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I was discussing the contents of a client's paid search adverts recently and discovered to my amazement that my customer did not consider the ad text to be particularly important.
She asserted the adverts were simply functional and that there was such little space to play with anyway that it did not really matter what the content was, people would click on it or they would not.
"You may as well worry about the way you phrase a text message," was her opinion.
Well, firstly, if potential clients were going to see a text message then I would worry about its content. Furthermore, the copy contained in a paid search advert needs to do even more than entice the searcher into clicking it, difficult as that may be. It is a final chance to prevent irrelevant searchers from clicking and costing you money where there is no chance of a return.
So, what do I recommend? How can you make your advert stand out? Here are just a few ideas.
State your relevance
If you are targeting a specific group then refer to them in your advert. If you want hairdressers living in Slough to pay attention then include that in your advert.
This both encourages potentials to click on you advert and also makes it less likely irrelevant searchers will bother to click, dragging down your click-through rate but most likely ramping up your conversions through highly qualified, targeted traffic.
Have a hook
Your advert may be at the top of the page but searchers still prefer to click on the organic offerings.
If you are offering a great deal, state it in your ad. 'Horse feed at lowest prices online' will be more effective than 'Buy horse feed online'.
People like local firms, so if you are targeting a region, use the location in the advert. If you pay for ads under the search term 'SEO in Oxfordshire', use that local connection in your copy.
Make sure the searcher knows just how relevant you are, for example 'SEOptimise – Oxford-based online marketing'.
If a searcher is worried enough about finding a local service to include it in their search criteria, you need to make sure they know how relevant you are.
Updating your adverts to make them seasonal is a lot more work but can be extraordinarily effective.
These ads can be based on the current holidays, for example, 'Bank holiday BBQ? Buy beer online', or even around current events – like 'Stung by recession? Give yourself a financial MOT'.
This can be a great way to ensure your adverts stand out from the organic results and from your competitors. Depending on your brand's personality, these could even be slightly cheeky and humorous… 'Gordon Brown got you down? Minimise IR35 exposure'.
Call to action
The above will help you create a decent little advert that will attract the attention of relevant potential customers. However, attracting their attention and getting them to click is not always the same thing.
Consider including a call to action in your copy to add an extra nudge to your ad. 'Click here to see how we can save you cash', 'View our list of farm shops in Cheshire', 'Sign our petition' – you will be surprised at just what a difference this can make.
Bid on the right phrases
Of course, none of the above will matter at all if you have failed to pick the right search terms to advertise by. This is utterly central to a successful search engine marketing campaign. It doesn't matter how good the advertising is if you are targeting the wrong people.
There is a wealth of online advice available and your SEO agency should be able to explain to you exactly why you are paying for certain phrases and keywords.