How Effective Are Your Google Text Ads?

by Elna Cain March 1, 2016
March 1, 2016


Technology is fluid – it’s constantly changing in response to the ebbs and flows of new inventions. With the advent of the smartphone and all of its advancements since then, we’ve seen Internet advertisements change structure and function.

Google’s primary mission is to “solve search problems…[and do it] really, really well.”

They want to give users a search experience that “understands exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want.” Business owners and advertisers must share these goals in order to create effective Google text ads for their businesses.

Solving search problems

Google tries to “understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want.”

If your primary goal isn’t to solve user search problems, you’ll experience a hard time creating successful text ads and getting conversions on your landing page.

Effective Google Text Ads Start at the Very Core: Keyword Search

Keywords are the core of your Google text ads campaign.

With proper keyword selection, your Google text ad flows well into your landing page. But more importantly, you’ll have provided your site visitors with the information and/or solution they were seeking.

With proper keyword selection you’ll have provided page visitors with the information or solution they were seeking

Google details the best process of keyword selection here.

In short, words should not only reflect your product or service, but audience needs and preferences. Keyword selection is an ongoing process. You’ll constantly need to monitor and update your ad campaigns in order to drive the right traffic to your website.

But you don’t have to develop a long targeted list of keywords in order for your website to appear in text ad search results.

If you’re developing a content-rich website and place related keywords throughout the text, Google’s dynamic search ads uses organic search to determine your landing page URL and ad title, like in this example.


Although geographical location should be taken into account in ad campaigns, particularly for local searches, it’s best not to focus heavily on demographics with mobile text ads.

Recent studies have shown that the intentions of your target audience has a greater influence on their purchasing patterns than demographics. We’ll go into more detail as we dig further into the topic of mobile optimization below.

But whichever keywords you use, they should be included in your text ad, as shown in the example below. As an aside, if you’re using dynamic search as explained above, Google will automatically incorporate a related keyword into your headline.


As you can see, “children’s educational toys” was the search term used in this example. The first Google ad campaign that shows up in search results uses this keyword in its text ad. It also uses variations of this search term: “educational toys;” and the call to action: “Buy educational science and math learning toys for your kids.”

childrens-educational-toys-home-page-ad-1(Source: Young Explorers)

When you click on this advertisement, you’re led to the Young Explorers homepage. In this screenshot, you’ll notice key terms related to our search term: “creative educational products,” “brainy toys,” and “smart toys for smart kids,” are some that stand out.

The fact that was the first ad in this search result helps illustrate the fact that contextual terms help boost your ad’s quality score. Overusing one keyword is unnecessary and ineffective.

In another example, the following search term was used: “educational children’s toys.”


In this example, the first ad used a portion of the key term “educational toys,” in its text.

But the second ad used that portion of the key term in its headline and URL link – and that caught my eye more quickly even though this ad was second. “Brainy Toys For Kids,” and “Best Selling Educational Toys for Kids,” seemed to be a more fitting response to my query, so it got the click.

educational-childrens-toys-home-page(Source: MindWare)

Clicking this link led to MindWare. Its left sidebar lists educational toy categories – which are all related to the original search. These searches are solid examples of what Google is after – websites that offer answers and solutions to user’s questions and problems.

Anatomy of a Google Text Ad

So what makes for an effective Goggle text ad?

If your primary goal isn’t to solve user search problems, you’ll experience a hard time creating successful text ads.

Google suggests starting with ad groups. Creating two ad campaigns comprised of two ad groups should give you enough data to determine which keywords and phrasing would most likely generate leads to your website.

To gain an idea of how to outline keywords used in a campaign, the following terms were searched in Google AdWords: wide printing, industrial printing, and large format printing.

Here’re how those ad groups and keywords could pan out for a wide format printing company:

printing company table

All text ads are structured the same. Your ads will be comprised of a:

  • Headline (up to 25 characters),
  • Display URL (up to 255 characters)
  • Two lines of text – one of which should include a call to action (up to 35 characters each)


Capture Marketing Moments Using Suitable Copy

There are a number of questions to consider when writing your ad headline and descriptive text. For starters, you’ll want to know:

  • Who’s your audience?
  • What’s your product or service?
  • What do you want people to do after reading this ad?
  • Where might this person be when viewing your ad? (in-store, at home, out and about?)
  • How can your copy help them find the answers they need during these moments?

Current research tells us that 58% of American smartphone owners use their mobile devices at home.

This is a 27% increase from 2012. In the UK, 64% of consumers use their mobile phones at home – up 21% since 2013.

When conducting research on their phones, consumers from the US and the UK are looking to make an informed purchasing decision. These individuals want to know more about the companies from which they’re making a purchase.

