Using PPC Ads To Fine Tune Your Organic Ad Copy

I’m a huge fan of treating Page Titles and Meta Descriptions as ad copy. Using language that speaks to a person’s motivation for shopping and buying will encourage the click through when your listing appears organically, as well as in a paid position.

The problem

Having a “testing” environment for organic ad copy has, until recently, been a bit tricky. It can take some time for updated Page Titles and Meta Descriptions to show up on Google, especially with small sites that aren’t crawled and updated on a regular basis. Getting around this time delay meant writing your Page Titles and Meta content and “hoping” it worked, with an eye towards changing it in a few weeks or months if time and budget allows.

The idea

Many SEOs use PPC marketing as a proving ground for keyword phrases, and this tactic means you know what keywords get traffic, on which search engines, and what the click through rates are on these keywords. I was thinking about this tactic, which we use for some clients successfully, and thought….”Why not test my Page Titles and Meta Descriptions in PPC also?”

The pros are a testing environment that you’re already using to generate traffic, and you probably have ad copy there that you have fine-tuned into a good revenue stream. Start with the keyword(s) you’ve chosen for your homepage, look at the best performing PPC ad copy for that keyword, and write your organic ad copy to reflect the same message.

The cons: you don’t have as many characters available in a Paid ad as you do in natural web results, so you’ll have to take the idea, and the language from your PPC ads and expound on it a bit for your organic ad copy.

The practice

Your homepage should be optimized for the keywords “Playa del Carmen Resort” and “All Inclusive Riviera Maya” because you’ve determined they’re the most relevant and receive the most searches. As you work on your on-page message to be sure this idea and theme is reflected, move those keywords each into their own adgroup in AdWords. Unfortunately, right now you can give keyword-specific landing pages, but you cannot show keyword-specific ads at this time.

Write 2 or 3 ads per keyword, and let them run. You’ll then watch and see which ads perform better, tweaking ad copy and message along the way.

Some things to help:

  • Setting your ad delivery to “Show the best performing ad most often” will help you see a clear winner sooner. This has to be done on the campaign level, so consider the other adgroups and ads in your system.
  • Too many ads may mean more details to keep track of and watch. This makes it hard to see what changes make the most difference. I suggest using only 2 or 3 Ads and when you make changes, change one thing at a time, so you can see where it had the most access.
  • Keywords that get only a few clicks a day make this method a VERY slow process. Reserve this method for your higher traffic keywords and try the ad copy in optimizing pages for your long tail keywords.
  • If you’re landing the PPC ads you’re testing on the page you’re optimizing for those keywords, you’re going to see CTR, and performance of your landing page. Watch the bounce rate for these paid clicks and see if there’s more you can to improve your SEO landing page

Once I’ve tested my ads I’ll have a winner.  The ad copy from AdWords will look something like this:

Testing SEO Ad Copy with PPC Ads - the Results - the Test

This is how I’d use this data to write my page title and meta-description:

Page Title:

All Inclusive Riviera Maya Getaway ~ Playa Del Carmen Resort

(60 characters with spaces)

Meta Description:

Book an eco-friendly all-inclusive Riviera Maya getaway. Come visit our luxurious seaside Playa del Carmen Resort – We can’t wait to see you.

(141 Characters with Spaces)

And this is how it looks when it shows up for a Google query for “All Inclusive Riviera Maya”

Testing SEO Ad Copy with PPC Ads - the Results

With this method, you’re using already-tested ad copy and your organic click-through-rate should improve with time.  Checking your CTR on this keyword phrase can be done with a little math in your Google Analytics account, or in the new “Search Queries” report in Webmaster Tools.

I’d love to see your comments and suggestions for this method. I’m still certainly fine-tuning how it works and if you’re using a similar technique, your insight would be very welcome to everyone looking to try it out.

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

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: is the co-founder of Ignitor Digital, along with long-time colleague Mary Bowling. At Ignitor, Carrie tackles tough technical SEO roadblocks many small business owners don't even know they have. Her experience with analytics and troubleshooting helps her get to the root of issues. When not working, Carrie loves to cook for friends and family, hang out with her pretty awesome kids, and read books that have little-to-no educational value! You can also follow Carrie on twitter, @carriehill.

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    Thank you for sharing your method. This is a good approach and I like the idea of using data from other sources such as paid advertising to fine tuning your organic ‘ad copy’.
    I have a slight concern about using ads set to rotate on optimise as this will only let your ads compete on click through.
    I think I would opt for split testing the ads on rotate so each ad is shown an even number of times. This will allow the comparison of conversion rate for each ad which should be a significant factor in choosing the better performing copy.
    Through my experience managing AdWords campaigns I have often found when testing ad copy that ads with lower click through rates can still produce a more profitable return on investment.


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