The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads Copy: Writing Messaging That Converts?

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The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads Copy: Writing Messaging That Converts?

Google Ads has a lot of moving pieces that can be tricky to nail down to the point where they all work exactly right.

You need a strategy, keyword research (including negative keywords!), the right bids, and the right additional targeting (exclusionary, retargeting, or otherwise).

Perhaps the most difficult part of it all, however, is the Google Ads copywriting itself.

Copy seems so easy at first glance, but when you actually sit down to write it, it’s shockingly difficult… especially if you want to write strong copy that will convert.

We’re here to help crack the code on Google Ads copywriting, however, by sharing a few of our favorite best tips and practices. We’ll go over everything you need to know about writing Google Ads copy, including discussing technical specifications and sharing copy templates to get you started.

Why Your Google Ad Copy Matters

While there’s a lot that goes into creating Google Ads behind the scenes (the strategy, keyword research, bids, and more), the only thing that really matters to the client is what they see on their screens.

And what they see is the copy.

It tells users what you have to offer, what makes you different, and why they should click. And it will absolutely influence your click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROAS.

Let’s look at an example. We’ve got three sets of copy for the search term “Fort Lauderdale maid service.”

Each one is different.

One stresses fast booking (“online booking in 60 seconds”) with “friendly, professional, and background checked” employees.

Another focuses on “extraordinary home cleaning” with a “detail-oriented methodology ensures a spotless, floor-to ceiling clean, every time.” This is an emphasis on quality alongside “take back your free time.”

And then there’s the affordability angle, with the third ad promoting “Quality cleaning from $10 per hour.” google ad results for maid service

If you see all this at once, it’s easy to see which pain points different brands are targeting. Quality vs. cost. Professional vs not. Services offered and level of detail.

It’s easy to assume that the $10 per hour cleaning may not be as great as “Extraordinary home cleaning” with the ultra-detailed methodology.

Could that just mean that they’re training their team to clean, and they use the same system as every other company out there?

Sure. But it sounds great, and it’s hard for many users searching for this service to ignore an ad that promises that kind of quality.

Others, meanwhile, will choose the $10 per hour ad, because affordability is their core concern.

So what you stress in your ads is essential, and can determine which clicks you get (and which conversions follow).

What Your Google Ad Copy Must Accomplish

When writing your Google Ads copy, there are a few things it must accomplish that you always want to keep in mind.

It needs to:

  • Match your landing page. If you have mismatched offers, you won’t just have annoyed customers; Google won’t be thrilled either. It will hurt your campaign and may even cause Google to suspend the campaigns until the issue is fixed.
  • Include or align with your target keywords. This is important to boost your Quality Score and to show users that you can deliver on what they’re looking for.
  • Explain what you have to offer. Doesn’t matter if it’s a product, service, or both— explain what you’re selling and why users should click. Ideally work your unique selling proposition (USP) in there as much as you can to stand out.
  • Convince users that you have what they’re looking for. Relevance is so important here, and finding the right pain points and motivations to focus on can make all the difference that you have what they need.
  • Abide by Google’s ad guidelines. We’re going to talk more about that in the next section, but it’s important enough we wanted to mention it here.

Google Ads copy seems like a few quick lines, but it easily becomes one of the most important components of your ads, and it can be tricky when you consider everything that it needs to accomplish.

Google Ads Copywriting Guidelines

Google has several copywriting guidelines, in addition to formatting requirements.

These are the most important copywriting rules that advertisers and brands must keep in mind when writing Google Ads copy:

  • You must prioritize clarity, correct spelling, and correct use of capitalization and symbols across all of your ads; this helps maintain a professional appearance for ads and signals that your ad is high quality
  • All of your copy must be directly reflect to what you’re advertising for each individual ad (and it needs to match the landing page)
  • There are restrictions in “inappropriate” content (including sexual content) in some locations and circumstances; if this applies to your line of work, read the policies in detail here and here
  • You cannot make it seem like you are selling a competitor’s product either to sell counterfeits/knockoffs (which goes against Google’s basic ad policies in general) or to drive traffic to your page to then promote your own items; you can read about what you can do in our branded keywords post
  • You must not violate trademarks in your ads or your extensions; Advertisers are responsible for proper trademark usage in their ads, and you can see Google’s policies here

Google Ads Copy Formatting & Best Practices for Every Platform

There are a few different Google Ads types that each have their own formatting requirements, and their own individual best practices.

