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May 20, 2008 | 3 minute read

PPC Advertising: Are You Selling Yourself In Your Ads?

written by Linda Bustos

PPC Rockstar CopyWith PPC, unless you've tapped into niche long-tail keywords your search ads compete with 20 other links per search result page (organic and paid ads) - or even more if you count Google Maps or Google Shopping results.

And often the products and offers are so similar between retailers, what makes a shopper ultimately buy is which retailer he or she prefers.

That's why you should include some statement that explains why someone should buy from you in your ad copy. You're not just selling the product, you are selling yourself as a retailer. Most ads don't do this at all, they just focus on the product.

What if Ads Were Ranked By Persuasion?

Let's have a look at search ads for "coffee mugs." If you search for this and refresh the page a few times, you'll notice results bounce around quite a bit (we'll explain why this is later). The left screenshot is how Google really ranked the ads when I performed the search, and the right side how I would rank the ads by effectiveness.

Results by GoogleResults if Ranked By Persuasion

Now let's deconstruct the ads:

search ad example
  • Headline describes product, includes unit price which attracts attention deters customers who find price unacceptable. Copy gives 4 strong reasons to buy from Discount Mugs. 110% price guarantee and BBB rating build trust.
search ad example
  • Headline describes product. Free samples, a discount on first order and money-back guarantee compelling. Canadian subdomain reassures deliverability to Canada (geotargeted) and Canadian pricing information.
search ad example
  • "Wholesale" implies excellent prices, filters out those looking for 1 or 2 mugs (wrong market). "Buy Customizable Drinkware" is affirmative language, it commands you to take action. But copy doesn't answer "why should I click on you first."
search ad example
  • Ad should replace "Toronto" with "Canada" (my search in Vancouver). "Fast turnarounds" is benefit, but not a value proposition. Space is wasted repeating product description already covered by the headline, and "Get Prices Here."
search ad example
  • Mixed case in headline and ad copy not optimal. Looks like lazy PPC manager. Ad sells variety, which is kind of a benefit - but not a value proposition.
search ad example
  • Handcrafted pottery is mug-related, but probably too niche for the generic term "coffee mugs," and thus will have lower click through. "Browse & Order Online!" is unnecessary filler.
search ad example
  • Oriental Trading makes no mention of mugs at all. The ad copy is one big run on sentence. But worse than that, the landing page is for "rugs."
search ad example
  • Another targeting failure. Ad copy's as bad as Oriental Trading, but at least OT capitalized its display URL. Carver Gifts sends the click to a page for Mother's Day gift baskets - a little late for that.

About Quality Score

Ads of course aren't ranked by persuasiveness. Google ranks paid search ads in search engine results pages using a formula it calls "Quality Score." According to Google:

For calculating a keyword-targeted ad's position on a search result page:

* The historical CTR (click through rate) of the ad, the ad's display URL, and the matched keyword on Google; CTR on the Google Network is not considered
* The relevance of the keyword and ad to the search query
* Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
* Other relevance factors

Higher max bids can also impact your ranking, but you can bid to the moon and it won't improve your Quality Score. If you have a higher Quality Score, you can actually pay less than your max bid and appear higher - and click through rate has a major impact. So selling yourself as a retailer can help you get higher click through rates, thus better positions at lower click costs.

Organic search gets way more clicks than paid search, and Google doesn't make any money on that. Of paid search ads, the top result/s get clicked on far more than the middle/bottom results. Google wants to show ads that are more compelling than organic search results to make money!

Will a value proposition always get a higher click through rate? Not necessarily. As with everything, you should test it. Tomorrow we'll discuss strategies for testing your search ads.