Over 3.5 billion searches are performed on Google every single day. Of these queries, 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.
This explains why so many businesses are willing to spend big money to bid for ad real estate. However, just owning that real estate is not enough. The million-dollar question is: how should you use it?
What is an SEM ad copy?
An SEM ad copy is a text advertisement that appears on search engine results pages. The ad copy is written to promote a product or service and contains a call-to-action for the searcher to click on the ad and be taken to the advertiser's website.
What makes great SEM ad copy? The best copy is clear, concise, and specific. It also identifies the needs of the user and uses keywords that people are likely to use when searching for your product or service. Below are the 18 tips we will cover in this article, broadly categorised into three sections:
- Write for skimmers
- Use keyword-rich headlines
- Use benefit-oriented copy
- Write to the search query
- Use negative keywords
- Use strong calls to action (CTA)
- Create a sense of urgency
- Use numbers and statistics
- Optimize your landing page
- Write for your audience, not search engines
- Incorporate social proof
- State your unique selling proposition (USP)
- Conduct A/B Testing
- Use callout extensions
- Use site links
- Use Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool
- Keep an eye on your competition
- Analyze search trends
1. Write for skimmers
Your ad copy should be designed for skimmers, not readers. The vast majority of people who see your ad will only give it a cursory glance before moving on. That’s why it’s important to keep your ad copy short, sweet, and to the point. Every word should count, so cut out any fluff or filler.
To write effective ad copy for skimmers, make sure your headlines are clear and your message is concise. Use short sentences and simple words to make your ad easy to scan.
In this example, the keyword ‘cheap flights’ is used a few times (though not overly used) to immediately associate the ad with what the searcher is looking for.
2. Use keyword-rich headlines
Your ad headline is the first thing searchers see when your ad appears on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), so make sure it’s both relevant to what they’re looking for and interesting enough to make them want to click. A good place to start is by including one of your target keywords in the headline, as this can help you not only rank higher in search results but also get more clicks.
There are a few different things you can do to make sure your headline is effective. First, avoid using generic terms like “best product” or “great deal” as these are unlikely to catch someone’s attention. Instead, focus on creating a unique and specific headline that accurately reflects what your ad is about. Additionally, try to keep your headline short and to the point, as searchers are more likely to engage with an ad that is easy to read and understand.
3. Use benefit-oriented copy
When you’re writing your SEM ad copy, always keep in mind that people are looking for solutions to their problems. They want to know what’s in it for them. So, make sure your ad copy is benefit-oriented.
Some examples of benefit-oriented copy are:
- “Turn more heads with our brand-new fragrance”
- “Generate more sales with our proven lead generation methods”
- “Attract more visitors to your website with eye-catching graphics”
If you can show your potential customers how your product or service can solve their problem, you’ll be much more likely to get their business.
In the above example, the headline consisting of a few simple words tell you immediately how you can benefit from engaging their services.
4. Write to the search query
Your ad copy should focus on the customer and how your product or service can benefit them. It’s not about you or your company—it’s about the customer and what they want and need. By focusing on the customer, you’ll be able to write ad copy that is both relevant and appealing.
Here are a few tips to help you keep the customer front and center:
- Know your audience. The more you know about your target audience, the better you’ll be able to write ad copy that resonates with them.
- Use first person. When you use first person in your ad copy, it makes the customer feel like you’re talking directly to them.
- Focus on the benefits. When you focus on the benefits of your product or service, you’ll be able to show customers how your offering can help them solve their problems.
5. Use negative keywords
Negative keywords help you avoid targeting irrelevant searches and wasting money. They work by telling Google not to show your ad for certain searches. For example, if you sell women’s shoes, you might use negative keywords like “men’s” or “kids.”
To find negative keywords, start by brainstorming a list of words that are related to your business but aren’t relevant to your products or services. You can also use Google’s Keyword Planner to get ideas for negative keywords. Once you have a list of potential negative keywords, add them to your campaign so your ads don’t show up for irrelevant searches.
6. Use strong calls to action (CTA)
Your ad should be designed to encourage people to take action, whether that’s clicking through to your website or making a purchase. Make it easy for them by using strong calls to action such as “Buy now” or “Sign up today.”
It’s also important to include a call to action in your ad headline if possible. For example, “Get 50% off your first purchase” is more likely to get someone’s attention than “Welcome to our store!”
