It’s baaaaaack! And by “it,” I don’t mean Poltergeist, I mean Pimp Your PPC Ad, a
regular irregular feature in which I scan the SERPs for lousy text ads and give them the Pimp My Ride treatment. (For those of you who were born, I don’t know, last year, Pimp My Ride was an MTV show that ran between 2004 and 2007.)
For previous editions, see:
- Pimp Your PPC Ad: 5 Lessons from Lackluster Text Ads
- The Return of Pimp Your PPC Ad: Lessons from Bad PPC Ads
Let’s get starting, shall we?
Lesson #1: Use Capital Letters (Properly)
I’m pretty sure Google automatically applies initial caps (i.e., title case) to your headline, because I’ve never seen an ad that looked like this in Google (yes, these look just like Google ads, but I assure you, they’re from Bing):
These ads were served in response to the search query “organizer.” See how the headline isn’t capitalized? I’m just going to come right out and say it: That looks really sloppy and unprofessional. Did you know that adding a symbol (like TM, see the first ad in the image above) can increase your click-through rate (CTR)? Capitalization can make a big difference too. One company found that capitalized ads “almost always outperform ads that are not capitalized” – but, interestingly, they also found that it’s better not to capitalize small, unimportant words like “to” and “in.”
Note: You can control the capitalization when using dynamic keyword insertion, but I believe this only applies to the main text of the ad in AdWords – like I said, I’ve never seen a headline in AdWords that wasn’t initial-capped. I think Google has figured out that capitalized headlines perform better, so they apply this rule across the board (more clicks = more billionz for them).
P.S. Do you really think anyone is looking for maid service when searching on “organization”? That is a really weird term to bid on and I can’t imagine they’re getting good results with that…
Lesson #2: Watch Your “Line Breaks”
Line breaks: Where PPC meets poetry! The below ad, like a sloppy poem, has infelicitous line breaks:
Most people are going to try to read the first line as a complete thought. “Shipping & Packaging Supplies Low”? That doesn’t make any sense. “Low” goes with the first word in the second line, “Prices.” The phrase “Low Prices” should have been kept together, as a unit – it’s much easier to read that way. Don’t make people think too hard!
Of course, the other MAJOR thing wrong with this ad is that it’s not relevant to my search query, which was “laptop bags.” Negative keywords, people! Know them, use them, love them.
Lesson #3: Don’t Bid Like a Player
It seems that Bing aggressively matches queries with local results, even when there’s no strong indication that the search query is locally driven. For example, look at these results for the search query “kitchen sinks”:
The very first result is for a local plumber – but I’d be willing to bet that 99% of people searching for “kitchen sinks” want to buy a kitchen sink or look at pictures of kitchen sinks or maybe learn how kitchen sinks work. I don’t think it’s what you’d search for if you needed a plumber, though possibly some people start to type “kitchen sink clog” or something like that and just give up early. In any case, the #1 ad doesn’t even include the words “kitchen” or “sink”! The headline is “faucets.”
What is going on here? My guess is this plumbing company bid its way into the top position (and it has Bing’s local favoritism on its side), because this text ad is most definitely not the most relevant result. That means they’re paying out the nose for whatever clicks they get, and I’m sure damn few of those clicks result in conversions. With PPC, you should be ranking based on relevance to the query, not high-roller bids. With all the money you save on clicks, you could buy a bottle of Cristal!
That’s it for this episode of Pimp Your PPC Ad! See you next time.