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Finding Words That Sell: The Key To Writing Successful PPC Ad Copy


“All the world’s a stage…”
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by…”
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

You may not know who penned each of those phrases, but I’d bet you’ve at least heard them at some point in your life.

Words, words, words. It’s all about words. There are reasons why people read books, post popular sayings in their homes, and carry around highlighters when they read books.

Words inspire us.

Words motivate us.

Words are powerful.

The effect words can have on people doesn’t just stop with inspirational Shakespeare plays, famous Robert Frost poetry, or even fantastic quotes by hockey players. Indeed, words play a huge role in the success of any advertising and marketing campaign.

That’s why it’s important to bring out the big guns, do your research, and hire the right copywriter for your ad campaigns. If you manage to find the right words, people are bound to fall in love with you and your products.

Some of the Most Powerful Ad Copy Campaigns Ever

Don’t believe me? Or maybe you need a little more convincing? Check out the effect some of the most popular copywriting has had on the masses.

1. Just do it.


I don’t really need to say anything because you know exactly what brand this tagline represents and exactly what it means. Suffice it to say, these three words are responsible for billions of dollars in global sales for Nike.

Nike got it right. They nailed it with this tagline.

2. Smell like a man, man.

image 3 old spice

The old spice man. Swoon. I can smell him from here, and he smells good. And, isn’t that the goal of most every man…encapsulating the essence of the old spice man to make the ladies swoon? Brilliant. It’s brilliant.

3. A diamond is forever.


Once again, here is another example of getting copywriting right. These four words pack in so much meaning that it makes almost every woman and man know that a diamond (a De Beers diamond, no less) is a symbol of true love and commitment, not just a shiny rock.

Of course, there are hundreds more examples of effective copywriting, but I simply wanted to reinforce the point of how important it is to take the time to come up with the proper words … whether it be in a print ad, a social media post, or a paid search ad.

So, how do you find the words that work, i.e. words that sell?

While you may not be Nike, Old Spice, or De Beers, you still have the power to find the right words that will draw in customers, foster customer loyalty, build a brand, and ultimately, boost your sales.

Step 1: Do your research

While it may seem that every good bit of copywriting is a mix of creative genius and luck, this is certainly not the case (although it does play a small part). Good copywriting, especially copywriting for paid search ads, involves a heckuva lot of research.

In fact, writing paid search ads is generally not creative it all. Instead, there is a bit of a science to it that includes getting your point across quickly, directly, and letting your audience know exactly what you want them to do in just a small number of words.

When sitting down to write ad copy, the first thing you want to do is figure out what is working for your competitors. Let’s say you sell sporting goods and want to start selling your products online. In this case, you want to select a few companies that are both similar to you and also successful and find out what they’re doing, what type of keywords they’re targeting for their paid search ads, and also what type of copy is typically working well for them.

There are several ways to do this, but one of the simplest is to use competitive research software like iSpionage to do your research. To use iSpionage for ad copy research, simply login to your account, and then enter the URL for your competitor.

image 5 ispionage nike

Once you’ve entered in the URL, iSpionage will return a bunch of data that will be useful to you in your journey towards crafting the perfect paid search ad. Specifically, you’ll get a list of your competitor’s top ads in Google with detailed information and statistics. The information includes the exact ad copy that your competitor is using, and a breakdown of how that copy is working out for them.

image 9 nike ads

One of the most important bits of data to use when determining how successful the ad copy is for your competitor is the AEI. AEI stands for Ad Effectiveness Index, and calculates how successful an ad has been for your company. The Ad Effectiveness Index is scored from 0-100, so the higher the score, the more effective the ad.

So, what do you do with all this information?

It’s easy! Once you’ve gone through the nitty gritty details of your top competitors and taken notes, you can compare and contrast what type of copy is working for them, and construct your ad based on your findings.

Doing your research when it comes to writing copy for a paid search ad is an absolute must, and can mean the difference between writing copy that converts into sales, and writing copy that your target market simply ignores.

Step 2: Stick to the formula

Again, there is a bit of a science to finding words that work for paid search ads. There are certain words and types of information that internet users generally respond well to. So, when you are writing ad copy, make sure to follow these guidelines.

1) Avoid one-size fits all mentality: You may have found the perfect ad copy, but guess what…it won’t be perfect for all of your keywords. That means you need to take the time to write different ad copy for all of your different keyword groups. If you refer back to your top competitor,, you’ll notice that each of their ads are different and make sense in context of the keyword they are targeting.

image 10 nike ads2

If you want a successful paid search campaign, make sure your copy matches your keyword groups (and your landing pages, for that matter).

2) Include keywords in the title: If someone is searching for a specific item, chances are they’re more likely to click on your ad if your ad copy actually includes the keyword they are searching for in Google. Just make sure that the ad copy and keyword are highly relevant to your landing page. There is no better way to increase your bounce rate than to say you sell something, have someone click through, and they find that you’re actually selling something else or that they have to search to find what they’re looking for. It’s a bad practice and will cost you a lot of money. Above all, make sure your copy is keyword driven, but 100% relevant.

3) Keep it simple: Luckily, you don’t have to write a novel with paid search ads, but you do have to make sure that every word simply communicates exactly what it is you are advertising, and exactly what it is you want your audience to do. Pick as few as words as possible in order to communicate that message to your audience.

4) Use a call to action: One of the biggest mistakes a paid search ad copywriter can make is leaving out a call to action. You are much more likely to receive the right clicks to your ad if you tell your audience exactly what it is you intend for them to do. For example, if you want them to buy, say “click here to buy.” If you want them to subscribe to your newsletter, let them know that they’re clicking to subscribe, rather than to buy. Whatever action they’ll be taking on your landing page should be included in your copy.

5) Be enticing: Now with all the talk of research and formulas, that’s no excuse to be boring. You have a list of competitors vying for the attention of your target market, so make sure you include a little bit of your right brain to get them to click.

6) Use numbers and symbols: Another way to make sure your ads stand out is to use numbers and symbols in your copy. This works especially well when your competitors don’t use any numbers or symbols.

These are a handful of helpful tips to help you both understand the importance of choosing the right words for your ad copy and to help you write better copy.

What’s your experience with writing copy for PPC? Are there any tips you’d add? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


Guest Author Ashley R. Cummings
Guest Author Ashley R. Cummings
Ashley R. Cummings is a freelance writer, specializing in online marketing, education, and travel. Connect with Ashley on Facebook or , and learn more about her on LinkedIn.