Paid Search Ad Copy: Kicking It Up A Notch

Think about paid search. How would you describe it?

Slow? No way.

Cheap? Hardly.

High Stakes? You bet.

Paid search is a marketplace where every day, every hour—hell, every minute—counts. And costs. Cluttered and convoluted, it forces search marketers to grasp on to every advantage they can get. Not surprisingly, ad copy tops that list. But the question is, are you fully capitalizing on yours? If not, perhaps it’s time to kick it up a notch.

To be sure, ad copy is the keystone of paid search. Master it, and you’re golden. Fumble it, and you could give your competitors just what they want—the advantage.

Yet despite its importance, many marketers rush in with copy that is lacking. Why? Who knows? Perhaps they’re lured by the medium’s ease, speed, and flexibility, and they just want to get something—anything—out there. But whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, subpar ad copy can only lead to one thing: subpar campaign performance.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Poor ad copy can also adversely affect your quality score and end up costing you more money. How so?

Well, gone are the good ol’ days when paid search ad copy was simply used to help qualify potential prospects and weed out unnecessary clicks. Back then, you could cast a wide net with your keywords and bid aggressively knowing that you could screen out unwanted clicks with your ad copy without any negative effect. But the advent of the quality score changed all that.

Now the relevance of your ad copy and landing page and the click through rate of your ad all factor in to your ‘engine determined’ quality score. As a result, it can dramatically affect the performance of your campaign, and in the process, drive up your costs.

Consequently, it is more important than ever to get paid search ad copy right. Below are a few tips on ways to improve yours.

Define your audience. As relevance plays a big role in the success of a paid search campaign, it is vital to define your audience and the language they use. This is especially important considering that you have to map the keywords you have chosen to the landing page you have created, and then create ad copy that maps the two together. Given that, make sure you choose the most relevant keywords possible—don’t cast your net too wide. When in doubt, you should use relevancy as your ultimate judge on whether or not to target a keyword.

Align your keyword with your messaging and goal. Relevancy also applies to the nature of the keyword and where the buyer is in the purchase cycle. Consequently, it is critical that your keyword, messaging, and goal are aligned. For example, you would never want to buy an action-oriented keyword phrase like ‘best price for Sony DVD Model XYZ’ when the messaging in your ad copy is research–based and takes them to a landing page where they can’t buy the specific product. Instead, you want to make sure that your keywords are aligned with your messaging, and that it is aligned with the buying cycle of your prospects.

Leverage other channels. One of the best ways to improve your ad copy is to look beyond search. Namely, you need to leverage keywords and messaging from other channels. To start, take a good look at your organization’s other marketing initiatives. Then choose the keywords, copy, and messaging that are generating the best response rates, and use them in all online channels. But keep in mind that it’s a two-way street. If you find that certain keywords or messaging are resonating with your audience in your paid search campaign, make sure it gets incorporated into your offline messaging, as research shows offline channels are a powerful driver of search. Ultimately, leveraging keywords and messaging from other channels will provide many benefits; not only will it help campaign performance, it will also help improve your quality score and ensure consistent messaging.

Test and refine. Testing is essential to improving ad copy, so make sure you have a robust testing and refinement plan in place. Fortunately, there are several tools available to help with testing. But regardless of the one you choose and the form you use—A/B testing or multivariate testing—make sure you set up proper control groups to compare against, and create a testing calendar. Your ability to perform testing quickly and then act on the results can have an exponential impact on your search campaigns and other marketing initiatives.

While there are many factors that affect the success of a paid search campaign, ad copy sits squarely at the top of the list. And in today’s ultra–competitive marketplace, it’s more important than ever to fully capitalize on it. Perhaps it’s time you re–assessed the performance of your ad copy—you might want to kick it up a notch. Or…you could just wait until your competitors do, and you won’t even know what hit you when it happens.

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

Related Topics: Brand Aid | Channel: Strategy


About The Author: is president of search engine marketing firm iProspect and can be reached at

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