Choosing keywords and writing text ads are the essential part of an SEM campaign, but if you’re wonder how you can set yourself apart from other ads, the answer doesn’t happen by itself.  What you’ll learn is that just like some keywords are better than others, there are also some ads that perform better than others. Understanding what it takes to create quality text ads is the difference between an average SEM campaign and a campaign that increases traffic to your site, generates more leads, and spread more brand awareness.

If you joined me for my last blog, “6 Tips to Choose Great Keywords,” we discussed some simple tips that you can use when picking out the keywords you want for your advertisements. We discussed the different types of keywords, how to relate to your target audience, and how to build a quality keyword list. Feel free to click the link above to read my last blog, or you can also watch my video on choosing keywords below.

In my today blog, I’m going to show you how to take that new and improved keyword list of yours and use it to make great text ads.

Anatomy of a Text Ad

Text ads have three parts: the headline, a display URL, and two descriptions lines that use can use to explain what your text ad is about. Below is an example of an ad for Joe’s Plumbing; we’ll use it to point out the different elements of your typical text ad.

Now that you understand the different parts of a text ad, I’m going to break down each element and tell you some best practices that you can use as you build your SEM campaign. Let’s get started.


Usually in blue, the headline of your ad will attract the most attention and is limited to 25 characters. In an average text ad, the headline is the only thing on the ad that is clickable in the text ad itself.

Headline Tips:

  • Pull from your keyword list and include them in your headline. You’ll notice in the example above, the keyword “Plumbing” is used in the headline to attract the attention of people looking for plumbers or a plumbing service.
  • Ask a question in your headline. According to a Wordstream article, leveraging user intent is crucial to increasing conversion rates.

Display URL

The display URL, usually in green, shows your website address. It gives people an idea of where they’ll go when they click your ad.

Display URL Tips:

  • This is also an opportunity to send people to a more specific page on your site. A longer URL can send people to a landing page on your site.
  • You are able to specify where on the website you are sending the searcher. If you are a women’s boutique and you sell dresses and shoes, put a /dresses or a /shoes at the end of your display URL. An example would be “


The description lines are used to highlight details about your product or services. In a text ad, you’re given two description lines that can have a max of 35 characters each. The limited number of characters forces you to think about the message you’re trying to promote. Take your time to think about function of your ad.

Description Tips:

  • Just like choosing quality keywords, you have to put yourself into the shoes of the person doing the search. Ask yourself, “What answer are they looking for?” Then, write a description that answers that question. If people are going to search for my product, how can I make my text ad specific and relevant to them?
  • Just like in your headline, including keywords in your description text will show that your ad is relevant to the search of the individual.
  • Using a call to action can also help people find your ads relevant. Are you selling something? Tell people what they can buy. Are you offering a service? Tell people how to contact you. Call to actions like call, purchase, order, browse, sign up, or get a quote make the customer’s next steps clear.
  • The description is also an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitor’s advertisements. Do you have free shipping? Custom made products? Showcase the products, services, or offers that make you stand out. Do you have a recognizable brand? Be sure to use your brand name in the headline or description.
  • Keep         unnecessary         spaces and aWkWaRd CAPITALIZATIONS out of your ads. For a full list of professional and editorial standards, click here.
  • Match your ad to your landing page. As you create your ad, make sure your landing page’s promotions or products are included on the page you’re linking to from your ad. People might leave your website if they don’t find what they expect.


Congratulations! You’ve created your first text ad. We recommend creating at least 3 text ads for each ad group. Try using different copy or different call to actions in each ad and compare the performance and engagement each on receives. It’s important to test to see what works for your campaign.

Now let’s take a side-by-side look at a couple different advertisements and what makes them good or bad.

Bad Example:

This text ad has a couple mistakes. First, the headline is uninformative: simply stating “computer games” doesn’t tell the searcher anything about the brand or anything else. Second, the ad contains misspelled words (Hunders should be Hundreds). Finally, the ad overall doesn’t make sense; you don’t know what kind of computers, printers, or games they actually sell.

Good Example:

In this updated text ad, you can see that I’ve made several changes that improve the ad. First, instead of just generalizing the headline, I added “Buy” so people who are looking to purchase computer games understand the purpose of the ad right away. Second, I corrected all the spelling mistakes. Lastly, I added “Come Visit Us Today,” as a call to action in the description.

It doesn’t end there

Now that you’ve learned the best practices to writing quality ads, it’s time to take your keyword list and start building your own SEM campaign. Online Advertising is about delivering the information your customer’s need, when they want to see it. Optimizing your advertisements with these best practices will make sure your ads connect with your ideal customers and increase the activity to your site.

These tips are just the beginning when it comes to optimization options for an SEM campaign. In my next blog, I’ll discuss ad extension features that you can add to increase the performance and engagement options for your customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEM and how you can use it to increase the visibility of your business, make sure to download our free SEM whitepaper by clicking the image below.