Rules for Writing Google AdWords Expanded Text Adverts

I wrote these rules as a guide for the copywriters at MarketingMotor when Expanded Text Ads were introduced. Feel free to copy and improve them.

Rules for writing expanded text advert headlines.

Headline 1 should echo as much of the search term / (keyword) that will trigger the ad.

Headline 2 is normally the value proposition.

Headline 1 and 2 are to be written in Title Case with two exceptions:

  • Words that would normally not be capitalised. eg "Portable dB Meter" is correct but "Portable Db Meter" is wrong because it's dB not Db.
  • Abbreviations that would normally be capitalised. "BMW Aftermarket Exhaust" is correct but "Bmw Aftermarket Exhaust" is wrong because the initials BMW are normally capitalised.

Rules for writing the URL line.

The URL line is there to tell the searcher what they'll see when they click on the ad. We want to tell the searcher that they’ll land on a page that matches their needs exactly. The closer we can match what they’re after the better the chance of them clicking our ad. Yay!

The URL line consists of the domain and two path fields - www.example.com/path1/path2 We use those three parts of the URL line to go from broad to narrow to specific.

The concept of broad to narrow to specific is a common pattern and that makes it easy to understand. If you were shopping for chicken drumsticks you’d step into the supermarket (broad) find the meat aisle (narrow) and walk to the chicken fridge (narrower) and then pick up some drumsticks (specific). Supermarket to meat aisle to chicken fridge to drumsticks.

If you were shopping for chicken drumsticks in a butcher (broad) it’d be slightly different. You go straight to the chicken fridge (narrow) and grab those drumsticks for supper (specific). Butcher to chicken fridge to drumsticks

We mimic this pattern in the URL line. The domain is the broad bit. Path 1 is narrow. Path 2 is specific. Domain name to path 1 to path 2.

We find out what to put in those fields by asking some questions about the searcher’s intent.

Don’t repeat words in the URL line. If the word (or singular/plural variation of it) is in the domain name don’t use it in the path fields.

Path 1 can be left blank but don’t leave path 1 blank and fill something in path 2. Path 2 can be left blank.

No spaces or special characters in the path fields.

General rules for writing expanded text adverts.

Don’t use superlatives like ‘best’ even if they’re in the triggering search term.

Spelling and grammar must be correct - even if the triggering search term is spelt badly.

American/British spelling. If a word can be spelt in correctly two ways use the spelling that’s used in the triggering search term for this advert.

Don’t use the number 4 to mean “for" e.g. “phones4U".

Only use brand names that the client is authorised to use. We’ll assume that if the client sells or repairs a brand we’re authorised to use the brand name. All other brand names and model numbers should be left out of the adverts. This will make the ads a bit generic but that’s the price we pay for staying out of trouble. So if the triggering search terms was “quest 201 sound level meter" the ad would just have to talk about sound level meters, not Quest 201 sound level meters."

Ignore words that describe the business entity like supplier, manufacturer or company. Instead write the advert around the reason why they’re searching for a supplier etc. For instance, if someone searched for a hotel linen supplier we can reasonably infer that they want hotel linen. Write the ad as if they search for hotel linen. e.g. "Contact us for great deals on hotel linen."

In the same way words like price, costs, how much, buy etc that indicate an intention to purchase can probably be removed from the description. “Contact us for great deals on hotel linen cost." doesn’t work, neither does “Contact us for great costs on hotel linen.", better just keep it simple. “Contact us for great deals on hotel linen."

Nouns should usually be in the plural form in the description and headline 1 even if the triggering search term is singular. "Contact us for great deals on hotel pillow" doesn’t sound right. "Contact us for great deals on hotel pillows" is better.

Verbs would normally be singular in the description. "Contact us for great deals on sound meter calibration." reads better than "Contact us for great deals on sound meter calibrations."

When I was in the army the stores listed everything in the wrong order, for instance "boots, brown" or “bullets, rifle". Some of the triggering search terms might be in this kind of reverse order. Please write the adverts in such a way that they read well. “Contact us for great deals on brown boots" rather than “Contact us for great deals on boots brown."

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