How to write effective Google Ads copy for PPC (with best practices and examples)

Crafting impactful Google Ads copy for PPC (pay-per-click) demands a blend of art and science. With limited characters on search engine results pages (SERPs), each word’s gotta leave a lasting impression. In this blog, we’ll explore how to master this balance for maximum PPC success.


  1. What do we mean by Google Ads copy, anyway?
  2. How do you write copy for Google Ads?
  3. What are the best practices for writing Google Ads?
  4. What are some examples of great Google Ads copy?
  5. How do we make it all work?
  6. PPC ad copy mistakes to avoid

Crafting strong Google Ads copy for PPC (pay-per-click)  isn’t hard—but to do it right, you’ve gotta combine art and science. You only have a small number of characters on search engine results pages (SERPs), so you need to make ’em count.

When writing copy for ads on Google, it’s important to think about the experience your visitor is having—from query, to ad copy, to landing page.

If there’s a hiccup along the way or they feel like they might be going down the wrong path, they’ll hit the back button. Worse, they might conduct another search and find another company ready to meet their needs. Additionally, as much as we would like it to, no ad can convert a prospect without a strong accompanying landing page.

“Whoa, slow down Unbounce. How exactly do I get started on Google Ads?” No sweat—check out our guide to Google Ads basics and learn how to launch your first campaign. 

What is Google Ads copy?

Google Ads is Google’s (aptly named) online advertising platform. It’s responsible for a bunch of the ads you see online—at the top of your Google search results, on Google Maps, and across lots of the websites you visit through display advertising. Google Ads operates on a PPC model, where you pay ’em a bit of money every time somebody clicks on your ad.  

There are lots of benefits to advertising on Google. The search giant has more than 90% market share and is the most popular engine by a country mile—so you know your ads are gonna get eyeballs. Google Ads also lets you get super targeted with your advertising. You can choose to show your ads to people based on their demographics (age, gender), their search history, and even how they’ve interacted with your brand in the past. 

But getting your ads in front of people is one thing—getting ’em to click is another. That’s why you need persuasive, eye-catching Google Ads copy.

How do you write copy for Google Ads?

There are different types of Google Ads (search, display), but you’ll almost always need copy for these components:

  • Headline. Your headline is the most critical part of your ad text since people will likely read it before anything else. Some Google Ads have just one headline, while others might have two or three. A good strategy is to include words your target audience likely used in their Google search. And—as always—make sure you’re communicating your unique value proposition.
  • Display URL. Your display URL is the web address that appears on your ad, which gives your potential customers an idea of where they’ll arrive after they click. That said, the actual URL of your landing page can be more specific. For example, you might have a display URL of, whereas the true destination of the ad could be
  • Description. This is where you can get into more detail about the product or service you’re advertising. Additionally, it’s a good idea to include a call to action—something you want the people clicking your Google ad to do. Think “Shop X product now” or “Get Y benefit” to help folks understand what to expect next.

You can see examples of all three of these components in the example below:

Example of Google Ads copy from Unbounce

The messaging used in your Google ad copy doesn’t need to follow a rigid formula. If anything, SERPs are getting overcrowded with the same type of bland messaging for all ad slots. That’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd.

It’s important you test some different approaches to Google Ads copy to know which performs best with your target audience. Here’s a quick rundown of the major types of ad copy approaches:

  • Features: This is about highlighting the physical or tangible aspects of your product or service. If you’re selling mattresses, maybe one key feature is “memory foam.”
  • Benefits: Here, you call out the positive outcomes the visitor will have from the product or service. In the case of mattresses, that might be a “more restful sleep.”
  • Problem: Focus on the actual issue at hand to relate to the problem the visitor is trying to solve. For example, “tired of awful sleeps?”
  • Testimonials: This is when you use the words of your existing customers to leverage social proof. Great mattress? “I’ve never slept better.”
  • Reviews: These are third-party reviews of the product or service, not from customers directly. Emphasize your trust signals, like Google review scores or badges from review sites.
  • Prequalifying: A technique for weeding out people who might not be a good fit for your service before they click. Say, “luxury mattresses” to signal a higher price.