The biggest copy-focused ad formats are Search Ads, Shopping Ads, Display Ads, and the extensions. You can check out formatting options for Google Ads extensions here, but let’s take a look at the three other essential ad formats.

Google Search Ads

Search Ad copy is imperative to success, and it’s going to be the biggest focus of this guide.

Google Search Ads will be made up to three headlines and two ad copy descriptions. You can add more headlines and descriptions to test through Google, but only three headlines and two descriptions will show up.

google responsive search ad preview

Your headlines can be up to 30 characters each.

Your descriptions can be up to 90 characters each.

Note that unless you lock the position of any of the copy you’ve created by clicking on the pin icon next to the specific headline or description, Google will test different variations of their order to see what works best for future optimization.

Google Search Ads Copy Best Practices

These are some the best search ads copy best practices in our arsenal:

Always use keywords in your ad copy.

It’s crucial to start with keyword research before you write the copy and to have that list handy.

You need to know what keywords you’re targeting, which offers you’re using, and why.

Not only will this list make sure you’re staying on track, but using keywords in the ad copy can also help you increase your Quality Score by telling both Google and users that you understand what they’re looking for and that you can offer it.

You can see this in the example here. The search for “custom furniture carpenter” turned up the ads below.

google search ads for custom furniture carpenter

Some variation of “custom furniture” is used by each ad in the headline, and it’s used by two out of the three ads in the description.

Never assume that users will think that your ad is a fit for them just because it showed up; you need to leave no doubt in their mind that you’re offering exactly what they’re looking for. They’re looking for the most relevant result, and using keywords in the ad copy can make sure that it’s your ad they click.

Include Your Brand Name as a Headline Option

Tip

google search ad for two maids and a mop

Use Social Proof

Social proof is always a strong marketing strategy, and that’s just as true for Google Ads as it is anywhere else. Mention awards won, the number of five-star reviews you’ve got, or even just how long you’ve been in business.

The idea here is to build trust and authority all at once. Social proof can help you do that.

google search ad example for orlando patio

Mention Core USPs That Set You Apart

Your unique selling propositions (USPs) are the value offers that tell users why they should purchase with you instead of a competitor.

A furniture company might any any of the following value propositions:

  • Delivered within a week
  • Affordable
  • High-quality wood
  • Custom furniture options
  • Handmade
  • White glove delivery
  • 10-year warranty

Mentioning USPs and different key benefits that explain why customers should click your ad should be a priority. You can keep it short and sweet. In the ads below, you see phrases like “Ethically grown,” “plant doctor support,” “nationwide delivery,” “100% guarantee,” and “self-watering system.”

google search ads for plants

Group Like-Keywords Together Based on Pain Point or Offer Value

Someone searching for “cheap diamond ring” likely isn’t going to be the same customer searching for “custom diamond ring” or “two carat platinum diamond ring.”

These searches may make up different segments of your custom audience. And that’s great— you want everyone to be able to find you.

To make sure everyone clicks, group similar keywords together based on pain point or value proposition, and then write copy targeted specifically for them. You’ll see your CTR rates skyrocket.

Break Up Thoughts with Periods

You get two descriptions for ad copy. That doesn’t mean you only get two sentences, or two thoughts.

Instead, a common tactic is to feature many USPs or core selling benefits like we discussed above, but breaking up the thoughts with periods. This ensures that the ad is easy to read and scan.

hvac search ads

Double Check Grammar & Formatting for Consistency

Grammar, spelling, and formatting errors are never ideal, but they’ll never stand out more than on a text-based Search Ad.

When you’re entering in your ad copy, make sure that every iteration and combination is formatted consistently and is error-free. You can see what the copy looks like in the preview screen on the right hand side.

Be Insanely Direct

Facebook Ad copy (and other social media ad copy) sometimes prioritizes creativity. Telling puns, jokes, or stories that capture attention and build branding.