Informative – yet concise – text ads should not only offer a solution, but also insight into your company’s brand position.

Let’s look at an example. Using the table we created earlier, here’s an example text ad from campaign one, ad group one:

example text ad

The header is direct and clearly communicates available services to the site user. The website’s URL is included, and the term, “printing” is included on the first line of descriptive text.

Additionally, the website owner lets customers know that although they’ll get the best prices by choosing their company (“Best Value!”), they’ll still receive high quality work from qualified specialists in the field of wide format printing.

Here’s an example of how not to format a Google text ad:

no format google text ad

Aside from appearing obnoxious, the second text ad violates multiple Google ad policies. Its header doesn’t include a related keyword or describe the site owner’s product or service. Secondly, description lines should not point to URLs as this one does.

And lastly, the second description line is an incomplete sentence, which isn’t allowed, either.

Now that you know how your text ads should look, let’s consider what happens after you get the click.

Is Your Landing Page Optimized for Text Ad Visits?

Quality score is highest when the keywords and content on your landing pages are relevant to the keywords and copy used in your text ad.

Your landing page should follow general SEO rules, with proper URL structure, heading tags, image alt text, and a meta description of the page.

Landing pages should also reiterate the call to action you placed in your text ad.

Without a landing page per advertisement and a way to track conversions, your text ad efforts will definitely fall flat.

Mobile Optimization and The Power of Micro-Moments

“Intent beats identity. Immediacy trumps loyalty.” (Google)

As mentioned earlier in this post, when setting mobile ad parameters, Google suggests that it’s a mistake to focus too heavily on demographics.

For instance, according to their study of smartphone users, 40% of those who purchase baby products and 52% who help determine baby product trends live in homes without babies.

baby products

Those who purchase baby products or help determine baby product trends live in homes without babies.

These purchasers and trendsetters likely make purchases for those with babies.

Thus, targeting the specific demographic of adults within a certain age range who have children excludes buyers with lots of influence in the baby products commerce category.

Consumer intent is molded by a moment in time when individuals need to find the perfect gift, nearest restaurant, a pair of sneakers for an impromptu trip, or a new place to hang out with friends.

And it’s in micro-moments like these that you want your landing page to have already been optimized for mobile use.

A landing page must be optimized for mobile for those crucial moments when a product is searched by consumers.

In a September 2014 study conducted by Mitek and Zogby Analytics, they found that 87% of Millennials cling to their smartphones day in and day out. In the same study, 86% of participants felt that mobile functionality is still missing on a lot of websites.

Don’t let that website be yours.

  • Based on mobile experiences, Millennials have either changed company loyalty or made a final purchasing decision
  • 82% of smartphone users search for a local business they want to visit
  • 82% of consumers stand in your brick and mortar store and use their smartphones to help make a buying decision
  • Close to 60% of Millennials have tried to register for a new service or account through their phones

Pew Research Results are also telling.

Their research supports the idea that Millennials are the driving force behind mobile usage. But among all smartphone users, 84% earn $ 75,000 or more per year. And most users have a college degree (78%).

Although 85% of users are between the ages of 18-29, a significant percentage of smartphone users are between the ages of 30-49 (79%). Are your landing pages ready for these visitors?

Mobile optimized landing pages are far from optional for any growing business. And it’s important to note that mobile usage alters consumers’ conversion path.

Tracking and Analytics

In addition to measuring online conversion rates, business owners have to take it a step further. Since the path to purchase is often heavily influenced by the moment, the purchasing (conversion) path is not always linear.

One solution is to extend the scope of conversion tracking to include audience behavior across devices and from device to store (and vice versa).

Pre-populated form fields are one method you can use to help determine where your lead originated. By using UTM tags in your ads – and embedding that data in a hidden field when a visitor submits a lead form–, it becomes possible to track conversions back to a specific ad group or keyword.

If you’re running campaigns outside of Google, you can also use UTM codes to track the source of the lead, the name of your unique campaign, and even the medium through which site visitors found your advertisement.

hidden textbox field

Use hidden textbox fields to inject the lead source

A/B Testing is another way to determine Google text ad effectiveness. By creating a landing page for each ad group, you can better determine what copy your audience best responds to.

A/B testing captures conversion stats based on each visitor’s assigned web cookie.

Closing Thoughts

With constant advancements in technology, making adaptations to your Google text ads helps you reach your intended audience. By adopting a service mentality, both mobile and desktop users can more readily find the website and/or solutions they’re looking for.

Over to you – which tip are you going to implement for your next Google text ad?

Landing Pages Designer

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