New! Local SEM Competitive Intelligence
Discover Your Competitor’s PPC Keywords & Ad Copy
Enter your #1 competitor's URL

How to Write Killer AdWords Ads

It takes a matter of minutes to set up an AdWords campaign, and for as little as a few dollars each day, your AdWords account will start driving qualified customers straight to your website.

However, despite AdWords’ ease-of-use many businesses fail to see any results from their campaigns. In fact, only 26% of B2C and 20% of B2B businesses say that PPC campaigns, like Google AdWords, make the biggest impact on lead generation.

So what’s the problem?

The main culprit is poorly written ad copy and an ineffective call-to-action. Whether your business’s AdWords budget is $100/mo or $1,000, writing killer AdWords copy is the key to a better ROI.

Why Great Copy Matters for AdWords

The following statistics demonstrate how a Google AdWords campaign is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to generate highly targeted web traffic:

  1. Google ads account for 64.6% of all clicks for high commercial intent keyword searches
  2. The average click-through rate for the top AdWords ad on a search page is nearly 8 percent

Based on these numbers, PPC campaigns are one of your best bets for driving targeted traffic to your site.

Paid advertising is quickly squeezing out above-the-fold organic search results. On average, the top organic listing gets just 8.9% of all on-page clicks, while the top sponsored ads receive 41.4% of all clicks, according to researchers at WordStream. And thanks to Google’s latest Hummingbird update, good SEO can take months to make a dent in your page rank. With AdWords, you can start generating results immediately.

While setting up your first campaign is a snap, how to effectively write AdWords ads that get results, however, is another story. After all, you don’t get much space: 25 characters for a headline, 70 characters for text, and 35 characters for a display URL. And while 115 characters may not seem like much to write, writing AdWords ads that drive click-through-rates can be an exhaustive process. That’s why we’ve written out five key strategies will help you successfully write winning AdWords ads each and every time.

How to Write AdWords Ads That Attract Customers

With Google AdWords, you have just four short lines to make your pitch.

The first line is your title. This headline (including spaces) is limited to 25 characters.

The next two lines are the “description” lines. These should provide potential customers with more information about your business and highlight discounts, offers, or sales. Each description line is limited to 35 characters.

The final line is the display URL. This is the web address that appears in the ad. It’s typically your business’s general website address, and it can be different from the destination URL so long as it’s still directing to the same website.

Regardless of what your business sells, competition can be fierce. It may seem like there’s always another business offering a “better” product or service at a lower price, which makes it even harder to stand out with so little space available. However, great AdWords ad copy helps you win over new customers by not only making it easier for them to find your product, but also giving them a compelling reason to select your business over the competition.

Here’s how to accomplish that.

#1: Start with competitive keyword and ad copy research

Great copy starts with in-depth competitive analysis and best-performing keyword research. Keyword research is critical to not only evaluate the competitive landscape but also to build a better PPC campaign. Your keyword research will provide:

  1. A better understanding of your target audiences behavior and how they search
  2. Data to determine which keyword phrase delivers the most leads

Here’s a question you need to be able to answer: What ads is your competition running, and how effective are they?

There’s a good chance that your competition may know a thing or two that you don’t, which makes studying their ads the perfect starting point for writing your own AdWords ad copy. And when it comes to analyzing your competitors’ ads, that’s where iSpionage excels.

iSpionage stores all of the keywords and ad copy used by your competitors and sorts their ads by our Ad Effectiveness Index (AEI). AEI is our proprietary way of gauging whether an ad is likely to be effective or not. The AEI score takes into account how current the ad is, how long it’s been running, and the average position for the ad. The theory we use for this is that if an ad has been running for a long time and has a high average position, then it must be working well for the advertiser, otherwise they’d pull it down and use new ad copy.
iSpionage Ad Effectiveness Index

#2: Be relevant and specific

While this may seem like a basic rule, it’s all-too easy to overlook. Writing relevant, specific AdWords ad copy gives customers a reason to by from your business and not someone else. Be sure that the text in your ad is relevant to not only the keyword search terms you select, but also your ad’s landing page and the products or services your business provides.