That’s really not the goal with Google Ads. You only have a fine lines, this isn’t about building intent, it’s about capturing it. Be direct about what you have to offer and why you’re better than all your competitors.

This ad, for example, gets straight to the point:

Google Shopping Ads

Google’s Shopping Ads will show up in relevant search results and under the Shopping tab when users search for the right keywords.

These are high-intent searches looking for specific products, and your ad copy should reflect that.

Keep in mind that you can submit product titles of up to 150 characters, but Google will only show the first 70 characters. Start with the most important information and work your way down.

Google Shopping Ads Copy Best Practices

When it comes to Google Shopping Ads copy, we have an entire post on product feed optimization here that I highly recommend.

Aside from that, these are the four best practices you need to keep in mind for Shopping Ads copy.

Feature a Variety of Keywords in Your Product Listing

You should include your primary keyword in your product listing title. You will, however, also want to make sure you have that same keyword and potentially different variations of it in your product description.

Even though the product descriptions do not show up in the search results with your ad, they can influence which ads Google serve. Remember, relevance is important, and copy gives Google much-needed context. This is important.

Include All Essential Information Users Need to Purchase

Users are going to see a product title when they’re seeing ads, so you absolutely must focus on creating a descriptive and effective product title. Think about the core information that your audience needs, and put that in.

Here’s an example. When someone is buying a fiddle leaf fig tree, they want to know if it’s real or a faux plant. They also want to know its height/size, and potentially the brand.

google shopping ads for leaf fig

Now let’s look at another example. Someone searching for blue light glasses isn’t going to care about the qualities above; they might want to know gender, brand name, whether the lenses are prescription, or size.

google shopping ads for bluelight glasses

Be Conscious of Formatting

Formatting is going to be a best practice here for every type of ad copy.

Remember to put the most important information up front. Separate ideas with a comma, period, or dash if you need to so that you don’t have a lump of descriptors all dumped on the user at once.

google shopping ads for garment steamer

Google Display Ads

The biggest focus of Google’s Display Ads is going to be centered around the visuals, because this makes up the biggest bulk of the ads.

That being said, the copy you add to those images still matters a great deal.

google display ad example

Some brands overlay text onto the images themselves, but teh best option is to let Google do this by giving them different headline and description copy options instead.

You can add up to five headlines, one long headline, and up to five descriptions. Note that at least one headline, one long headline, and one description is mandatory.

Headlines can be up to 30 characters long. Long headlines can be up to 90 characters long. Descriptions can also be up to 90 characters long.

Google Display Ads Copy Best Practices

Want to get more clicks on your Display Ads? These are the Google Display Ads copywriting best practices you need to know.

Keep Your Targeted Audience in Mind

Display Ads aren’t using keywords to determine placements. Instead, they’re using a combination of interest, demographic, behavior, and site retargeting.

So instead of basing your ads around keywords, this copy needs to take your targeting criteria into account.

Who are you targeting and why? What are their pain points? Focus on that and go from there.

Don’t Worry About Maxing Out Your Character Count

Less is often more, and that’s typically going to be true for copy in many cases. The Google Display long headlines and copy descriptions give you 90 characters to use, but don’t feel obligated to use them.

Use what you need, and nothing else. That will keep your ad scannable and prevent fluff.

Consider Including Your Brand Name

Display Ads are a great opportunity to build brand awareness and recognition. Make sure that your brand name or product name is mentioned somewhere in the copy for Google to test.

3 Google Ad Copy Features to Consider

Want to use Google’s native features to potentially enhance your ad copy? There are three native features that are well worth testing.

You can see each of these when you enter in { } in the Google Ads copy you’re creating. This will pull up a drop-down menu that will show you three copy-enhancing features.

google ad keyword insertion

These include the following:

  • Dynamic keyword insertion. This will allow you to drop in keywords that users are actually searching for (and that you’re targeting!) in your ad copy automatically. You can also set a default text that will be used if a specific keyword in your ad group isn’t used.

  • Countdown clocks. You can use this to create urgency to offers or to remind users of when upcoming promoted events are happening.

