10 Quick Paid Search Copy Tips to Improve Your Click-Through Rates

Optimizing your paid search ad copy is arguably the most effective tool at your disposal to increase click-through rates (CTRs), raise your Quality Score, and outperform your competition. However, copy optimization, i.e. testing a succession of alternate ads to find the best performer, can be a lengthy process of trial and error that takes time to produce positive results.

Let me help you cut to the chase. The following 10 recommendations, culled from AdGooroo’s analysis of 20 million paid search ads appearing in the United States, can help you quickly boost your CTRs and avoid some of the pitfalls of poor-performing ad copy.

Keep in mind, however, that these recommendations are not a substitute for proper copy optimization techniques. Rather, you should always split test any change to your ad copy, including the tips below, since a rule may or may not work for every advertiser and situation.

1. Use “WWW” in Your Domain Name

Example: use “www.adgooroo.com” instead of “adgooroo.com.” Including the “www” in the domain name increased clickthrough rate by nearly 16 percent in our research.

2. Avoid Numbers

Many advertisers include numbers in their paid search ads such as “20% off” or “10th Anniversary Sale.” In fact, it’s a widely recommended practice. However, our research found that ads without numbers in the copy performed nearly 20 percent better than those with them.

3. Avoid Exclamation Points!

Exclamation points seem to make ad copy more exciting, but according to our research consumers may be tiring of them. Ads with exclamation points performed 9 percent worse than ads without them.

4. Test Your Call-to-Action and Avoid “Now”

A call-to-action is a standard best practice for any direct-response ad. However, some phrases appear to have worn out their welcome, so it’s a good idea to test your call-to-action when writing new ads. For instance, ads with the word “now” in the call-to-action (“Buy now,” “Download now”) underperformed all other ads by 7 percent.

5. Offer Something for Free

There may be no such thing as a free lunch but surprisingly including the word “free” still works well in paid search. In fact, ads that include the word “free” performed 9 percent better than ads without.

6. Replace “and” With “&”

Space is tight in paid search ads, so it can be extremely helpful to utilize viable alternatives to certain words. The ampersand (“&”) is not only a prime example of this, but using it in paid search ad copy also increases the average click-through rate by 8 percent. That being said, not every abbreviation will work well — avoid those that may leave searchers perplexed like “w/o” and “ext.”

7. Don’t Include the Price

There are many convincing arguments for including price in your ad copy. For instance, it can save you money by attracting the right buyers and warding off shoppers outside of your price point. However, the single biggest argument against it is perhaps the most convincing. We found that ads that included price in their copy had a 17 percent lower click-through rate, which hurts your ad doubly since it ensures the ad will get hit with a quality score penalty as well.

8. Make It “Official”

This one may not make sense for every advertiser, but certain brands may greatly benefit from using the designation “official” in their ad copy, especially if you are trying to distinguish yourself from knockoffs and affiliates (although Google has mostly eliminated the latter anyway). Examples we found were Tiffany & Co. and Apple. And although only a small percentage of ads in our database included this word, it seemed to make a big difference. On average, “official” ads had a whopping 71 percent higher click-through rate.


9. Include Trademark Symbols

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous recommendation of using “official” in your ad copy. Trademark symbols (™, ©, ®) may be required only for legal reasons, but they seem to have a dramatic impact on consumer perception of your paid search ad, improving click-through rates by nearly 90 percent in our study!

10. Use All the Space You’re Allowed

Sometimes you might not need a lot of space to say what you’ve got to say, but it actually may be worthwhile to include more copy than less in your paid search ads. On average, longer ads had a 64 percent higher click-through rate.

Of course, this list is not intended to be the last word in ad copy recommendations, as there are a multitude of different methods and tips available to help you quickly improve your ads’ click-through rates. The important thing, no matter what advice you follow, is to test any changes to your ad copy and see what works for you.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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