Once you’ve tested what works best, mirror that on your PPC landing page to create a seamless, compelling buyer journey.
Looking for a secret weapon to help craft powerful ad copy? Meet the Smart Copy Google ad generator. Writing your own Google copy? Pah—that’s for the birds.

What are some key Google Ads copy best practices?

“What makes a good Google ad?” Humankind has been debating this question for decades, if not millennia.

Is it about being concise? Catchy? Direct? Maybe all of the above?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to writing Google Ads (just like there’s no single way to write any ad)—but following some best practices will help make you more successful. With that in mind, below are eight tips for writing the best ad copy for Google Ads:

1. Use keywords that match what people are searching for

One of the key recommendations for writing strong Google Ads copy is to include keywords that mirror the searcher’s query. By parroting back phrases similar to what they searched for, you can tell them that they’re in the right place.

Keywords in ad copy

In the real world, if you order something from a coffee shop, you expect them to call out exactly what you ordered when it’s ready. If you order an Americano and the barista yells out “Coffee!”, they’re technically correct. But it’s not immediately clear to you that it’s your coffee or someone else’s.

Adding keywords to Google ad copy is fairly simple—but it’s important to make sure the keywords are being used well. Don’t just stuff in as many as you can. An ad that’s saturated with keywords probably doesn’t convey the right message, and could actually be worse than an ad with no keywords. It’s more important to accurately articulate what you’re selling.

Keyword placement in ads can also play a large role. We highly recommend you test keyword placement within your ads to see what works best. Sometimes it’s best in the first headline. Sometimes in headline two. And sometimes it’s best used in a sentence in a description. You won’t know until you test.

Keywords on landing pages

Using search keywords in the headlines and text at the top of a landing page tells the visitor, “You’re in the right place. We have what you’re looking for.” (“This is your caffè Americano,” if you will.)

Unfortunately, swapping text on landing pages isn’t quite as easy as doing it in ad copy. If your landing pages need to be hardcoded, then logic might suggest that you need to create a new landing page for each different keyword phrase you’re targeting. In our opinion, though, unless you’re driving extremely high traffic through those pages, this isn’t necessary.

Instead, choose some common phrases—likely the most highly searched variants of your keywords—and turn them into headlines. Ideally, the number of pages you’ll need to create will go down depending on the number of keyword phrases you have in your account.

Let’s take an example: Say we’re advertising scheduling software for hourly employees.

A basic headline could be “Employee Scheduling Software,” which reflects a typical search query—easy and to the point. But the page that uses this headline could easily be used for queries that are close to, but not exactly, that phrase: scheduling employees, tools for employee scheduling, schedule hourly employees, and so on.

Try to write headlines that can work for multiple phrases to limit the number of pages you need to make. And do this while also getting as close as possible to the initial search query.

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2. Match the specificity of your potential customers

Every time a person conducts a Google search, their query holds a degree of specificity. It’s important that you reflect their demonstrated intent as best as possible.

Let’s get into some copy examples. Here are some tips for how you could adjust your copy based on differing degrees of specificity:

Query and copy match examples of Google Ads

The only piece of copy that’s changed is the first headline—but it creates a much tighter theme with the query and lets your visitors know they’re in the right place.

The same principle holds with the display URL. One of the keys to conversion rate optimization is giving your prospects what they expect. Every element of your ad should indicate that folks are on the right path—including the display URL. Continuing the shoe example above, here are potential pages that you would want to direct people to:

  • “shoes”:
  • “womens shoes”:
  • “womens nike shoes”:

Obviously, these aren’t real web pages, but the display URLs closely match the query. Each time we add a word—from “shoes” to “women’s shoes” and from “women’s shoes” to “women’s nike shoes”—we learn more about their needs and can match that with a more specific landing page.

Each time somebody searches, they’re telling you what they want. Listen to them and deliver results with as much specificity as you can.

3. Use assets (formerly “ad extensions”) like wild

Assets (previously called “ad extensions”) are pretty much exactly what they sound like: additional pieces of functionality you can include with your Google ad. These give you extra opportunities to persuade potential customers through copy.

There are lots of different kinds of assets at our disposal. Each has its use and purpose, and we’re not going to go into detail on each one. The ones that lend themselves to nearly every business are sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets.