  • Location insertion. Have the user’s general location show up in the ad copy to better reflect that you’re able to help them. This is particularly valuable for service-based businesses, or those where shipping or delivery may be limited.

How to Test Google Ads Copy

Testing Google Ads copy has never been easier.

Google allows you to enter in an enormous number of copy variants now for your campaigns (Search and Display ads included).

For Search Ads alone, you’re required to enter in three heads, but can add up to 15.

This is a great way to test out different pain points, features, benefits, and offers and see what works best. Google will optimize your campaigns automatically, and you’ll be able to gain insights into what copy is working well.

Remember, though, to group different offers into different individual ad sets. You don’t want to have conflicting offers showing up back to back, or all sending users to the same landing page.

And one thing to note here: Options are always great, but we don’t necessarily recommend using all of the ad copy slots available. Use what you need and nothing else; anything extra is filler and make just slow you down.

Google Ads Copy Templates to Get You Started

Still not entirely sure where to start?

That’s okay. While copywriting is both an art and a science, we know that sometimes having some formulas to get you started can help.

Let’s take a look at a few Google Ads copy templates that you can use for both headlines and description copy and some examples of how to implement them.

1. Description Copy: Product. Description. CTA.

“New York Luxury Hotel. Stay near downtown New York with all the amenities; book for New year’s now.”

2. Headline: Brand Name – Product – USP

“Madewell l Women’s Aviator Sunglasses l Ethically-Made “

3. Headline or Description Copy: Product at Brand – Offer

Here’s a great example:

4. Description Copy: Social Proof, Product. USP. Call to Action

“Orlando’s #1, best-rated landscaping and lawn company. Affordable costs. Reliable. Experienced. Licensed & insured. Get a free quote now.”

5. Description Copy: Ask a Question, Offer Solution

“Tired of poor quality sleep? Try our Sleep Blanket, backed by science and clinical studies. Doctor approved, kid friendly, 100% guaranteed to help you sleep more at night.”

6. Headline Copy: Brand name: Alternative Positioning

“BlueAir: The BEST eco-friendly air purifier alternative to big name brands.”

Google Ad Copy Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve looked closely at exactly what you should be doing in order to write a strong Google Ad copy, but what about the mistakes that can derail your campaigns?

These are the four Google Ad copy mistakes all advertisers and brands need to avoid:

  • Ignoring Google’s guidelines. Google’s guidelines and rules are all relatively common sense and straight forward. We’ve gone through all of the major ones above.
    Make sure you’re following them, and pay close attention to accidents that might happen with dynamic keyword insertion (especially around trademark concerns for branded keywords).
    Also double check that landing page— landing page and copy misalignment is actually a fairly common issue across many types of Google Ads.
  • Not focusing on search intent. Even if you pack the keywords you’re targeting into ad copy, none of it matters if the keywords you’re targeting and the ad copy don’t match exactly what users are looking for.
  • Neglecting to conduct competitor research. Do you know what your competition is offering right now in the ad system? If you’re offering 10% off and your competition is offering 20%, that’s a hard click to win. You also want to see what pain points they’re targeting and how they’re doing so.
  • Only utilizing a single approach in your messaging. You might have written an absolute masterpiece set of ad copy. It’s perfect. It’s pristine. It’s getting results.
    Doesn’t matter. You still need to test out different sets of copy to see what else works. Remember that Google will optimize your campaigns’ delivery, showing the most relevant ad version to the right audience members. If you’re focusing on a single set of copy, you’re likely missing part of your audience.

Final Thoughts

Google Ads copy is downright tricky. And sometimes, the best written and most technical copy just isn’t ultimately what performs best.

Testing is important, research matters, and strategy is essential. When you combine those with direct, to the point copy, you’ll be off to a good start, and you can use the data from there to improve your messaging further.

Some brands, however, never quite get the knack of copywriting. If you fall into that category, that’s okay— it’s a skill and an art. We can help you there.

Ready to take your campaigns to the next level? We can help! Get in touch for a free consultation here. Find out how our data-focused Google Ads services can maximize your campaigns’ potential.