SEM: Word Games
A title, description and display URL packed into about 70 characters—that's the extent of a paid search listing. Differentiation within these tight boundaries is tricky, to say the least. That's why the best place to start when developing paid search ads is inside searchers' heads.
"Search is a tool for goal completion. As a searcher, I'm focused on what I'm looking for and little else," says Craig Greenfield, director of local marketing solutions at Performics, a Chicago-based search engine marketing firm. "I only read the headline and the URL, and if it doesn't capture the intent of what my search was, I'm not reading the copy that's in the ad unit."
As the paid search environment gets more crowded, marketers must adopt tighter practices and more targeted strategies to continue to drive ROI. Let's explore some of those tactics as they relate to ad copy.
Keying in on Keywords
To deliver on searchers' expectations—as well as search engines'—ad copy needs to, at minimum, repeat the keyword in the title and, if possible, in the description, says Patricia Hursh, president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing, a search engine marketing firm in Boulder, Colo. While she notes that every tactic is worth testing to see if it holds true for your program, she believes this practice works due to Google's use of bolding on keywords in search results. "It just kind of highlights the relevancy," she explains, allowing people to quickly pick out pertinent listings on the page.
To get more bolded keywords, and hopefully clicks and even conversions, marketers can leverage dynamic keyword insertion tools created by the major search engines. Using keyword insertion, marketers can develop
one-size-fits-all ads with placeholders to tell the search engine where to insert the keyword(s) being bid on.
"Many people think that it's the Holy Grail of writing ad copy, but I think you really need to test it," says Hursh. "I've seen lots of situations where a keyword insertion ad doesn't do as well as an ad where you've actually written the title." For example, she points to the once ubiquitous eBay paid search ads that claimed to sell everything and anything a searcher typed in. "Like ‘Divorce Lawyer. Find your divorce lawyer on eBay,'" Hursh laughs.