Writing Eye-Catching Headlines For Google Ads

October 9, 2020
Mike Friedman

Being able to write eye-catching headlines in Google Ads can greatly boost the performance of your Ads campaigns through improved click through rates, better Quality Scores, and more conversions. Google has continually expanded the real estate advertisers have to play with, going from the original single headline of 25 characters layout to now allowing up to three headlines of 30 characters while also dramatically expanding the description areas. 

Writing good ad copy for your PPC ads can be challenging, but if you can come up with effective Google Ads headlines, you can make up for a lot of deficiencies elsewhere.

It may feel intimidating for some to try to come up with creative and effective headlines that grab the attention of searchers. 

Text ads can be more challenging than running something like a Facebook Ad where you can use an enticing image to grab attention… or just run pictures of cats. That always works.

You have no need to worry. I put together this short list of effective strategies you can use to help you write headlines that are sure to boost your results.

#1 Simple Works

In attempting to stand out from competitors, it is easy to forget that above all else you need to tell searchers what you do or what you are offering, and sometimes the best way to do that is just to use a straightforward approach. You can have a lot of success with your ads just sticking to the simple formula of search term + benefit.

Here is an example for the search term “home beer brewing kits”. It includes the search term right at the beginning and then lists benefits in both the second headline and the description.

Google Ads example for homebrewing kits

To really make this strategy work, it is important to remember to strive for consistency throughout the customer journey. The messaging on the landing page should match what the customer saw in the ad. 

homebrewing beer ads example landing page

You can see on the landing page one of the first things people will see is another reference to the starter kits priced at $49.

Do not try to flood your visitors with new information on the landing page. The key benefit or benefits you were pushing in your ad should be a major part of your landing page.

#2 Ask a Question

Sometimes rather than simple statements, asking a question can make for a powerful headline that attracts the attention of searchers.

Here are two examples sure to grab some eyeballs for the search “writing an essay”

Google Ads example asking a question in the headline
second Google Ads example asking a question in the headline

How many people doing that search do you think are students concerned about their grades and/or students who waited until the last minute for a deadline on an assignment? 

Need an essay writer?... Yes. Yes I do. (Click)

#3 Calm Their Fear

For a lot of products or services, people may have some anxiety over making a purchasing decision. If you can answer their concern and address their fear in your headlines, you will have an increased chance of earning their click.

As an example, let us take someone who is looking for a simple way to build a website for their new business. They have heard about WordPress  and in some forums saw people mention that page builders can be a good option. They search for “Wordpress page builders”.

Google Ads example with a headline designed to calm a buyer's fear

Can you see how this ad from Elementor addresses what is probably their biggest concern in purchasing or trying to use a page builder? Coding. They likely do not have the skills to code a website themselves. That is why they were looking for simple solutions in the first place.

We are mainly focusing on effective headlines in this article, so we will ignore the fact that someone screwed up in creating this ad and they repeated the same sentence twice in the ad description. 

I also would not advise using the phrase “professional web design” with the headline “No Coding Required”. Remember what we said earlier about the customer journey and keeping messaging consistent. Professional web design and no coding required could be seen as two things that directly contradict one another. 

The message they really want to convey to searchers is professional looking web design with little to no web design experience or skills. In other words, the end result looks professional, but anyone can do this.

Focusing back on the headline, they used a simple method of recognizing an objection people might have that would prevent them from making a purchase and just added the word no in front of it.

How many times have you seen headlines like:

  • No Contracts
  • No Obligation & Free Quote
  • No Hassle
  • No Hidden Fees
  • No Experience Necessary

All these advertisers are doing is taking that thing that is lingering in the back of your brain, keeping you from moving forward and saying, “No. We do not have any of that here.”

#4 If Google Wants To Give You All That Space, Use It

In 2016, Google made a major change to Google Ads, known as Google AdWords at that time, by removing all ads from the right-column in the SERPs. This was largely done to create a more uniform experience across both desktop and mobile devices.

