With a total of only 95 characters at your disposal, you wouldn’t think there’s a lot of room for creativity or originality within your AdWords ad.

And to some extent, that’s true.

There’s only so much you can do to make your ad stand out, speak to potential customers, and get that coveted click.

That said, there are some best practices that can help guide you through the writing process, giving you the best possible chance of AdWords success. Following these guidelines will give you a good place to start, but remember to always be testing your ads to see what works best for your business!

Basic Elements of a PPC Ad

For many of you, who are experienced with AdWords, please feel free to skip to the next section. If you’re new to AdWords, knowing what an AdWords ad is comprised of is of vital importance…so read on!

Your AdWords ad will consist of:

Headline: 25 characters
Description line one: 35 characters
Description line two: 35 characters
Display URL: 35 characters
Destination URL: 1024 characters

If you need some help making sure you’re within character limits, there are great tools available like the Template for Google AdWords Text Ads.

Best practices For Your AdWords Ad Copy

Following are some best practices when it comes time to write your ad. Depending on your industry, competition, and business, your results may vary. Be sure to test any new ad for optimal results!


Your headline is perhaps the most important element of your AdWords ad. It should be catchy, and should help your ad stand apart from the other ads on the page.

Be sure to use keywords in your headline to help your ad appear relevant to what searchers are looking for. Advanced users may want to use Dynamic Keyword Insertion within their headline to make their ads as relevant as possible.

A good way to capture attention is to pique curiosity by asking a question. So, rather than saying, “Sydney Plumber”, try “Need a Sydney Plumber?”


Your two description lines are the heart of your ad copy. They should be persuasive, and should give an accurate accounting of what you’re offering.

Some ideas for great descriptions could be:

  • Offering social proof: “Your product saved me!”
  • A guarantee: Including a guarantee can build trust, and encourage a click. “100% money-back guarantee”
  • Using the language of benefits rather than features: “Increase your confidence” rather than “Comes in 3 great colours”
  • A strong call to action: Tell searchers exactly what you want them to do next. “Get instant access now”
  • A unique value proposition: What makes you different/unique? Why should someone click on your ad rather than your competitors? Cheapest shoes guaranteed”.

Display URL

Keep in mind that your display URL doesn’t need to be (and often shouldn’t be) the actual URL of your landing page. It does need to have the same root as your domain, but what you put after the forward slash is up to you.

Be sure to use your keywords in your display URL. In fact, often your display URL will consist only of your root domain, followed by your keywords. For instance, if your keyword is “cheap bikes”, your display URL may be www.Example.com/cheap-bikes.

You may want to test different variations of your display URL, including using dashes, subdomains, or folders. For instance,

  • www.Example.com/cheapbikes vs. www.Example.com/cheap-bikes
  • CheapBikes.Example.com vs. www.Example.com/CheapBikes

Using Keywords

It’s important to use keywords throughout your ad, including in your headline, ad copy and display URL.

Mirroring the search terms people will be using helps your ad appear relevant and thereby increases your click through rates.

Other Important Tips

While these don’t fit nicely into the above categories, they’re too important to skip:

  • When possible, try to match buyer intent. Ask yourself where your potential customers are likely to be at in the buying cycle, and match your ad copy to their state of mind.
  • Always use clear, easy-to-understand language. This means no confusing abbreviations, acronyms, or other ‘industry-speak’.
  • Create a sense of urgency or scarcity where appropriate (“Limited time offer”, “Only a few left”.
  • Always proofread! Ads with formatting errors or spelling mistakes can send the wrong message, undermining all your hard work.
  • Qualify your traffic. Your ad copy should speak to your ideal customer. If your product is only for women, make sure your ad states this so you don’t waste money on unqualified clicks.

As you can see, even with a 95 character character limit, there’s some room for variability within your AdWords ad.

Following the above suggestions and then tweaking and testing your ads as needed will give you a solid start on your AdWords campaigns.

What am I missing above? What are some other ‘best practices’ you’d recommend? Let me know below!

By Philip Shaw


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