BLOG

on Conversion Rate Optimization

Google Adwords Tips to Create Highly-Converting Search Ads

Running pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google (through Google Adwords) is a great deal of work.

Specifically, because ads require constant optimization — both before the start of a campaign and during a campaign.

Moreover, the ads work on real money, and can often prove costly. For this reason, unoptimized or ineffective ads can really hurt a business.

This post offers you tips that can help you optimize your ads and campaigns on Google Adwords, and increase your website traffic and conversions.

On Using Keywords

All Google Adwords campaigns fundamentally work on keywords. The choice of your keywords determines the success of your campaigns to a great extent.

Here’s a simple video by Google to help you understand the use of keywords better:

For starters, don’t use generic keywords; go for specific keywords instead. More targeted keywords reach users who are already interested in your offering, and thus offer a greater chance of conversions. For example, users searching for “5 inch android mobile” will probably convert more that users searching for just “mobile phone.”

There are different ways to formulate your keyword strategy, and gain control over who sees your ads. You need to pick one (or a combination) of those ways that serves you best.

Employ the Best Keyword Matching Option

Different keyword matching options control how similar your keyword needs to be with a user’s search query to display your ad. The match types consist of the following:

  • Broad Match: Your ads will be shown for searches having phrases similar to your keyword, keyword’s synonyms, singular/plural forms, possible misspellings, related searches, etc. This is the default match type for your keywords, if no other match type is specified. Putting all your keywords on broad match can prove to be costly, as your ads might end up getting served to irrelevant users.
  • Modified Broad Match: Ads will be displayed on searches containing the keyword or close variations — but not synonyms — in any order. This gives you greater control over your ad impressions, allowing you to avoid generic users.
  • Phrase Match: Ads will be shown for searches containing the exact phrase as the keyword, or a close variation of the phrase. Phrase match allows you to target users that are your potential customers.
  • Exact Match: Ads will be displayed only for searches that are an exact match to the keywords. Operating solely on exact matches minimize your chances of getting ad impressions. You run the risk of missing out on potential customers.

Here’s a graphic depicting the different match options:

Keyword match types in Adwords
Source

Identify Your Negative Keywords

Negative keywords help you tell Google when to not display your ads. This, especially, helps you when your keywords have a lot of similar but unrelated phrases.

For instance, at VWO, we run ads for searches such as “AB Test.” Now, with a broad match, our ad may reach a user searching of “AB Personality Test.” We don’t want that, and so, we put “personality” under our negative keywords.

Negative keywords play an important role in bringing the most relevant users to your ads.

For instance, one of the common negative keywords for eCommerce sites are “Free,” and “Cheap.”

Use Your Brand Keywords

Running ads for your own brand name (or brand-related keywords) might seem unconventional, but it is quickly catching up with businesses across multiple industries.

The ads based on your brand keyword have multi-fold benefits:

  • You can establish authority over the search engine results page. With your brand all over the results page, users are bound to be positively influenced.Amazon on Google Search page
  • Your competitors might be trying to get hold of users searching for your brand. Chances are that your competitors are already attempting to capture your brand keywords, by featuring their own ads. For instance, check out this search query for “Hubspot”: Intercom search ad on Hubspot search pageThe results page above displays an ad by Intercom (a competitor of Hubspot). This ad by Intercom can possibly steal potential Hubspot customers.
  • You own whatever goes into the ad. You can direct users to certain landing pages (maybe to your highest-converting pages) that are different to your organic links. You can also mention offers/lucrative deals that otherwise are not mentioned with your organic links.
  • You already have a rapport with the people who click on these ads. They know you, and possibly want to do business with you. The chance of conversion with these ads is potentially higher than your regular ads.

Try Your Competition Keywords

When you find your competitors trying to target your brand keywords for their ads, you can fire back doing the same. You can run your own ads for searches including your competitors’ names.

Just having your ad on top of a results page, when users are searching for your competitors, can give a boost to your brand awareness.

Ad Copy Optimization

The copy of your ad is what entices users to reach you. Since your ad will probably be surrounded by ads from your competitors, your ad copy needs to stand out and attract users’ attention.

Below are a few points to keep in mind while optimizing ad copy:

Make Your Ads Benefit-Driven

Users of search show a variety of intents through their search queries. Potential ad viewers are the ones who  are looking for solutions to issues or problems they’re facing, not just for academic curiosity. Your ads should deliver them the solutions.

Your ads need to be benefit-driven in order to lure users. Anticipate the issues faced by your potential users, and offer them a solution featuring benefits.

Here is a fitting example:

Benenfit driven ad copyThe above ad caters to users who are searching for dentists. The ad not only claims to offer information on nearby dentists, but goes ahead to provide an option for booking an appointment. Even within a tight word limit, the ad succeeds in squeezing multiple benefits to users: feedback on dentists, fee details, zero commission, etc.

Similar to the example above, your ads, too, can feature benefits (USPs) that differentiate your service from your competitors. Highlight factors that make you unique.

Your ad copy should talk about fulfilling the end-goals of users, and more.

Utilize Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are additional links that can accompany your ads. They are generally appended at the end of an ad — below the ad description.

Ad extensions include links such as “Download App,” “Call Us,” “Get Directions,” and more. You can also feature reviews and ratings for your services in your ads.

In Google’s own words, “Ad extensions create more reasons to click your ad.”

Below is an ad from Mixpanel as an example:

Ad extensions in search adsIn addition to the pertinent ad copy, the ad also features sitelinks as ad extensions. The links can give users more reasons to click on the ad.