The other change that came along with this was the move to expanded text ads, which were expanded again in 2018. From one headline and one description of 80 characters, Google has expanded to allow advertisers to show up to three headlines and two description lines of up to 90 characters.

The extra real estate provides a lot of opportunities to savvy advertisers. The third headline especially opens up a lot of options without having to sacrifice something like we had to in the past.

In the past many advertisers found themselves having to choose between tagging their brand name onto an ad or mentioning their free shipping offer. They would have to decide between mentioning a key benefit of their product or that there was a 30% off sale right now.

Now advertisers do not have to make as many tough decisions.

Want to mention your brand, a key benefit or two, and tell visitors about a sale you have going on? You can do all of that in the same ad in just the headlines now.

#5 Give Them a Reason to Buy Today

Sometimes marketing can be as simple as putting what people are looking for in front of them and offering them a discount. Limited sales offers instill scarcity into buyers along with a sense of urgency. 

The fear of loss is often times more powerful than the desire to gain.

The thought that they might miss out on a special price or shipping offer can motivate people to buy something more than any feature or benefit you can put in front of them.

Putting that offer in your ads can also motivate people to click and check out what you are offering.

There are two ways to use this effectively. The first way is search term + offer and the second is to include the search term a second time with the offer.

Here is an example ad by Jos. A. Bank running for the search “men’s suits”:

example of Google Ads headline giving a reason to buy today

They hit “Men’s Suits” right at the beginning and then repeat “Suits” again in the next headline along with the offer.

And here is Brooks Brothers’ ad for the same search where they use the search term + offer approach:

example of Google Ad using a headline to encourage someone to click or buy today

The Brooks Brothers ad backs up the offer with a deadline in the description, creating urgency for people to buy now.

#6 It is Okay to Go After a Competitor Directly

One of the key differences between someone who knows how to run Google Ads campaigns and someone who really excels at running Google Ads campaigns is those who excel at it are not just paying attention to their own results. They are also keeping a close eye on who their competitors are.

Who are the competitors in the market running ads against you? 

What kind of headlines and ad copy are they running?

If you know who your competitors are, you can target them in a number of ways in your ads to convince searchers to click on you versus them.

Here is an example of that.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, one company that has been dumping a lot of extra money into advertising, both online and on television and radio is known as Better Help. They provide online mental health therapy and counseling for couples and individuals.

In most major markets right now, if you do a search for anything relating to a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor, you will likely see one of their ads.

Knowing that you are constantly up against their ads, do not be afraid to address it head on.

example of Google Ad targeting a competitor

Better Help? Well here is “A Better Option” instead.

That ad has a CTR 28.64% and 48.75% better than the two ads it is testing against.

You do not have to be combative or insulting in any way to pull this off.

#7 Test, Test, and Test Some More

Never stop testing and improving your ads. What works today may not work next year or even next month. For that reason, you need to regularly be testing ad copy. You should always have at least 2 ads running in each of your ad groups. Once you collect enough data, analyze them. Determine what worked, what did not work, and what you need to test further.

In a couple of the tips above, there was some variation of the search term + offer advocated, but you know what? Through testing I have come across situations where that was less effective than running ads where the search term did not appear in the headline at all. It is infrequent, but I never would have uncovered those cases if I was not testing ad copy.

The other thing to consider is your brand notoriety. The better known your brand is in your market space, the better no search term ad headlines are likely to perform for you. 

Just be sure that when you are testing headlines that are a little more of a departure from what you usually run that you watch the ad performance more closely. 

Wrapping Up

Keep it simple, ask questions, calm their fear, use the ad space provided, give them a reason to click or buy today, go after competitor ads when necessary, and never stop testing your ad copy.

Keep these 7 tips in mind and you will see better click through rates, improved Quality Scores, and more conversions in your Google Ads campaigns.

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