Writing Web Ads Tips

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Are there specific rules for writing Pay Per Click ads?

Use standard, concise grammar and style when writing online advertisements.

Regardless of what Pay Per Click engine you use, the space that you have is extremely limited. Moreover, ads must be constructed using proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling, grammar and spacing. Not only will this help ensure that your ad meets your engine's standards, but adhering to standard rules of English will help ensure that your ad appears professional to potential customers. Note that on Google AdWords, ad titles are limited to 25 characters and the two description lines and display URL are limited to 35 characters each. On Overture, which places ads on Yahoo! and other major search engines, the entire ad is limited to 40 characters. Split testing ads like this is imperative. Try two different ads, use web site traffic analysis software and see not only which ad draws more traffic, but which ad draws traffic that will convert.

How can my company put its best foot forward?

Use proper grammar, straightforward language, and proofread!

How you deliver your message can be as important as the message itself. The way your text looks and how it reads will impact the reader's impression of the message and of your company. A sloppy site with small text, typos, and misspellings will make you seem unprofessional; clear and concise writing with proper grammar and spelling, and language that is appropriate to the subject, will deliver your message more effectively and inspire confidence in your audience. Re-read your web content, e-mails, ads and press releases for clarity and consistency, and check for misspellings, typos and misused words. If you are not an expert at this – or if you just need a fresh eye to notice things you may have missed – ask for help. If you fail to put your best foot forward, much of your web site analysis and internet marketing campaign expenditures can be for naught.

How can I craft a link that reinforces my value proposition?

Develop a unique call-to-action that describes the service or product you provide.

Do not use “click here” or “link here,” or other calls-to-action that could apply to any site. Google AdWords will not approve ad listings that do this, and it also wastes your space and would generate clicks that cost you advertising budget and yield less valuable visitors. Instead, craft a specific call-to-action that tells the user what he or she will be doing or getting by following a link. Use more of the keywords you find in your site analysis tools that yield high conversion rates. For example, if you have a web site that lets users search for real estate, do not simply use a link that says “click here to search.” Instead, use your space to say “Find your next home today.”

If I need to both acquire visitors and brand my site in Overture ads, how do I fit it all in?

If your goals are truly branding and visitors, fine-tune your ad title to include both and leverage the description to add further details.

While it will be more straightforward to craft Overture ad titles that focus on either branding or visitors, it may be the case that your business goals demand that your ads support both goals. This is challenging in 40 characters, but can be done with some creativity. First, if your company's name is very short, it may be simple to include both the company name and your keywords in the ad title. If you have a longer company name, however, you should identify the one or two words that are unique to your company name and include just those words and the keywords in your title. Leverage your web site analysis tools to understand which words in your company name are unique and meaningful to customers. Once you have created an ad title that focuses on both branding and visitors, you should reinforce those goals in the first line of your description. To get a high click through rate and brand your site, the first line of your description should be a sentence that begins with the keyword and includes your web site name. Since many search engines highlight search terms on the results page, this technique will highlight the beginning of your description, and chances are that users will start reading. Having your company name close to the keyword increased its visibility, and the proximity of the keyword and your company make users identify the two together, increasing your perceived relevance.

To what extent can I make claims in my ad?

Avoid superlatives, and support your claims.

An extension of the idea that there should be truth in advertising, ad services will be wary of overstatement in your ad titles and text. Avoid the use of terms like “Best” and “Greatest,” and if you can authentically claim to be “Top Rated,” be prepared to provide verification. Finally, if you compare your product or services to those of competitors, support for your claims must be displayed on the landing page of your ad. This consistency is important not only in developing a trusting relationship with your potential client, but in securing the success of your campaign. Track the effectiveness of the ad with web site visitor tracking to make sure you are communicating to your customer base and bringing in qualified buyers.

Will slogans enhance or detract from my Pay Per Click ad?

Do not repeat words in a gimmicky way.

After log file and web traffic analysis, you will have a terrific list of converting keywords. Be careful how you use them. Since you have extremely limited space in which to define your unique offering and appeal to customers, avoid repeating keywords. In addition to helping you provide as much relevant information as possible, this will also help your ad be accepted by the engines. AdWords and Overture will not approve ads that use what they consider to be “spamming” techniques, including overuse or repetition of words. Don't waste space, time and advertising resources: craft a creative description for your ad that will entice users to click on it.

What obligation do I have to identify my relationships with partners and affiliates?

Identify partnerships and other arrangements.

Ethical business behavior decrees that you must disclose your relationship to other sites or distributors if you are paid to link to them or to promote their products. You can simplify this process by including the term. Insert the word "affiliate" (if you're an affiliate) or "distributor" (if you're a distributor) in your ad text or title. Web metrics are the key to success for affiliate and distributor programs so keep that in mind when you design your campaign.

How should I call attention to my Pay Per Click ad?

Highlight your unique offering, including your location, if your product or service is specific to a location.

If you are a local business and are looking for clicks-through from potential customers in your target geography, it makes good sense to include your location in your ad text. Also, emphasizing what it is your company does may be more valuable than including your company name, should space be tight. That way, people looking for a masseuse in San Francisco could find Sandra's Massage even if they don't know Sandra! If you are a “household name,” do consider including your company name in the text, as well.

Do I need to include legal symbols in my limited ad text?

Respect and apply all legal standards.

It should go without saying that your ad text should be your own – do not plagiarize! Moreover, you'll avoid many a headache if you take the time to apply all relevant marks to your copy, including copyright (©), trademark (™), sales mark (S), registered trademark (®), and other annotations as appropriate. Some ad services will provide basic research into complaints and mediation, so avoid legal problems – and protect your own product names and content – by being cognizant of these legal requirements.

What claims should I make or avoid in my Pay Per Click ads?

Remember “truth in advertising.”

It does not matter that “Viagra” is one of the most searched terms on the Internet if you sell baby blankets online. Only use and include keywords that are specifically relevant to the product or services that you are advertising. If you do not, your ad will not be approved, nor will you draw natural traffic if the search engines see you using keywords that are not relevant to your product offering. All web traffic is not good traffic anyway. Don't waste money for all those clicks by users looking for something other that what you have to offer!

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