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Tips for Writing Google Ads That Sound Human

By Lara Nour EddineDec 22, 2016

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There are 2.3 million Google searches every second, and just about every one of those searches results in ads on the search engine results page (SERP). This is a great way for companies to get the word out about their products and services and get them on the first page of a Google search.

But there is a method to crafting the perfect ad: You must first know the objectives of the buyers, and make sure your ads are based on the features and benefits of those objectives. Features are what make the product unique; benefits demonstrate how the product will benefit the buyer.

Once you are clear on the features and benefits, it’s time to create your ads. Character limits and keywords set guidelines for how an ad can be written, creating a challenge for those writing the ads to be even more concise.

Before your ads start resembling a caveman’s speech, check out these tips for how to write Google ads that sound more human.

Keywords Are Key

Start by focusing on a strong keyword related to your product or service. Keep in mind that your keyword should be something a person would actually type into a Google search. When choosing your keyword, think about the phrase YOU would enter when searching for your product or service.

Here are the first steps to formulating your ad around your keyword:

  • Determine how many characters your keyword has. The character limits for each ad line are: Headline, 30; description line 1, 30; description line 2, 80.
  • Ideally, the keyword should be in the headline. Try to work it in if it makes sense.
  • If a keyword is long, consider working it into description line 2, which allows for more characters. You also want to include the features and benefits in Line 2 since they tend to contain more words. Description line 1 should generate interest once you’ve grabbed their attention in the headline, so eliminate prepositions like “an” “of” or “in” that will take up unnecessary characters.
  • The display URL path is another way to work in relevant keywords. If your relevant keyword, for example, is “heart surgery” your display URL path could be www.hospitalexample.com/heartsurgery.

Using relevant keywords will help you rank higher and achieve a better quality score, while giving you a lower cost per click. Quality score is the estimate of the quality of your ads, as determined by Google.

Shortcuts for Cutting It Short

So what do you do when you’re over the limit by a few characters after working everything in? Here are a few more ways to get your message across succinctly, without losing that human touch:

  • Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for longer words. Just be sure you’re not substituting keywords, as they are important for getting found.
  • Adjust lines that put you over the limit by using symbols where appropriate. Use the ampersand (&) or percent (%) signs to get your point across without eating up space, like this Expedia ad:

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  • Sentences can run onto the next line, as long as it makes sense and looks decent.
  • You don’t always have to use punctuation; if you are over by one character, take out the period at the end to keep it within the limit.
  • Using the company’s name in the headline is preferred, but if it is too long, using other familiarities like “we” or “our” can help free up space.
  • Turn your sentence around and make it more active by putting the verb at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Look for ways to substitute multiple words with just one or two.
  • Don’t forget to use spellcheck — a misspelling can cost you extra space you could put to better use and looks bad to your potential customers.
  • The Hemingway Editor can really help you clean up your writing and provides shorter alternatives for words and phrases. It also tells you if a sentence is too difficult to read.

Call on Your Callout Extensions

Google itself created ad extensions, another option to extend the copy and add even more relevant information. Extensions help you craft copy that connects with viewers on a human level. While there are several different types of ad extensions, callout extensions allow you to display additional information in your ad that does not fit in the main ad copy. They are a great place to include important product details, but are limited to 25 characters. Up to four callouts can be featured in your ad, and in order for them to appear, there must be at least two callouts. You cannot duplicate content that appears elsewhere in your ad copy, so choose your words wisely.

To fit within these tight character limit constraints and make your callouts effective, use verbs like “Buy” or “Cancel” that let users know your unique selling points. Also choose words like “no” or “free” that have few characters, but still get the point across.

The US Postal Service, for example, includes these types of callouts:

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Humanizing for Humans

Including emotion is another way to connect with users and incorporate that human element. Tying in an emotion will also help spark the user’s interest in what you are selling. Just as a cute baby or playful puppy are attention-grabbing images in a commercial, words can evoke the same types of emotions. Triggering feelings such as fear, anger, curiosity, amusement and happiness are all great ways to increase click rate.

Some companies work emotion into the limited parameters of PPC ads. A common occurrence of this is found in insurance companies, because safety is such a strong hook to encourage users to buy, like this AARP life insurance ad:

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Adding Value to Your Ads

We’ve all been there — writing a great ad, only to find out it’s over the character limit. We hit backspace, looking for ways to make big words fit into small spaces. It can be frustrating, especially when you’ve got catchy copy that gets the right message across.

The most important thing to remember when writing ads is to make sure the offer is clear and the user knows what they’re clicking on. Copy should be easy to understand so users aren’t confused by where they’re going if they click on the ad. Being transparent in your ad will reduce bounce rates, and target the most suitable prospects.

All ads must meet professional and editorial standards, and must use common sense. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and write what you would want to read. If you want to empower them to buy, make sure it is smart, concise, action-oriented language.

The only way to be sure they sound human is to test them out on, well, humans reading your ads. Create three or four versions of your ads to find out what’s performing best. Google AdWords will rotate the ads to automatically show the top-performing ads most frequently. From there, you can better tailor your ads to your audience.

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The Author

Lara Nour Eddine

Lara’s love for journalism began when she was eight years old and decided to take a news broadcast class instead of going to summer camp. From third grade on, she anchored her school’s weekly broadcasts. This passion for storytelling resurfaced in college, where Lara worked on the school newspaper, and ultimately lead her to positions in journalism, PR and marketing. With a Bachelor’s in journalism and a Master’s in PR, Lara lives to tell stories and tells stories to live. Outside of storytelling, Lara can be found spending time with her family which includes 4 kids (yes, you read that right) and 3 cats. She aspires to be a good cook and dreams of traveling the world.
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