” and “us”. Focus on your potential customers, their needs and finding solutions to their issues and problems.’

    And an example piece of ad copy says ‘Call us today.’!!

  • http://www.regionalrestaurantreviews.com/ Mitch Monsen

    Most of these seem to be common-sense tips, but I really like your example under the passive ad section. I just began my own website and I’m about to use the free ad credits I got with my hosting package; thanks, your tips helped me out!

  • http://www.xing.com/profile/Roland_Schupp Roland Schupp

    Nice examples and comprehensive hints, thanks for the article. Would you assume that your examples were done by inhouse-guys or probably (badly) executed by an online-marketing company?

  • http://whitelogicsolutions.com whitelogicsolutions

    I really think its cant be standard Tips, do you really think people who are searching for some product gonna see the description before clicking the link, So description doesn’t give much value to ads, and is someone really reads the description then its good to run the description from heading to descrioption so user can better view of your service.

    Don’t you agree.


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