Sitelink assets

Sitelinks are simply additional text and links that can show up with ad copy. Ideally, you should leverage these to add supporting information to the primary ad copy in the ad group. These are essentially functioning as in-site navigation, but directly in the SERPs.

search results showing Nike's Google Ads copy examples

Callout assets

Callouts are even easier than sitelinks. These are simply a line of text, no longer than 25 characters.

Callout Extension

This text can be used for just about anything that helps support the ad. Similar to sitelinks, however, it’s best if this text is complimentary and doesn’t repeat what’s in the original ad. These can be a quick list of features, benefits, or more information (like “Free Shipping”) if it didn’t fit in the ad text.

Structured snippet assets

Lastly, structured snippets let you create a list within an ad extension. Simply pick the header you want to start the list, then add in values below with 25 characters each.

Structured Snippets

There are a number of other assets that can be added to any Google Ads campaign. More often than not, it’s best to have as many asset types in place as possible so any of them can be called up at any point.

However, there is a caveat. Don’t forget about the main reason for the ad. Sometimes one asset can be throttled and another type will be shown more often, potentially causing performance to drop. Keep this in mind when setting up assets in Google. Have as full coverage as you can, but don’t sacrifice performance for ad real estate.

4. Leverage dynamic features to customize copy

In addition to assets, there are other features you can use to ensure that your Google Ads are as impressive as possible. Below is a screenshot of the three dynamic ad features offered on the Google Ads platform. You can trigger this dropdown by typing in a { into the ad creation screen.

Dynamic Ad Features in Google Ads

Keyword insertion

Keyword insertion is the most basic version of dynamic Google ads and is best used if your campaign structure isn’t strongly segmented. Keyword insertion lets you substitute a search keyword in place of the default text in your ad copy. However, the text with the keyword will not be used if the combination of the text is too long. Take a look at the example below:

Keyword Insertion in Google Ads

Here, we added “Women’s Shoes” as the placeholder text. If the keyword that triggers this ad is fewer than 13 characters long, then that keyword text will be added in place of “Women’s Shoes.”

For instance, if the keyword was “Tennis Shoes,” the headline will now read “Great Prices on Tennis Shoes.” But if the keyword is too long, like “women’s running shoes,” then the headline will read “Great Prices on Women’s Shoes” because the placeholder text will stay.

If you build your page with Unbounce, you can also use Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) to help you match your landing page copy to your ads, saving you bundles of time and crankin’ up your conversions.

IF functions

This dynamic ad feature lets advertisers create “if, then” statements within Google Ads copy based on a user’s device or the audience they belong to.

IF Functions in Google Ads

Using powerful IF functions is simpler than it seems.

IF functions can be amazingly powerful if you have different calls to action for folks on mobile devices and people on desktop, or if you wanna offer discounts to users within specific audiences.

If you leverage IF functions to create a different call to action or make a new offer depending on your audience, it’s essential to make sure it’s reflected in the copy on your landing page. Don’t tease a 20% discount in the ad copy, then not offer it once somebody gets to the landing page.


Lastly, countdowns can be an amazing way to create urgency in ad copy without needing manual ad shifts for each day, hour, or minute until the offer expires. All you have to do is fill out the builder widget and Google will do the rest.

Countdown feature

With countdowns, it’s imperative that the time in the ad copy and the time on site match up as closely as possible. Pay attention to time zones to be sure the offer isn’t ending too early or running too late in the ads. Each of these could cause performance changes or bad brand association depending on the error made.

5. Always—always!—include a call to action

When it comes down to it, we’re running ads because we want the visitor to take a specific action. For some, that might be making a purchase. For others, it might mean filling out a lead form. No matter the action, it’s important to either use that phrasing in your copy or help them understand what comes next.

Using a call to action in Google ad copy helps frame the visitor experience. It can operate similarly to the prequalifying ad copy mentioned in the next section. Once they understand what you want them to do, it can help weed out people who aren’t interested. This practice helps save you the cost of the click.

Once a visitor has had their expectations set with the ad copy, they should click through to a landing page that mirrors that same call to action. If you’ve asked them to “Buy Now” in your copy, they should be given the opportunity to buy on the landing page. If you’ve only asked them to “Learn More” in your copy, then be sure the landing page houses the information they need to decide whether to make a purchase down the road.

6. Follow through on the promises you’re making

This is important: Your landing page should deliver on what your Google ad promises.

