Too many companies and search agencies pour all their creative juices into organic search campaigns and neglect the copy on their paid search ads.
Yet even the short space you get in paid ad needs some real attention if you're going to get any clicks and -- more importantly -- the right kind of clicks.
So here are seven golden rules for great paid search copy.
1. Be Current
You should update your copy all the time -- your paid search campaigns can't be stagnant if they are going to be as effective as possible.
So, be current -- use current affairs, seasons, and festivals to make your adverts stand out. Maybe it's sweets at Halloween, boiler servicing at the start of the cold snap, winter sun holiday offers in December -- whatever. The message is more effective if it's current.
2. Tug Heart Strings
You may only have space for a few words, but don't be afraid to pull at the heart strings if your product suits it.
So instead of "Gifts for women this Valentine's" -- try using "Make her smile this Valentine's." This will help you stand out from your competitors.
3. Make Your Target Audience Clear
The last thing you want is clicks from irrelevant people -- they'll use up your budget and likely won't spend when they arrive on your pages.
If you're experiencing this problem, then explain what your audience is within the ad (e.g., "Cheap van hire for businesses").
This can also allow you to control your market, if you want to increase a certain group of customers (e.g., "Cheaper car insurance for second cars").
4. Test, Test, Test
You never finish setting up your paid search campaign -- it's always a work in progress.
To get the most out of your campaign, you need to test different copy, campaigns, keywords, and even times of day.
Even if your campaign is working well, don't assume it couldn't work better. Test new copy and keywords -- and constantly strive for a better result. Allow yourself to become complacent and your business will suffer.
5. Be Local
Never forget that PPC is a live auction and you're competing for clicks. One great way to attract attention is to show you're local to the customer.
If you're specific to a location, then don't be afraid to advertise the fact to searchers who've included a city or region. Even if your business isn't focused on a specific location, geo-targeted ads such as "fancy dress in London" help to draw the eye of searchers and increase click-through rates (CTRs).
Obviously, you can still target national searchers. It just helps you stand out even more to one particular group.
6. Make Your Headline Arresting
OK, so you don't have much space and your headlines need to show relevance and promise a solution to the search query -- that's a lot of pressure for such a small space.
But that doesn't mean you can't write a punchy headline -- a hook to grab people's attention. Come up with a few ideas and test them until you find the most successful.
7. Offer Something Extra Special
Do you have a special offer this week? Are you offering a discount your competitors can't match? Then let the searcher know.
This will help you stand out from the other paid ads and will garner you clicks from people who'd normally simply move straight to the organic search results.
Having an events calendar works well, both for content creation ideas -- but also for keeping ads current and giving a reason to base a new special offer around (e.g., the World Cup, Queen's birthday, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, etc.).
Want another example? How about "iPhone 4 deals from £25" -- you show the value of clicking on your advert straight away.
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