Learn PPC One Step at a Time – How to Write PPC Ads That Convert

Learn how to write effective PPC ad copy

The copy of your PPC ads is critical to your conversions. That’s why learning how to write effective PPC ads will give you a leg up on your competition.

Writing PPC ads isn’t easy. It’s comparable to writing an effective tweet – you’ve got lots to say and not a lot of space to say it. But unlike a tweet, you’re spending money each time someone clicks on your message. Thus, you need to make sure that your ad copy leads to clicks that convert so you’re not wasting precious cash.

So how do you make the most of your limited text? What calls to action can you make to sway people to click on your ad instead of your competitors’? Keep this main idea in mind when answering these questions: the objective of your PPC ad is to make people click on your ad. Nothing more, nothing less.

Before you write…

Step One: Group Your Keywords
Before pulling out your pen (or keyboard), you’ll first need to separate your keywords into various ad groups, which are groups of keywords that can be labeled under the same ad. For example, you could lump keywords like “fashionable women’s blouse” and “purple blouse” under the same ad group. Pay close attention to which keywords are in each group – having keywords in the wrong ad group leads to wasted clicks and money. In other words, having keywords “purple blouse” and “designer men’s jeans” in the same group isn’t a very good idea.

Effectively grouping your keywords enables you to write specific PPC copy for each keyword group. Having catered, targeted PPC ad copy provides much higher conversion rates than blanket verbiage.

Step Two: Know Your Place

Now’s the time to find out where your business lies within your competitive set. Are you a cost leader or a service leader? What’s your major point of difference? These answers will help you include benefits within your ad copy. Also be sure to set your objectives – what do you want someone to take away from your ad? Finally, identify your target market. While it’s important to classify those you want to click, it’s equally important to point out what people you don’t want clicking on your ad. This helps save money from wasted clicks.

Step Three: Understand How Ads are Laid Out

There are special considerations to make when actually writing your ad, particularly regarding the character limits. 130 characters isn’t much, so you’ll want to use each wisely. PPC ads in Google are broken out as follows:

  • Headline: 25 characters
  • Description: 70 characters (35 characters per line)
  • Display URL: 35 characters

Here’s a quick example of what it looks like:

How to write converting PPC ads

Now comes the fun part, writing your PPC ads! Here’s how to make the most of each section.

Your headline is by far the most important part of your ad. Its purpose is to draw users’ attention and entice them to read the rest of your ad. Thus, using keywords helps searchers identify your headline as helpful to your search. The headline should show searchers that your ad will help answer their question and provide valuable content after they click. In other words, your headline needs to qualify your potential customer as one that will convert.

Your description takes up two lines of your ad and should be filled with “marketing meat.” This copy identifies why customers should click on your ad by listing product features and benefits. This section should be specific, again to help qualify potential clicks.

Your second line should serve as a distinct call to action. A call to action is a statement that tells customers exactly what to do, such as “View our products” or “Call us today.” If you don’t tell a customer what to do, they typically won’t do what you expect.

Display URL
Your display URL is the web address that users can click on if they don’t click your headline. Note that your display URL doesn’t have to be an actual web address on your site. As long as it reflects your domain name, you can add descriptive text that relates to specific keywords.


Now that you know how your ads are broken down, here are some general tips to help boost conversions:

  • Capitalize the first letter of each word – this captures the eyes of searchers
  • Use numbers within your copy – it draws eyes and gives legitimacy to your ad
  • Be clear in describing your site/product – you always need to qualify your clicks
  • Explicitly state your call to action with specific verbs – make sure customers do what you want
  • Pay attention to punctuation – minor slipups ruin your credibility
  • Always test variations in ad copy – you’ll be surprised by the results

The last bullet point is bolded for a reason. When creating your ad copy, make different versions of the message and test them against each other. Find your best performing copy and make it more prominent in your ad ratio. Then, make something new and test again. While it’s a hard pill to swallow, you’ll never find the perfect ad copy – that’s why you need to be agile in making changes.

Preparing yourself for PPC copywriting will help you make the most of what you’re paying for. Again, the biggest takeaway of your ad is this: the objective of your ad is to make people click it. Once you reach the goal of getting that click, you’ll need to rely on landing pages to seal the deal. Join us next time to learn how.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate, Volusion


Learn PPC One Step at a Time Series

Part One: What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEO?
Part Two: How PPC Works with Search Engines
Part Three: The Best Keywords for Your PPC Campaigns
Part Four: How to Save Serious Bucks on PPC Bidding
Part Five: How to Write PPC Ads That Convert
Part Six: How to Use Landing Pages for an Instant PPC Boost


Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

2 Responses to “Learn PPC One Step at a Time – How to Write PPC Ads That Convert”

  1. Donna

    Hi Matt,
    Great article. I started affiliate marketing in August of 2009 and promoted using free methods. I decided I wanted to step it up and try PPC. I came across your article and feel it is very well written anf provides great insight. Thanks for putting this out there.

    • Matt

      Hi Donna,

      Glad you liked it and thanks for the kind words! In my opinion, PPC provides you with a lot more control than affiliate marketing, although both are powerful. PPC will hopefully give you a bigger traffic boost with more qualified traffic – best of luck in the land of PPC!



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