Ad copy and landing pages need to work together. No matter what you say in your Google ad copy, it’s important that the message and offer follow through to the landing page for a cohesive experience.

When this connection breaks down, it could look something like this: A prospective customer conducts a search and clicks on an ad that says “20% off”—only to get to the landing page and find out the offer is expired. Or, worse, there’s no mention of it whatsoever. That’s frustrating.

It’s important to get the visitor thinking about the call to action at the ad copy stage. If that call to action isn’t on the landing page, then those precious characters in the Google copy—as well as the price you paid for the click—were wasted. Your visitors are no longer primed to complete the action you asked ’em to.

Examples of good Google Ads copy

Alright—enough theory. Let’s talk application. Here are a few examples of Google Ads from brands that have got it locked in:

Google Ads example: Glossier

Example of effective Google Ads copy from Glossier

Product: Makeup

Glossier sure knows what they’re doing when it comes to Google Ads—and (presumably) when it comes to this makeup stuff, too.

Their copy in this ad speaks to “accessible luxury products,” which allows them to address two crowds simultaneously: people who want luxury makeup products, and folks who might wanna try something luxurious but are concerned about price. Glossier emphasizes the “accessibility” of their products and the fact they’re inspired by “real people,” while also using sitelink assets to discreetly highlight all of the ways they’re more affordable than you might think.

Pretty smart.

Google Ads example: VanMoof

Example of Google Ads copy from VanMoof

Product: Bicycles

VanMoof doesn’t just create city-proof electric bikes—they also write some pretty dandy Google Ads.

This is an upscale product, and VanMoof knows they need to reflect that in their ad copy. This example shows ’em speaking to their elevated features: One block of text talks about “next-gen electronic bikes” with “high-tech smart features.” Another mentions “automatic electronic gear shifting” and “anti-theft tech.”

These sorts of phrases signal to Google users who the product is for—folks who care about quality and are willing to pay for it.

Elevate your copywriting, from first click to conversion

Like we said, writing copy for Google Ads is a combination of art and science. If great copy were purely algorithmic, everyone would be rich by now.

Follow as many of the best practices above as you can, but don’t forget the reason we’re here: potential customers. We’re always talking to people. The final thing you should do before launching any new Google Ads campaign is give your copy a gut-check:

  • Does this offer sound appealing?
  • Is this just a bunch of keywords?
  • Would I click on this?

That extends to your landing page, too. When you know how to write compelling, grabby, persuasive content for your whole campaign—that’s when selling your product or service gets a whole lot easier.

Common PPC ad copy mistakes to avoid

If you’re a rational, “left-brained” PPC professional, then writing ad copy likely isn’t your forte. If you’re more of a creative type, then writing great ads is probably easier for you, but unfortunately, what you think is great ad copy doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the data. The biggest problem when it comes to ad copy testing is that there is so much (sometimes conflicting) advice on how to do it right. There are tons of scripts and tools to automate the ad copy testing process, but if you don’t understand how they work, you’re probably not getting great results.

So with all of the information we’ve learned about so far (and good examples to back ‘em up) behind us, let’s consolidate everything into a tangible list of mistakes to avoid while writing your PPC ad copy. You could be following lotsa’ best practices, but Google Ads mistakes can really put you in the negatives. So let’s set ourselves up for success by avoiding the following pitfalls.

1. Avoid choice fatigue

Searchers don’t read through search results pages thoroughly. They scan.

When your headlines look exactly the same as several competitors, the searcher must stop and analyze your ad in order to identify the differences. This means that similar headlines won’t earn clicks.

If you’re familiar with neuromarketing, you know this is a form of choice fatigue. Your potential customer has too many choices and can’t easily identify why they should choose your ad. 

As Roger Dooley puts it:

“Sales-killing choices are those that appear very similar and offer the consumer no shortcuts in making a decision.”

The best practice is to always use the search term in the headline. 

Dynamic keyword insertion is great for quickly creating relevant copy on a large scale, but it’s hardly a well-kept secret. It works great in many cases, but when too many advertisers are using it on the same search query, it causes choice fatigue.

