How to Write Successful Online Ads with Google

How to Write Successful Online Ads with Google

Let's take a more detailed look at how to create a Google ad using some best practices.

Maybe you’ve decided that you want to create an ad online to draw people to your website the moment that they’re looking for what you offer. How do you get started?

AdWords gives you options for creating text ads, image or display ads, mobile ads and more. Here we’ll focus on creating text ads, and how you can plan for, set up and write ads that could show potential customers that your business is one that they should consider when they’re looking to find, do or buy what they need. If you want to learn how to create a display ad, look here.

If you’re just getting started with learning how to create a Google ad on AdWords, we’ll start with the basics. (If you’re already advertising with AdWords and want to optimise your text ads through some best practices, feel free to skip down to 'Relate to your customers'.)

The basics

  1. Log in to your AdWords account
  2. Go to the campaign you want to work on and click the "Ads" tab
  3. Click the "New Ad" tab and, from there, select "Text Ad"

Here, you'll be able to insert the copy, or text, for the ad that you’re creating. A text ad is made up of these parts, each of which you’ll either write or input at this step:

  • Headline:This is the most prominent part of your ad, in terms of font size, and the first impression that your ad makes on potential customers. It should clearly state what your business is, or the product or service that you’re offering.
  • Description lines: These two lines should give more detail about what you offer or why the customer should visit your website.
  • Display URL: Your Display URL isn’t the actual page that users will be directed to when they click your ad – it’s usually your business home page. You might think of it as your business’s 'sign' on the web, since it’s the link that they’ll be able to see in your ad.
  • Destination URL: This is the page your site users will actually land on after clicking your ad. This should always be the most relevant page of your site, in terms of what the user searched for.

Each of these parts has length limits measured by character count. Please note that the character counts include spaces:

  • Headline: 25 characters
  • Description Line 1: 35 characters
  • Description Line 2: 35 characters
  • Display URL: 35 characters. * If your URL is longer, it will just appear shortened

We’ll give you tips below on how to make the most of the space that you have, so that you can create effective, attractive ads that make your offering clear to searching potential customers.

Now that you know the basics of creating a text ad, let's take a more detailed look at how to create a Google ad using some best practices.

Relate to your customers

It may sound simple, but to help you craft a message that speaks your customers’ needs, think about what they might be. When and why might people look for your product or service? Who is your main demographic? What are your customers hoping to gain from their experience with your business? What do your existing customers say they get out of your business, or why do they love it?

By answering questions like these, you'll be able to narrow down the type of language to use in your ads, as well as specific products, services, or offerings that you might want to highlight. Try thinking up and using some adjectives that you feel describe your business or product and the way that it serves your customers.

Help your business stand out from the others

You can take a look at online ads for businesses similar to yours to get a feel for how your industry pitches itself to potential customers in the moments that they’re searching. This is a great way to find out what messages or strategies are succeeding in your industry, and also how to create a Google ad that will stand out. Just don’t copy another business’s ad exactly. Your business is unique and how you speak to your customers about it should be, too.

A good tactic is to use your ad to highlight your unique 'value propositions': the aspects of what you offer or how you run your business that separate you from others. What extra values do you offer customers? Free delivery? Expert advice on a unique product or technology? A long history of serving your local community? If you’re writing an ad for a special promotion, include the value in your ad text. You might tell potential customers that they’ll 'save 50%,' or that you’re running an 'after-holiday sale on seasonal items,' etc.

Entice them to take action

When you create an ad online, a good strategy to consider is including a “call to action”: a clear and concise message, based on an action verb, that tells the reader what you would like them to do after seeing your ad. Some examples are:

  • - Shop now
  • - Place your order
  • - Book now
  • - Buy today
  • - Learn more
  • - Call us now
  • - Sign up
  • - Get a quote

Notice how these call to action phrases are specific about the next step the customer should take to do business with you. They also give a sense of excitement and urgency with words like 'today' or 'now'.

If it makes sense for your business or product, a way that you might build even more urgency with your ad is to let potential customers know about a time limit on what you’re offering. You might describe a sale or deal with copy like, 'August only', or 'Offer ends on [date]'. Playing off shopping seasons are another way to make your ads urgent and timely if it makes sense for your business. Do you sell products that can be used for costumes? Try writing and running ads that say this and focus on Halloween in the weeks leading up to it. If you tend to have a gift-shopping crowd for the holidays, use language about the season starting in November.

