How to Write Ad Copy for PPC: 5 Tips for Better Ad Writing


Writing ad copy for PPC can be a tough feat. The good news is, you don’t have to be a super-creative copywriter to whip up competitive ad text. In fact, following a pragmatic approach can be advantageous.

Here are a few simple steps that will help you to assess the competitive landscape and write ad copy that will stand out against your competitors’, regardless of your ad rank.

Do Some Competitive Research

Do some research to hunt down your real competitors. With paid search, it’s easy to put up your blinders and forget who you’re really up against. Don’t take the easy route and assume that your competitors are parallel companies within your space. With PPC, you may actually be facing a whole new crew of competitors.

Take a high-end shoe designer like Christian Louboutin. The typical competitors are other super high-end, luxury shoe retailers like Stuart Weitzman or Manolo Blahnik. For a print advertising campaign, Louboutin  is probably focused on creating ads to compete with these companies. With PPC, however, they may actually find that they are up against discount sites that sell luxury shoes, department stores and even design-your-own shoe sites like

For example, you might have a customer that remembers Louboutins have red soles but can’t remember the brand name. Googling “red sole heels” is going to hook them up with a bunch of knock-off brands (notice how many include words like "cheap," "affordable" and "savings":

PPC ad writing tips

It’s a very different landscape.

Don’t believe me? Try Googling your top five most visible keywords (based on number of impressions). Since these words are getting the most eyeballs, they will give you some insight as to who your true competition is.

Identify Your Differentiating Characteristic

Now that you’ve assessed the competition, use your knowledge to become the leader of the pack. Consider your page-mates’ ad copy and identify a differentiator that will make you stand out. This is your opportunity to sell yourself! Tell the searcher why you are providing them a better product or deal than your competitors.

Following through with the above example, Christian Louboutin might want to use phrases like:

  • The Original Red Sole Heel
  • Only Authentic Red Sole Louboutins
  • No Knockoffs, Just Real Louboutins

And so on.

Write a Killer CTA

To complete your ad, include a call to action that gives your searchers an incentive to click. You can opt for the standard “buy now,” but if you really want to step it up a notch, consider a more creative alternative. If you need some inspiration, check out Billy's 7 tips for writing a great call to action, Dan's post on call to action examples, Meg's post on CTA button best practices, or Elisa’s post on unusual but effective CTA’s, like this one:

ad copywriting tips

How about "Go to the Party in Louboutins"?

Enable Ad Extensions

Once you’ve nailed down your body text, throw in an ad extension or two (check out our Ad Extensions Cheat Sheet to figure out what extension best fits your needs). Ad extensions pump up your ad so they cover a little more real estate on the SERP. Let’s be honest, when it comes to ad text, bigger is better. They’ve been shown to increase CTR by an average of 30%!

Take a look at the new Enhanced Sitelinks (available only in Enhanced Campaigns) – it’s like having five ads in one!

how to write ppc ad copy

Check Your Ad Metrics

Your ad may be complete, but don’t throw in the towel quite yet. Let it get a few impressions and then assess your success! It’s tough to predict the performance of a new ad, so ad copy testing is critical. Often, the ad copy you thought would win out ends up losing. There’s no way to know what will work until you try something out.


Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Aug 15, 2013

Love the article, Erin. I always get stumped when it comes to writing text ads staring at the infamous blinking cursor.Looking at competitor ads sounds like a great place to start, too! However (and I know it's tangential to the point of your article), I never recommend that anyone do an actual Google search for something they're bidding on. If you don't click on your ad, you just lowered your own CTR (and thus Quality Score); and if you do click on it, well...Instead, I always point people to the "Ad Preview and Diagnosis" Tool available under the "Tools and Analysis" tab of their AdWords account. Tom actually wrote a post about it back in 2012. You get to see the real results without affecting any of your impression or click data.Just thought I'd share.

Elisa Gabbert
Aug 15, 2013

Point well taken

Aug 22, 2013

Hi Jay--Totally agree--it's certainly not a good habit to get into.  I'm definitely on board with the recommendation to head to the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool! -Erin

Randall Magwood
Aug 15, 2013

Writing a good PPC ad is like writing a small classified ad. Get straight to the point, state the benefits, and entice your reader to click on your ad. It's easy once you master it.

Aug 22, 2013

Randall--love the comparison to a "small classified ad" (will definitely be using that with my clients )
Feb 05, 2015

Heya I am not sure if it's me or maybe your blog site but it is loading slow for me personally, I had to spend for a few minutes in order to
load but google does work completely . Anyways, I must thank you for including awesome content.

Everyone who discovered this great site really should have
noticed this article totally useful. This is
undoubtedly terrific what you have done in this article and want to
discover more nice posts by you. To get more information through articles
which you publish, I actually have book-marked this url.