In the above, the usage of eye-catching phrases like “Be a Trendsetter” and “Shop Now” prompt us to take action quickly.
Once you’ve got their attention, it’s important to keep themengaged by offering something of value on your landing page. This could be a discount, free shipping, or a freebie. Whatever you offer, make sure it’s relevant to what they’re looking for and that it’s easy to find on your page.
If you're not sure what kind of call to action to use, try testing out a few different options. See what works best for your business and your customers.
7. Create a sense of urgency
Your ad copy should create a sense of urgency, so that users don’t feel like they can put off clicking on your ad for later. Try using words and phrases like “limited time only,” “while supplies last,” or “act now” to encourage users to take immediate action.
You can also use countdown timers in your ad copy to create a sense of urgency and encourage users to act quickly. For example, you could write something like, “Only 2 days left to save!” or “Hurry, sale ends soon!”
In addition to using urgent language, you can also try to create a sense of urgency by offering limited-time discounts or deals. For example, you could offer a 10% discount to users who click on your ad within the next 24 hours.
8. Use numbers and statistics
People love numbers. They help to break down complex information and make it more digestible. When writing your ad copy, try to include numbers and statistics whenever possible. Not only will this make your ad more interesting, but it will also help to boost your click-through rate (CTR).
Here are a few tips for using numbers in your ad copy:
- Use odd numbers rather than even ones. Odd numbers tend to stand out more, which will help to grab attention.
- Use specific numbers rather than general ones. Specificity helps to build trust and credibility.
- Use large numbers to highlight the value of your product or service.
- Use small numbers to create a sense of urgency.
This brilliant ad copy tells customers exactly what they want to know immediately. How much more affordable? Up to 70%! How easy is the process? In just 5 simple steps!
To summarise, keep in mind that you are writing for skimmers. Be sure to write benefit-oriented copies addressing the search query directly using keyword-rich headlines, numbers and statistics, as well as urgent language and strong CTAs!
9. Optimize your landing page
After all, what’s the point of bringing visitors to your site if they’re just going to leave without taking any action? That’s why it’s important to make sure your landing page is optimized for conversions.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Keep your landing page simple and free of distractions
- Include a strong call-to-action
- Use persuasive language
- Include credible testimonials
- Use images and videos
In addition to a well-optimized landing page, you also need to make sure your ad copy is relevant to what the user will see when they land on your page. If your ad promises one thing but your landing page delivers something else entirely, you’re going to have a hard time converting visitors into customers.
10. Write for your audience, not search engines
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many businesses write their ad copy with search engines in mind instead of their target audience. Yes, keywords are important for SEM — but if you stuff your ad full of them, not only will your CTR suffer, but you’ll also get penalized by Google. Write your ad copy with your target audience top of mind, and the keywords will come naturally.
When writing your ad copy, it’s important to keep your target audience top of mind. What are their needs? What are their pain points? How can your product or service help them? By focusing on your audience first, you’ll be able to craft ad copy that is not only relevant to them, but also includes the keywords you need to help your ad rank higher in search results.
11. Incorporate social proof
One way to incorporate social proof into your ad copy is to highlight customer satisfaction rates in your ads. This helps show potential customers that your product or service is reputable and can be trusted. You can also feature customer testimonials or reviews in your ad copy to showcase what others have said about your business.
Another way to add social proof is to include information about how many people have used your product or service. This can help show potential customers that your product is popular and well-liked. Whatever method you choose, incorporating social proof into your ad copy can be a helpful way to boost your CTR.
If their research has already helped “over 200 million people” find what they are looking for, why should you look any further?
12. State your unique selling proposition (USP)
Make sure your ad copy showcases what makes your product or service unique. Whether it’s a lower price point, superior quality, or something else entirely, your USP should be front and center. Your goal is to make it immediately clear to prospective customers why they should choose you over the competition.
No matter how you choose to showcase your USP, make sure it’s one of the first things prospects see when they view your ad. That way, they’ll know right away what you have to offer and why they should consider doing business with you.
13. Conduct A/B Testing
The best way to know what works and what doesn’t is to test different versions of your ad copy. This process is called A/B testing, and it’s an essential tool for any marketer. By creating two versions of your ad and showing them to different groups of people, you can see which one performs better.
To do this effectively, you need to change only one element at a time. For example, you might want to test different headlines or descriptions. Check metrics for each variant in your Google ads reporting dashboard to define which has better results. Once you’ve found a winning combination, you can roll it out to your entire campaign.
