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July 12, 2018
From a Copywriter's Desk: 3 Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing Tips
Zhana Veleska

In our new "From a Copywriter's Desk" blog series, we'll be featuring tried-and-true advice that will help you write more effective copy for social media, marketing emails and more.

We're kicking things off with 3 quick tips to improve your paid search ad copywriting chops.


Chances are, you’ve likely come across pay-per-click (PPC) marketing at some point throughout your workday — probably between your first and second cup of coffee.

Among the oldest, most effective forms of PPC marketing, paid search advertising can come off as hit-or-miss to the untrained eye. On the contrary, it is a tried-and-true marketing tactic that has lasted the test of time, particularly through Google Ads.

Given the rise of digital media since its origins in the early 1990s, Google’s paid search platform has gone through several changes over the years in order to adapt, and it will continue to do so. Thus, marketers are often out of touch with the best practices for writing a Google Ad campaign. The answer is not as complex as you might think.

Here are some tips you can follow to improve your PPC copywriting chops.

Tip #1: Match the medium.

Given the variety of ways to carry out a simple Google search, it’s critical to optimize your PPC ad copy for the medium that your audience is using. And with voice-assisted device usage expected to grow to 75.5 million by 2019, according to eMarketer — it’s a good idea to begin taking voice search into account.

When it comes to writing PPC ad copy, the primary differences between voice search and traditional text search have to do with the following:

  • Keyword length: Because it’s naturally easier and faster to talk than to type, it’s not unusual for voice search queries to have 4-5 more words than the average text query. Use longer, more conversational keyword phrases to optimize your PPC copy for voice search.
  • Phrase type: Voice search queries tend to resemble actual questions rather than the keyword dense text search queries. Try including some relevant question-based phrases in your keyword strategy.
  • Locality: All search engine results pages (SERPs) aren't made equal. Mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text. So keep your messaging close to home.
    • Bonus tip: If you're going local, now is the time to nix that 800 area code in your call-to-action and opt for something more familiar to your audience. For instance, 312 in Chicago. (No, not the beer.)
Voice-assisted search, shown here, is a rising trend in 2018. As a PPC marketing tip, you should tailor your copy to work with voice search queries.
Google allows users to initiate a voice search query with a simple command.

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Tip #2: Mind the call to action.

One aspect of paid search that has lasted the test of time is the merit of an engaging call-to-action (CTA) — which may prove to be both a blessing and a curse. I’m sure I can speak for most copywriters when I say that devising an original, non-clichéd CTA can be challenging. Nonetheless, it still makes all of the difference when it comes to optimizing your paid search strategy in 2018.

Though the language shown below can be used to write stronger copy, it makes for a forgettable CTA when used as-is.

The trick to writing powerful, effective CTAs is to take this generic, yet actionable language and tailor it to fit your specific desired response. You don’t want to leave your audience guessing where they might end up after clicking. Be specific, and, of course, ensure that the destination they are sent to actually pays off that critical CTA.

Paid search ads have a variety of overused PPC keywords shown here.
These CTAs are too general to be used alone. Work in your unique value proposition for a stronger CTA.

Tip #3: Put it to the test.

As you all know, it's a best practice to do an initial A/B test of your paid search ad copy. But often, once the results are in and a decision is made as to which ad(s) to continue running, the testing is considered "complete". That couldn't be further from the truth and can result in a huge missed opportunity. Week after week you are collecting more and more data, which means you can probably make minor adjustments to your copy that can make a major difference on engagement.

So, what should you test?

  • Call-to-action: If you've followed Tip #2, then you should have more than a few unique CTAs to test by now. Split testing them will help you find the most engaging of the bunch.
  • Headlines: Headlines are the most prominent aspect of your paid search ads by design. Make sure to not only craft headlines that sell, but to weed out the ones that don't.
  • Placement: Google Ads now has three headlines and two brief description sections where you can repurpose copy as much as you wish. It's still not a lot of room to play, but placing your CTA in the headline section or making your description more benefit-oriented can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the success of your campaign.

Still have questions about PPC ad copywriting? Want to share your tried-and-true paid search tips? Tweet me @CBD_jvega.