Writing effective paid search copy that results in conversions is unlike any other copywriting there is. It is somewhat close to writing classified ads in the sense that “every word counts,” but very different in many other ways. To write a great search ad, you need to understand what makes paid search copy different than any ad you’ve written for other advertising tactics.
While reading this article, do a search on Google, Bing or your favorite engine and look carefully at the results page. You will find that paid search ads exhibit these unique characteristics:
They are competing with 10 to 20 listings, including other paid search ads and organic listings.
They are sold on a per-click basis, meaning that every time a consumer clicks, you are charged.
Companies bidding on the same keyword as you may be direct competitors, indirect competitors or totally unrelated (because keywords can have multiple meanings).
You can see the ad copy that your competitors are using.
You can see the landing page that your competitor’s ads links to.
You can determine how much your competitors are willing to pay for a click.
You have a situation where there’s a lot of competition, but it’s on a level playing field in that you can craft your search copy based partly on what others are doing.
If a direct competitor is advertising “free shipping,” then you know your ad needs to address that offer, either by offering free shipping or something just as compelling.
The core of successful paid search copywriting lies in writing copy that attracts consumers to click your ad, but also attracts those most likely to convert. You don’t want zillions of expensive clicks with a low conversion rate, nor do you want a miniscule number of clicks with a high conversion rate. You do want a healthy amount of clicks with a solid conversion rate.
I’ve coined a phrase for this seemingly at-odds conundrum: EN/DIS copywriting.
You’ve got to ENcourage consumers to click your ad (instead of your competitor’s), and at the same time DIScourage those who are not likely to convert.
To illustrate, let’s assume you sell luxurious and expensive men’s suits that cost $1,000 and up at a 50 percent discount. A typical ad written by an inexperienced writer might look like this:
Men’s Suits – 50% Off, Free Shipping
Hundreds of brands, styles, sizes and colors.
We fit every man so he looks great.
This ad is likely to garner a lot of clicks, but since the suits are $500 and up (after the 50 percent discount), most of those folks will not be able to afford them. Hence, a lot of wasted clicks and money down the drain. Here’s how I’d write the ad:
Men’s Designer Luxury Imported Suits – 50% Off
The richest fabrics, the hottest styles and colors, the
leading brands for discerning tastes. Free shipping.
I’ve included these words that scream “high price” in a deliberate attempt to let consumers reading the ad that these are not $99 suits:
Consumers who see these words understand that these are expensive suits. Only those who can afford them will click through. Hence, the cost of clicks will be much lower and the conversion rate much higher.
Whether you personally write copy or have others who do, embrace and master the art of writing copy based on the EN/DIS style.
Clicks are expensive in most categories. Competition is intense in most categories. The only real differentiator is your copy. Make it the best possible, and keep testing it constantly.
Originally published Oct 29, 2012 1:00:15 AM, updated July 28 2017