4 Musts for AdWords Optimization

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is no different than most other forms of advertising in that you have just fractions of a second to make your pitch. That isn’t much time to get your message across and sell your product, which is why you’ll need to make the most of those 130 characters in your PPC ad to get people clicking.

The following is a basic summary—and likely a reminder for many—of four guidelines for achieving high click through rates (CTR). While CTR in itself is not always the most useful measure of performance, it does impact important things like your AdWords Quality Score, which in turn influences things like your click costs.


Keywords are the bedrock of your PPC campaigns. The best PPC ad relates directly to the keywords being searched. By selecting the right term and including it in your ad text, you’ve already gone a long way to capturing a searcher’s interest and, hopefully, their click.

AdWords offers advertisers a feature called keyword insertion, whereby a searcher’s query for a term on which you are bidding will automatically be inserted into your ad text. Depending upon how well organized and specific your ad groups are, you’ll often find that keyword insertion ads perform at higher CTRs than do regular, static ones.

Call to Action

The call to action is a tried and true marketing principle.  After stating your offer you’ll need to encourage searchers to click your ad by using engaging, action-oriented words and phrases. It can be as simple as using expressions like ’Order Now’, Join’, ‘Apply Now’, or whatever might seem most appropriate to your campaign and ad group.

For some ideas and to aid you in choosing effective calls to action, check out this document [starting from page 8] supplied by Microsoft AdCenter in 2006 which provides detail on what calls to action perform best for particular verticals.

In Context

The context in which your advertisement appears is just as important as what the ad itself looks like.  By default, Google will display your ad not only on its search result pages—i.e., the Search Network, which also includes the results pages of search partners like Ask.com—but also on pages within its Content Network that its system has identified as having content related to your ad and ad group. Ads on Google’s Content Network tend to get many more impressions than the same ads on the Search Network. CTRs on the Content Network are therefore much lower than on Search.

As a result, when evaluating the performance of your ads, it’s important that you keep the two networks separate. Create duplicate campaigns: one only for Search, the other only for Content. This setup also allows you to more easily manage things on the front-end by having, for example, different budgets and CPCs depending on the performance of each network.


Another critical part of increasing your CTRs (and ultimately, conversion rates) is testing and fine-tuning your ads.  This is a topic of much discussion; however, by changing your ad text, testing multiple pieces of ad copy, experimenting with network targeting options, and adjusting other campaign and ad group factors in a controlled manner you can determine exactly what brings your ads higher CTRs.

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