Cleary state why customers should choose your company over another. There may be thousands of businesses selling your product, but do these businesses also offer next-day delivery, international shipping, free customization, or 24/hour service support? If not, include those unique selling points in your ad copy. Avoid generic phrasing and give customers a specific, relevant reason to choose your business.

#3: Include a compelling call-to-action

If your ad’s headline is the “attention grabber,” then the last line of copy should be the call-to-action. A call-to-action is like a star closer in baseball—it’s the final opportunity to “seal the deal” for your company and persuade customers to click on the ad to visit your website.

Avoid generic phrases like “click here” because potential customers already know they need to click on the ad to go to your website. Instead, tell these potential customers WHY they want to visit your website. Are they signing up for a newsletter? Taking advantage of a special offer or promo? Getting a free product sample?

A great CTA sets up your sales pitch. When written correctly, your CTA will tell customers exactly what to expect when they reach your landing page. This is the key for driving conversions and improving landing page performance. Be warned, however, that bait-and-switch tactics like promising a “free sample,” but then requiring a minimum purchase to get this “sample” will send customers running the other way. Your landing page must be a true reflection of your CTA, otherwise, you risk hurting your Google Quality Score.

Your CTA should also invoke a sense of urgency, giving potential customers a reason to click on your ad right now, rather than coming back tomorrow or next week. For example, if the customer searched “flights to Chicago,” your ad copy might include “Weekend Flight Deals,” “80% Off Last-Minute Fares,” or “Save 70% Limited Offers”. All of these phrases inspire a sense of urgency and give potential customers a reason to click on your ad. Those plane tickets won’t stay cheap forever!

#4: Use numbers and symbols

Not only do numbers and symbols cut down on character length, they also visually stand out from the competition, drawing more eyeballs than a solid block of letters.

ASCII characters like a question mark, percent sign, plus sign, or even a trademark sign can all be used effectively with an ad to attract more visual attention. Depending on the goal of your ad, you might even include a question mark in the title. This works well if your ad title is making a claim that may seem skeptical to some people. You’re acknowledging this, which adds legitimacy, while also playing into this skepticism by asking people whether it really is possible that your claim is true, all while subtly priming them to click on your ad and find out if that’s the case!

Numbers are also important for specificity. “70% Off” is better than “Winter Sale.” If a low-price or satisfaction guarantee is part of your business’s selling points, then include these features in your ad, as well. For example, you might include “$39” or “100% guarantee” so your potential customers know exactly what they’re getting.

When writing your AdWords ads, however, watch out for number and symbol abuse. An ad that’s littered with too many asterisks or exclamation marks is sure to stand out, but for all the wrong reasons. If your ad looks like spam, customers won’t click on it!

#5: Don’t forget about the display URL

Your display URL should be relevant and specific, too. While your display URL MUST share the same domain name as your destination URL, there’s no reason you can’t treat the display URL as part of your text. For example, when you Google “flights to Chicago,” two of the top ads both include “Chicago” as part of their display URL’s text. That’s no coincidence. Since Google has bolds “Chicago” when it’s part of the search term, including “Chicago” in the URL helps to make your ad stand out. Visually, this helps to immediately attract your customer’s attention to your ad, reinforcing the relevancy and specificity of the wonderful ad copy you’ve written.


Hopefully this post has given you some helpful tips on how to write AdWords ads that stand out and get results. These five strategies provide a great starting point for writing better PPC ad copy. Go ahead and give them a try, and then let us know in the comments whether or not you’re able to get better results.


Chris Sparks, iSpionage Director of Marketing

Chris is a former online marketing and content strategist here at iSpionage. Connect with Chris or on Twitter.