3 Tips for Writing Online Ad Headlines and Text That Grab Your Buyers' Attention With a limited word count, find out how you can make every word of your Google ads count.

By Perry Marshall

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The following excerpt is from Perry Marshall, Mike Rhodes and Bryan Todd's book Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound

Just as with print advertising, on web pages, your headline swings the biggest difference in response. It's in that split second of reading your headline copy that your customer first makes up their mind whether or not you're really relevant.

So start with that keyword your customer just typed in and fit it into your headline. That will be the first signal to them that you're truly relevant. This means you'll want to create enough different ad groups that each of your major keywords can have an ad of its own.

Related: 5 Steps to Finding the Most Profitable Keyword

For instance, let's say that you sell custom power supplies. There's certainly more than one way potential customers might come looking for what you sell. They might search for "adaptors," or "power supplies" or "transformers."

Go to your major keyword tool, such as Spyfu or Google's Keyword Planner tool, and come up with all the possible major variations and related terms for your market niche. Then, separate them out into smaller groups that you can match to specific ads. For example:

Custom Power Adaptors—Get a Quote Today
Fast Custom Production Time. Excellent Local Support.
Huge Range of Adaptors

  • adaptor
  • adaptors
  • ac adaptor
  • power adaptor
  • custom adaptors

This ad isn't very flashy, is it? It's not loaded with over-the-top language. In fact, to folks like you and me, it's probably boring. But that's OK. It's not meant for the average guy on the street. This particular company caters to engineers. It speaks the language that engineers would understand, relate to, and appreciate. It matches its audience just fine. And it gets a good clickthrough rate.

Use your major keywords in your headline, and create as many different ad groups as you need to do this with all of your biggest keywords. That's what makes the formula work.

Related: How to Seamlessly Include Keywords in Your Web Content

Your ad text: Where your inner salesperson comes alive

After your headline, you've still got a second chance to convince your customer even further that you've got what he wants and get more clicks. There's a second secret that makes this work. Check out the difference between these two ads:

Popular Ethernet Terms
3 Page Guide—Free PDF Download
Complex Words—Simple Definitions

0.1% CTR

Popular Ethernet Terms
Complex Words—Simple Definitions
3 Page Guide—Free PDF Download

3.6% CTR

The second ad got 36 times the CTR as the first! What happened? What was the secret?

Look closely at the two ads. They both have the exact same wording. There's only one difference between them. The first ad listed features and offers first, benefits second. The second ad listed benefits first.

Features and offers are what your product has or what you're going to do. They describe it, what it includes, and how big or small or robust or thorough it is. Benefits, on the other hand, are the emotional payoffs your customer gets from using your product.

So, the list of features for a book-and-video course you sell may include these items:

  • 12 timeless principles
  • 17 brief, easy-to-understand video tutorials
  • 24 chapters, 222 pages of rock-solid content
  • 64 full-color photos
  • Helpful, easy-to-read charts and graphs
  • Step-by-step tips and instructions
  • Fascinating stories, anecdotes, and personal experiences
  • Introduction by Malcolm Gladwell

But your list of benefits will tell your customer how they'll actually be helped by what you've written. Sometimes, there's a little bit of crossover between these and the features:

  • Achieve a 46 percent improvement in less than 30 minutes.
  • Reach your goals in one-fourth the time using the 80/20 principle described in Chapter X.
  • Apply any one of these 12 techniques immediately, and see instant results.
  • Catapult energy levels, convert fat into muscle, and develop strength, endurance and flexibility all at the same time.
  • Discover how making more mistakes can be a strategy that builds your skills even faster.
  • Get compliments from your friends as they ask you again and again (jealously), "What has happened to you?"

You don't have to be a master copywriter to convince your customer they'll get something of value. State your case simply and clearly, and test to see if putting the benefits up front and the features second will boost your response.

Related: 3 Tools to Uncover Your Competitor's Keywords

More rules of the road...

Our friend Richard Stokes and his team over at AdGooroo (www.adgooroo.com) shared some examples of legacy affiliate ads that have stellar performance on Google and therefore get solid positions and low bid prices, and which get served well above 95 percent of the time on searches. Here are a couple:

Keyword "FTD fruit baskets":

Fruit Gift Baskets, FRESH
Always Fresh! Register & Save 5% on
Every Order. Nationwide Delivery.

Keyword "fashion sneakers":

Fashion Sneakers & Shoes
Upgrade to Free Overnight Shipping
By Ordering One Item of Clothing!

Why do these work?

  • Both include the keyword phrase in the ad's headline.
  • Both make careful use of exclamation points.
  • The second has an implicit call to action ("Upgrade to . . .").
  • Each word is capitalized, and the first ad makes use of all caps.
  • The second ad makes careful use of the word "Free."
  • Specific, concrete numbers are used wherever possible.
Perry Marshall

Author, Sales and Traffic Expert, CEO and Founder of Perry S. Marshall & Associates

Perry Marshall is the president of Perry S. Marshall & Associates, a Chicago-based company that consults both online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales leads, web traffic and maximizing advertising results. He has written seven books including his most recent, 80/20 Sales and Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2013), Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising (Enterpreneur Press, 2014), Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords (Entrepreneur Press, 2014), and Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing (Entrepreneur Press, 2016). He blogs at perrymarshall.com.

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