Leads Dubai
Aug 16, 2013

thks for the interesting post erin awith the new enhanced campaign. the ad extensions have changedcampaign level and adgroup levelis it wise to have different text in site links in search all pointing to 1 landing page?thats our only call to action as desired. i like the standout text ads from others. wonder their performane rate though. thanks Mukesh 

Aug 16, 2013

I’ve recently read something that has the same topic. I like this better because it is more practical. Sometimes theory-packed articles are unsafe. Practical articles are more trustworthy in a way that the suggested tips are proven and tested.

Thanks for the tips!

Aug 17, 2013

Those are some impressive tips, I hadn't used PPC by far, but anyhow those ad extensions are new to me, 5-in-1 combo of ads should deliver impressive CTRs.

Aug 19, 2013

Thanks for the tips! I learned new today! Agree with Riza, Practical articles are more realible sometimes than those with theory packed that looks believable too.. 

Mark Antony
May 23, 2016

This is really a good opportunity for the newbies who entered in online business.

Aug 19, 2013

Hi,Gtreat article, thanks for sharing. PPC copywriting has many tricks to attrack people and most of them are described in your piece of text so congratulations!!

Idan Cohen
Aug 20, 2013

Great tips Erin. I knew about the new sitelinks but didn't get to try them yet, now after seeing your screenshot I ran and created some new one's. :)  

Aug 22, 2013

awesome--looking forward to hearing  how they perform!

Michael -
Aug 23, 2013

Good advice and info Erin. PPC ads can be a whole new revenue stream for many "local market" business owners like those I work with. One of the most important points to remember in ad construction is that your HEADLINE has to be compelling enough to grab your desired prospects by the eyeballs and draw them into YOUR ad versus your competitors.But how do you come up with the wording to do that? After all, you're seriously limited on space.Ahhhh, but take heart, your competitors have to deal with the same restraints that you do. And for most of them (at least in the small business community) they tend to go with the first thing that pops in their head and rarely think to TEST DIFFERENT HEADLINES to see if something else might work better than the 1 or 2 headlines they originally think of. And for most, there's no originallity at all. They're bland and basic, using nothing more than the language they were given by their "ad-specialist" (most of whom have no more experience in writing profitable ads than you do in space-walking).  The best performing headlines are not always the ones you expect to perform well. Write your own based on your personal experience with customers and then research your competitors and see what's working for them. And then you're ready to start TESTING by running your own ads. The only way to find out what's best is to TEST!And the same goes for your "Call To Action"!TEST TEST TEST! Always be trying to improve on your best performing ads by running TEST to find out what works BETTER!Some people make the mistake of giving up on something that IS working simply for the fact that they temselves are tired of running the same ad over and over. But I caution you to never give up on what's working just because you're tired of it. Keep what's working running ... but keep testing to find if there's something even BETTER while you're at it.In any case, THANKS Erin! Good article.Michael 

Taswir Haider
Aug 26, 2013

I am not much experienced with PPC ads but learned some cool tricks from here. Thanks for sharing. I believe PPC converts well with highly targeted keywords.

Ishaan Bhati
Jan 02, 2014

A very helpful post for ad posting like PPC, waited for post like that. Thanks! keep it up.

Jan 09, 2014

I have hired people to do this work. It's really hard to set up PPC with high CTRWill try some testing my self.

May 10, 2014

Thanks for giving some practical knowledge! I find your article very inspiring and I like your thought that nobody knows for sure if your ad copy will work. You are the one who needs to figure that out by trying over and over again.

Oct 06, 2015

I always believed that knowing your customers, competitors, and products/services offered will allow you to make an effective ad. Ads are personally. Hence, you need to know much about the factors surrounding.

Mar 26, 2016

There is a broken link with the first image.


PS > just recently started following and reading your blog posts. Great stuff.

Apr 04, 2016

Thanks for the great tips, this all makes perfect sense. However, I do have a question - how do you recommend writing compelling and effective ad copy at scale? For example, I have a client with thousands of campaigns, each containing a few ad groups, and at least two ads per ad group. What do you suggest for an account of this size to continuously test and optimize ad copy?

Oct 14, 2016

When you are split testing multiple ads, what ad rotation setting do you use? Rotate evenly or allow Google to optimize the percentages? I always lean towards rotate evenly because it seems more scientific but if Google is not allowed to select won't it impact the rotation in a similar manner by assigning an expected CTR (positive to the ads it thinks will do better or negative to the ones it doesn't like) creating a cycle where the ads it prefers have clear early advantages to do better anyways? And how long (time frame, number of clicks, or number of impressions) is the rule of thumb for testing ads before you move on from low performers?

Allen Finn
Oct 17, 2016

Hi, Jesse.

Rotate evenly for 10-14 days and see which ad performs better. If you experience a boatload of impressions and one ad is the clearcut winner before that point, though, don't hesitate to replace the weaker ad with a new one and begin the test anew.

Leave a comment