Read more about ad extensions in this guide by Google.

Have a Compelling Call-to-Action

A call-to-action (CTA) is perhaps the most important feature of an ad. While  the ad copy is what pulls users’ attention, a CTA is what ultimately nudges the users to make a click.

A CTA tells users what the next step is after they click on an ad. With CTAs like “Buy,” “Sign up,” “Watch Demo,” “Book Now,” or “Get a Quote,” users are aware of the action that should follow.

(Note that CTA here differs from the CTA that we use within landing pages, forms, pop-ups, etc. Here, the CTA is not a clickable button, but only a phrase prompting users to take an action.)

For instance, take a look at this ad for the search query “buy domain.”

CTA in search ad

The ad description has a clear call-to-action: “Register Your Domain Now!” The CTA makes it clear to users that clicking on the ad will lead to a domain registration page.

Now, look at this ad, which is just the opposite. The ad is as generic as it gets, and do not prompt users to take any action.

content marketing agency - Google Search 2016-04-01 12-41-31

Use Persuasive Strategies

You can persuade users to click on your ad by employing certain psychological tactics. The tactics include Scarcity, Urgency, Authority and Social Proof.

Scarcity and urgency can be incorporated in your ad copy using words/phrases such as “Last 2 Days of Sale,” “Just 10 Items Left,” “Order Now to Avail Discount,” and more.

Below are some examples of using authority and social proof to persuade users with your ads:

Trust proof in search ad copy (1)

The second ad mentioning “$45,329 Saved in January” outperformed the first ad. It saw a 217% increase in CTR and 23% improvement in conversion rates.

Trust proof in search ad copy (2)The second ad here, too, received an 88% higher click-through rate at a confidence level of 99%.

Make Your Landing Page Experience Consistent With Your Ads

Your landing page needs to be coherent with your ad to keep users from bouncing off. If that doesn’t happen, you’ll lose on potential conversions, and also have a negative effect on your ad rank.

Check out this ad for the search query, “holiday package”:

cheap holiday packages search ads

The ad succeeds in grabbing user attention by displaying a heavy discount of 87%. Upon clicking the ad, here is the landing page that follows:

Antilog Vacations landing page of search ad Surprisingly, the 87% discount is nowhere to be seen on the landing page. The only discount mentioned on the page is holiday deal with 47% off. Users can’t see the content they expected to find. They even might feel cheated by the ad. This is poor user experience, and chances are that users won’t stay on the page for long, and leave.

Making your ads and landing pages offer the same user experience is known as maintaining an ad scent. To do that, you have to simply follow these three practices:

  • Match the copy of your landing page to the copy of your ad.
  • Build the content of your landing page with your ad message as the focus.
  • Design your landing page as per the design of your ad.

Consistency with an ad is not the only factor upon which users will judge your landing page. Your landing page experience depends on various other factors, too. Some of them are:

  • Transparency and comprehensiveness of the information provided on the page.
  • Ease of navigation on the page.
  • Presence of a strong CTA on the landing page
  • Presence of trust signals (testimonials, success stories, ratings, etc.).

Related Post: 9 Insanely Simple Ways to Optimize Your PPC Landing Page

Keep Track of Your Quality Score

Google Adwords provide a quality score for each of your keywords, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest). Google determines the score based on the quality of your ads and landing pages.

Google says, “Having a high Quality Score means that our systems think your ad and landing page are relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad.”

You can easily find the quality score of your keywords within your Adwords account:

adwords quality scoreA higher quality score is beneficial to you in several ways:

  • It makes it easier for your ads to be eligible for an ad auction.
  • Higher quality ads often have lower cost (CPC).
  • Ads with a high quality score can show up at a higher position on a page.
  • Some ad extensions require a minimum quality score to be incorporated into an ad. A high quality scores helps there.

If you want to learn more on this matter, try this comprehensive guide by PPC Hero.

Your Turn

Which is your optimization strategy for running Google search ads? Want to add something to this post? Please post it in the comments section below.

Nitin is a traveler, a cinephile, and a webaholic. (He just can't get enough of cat videos!) Professionally, Nitin is a marketer at VWO, who loves to write about Conversion Optimization. Find him on Twitter: @NitinDeshdeep

Comments (5)

Leave a Comment
  1. Great article, Nitin, very in depth. I think it’s always a good idea to see what competition is doing and learn from their mistakes. It’s also important to come up with a great CTA that will stand out and attract possible customers. And, of course, change the ad from time to time, to make it new and fresh.

    1. Hey Peter,

      I agree that studying Adwords strategy of competitors can provide you valuable insights. There are various tools such as SpyFu and SEMrush that help you know about your competitors’ Adwords campaigns.

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  2. Thanks Nitin Deshdep for sharing this valuable post with us. I will keep reading your blog and i like your opinions regarding marketing and adword strategy. The first ingredient is customer demand. If your customers are not searching for your product or service in Google, then obviously, AdWords search advertising is not going to work for you. So, before you get too excited about creating your first campaign, you need to verify there is in fact search volume for what you’re going to offer.

    The tool to use is the Google AdWords Keyword Suggestion Tool. The keyword tool acts much like a thesaurus. You enter in phrases you think your prospects are searching, and Google tells you other similar, relevant phrases. Google also will tell you how often people search these phrases, how competitive the keywords are in AdWords, and how much it’ll cost to advertise on each keyword. All of this information will help you determine which keywords you want to use in your first campaign .

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes : <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Contact Us / Login

Product
Resources Home