Give a sense of excitement and urgency with words like “today” or “now.”

Be specific

Your ad should be clear about what customers will find on your site after they click. This first page that they’ll arrive at is called the “landing page,” and ideally, it will be very relevant to both your ad text and the term your visitor searched with.

A good practice to follow when you’re learning how to create a Google ad is to write specific text for each of your ad groups. Ad groups are the smaller themes, topics or products within your business that you’ll base your ads on to help keep your account organised. For example, if you run an interior design business, you might have an ad group based on 'home design', one on 'design for businesses,' and another for 'event design and planning'.

Rather than writing one ad for these different groups that’s just generally about your design services, write an ad for each group. This will make your ads more relevant to potential customers when they’re searching for exactly what they need. For instance, ideally your 'home design' ad would take them to the page of your site that is specifically devoted to your home design services, rather than event design, and so on. If you’re advertising a specific promotion, you probably want to include those ads in their own ad group, and create special text highlighting the promotion, as discussed above. If you want to know more about how ad groups work, you can find out here.

Be direct

Remember that AdWords text ads are relatively short. While you might have a good idea for clever or fancy phrasing, your ad probably isn’t the best place to use it. It may serve your business better to get to the main points as quickly and cleanly as you can in your ad, so people who are searching know that you’re offering what they came to the web to find, buy, do or learn more about.

Include keywords

If you’ve already set up your AdWords account, you know that keywords are the words or terms that someone types into Google when they’re searching for what they want – and that keywords are what trigger your ad to show up in relevant search results. That’s why using the keywords that you’ve chosen for a particular ad group in your text is another way to make your ad immediately relevant to potential customers.

Let’s say that one of your keywords is 'home interior design'. By making your headline 'Home Interior Design', you show that what your business offers is an exact match with the interests of a Google user who just searched that term, and could grab their attention because of it. Close variations such as 'Design For Your Home' might work, too.

That said, since you’ll probably be targeting quite a few keywords, don't feel pressured to create separate ad text for every single one. Try thinking about the main theme of your ad group, and write text based on a keyword that seems to be the most related.

To find out more about keywords now, you can check out this article.

Be proper

Definitely use proper grammar, spelling, and formatting when you’re writing your ad. If your text includes strange capitalisation or spacing, or characters other than normal punctuation, not only do you risk your business looking 'gimmicky' and unprofessional, but your ad might be confusing to potential customers. In addition, your ad could end up violating AdWords’ editorial policies, which are in place to make sure that Google users are getting the best experience possible when they search. If your ad is in violation, it could not be approved to run, or disabled. You can view the AdWords editorial ad policies here.

Try out and test

Though these are all best practices that can help you write a more professional-sounding ad, there's no golden rule to follow when you create an ad online that will guarantee success. You’ll find what works for your business and speaks to your customers with a little bit of experience.

One of the benefits of using AdWords is that you can check your results at any time to see how your ads are doing, and change them when you want to. This means that you can test out different versions of ad text to work out what seems to get more people to click your ad. Try creating two different ads for an ad group and seeing if one gets more results. Switch headlines, and test different ways of phrasing an offer or promotion to see what seems to get attention. Don’t change the whole ad, and don’t switch things up constantly. It’s a good idea to make the variations small enough that you can identify exactly what is working (or what isn’t), and give it enough time to actually see how the new versions are performing.

With these best practices, some attention to language, and an eye to staying relevant, you can create ads that are more likely to help your business grab attention and act as the first step in a great online interaction with new customers, in the moment that it matters.

For even more examples of text ads, check out this guide on how to write a descriptive ad.

Expert support when you invest £6 a day or more: *

800 169 0709

adwords icon

Get even more with Google AdWords

Grow your business with AdWords

  • Get your ad on Google. And beyond.
  • Stay local or go global.
  • Reach the right people at the right time.
  • see all benefits  

Suggested Reads

* Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm. Calls to 0800 numbers are free from BT landlines but charges may apply if you use another phone company, call from your mobile phone or call from abroad. Support is for advertisers based in United Kingdom, available in English only and subject to business and website qualification.