4 Critical Steps to Writing Pay-Per-Click Ads


Search engine marketing (SEM) basics teach us that effective keywords are the basis of any successful digital marketing campaign. Users enter keywords in their search query for a particular product or service, and the search engine response provides returns based upon the keywords entered. Savvy marketers and advertisers develop advertising based upon the best keywords and phrases for their business, which they would have previously researched and optimized elsewhere, such as on their website. These advertisers then arrange their ad campaign, most typically set up on a pay-per-click basis, meaning they pay each time a viewer clicks on their ad.

SEM Ads and More

But SEM ads are not just a bunch of keywords thrown together in the hopes the ad shows up when a user searches on those words. The use of relevant keywords is important, so the person who clicks on your ad is the best prospect for your product/service—especially since you’re paying for that click! Keyword density, that is, how often your keyword appears, is another factor. Keywords should appear in only the ad headline and one, possibly two, more places in the body of the ad.

It may surprise you to know that keyword relevance and density is just one consideration when developing effective SEM ad copy. SEM ads require careful, thoughtful crafting to ensure that, in addition to being grammatically correct, their context makes them effective and compelling. After all, why pay for an ad if it does not compel a user to click on it?

How, then, do you compel a user to click on your ad? All good advertising appeals to a viewer’s emotions and motivates them to make a decision to take further action, such as subscribe to a newsletter, click a link to go to a website, click an image to learn more about a product or service, and of course, click to buy.

  1. Know your target audience. Who is your consumer for this particular ad? How do they think? What do they need? What problem needs to be solved?
  1. Hook the user with your headline. The headline must be strong and present a benefit if it is to compel the viewer to continue reading the rest of the ad. Many businesses rely on headline templates, tailored to their own business, as these have already proven to be effective in the past.
  1. Inform the viewer why they should buy your product or service. What do they stand to gain if they buy, and if they do so right now?
  1. Be thoughtful in your writing. Don’t be sloppy or careless. Take the time necessary to develop content that will result in a successful, productive campaign. If you’d rather be selling than writing, leave the ad content development to a professional.

With conversion tracking, you will quickly know how effective your ad is. If an ad performs poorly, a simple variation in wording, formatting, or style can make all the difference in making sure your SEM ads provide value to both you and your customer.


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