If you’re using dynamic keyword insertion, do some manual searches for the queries driving those ad impressions and see what your competitors are up to. Start with the high-impression DKI ads that have a low click-through rate (CTR), and make sure you aren’t creating choice fatigue.

If you see lots of ads with the same or very similar headlines, write new custom ads to test.

2. Don’t make empty promises

The best ad copy headlines have offers or promises that can be fulfilled.

PPC ads that offer promises that aren’t fulfilled on the landing page may earn more clicks but they won’t convert very well. 

We have to respect the consumer in order to win their trust instead of using smoke and mirror tactics just to earn their click. When you accurately represent your offer in your ad copy, qualified leads click through to your landing page, and there are no nasty surprises. Everyone wins.

Our favorite old-school marketing blogger, Brian Clark of Copyblogger, explains that making vague promises can turn people off:

“Advertisements that proclaim, ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ are fairly common–and that’s the problem. The statement can come across as just another hollow promise, because it often is.”

3. Don’t forget to aggregate stats

Whether you run large or small campaigns, you need to aggregate stats but for different reasons. 

What does aggregating stats mean, you ask? Aggregating data just means combining individual-level data and stats. This could mean combining your stats from different ad groups or similar. 

If you have small accounts, you should aggregate so you can speed up the process of reaching statistical significance. If you have large accounts, you need to aggregate stats so you can derive actionable insight from low-volume ad groups.

4. Don’t forget about segmenting results

Don’t lump stats together for campaigns that are targeted differently. For example, locally targeted campaigns may perform differently than nationally targeted campaigns. Accordingly, the ad copy that works for local campaigns may not be best for national campaigns.

If you are going to aggregate stats to reach statistical significance more quickly, then you have to understand the performance differences in your targeting. If you don’t, you’ll choose winning ads that are actually losers in a different segment.

When it comes to mobile vs desktop segmentation, you shouldn’t aggregate stats together for mobile ads with desktop ads. Always handle mobile ads and desktop ads separately, even if you only use a different display URL (such as If you’re not segmenting mobile and desktop, your results could be misleading.

5. Don’t use wrong sample sizes

There is so much information around statistical significance in ad copy testing, yet plenty of folks still stop running tests before they’ve had a chance to show meaningful results. Very often, this is because people get the sample size of their test wrong.

It’s important to determine the correct sample size for your ad copy tests, like how many visitors you’ll need in order to have a conclusive A/B test. The bottom line when it comes to statistical significance is that you need to understand how to define your hypothesis and your minimum sample size correctly.

6. Avoid watching the wrong metric

Many people watch their click-through rate to determine which variation is best, but that logic is faulty. Every impression has the chance to become a conversion, so we like to use impressions for sample size, and our rationale is simple:

You can’t actually buy more clicks or conversions, but you can buy more impression share. And buying more impressions is the goal for ads that are performing well based on any metric.

7. Stop judging ads on CTR (click-through rate)

When you choose winning ads based on the click-through rate metric, you could be earning more clicks but failing to convert them.

CPI (​​consumer price index) and PPI (producer price index) aren’t standard metrics built into Google Analytics, but they aren’t that hard to create and are definitely worthwhile. Here’s more on data import.

Change the metrics you judge your ad copy on and you will make more informed decisions and drive more profit. Boom.

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8. Don’t forget to pre-qualify leads

If you’re advertising in a price-competitive industry or you have a premium or higher-priced product, you should always pre-qualify clicks by disclosing prices up-front.

Much like making empty promises that aren’t fulfilled on your landing pages, unexpectedly high product prices can be disappointing for leads. Check out this quote from the Pain of Paying study, conducted by Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, and MIT:

“The sections of the brain associated with pain processing are activated when prices are too high.” – George Loewenstein, Carnegie Mellon

We’ve heard tons of smaller advertisers complain about the quality of the leads they get from Google Ads. The last thing you want to do is pay for clicks from people who don’t want to pay your price.

If you’re worried about hurting CTR and Quality Score by using this strategy, then consider running an ad copy test only on your broadest, worst-performing ad groups.

These ads pre-qualify their leads by disclosing prices before the click. That way, there are no nasty surprises.

Making it all work

If you want to beat your competitors at the PPC ad copy game, then you need to look beyond the “best practices” that everyone is using. You also need to look out for the cautionary tales and avoid the pitfalls. 

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