A/B testing is a valuable way to improve your SEM ad campaigns. By testing different versions of your ad copy, you can see which elements are most effective with your target audience. This process can help you fine-tune your ad campaigns and get the most out of your SEM budget.
14. Use callout extensions
Callout extensions are a great way to draw attention to your ad and highlight unique features or benefits of your product. They’re also easy to set up — simply create a list of up to four callouts in your ad settings, and Google will automatically rotate them in your ad.
Here are a few tips for creating effective callouts:
- Keep your callouts short and to the point
- Use data or statistics to back up your claims
- Highlight unique features or benefits that bring value to customers
To get started with callout extensions, sign into your Google Ads account and navigate to the “Ads & Extensions” tab. From there, click on the “+ Extension” drop-down menu and select “Callout.”
Were you looking for “ready-to-ship PCs” or other “custom desktops”? Now you know where to find them!
15. Use site links
If you have a well-established website, you can use site links to give your ad more real estate and encourage people to click through to specific pages. Site links are additional links that show up beneath your ad, each with their own title and destination URL.
By using site links, you give your customers an easy way to navigate to specific pages on your website. Not only do site links make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, but they also help improve your ad’s CTR.
If you’re not already using site links, now is the time to start. To add site links to your ads, simply log into your Google Ads account and navigate to the “Ads & Extensions” tab. From there, you can click “+Extension” and select “Site Links” from the drop-down menu.
Once you’ve added your site links, be sure to keep an eye on your CTR. If you see a significant increase in CTR, that’s a good sign that your site links are effective and customers are finding them helpful. If you see a decrease in CTR, you may want to consider removing or editing your site links.
SEM ad copies go hand in hand with your company’s website. For starters, make sure that you optimize your landing page and incorporate social proof to build credibility in your product or service. If you’re unsure, try conducting A/B testing to see what works best!
16. Use Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool
Before you launch your ad campaign, it’s important to test and preview your ads. Google provides a tool for this called the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool. This tool lets you see how your ad will look on different devices and in different locations. It also lets you test different ad copy and target keywords.
To use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool, simply enter your search query into the “Search Term” field. Then select the country and language you want to target. Finally, choose the device you want to preview your ad on. You can then see how your ad will look on that device.
The Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool is a valuable tool for testing and optimizing your SEM ad campaign. Use it to make sure your ads are effective and to improve your CTR.
17. Keep an eye on your competition
The world of SEM is extremely competitive, and it can be tough to keep up. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can keep an eye on your competition. The first is to simply Google the keywords you're targeting and see who comes up. Take a look at their ads and see what they're doing right — and wrong. You can also use tools like SpyFu and SEMrush to get more detailed insights into your competitor's strategies.
In addition to keeping an eye on your competition, it's also important to stay up-to-date with the latest SEM trends. This can help you ensure that your campaigns are always on the cutting edge and that you're not missing out on any new opportunities. There are a number of great resources for staying up-to-date on SEM trends, including Search Engine Land and Moz.
18. Analyze search trends
To ensure your ad copy is relevant to what people are searching for, it’s important to stay informed on the latest search trends. You can do this by using Google Trends. This tool lets you see how often particular terms are being searched for on Google. You can also use it to compare the relative popularity of different terms.
This is valuable information because it can help you adjust your ad copy to match what people are actually interested in. For example, if you see that the search term “healthy eating” is becoming more popular, you could update your ad copy to reflect this trend.
The Internet is a treasure trove. You can analyze search trends and see what your competitors are doing using a variety of online tools. As search trends shift day to day, it’s important that you keep your ad copy up-to-date to stay relevant.
Character limits to note
Creating great SEM ad copy doesn't have to be complicated. By following the tips above, you can craft an ad copy that is sure to grab attention and persuade customers to take action.
Here are some character limits to take note of before crafting your ad copy:
Headline: 30 characters
Description: 90 characters
Site link Extension
Link text: 25 characters
Description: 35 characters
A friendly reminder: Use Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool for a quick preview of your ad copy across different platforms before publishing.
When it comes to writing ad copy, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. But by following these 18 tips, you'll be well on your way to creating ad copy that really resonates with your target audience — and make your marketing expenditure worth it.
As you experiment with different approaches, keep track of what works and what doesn't. That way, you can fine-tune your strategy and ensure that your SEM ad campaigns are as effective as possible.
Happy ad crafting!